Connection of Friends is staffed by a full-time Program Director and Program Leader. In addition, we have Program Assistants that are part-time employees, staffed during our Saturday Night Socials as well as when needed during week-day programming. Our staff has college degrees in the areas of special education, communication studies, psychology and sociology.
Program Volunteers consist of an art teacher, gardener and yoga instructor. Other volunteers consist of high school and college students.
Overall supervision and management is provided by Executive Director, (non-pay position), Sarah Donnelly.
COF principally operates on a 3 participant to 1 staff /volunteer. However, additional support is available on a limited basis during week-day programming only. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions, (FAQ), tab for additional information.
Jamie Hager Lee, Program Director
Before joining Connection of Friends, Jamie worked as a Behavior Health Specialist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center facilitating group therapies and serving as an activities coordinator. Previously, Jamie worked with Southwest Special Recreational Association as an aide and aquatic instructor at the Oak Lawn Park District. Jamie graduated from North Central College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Health.
Don Valdez, Program Leader
Don joined Connection of Friends in September as a Program Assistant and will be graduating Northern Illinois University in May with a Bachelor of Science in Disability and Rehabilitation Services.
Sue Bosse, Program Assistant
Sue works at Monroe Middle School in Wheaton as a paraprofessional for 6th, 7th and 8th graders with added experience as an activity assistant with ESSE Adult Day Care also located in Wheaton.
Angelica Camacho, Program Assistant
Angelica graduated from College of DuPage with her Associates of Arts degree with plans to return to school to explore a career in social services. Angelica joined Connection of Friends in the winter of 2014 as a volunteer.
Francis Espedido, Program Assistant
Francis is enrolled at North Central College pursuing a degree in Health Science and Psychology with plans to pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist.
Kelly Faber, Program Assistant
Previously serving as Program Leader and volunteer at Connection of Friends, Kelly recently earned her Master’s Degree in I/O Psychology at Roosevelt University.
Lisa Hager, Program Assistant
Previously serving as a volunteer at Connection of Friends, Lisa also works at Misericordia Home in Chicago.
Program Volunteer: Mary Clauss, Yoga
Mary is certified in yoga and has taught in a variety of settings using modifications for children and young adults with special needs.
Program Volunteer: Kathy Davidson, Gardening
Kathy works for Gardner Connection with a degree in Horticulture.
Program Volunteer: Carol Fiene, Art
Carol is a retired art teacher from the Wheaton/Warrenville school district and has spent a portion of her career teaching art classes specifically designed for special needs students.