Designing Spaces—Suburban Office Spaces That Inspire

Office spaces have changed dramatically over the years. Since Herman Miller first created the ergonomic chair, companies have been looking for ways to get more out of their employees and create better, more inspiring work spaces to work in.

While unique corporate offices were once limited to major metropolitan areas, the suburbs have stepped up, moving from stacks of floors to unique, breathtaking work spaces. The Western suburbs have several examples of inspiring corporate offices that make coming to work anything but work.

Urban Oasis

Take for example, Fox River Partners’ office space on 2135 City Gate Lane in Naperville, the private investment group enjoys an escape from the typical work environment with a design created by none other than world renowned Peter Rich Architects. Central to the design is a parabolic arch in the vaulted ceiling, which has zigzagging, miniature, cone-shaped vaults made out of bricks from a local creek bed that has a bit of an artistic, M. C. Escher feel.

Desks are divided in a way to create a combination of privacy and openness. The dividers also serve as shelves, making them highly functional. Wood for the floors and shelves were sourced from trees destroyed by the beetle epidemic. The hallmark blue-ish pattern left by beetles’ burrowing into the wood has become an attractive and unique design aesthetic. The walls are accented with photographs and artifacts from different company ventures.

Other features include three-inch deep, black-bottomed pools of clear water, a weeping wall that gently trickles water into one of the pools and a 27-foot fallen oak tree taken from the forest behind owner, Joe Ritchie’s farm in Big Rock, IL and reassembled above one of the pools.

Lounges with tables exist throughout the space and commissioned paintings of Walter Payton, Walt Disney, Johnny Cash and more create a story that makes it feel like the most elaborate home office instead of a corporate workspace.

“The idea was to create a space with a story to it,” highlights Thomas Richie, director of research for Fox River Partners.

And how do the people who work there feel about the space? The consensus is that it’s a fun place to work. Richie reports that people feel connected to everyone in the office, regardless of the projects they’re working on. “The nature of the space makes it feel like we are all on a huge team,” said Richie.

Office “Coolified”

Charles Vincent George Architects, a nationally acclaimed design and architecture firm at 1245 E. Diehl Road in Naperville, has worked on everything from car dealerships to recreational facilities to medical offices. Just two years ago, Charles Vincent George’s headquarters moved from a vintage house in the downtown Naperville area to a contemporary-meets-industrial designed space that has boosted employee morale, says CEO and President, Bruce George.

“Our employees have responded very well,” says George. “Mostly because of their feeling of being on the cutting edge of design. I often find members of our team still working here late into the evenings—much later than in our old offices—not just because we are busy, they really enjoy being in the space.”

The inspired space features industrialized details such as floor-to-ceiling cold rail steel rolling doors, steel light fixtures and even steel I-beams with decorative edging and trim work. Warming things up are wood walls that give it a lofty feel.

“Because we do so much residential and commercial work, we really need to show clients a blend of contemporary and industrial so they can see the types of spaces we design,” George points out. “Clients and partners who come to our office say they feel as though they’ve walked into a city office that still has the warmth they want in a home or work space.”

George also points out that the overall layout was designed to promote creativity with open cubes for working privately and the option to step away from desks and work in one of the break-out spaces. In the same way that forward-thinking companies like Google and Facebook have created collaborative office environments, Charles Vincent George offers its team members high top tables and stools, a lounge area with comfortable couches and chairs and an oversized worktable in materials room that looks like a modern mini-library.

“Just being able to get up from your desk and go to another place to collaborate with coworkers takes away the doldrums,” George says.

Creative Cultural Reuse

For an office space that is both modern and historic, check out 5th Avenue Station at 200 E. 5th Avenue in Naperville. This truly unique historic building, connected to the Naperville train station, was once the Kroehler Factory building and is the last of its kind still standing in DuPage County. The four-story, 700-foot long brick building features tongue and groove flooring, exposed brick walls, wood-beamed ceilings, heavy timber columns and a 60′ x 30′ skylight. The structure is even listed in the National Registry of Historic Places; definitely something most people can’t say about their office building.

Fieldglass, a SAP company, occupies four spaces in the building and has renovated all of them to reflect the building’s storied history. The spaces feature locally sourced materials such as desk tables made out of bowling alley wood, barn wood and brick walls in conference rooms, 3″ hemlock conference tables and reclaimed steel table legs that were formed by a blacksmith who uses tools from the era when the Kroehler Factory was functional.

“We even mined data about the factory and have named our conference rooms after the furniture that was manufactured here,” said Jeff Basso, vice president of information technology and de-factor facilities manager.

Employees enjoy standing video games, a shuffle board area and even a bar for company happy hours on Friday, which makes for a great way to end the high-performance week that comes with working in the software development industry.

“We’ve talked about moving into a traditional corporate office and people cringe,” Basso remarks.

Hidden Luxury | 2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot Elite
2016 Honda Pilot Elite

Blurred Lines” was a big hit on the radio a few years back and at Honda dealerships, it might as well still be on the soundtrack. That’s because the completely redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot blurs the lines between utility and luxury, and does a spot-on imitation of the company’s smaller crossover, the always popular CR-V. Pilot buyers, old and new, will be pleased.

Made in Alabama, the Pilot looks little like the 2003 model that anchors its family tree, or even the model it replaces. Gone is the boxy look that attracted many earlier buyers. In its place is a design that brings this flagship in line with both its siblings and the prevailing trends in three-row SUV design. Inside, too, the Pilot is thoroughly modern and, in its higher-end iterations, a ringer for an Acura.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite
2016 Honda Pilot Elite

Spring for the Elite model, and you will have two heated captain seats in the second row, for a total capacity of seven. All other models get a second-row bench and seating for eight in total. In either case, a handy button on the sides of the second-row seats makes it easy to slide those seats out of the way for third-row passengers to enter or exit.

On optioned-out models, the back of the front console—the part facing the second row—looks like something out of NASA’s mission control, with buttons and outlets galore. There are controls for the air conditioner and heated seats, as well as headphone jacks, an HDMI input, and USB and standard power outlets. This is a vehicle designed for road trips. The 19.5-gallon tank and an engine tuned for regular unleaded are also road trip friendly.

The Pilot does its duty as a large SUV, converting easily from three-row people hauling to seats-folded cargo van. Honda did away with the rear glass that could open separately from the rest of the tailgate, and the load floor is relatively high, but the cargo space itself is capacious, and the rear seats fold down easily for big loads.

Just like the Acura MDX, with which it shares many components, the Pilot features a somewhat annoying electronic transmission selector. There are buttons for park, drive, and neutral, and a pull-back trigger for reverse. But once you get the transmission in gear, it is definitely go time with acceleration and handling that belies the Pilot’s size.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite
2016 Honda Pilot Elite

The Pilot is available in five trim levels, from LX to Elite. All share the same suspension, steering, and 280-horsepower V6 engine. But Honda does its buyers a favor by clearly distinguishing among the models. The three LX and EX models are equipped with a six-speed transmission and 18-inch wheels. The two highest trim levels are endowed with a nine-speed transmission and 20-inch wheels. Front- or all-wheel drive are choices for the first four levels. The Elite comes standard with all-wheel-drive.

The 2015 Honda Pilot LX with front-wheel drive can be yours for $29,995. Choose one of the higher trim levels, or load up with options, and you will see your Pilot edge into Acura territory. A top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive Pilot Elite starts at $46,420. In between those two bookends are 15 different versions to choose among.

The higher trim models get the latest electronic safety and driver assistance features as standard equipment. Those same features are options on the EX models and unavailable on the LX—a fact that may push some buyers away from the “bargain” model.

On the other end of the pricing spectrum, Honda has made some of the best features available only on the Elite model. Those include a blind-spot warning system (with state-of-the-art cross-traffic monitoring), rain-sensing windshield wipers, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof, and auto-on/off LED headlights.

Photo courtesy of ©2016 American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Diveheart—The Power of Zero Gravity

NMAG0316_Neighborhood_nm jim eliott diveheart 3_800pxThe sky’s the limit for Jim Elliott, a man with a passion for the depths of the ocean and the beneficial effects it can have on those with disabilities.

“Scuba diving is the closest you can get to flying without a plane,” said Elliott. “It’s like being an astronaut. It’s so freeing for all individuals, but especially for those who are disabled. It gives us such freedom to be able to move without gravity.”

But Elliott’s not simply a fan of the sport—which he says less than one percent of the population has tried—he’s an advocate for the positive energy and confidence-building characteristics the sport provides.

Benefits Beyond Diving

After discovering the benefits scuba diving has for disabled people, Elliott started his own nonprofit in 2001 called Diveheart. Their mission: to build confidence, independence and self-esteem in the lives of children, adults and veterans with disabilities through scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities. They work with a wide range of people, from children with autism to veterans who have lost limbs.

“I realized how powerful zero gravity is,” said Elliott. “I started seeing some of the results of how much healing it can provide through my work with Rotary Club’s around the world.”

Award-winning Connections

Elliott has won several awards for his work. In 2013, he was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the West Suburban Philanthropic Network (WSPN).

He gave up a flourishing media career with the Chicago Tribune, WGN Radio and CLTV News to follow his dream. Elliott started as a full-time volunteer teaching individuals with disabilities how to scuba dive. Having taught his blind daughter Erin how to ski when she was nine-years-old, he wondered what else the less able might be able to do. As CEO of Diveheart, he now works seven days a week, yet doesn’t draw a salary. Something he believes all nonprofit leaders should consider.

Based in Downers Grove, Diveheart has gone global with centers in China, the U.K and Australia. As well as running scuba classes and opportunities for the disabled in pools they also organize trips.

“We just took 38 people to Cozumel in Mexico,” Elliott said. “One of them, Amber Rangel, had been a champion water skier until a jump left her as a quadriplegic. When we took her scuba diving it was her first time back in the water. It was so powerful.”

The Journey Continues

If all that were not enough, Elliott is now planning the next stage in the Diveheart journey. He is hoping to build the first 150 foot deep warm water pool on the continent in the Western Suburbs. The project will cost $100 million but he is already looking at potential sites and believes it will become a reality. Research has shown that the body releases an extra output of serotonin below 66 feet, so the deeper the pool the more beneficial it will be to divers and researchers alike.

“We have worked with spinal patients who say they are free from pain at these depths,” said Elliott. In the deep warm water pool, the divers would be 30 feet above grade with the rest below, kind of like a giant aquarium without fish. “It’s great to see so many lives being touched. It can move you to tears,” said Elliott. “It’s not just about scuba diving, it’s about helping people imagine the possibilities in their lives. If they can scuba dive, what else can they do? I want to create a paradigm shift. It’s not just about helping the disabled physically, it’s about seeing what else they can do.”

For more information visit

Photo by Robyn Sheldon

Nightscaping—Showcasing Your Landscape in a New Light

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Photo courtesy Hursthouse

For years Naperville homeowners have invested time, energy and resources to transform their backyard gardens into much more than a pretty view. Combining beautiful landscapes with special features like outdoor kitchens and living rooms, designers have enabled us to expand our living space beyond the confines of our homes and into welcoming backyard retreats and festive social gathering spaces.


Now designers have enabled homeowners to take outdoor living one step further with one of the hottest landscaping trends called ”nightscaping.” Nightscaping is what enables homeowners to extend their enjoyment and use of outdoor spaces into the evening hours. Known especially for its nocturnal lighting effects, well designed nightscaped backyards can make water sparkle like diamonds on cascading spillways and cast its inviting glow upon your favorite focal points.

“Great lighting is really the finishing touch on all great landscaping. Our clients tend to do a lot of entertaining after dark, and we need to really keep that in mind when coming up with our designs,” explains Carter Conlin Jr., landscape architect and construction manager of C.B. Conlin Landscapes in Naperville. “Nightscaping has really developed over the years and bringing the party outside is really our biggest goal at C.B. Conlin. The more you, and your guests, can interact with nature, the better.”

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Photo courtesy C.B. Conlin


When many of us think about lighting, we think about its practical side: safety, security and seeing well enough to get from point A to point B. But lighting is also about mood. It’s about creating atmosphere with pockets of light and shadow, playing up silhouettes and architectural features.

Up lighting, for example, which has been around for some time, is a type of floodlight placed at the base of vertical elements such as pergolas, trellises, fountains, or a striking tree to accentuate their sculptural qualities.

Moonlighting—also called down lighting—is usually more subtle. Perched in high tree branches or at the peak of a roof line, it bathes a broad area of a garden below with soft light, much like the glow of the moon.

Back lighting, too, is more subtle than direct. Positioned behind objects of interest such as an urn, it creates a dramatic silhouette that catches the eye.

Floodlights and path lights are probably the most familiar to us but are used far less than years past. Strong floodlights, in the wrong hands, can overpower a space, creating an unwelcome glare or “Vegas effect.” Pathway lights, too, are not uncommon, but are used less and less by some designers because they are so easily damaged. Instead, many designers use wall or step lights or even down lighting as path light substitutes. The key is application. Not too much, not too little.

“A great system will utilize many of these lighting techniques to move people through, as well as draw attention to key features, within the space without overpowering it,” said Scott Lucchetti, landscape designer with C.B. Conlin Landscapes.

Backyard design has come a long way. Far beyond adding a few perfunctory light fixtures, nightscaping isn’t just about newer, better light applications. According to John Algozzini, a designer with 35 years experience and lead designer with K&D Landscape Management, nightscaping is anything in the outdoor environment that extends the useful time in the landscape after dusk.


“Lighting is only a part of nightscaping, not the whole picture. It also includes elements of fire, water, sound and scent,” said Algozzini. Although every client’s needs and tastes are different, there is currently one hot request among Naperville clients when it comes to their outdoor spaces: fire.

“If that’s a wood-burning fire pit, or gas-fire table, or fireplace, it’s what extends our enjoyment a little bit more into the cool October or March nights. If we can light a fire with our children and make more family time, roasting marshmallows together, that’s real value,” said Algozzini.


Fire elements have at least three factors making them ideal for nightscaping: light, warmth and sound. Sound, however, is one of those things we don’t often think about. However, when it’s present in the right way, it can truly impact our outdoor experience. Of course, installing a sound system to listen to Rochmaninoff after dinner while sipping pinot noir is certainly one way to do it. But acoustic elements can also be as simple and uncomplicated as a set of wind chimes, the sounds of wood crackling on a fire, or water rushing over rocks in a stream.

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Photo courtesy Bruss Landscaping, Inc.


And then there’s the universal appeal of water. Like elements of sound or fire, water takes on a whole new personality in the dark of night. Whether it’s a koi pond, rippling stream, elegant pool with fountains, or water spilling over the sides of a large urn, water combined with accent light, looks utterly magical and adds its soothing sounds to the nighttime experience.

Scent and Moonlight Gardens

But perhaps the most overlooked nighttime aesthetic is fragrance or scent. Although a subtle, almost imperceptible part of our experience, each one of us has a unique fragrance or smell we most enjoy.

Lucchetti agrees. “Every client is different, which is why every design is different.” While one client may love the vanilla-sweet perfume of spice viburnum or lilac blossoms, another may enjoy the backwoods scent of wood burning in their fireplace. It all depends on personal preference.

Interestingly, some varieties of plants are ideal for nightscapes or moonlight gardens. Whether annual, perennial or woody, these nocturnal plants only bloom and release their fragrance at night. In our climate zone, such plants might include evening primrose, moonflower, some varieties of lilac, honeysuckle or bleeding hearts. Others, with silver leaves or white blooms, glow especially well in moonlight like some hosta, dusty miller, silver sage or lamb’s ears.

Photo courtesy Hursthouse

Inside Out

Many of us enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at night, but many also enjoy the sights and sounds of a good Bears game on their outdoor TV. Outdoor kitchens, dining areas, seating areas, play areas, and fireplaces have all become part of the nightscape landscape as well. “One of the newest trends in Naperville nightscapes has been the outdoor entertainment center,” said Conlin. “These days it’s about bringing what we enjoy most about indoor living, to our favorite outdoor spaces.”

Whether summer days are just too hot to enjoy, or we don’t get home from work until the evening hours, nightscaping is one way we can beat the heat and unwind to enjoy the nighttime calm and beauty of our backyard sanctuaries.

Be Our Guest—Naperville Home Features Kitchen Designed for Memorable Moments with Family and Friends

Quick Tour

Year House Built: 2001
Architect/builder/designer: Matt Moser
Total Home Square Footage: 7,219 plus finished basement for a total of 10,000 SF of living space
Lot Size: .8072 acres
General Location: Old Naperville close to downtown


  • Stately French provincial brick and limestone home with copper gutters oversized four car heated side load garage with basement access located on a triple lot in the heart of Naperville
  • Four gas fireplaces
  • Spectacular center hall staircase
  • 10′ ceilings
  • Alder paneled study with coffered ceiling
  • Solarium with slate floors, skylights and walls of windows
  • Second 1st floor study or computer work room
  • Kitchen boasts brick masonry fireplace, reclaimed barn wood floors, butler pantry with wet bar and beverage fridge, and additionally large walk-in pantry with abundant storage options
  • Family room features beamed ceiling and masonry fireplace
  • Mud room provides lockers, storage bench seating, entry closet, cabinets and utility sink
  • Upstairs you’ll find a loft, a second enormous family room, a second floor laundry and five spacious bedrooms all with access to en-suite
  • Master suite boasts a fireplace, a wall of storage drawers plus spacious walk-in closet, an opulent master en suite sporting honed marble, steam shower, separate whirlpool tub and custom cabinetry
  • Take the back stairs down to the professionally finished basement that features another family room space, billiards area, full bar, game room, exercise room, 6th bedroom and full bathroom with another steam shower and second laundry room

Meet your Neighbors

Number of years in house: 15

Favorite room in this house: The kitchen is my favorite room in the house because it is the epicenter of our lives. With four kids, everything has always taken place in the kitchen. Meals at every time of the day, homework, and conversations. We both come from large families that all live in the area. The kitchen is so big, that is where we do all of our entertaining.

Favorite thing about Naperville: Downtown! We are within walking distance from downtown.

A family tradition you’d like to share: Family dinners. Whenever we have an occasion to celebrate such as birthdays, holidays, engagements, graduations and achievements,THIS is the gathering place!

Ron Kelso—Someone You Should Know

NMAG0316_SYSK_nm ron kelso 1_800pxRetired Naperville teacher Ron Kelso is answering a higher calling. The Yorkville resident has turned a family tragedy into triumph and is reaching out to help others who are less fortunate with his tireless efforts working for Habitat for Humanity. His was recently recognized by the nonprofit with the Illinois Habitat for Humanity Hero Lifetime Achievement Award.

How did you become involved with Habitat For Humanity?

My son and I had plans to work on a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) home together. Kevin was one of the youth leaders at church and he was going to mobilize the teens. I was deeply involved with the community outreach program at Community Christian Church in Naperville and I was going to mobilize the adults. My son died at 19 years old. In his memory, many wonderful people in the church worked with me to host a dinner and giant auction to raise the necessary funds to rehab a home in Aurora. The HFH family that moved into this home is an incredible family. I instantly became friends with the mom and her twin daughters. I love them and am blessed for knowing them. From this experience I was hooked. As my passion for HFH deepened, I continued to get more and more involved. Simply serving on the Executive Board is not enough. I volunteer four, five, or even six days a week by going to the office and getting involved where I can make the greatest impact for our families.

Tell us about your 2015 Illinois Habitat for Humanity Hero Lifetime Achievement Award.

I am a Christian that believes God has a plan for my life, even after my son’s death in 2005. I was severely depressed and struggled with my own life. I literally do not have memory of my son’s wake, funeral or the next two months. I entered counseling with Rod Olgivie of Naperville for a year. God uses others to answer our prayers. As I cried out to God, he used people for me to put my life back together so that I could fulfill his plan for the rest of my life. In November of 2004 I lost my mother and we were very close. Just five months later, in April, that’s when I lost my only son. In June I retired from teaching 6th grade math on the Bear’s team at Lincoln Junior High. I taught in Naperville at Mill Street School from 1972–1977, Steeple Run School from 1977–1980, and at Lincoln Jr. High from 1980–2005. It was a labor of love and is something that was such an important part of my life. I miss it but God had a new plan for me with Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity in nearby Montgomery. This award is recognition that God can accomplish anything in our lives and that He has done everything that was needed for me to have this level of accomplishment. I know that I did not do this on my own.

What inspires you to help others?

What inspires me are the incredible people we build homes for. It is the personal relationship that develops every time we build another home. These are incredible people that are working so hard to make the best life for their family as possible. They always enrich my life and I am blessed to know them. It breaks my heart that we have a model that has worked 700,000 times all over the world in all kinds of cultures and we can’t raise more funds to help more families. No matter how successful we are, there are always other deserving families that are ready for our hand-up (not a hand-out).

You have touched many lives with your work through Habitat for Humanity. What do you hope others will learn from your actions?

Most of us have been given much in different areas of our lives. This is not necessarily money. It can be your skills, talents, abilities, time, your business, or your wealth. We have all been entrusted with certain things, and faithfulness requires that we manage those things wisely and unselfishly. It needs to benefit others. There is a Biblical Reference in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I strive to find ways to give a sustainable hand-up so others will be independent, not dependent on hand-outs. We have all heard the story of giving a person a fish to feed them only for a day versus teaching a person to fish so they will be able to feed themselves. That is what Habitat for Humanity does.

Photo by Robyn Sheldon

Happy Feet—Why Running Makes You Happy

You may have heard the saying that exercise is good medicine. If your lifestyle includes a regular cardio workout, you know it’s true. Most runners will also tell you, that no matter how good or bad of a day they’re having, a good run makes them feel better.

Runner’s High

Regular runners crave the “runner’s high”—the rush of endorphins, which trigger a positive and energizing outlook on life. New research has found that this phenomenon is also caused by dopamine, one of the most important neurotransmitters to motivate the body. Kris Hartner, owner of Naperville Running Company, agrees that running creates a feeling of happiness. “I know it does. Not just from the research, but from personal experience. I can’t think of a run where I didn’t feel better after doing it,” said Hartner. “Even tonight, during a run with my nephew who’s training for bootcamp and struggling with his motivation, I told him if he can just put his running gear on and get out the door, he’ll never regret doing it. It’s the simple satisfaction of doing something that you know makes you stronger and healthier, both physically and mentally.”

Health Benefits

Experts say regular workouts of 30 minutes, five times a week, have better health benefits than any pill a doctor could prescribe. Running in particular can prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Experts have found that running is also good for your emotional and mental health as well.

Leptin Levels

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Montreal looked closely at the hormone called leptin. Usually leptin regulates your energy storage by telling your body when it has enough fuel and energy. The researchers discovered that leptin levels fluctuate in obese people and those under tremendous stress. On the other hand, runners have leptin levels that tend to fall, meaning the lower leptin levels are, the better the performance. In the Journal Cell Metabolism, scientists say this could send a hunger signal to the brain’s pleasure center to generate the rewarding effects of running. This in turn, could be the reason athletes crave a regular run. “I’ve spent much of the last two years unable to run because of an injury and subsequent surgery on my Achilles. But just three weeks ago, I did my first track workout in almost three years. As I finished that workout it struck me how much I missed and loved the feeling and satisfaction of making myself feel better, the fatigue after the workout, and the—sorry for the cliche—kinship of a group supporting each other, doing what we love,” said Hartner.

Building Social Bonds

Research has also shown that forming friendships over the miles keeps runners happy too. Training partners provide accountability and motivation at all levels. “I think anyone who has run with a team or a group will tell you that they help take you to places you couldn’t go on your own. You share in each other’s successes and help each other work through the setbacks. The accountability to the group will result in a much higher rate of success in sticking to a program. It’s the best way to stay motivated,” said Hartner.

You do not have to be a marathon runner to feel the psychological benefits of exercise. Harvard Medical School experts remind us that even walking, stretching, doing mental exercises, practicing breathing and muscle relaxation techniques can all break down stress levels and create happiness. Meditation can relax your mind, and make you feel more positive and reduces stress. Even chores like gardening and cleaning the house can get you moving and lift your spirits.

Business Briefs | March 2016


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Ryan Down Photo courtesy Hesed House

The Hesed House Board of Trustees has announced that Ryan Dowd will be returning as its next leader for Illinois’s second largest comprehensive homeless shelter and resource center, replacing Michael Cobb, who recently resigned. Dowd returned to Hesed House as executive director on February 8, 2016. He previously served as Hesed House’s executive director for nine years, first serving as a volunteer at age 13 and continuing in various staff roles throughout college and law school. Dowd left Hesed House in 2013 and founded the Center for Faith and Human Rights based in Washington, D.C. where he focused on assisting human rights activists in repressive countries. Most recently, he served as executive director at Ayuda, serving vulnerable immigrants in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland with legal, social and language services. Dowd received his J.D. and MPA degrees from Northern Illinois University. He earned his undergraduate degree from North Central College.

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Dr. Lucio Pavone Photo courtesy Edward-Elmhurst Health

Edward-Elmhurst Health has announced that surgeon Dr. Lucio Pavone has joined Edward Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Pavone received his medical degree from Albany Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. prior to completing a Plastic Surgery residency at the University of California at Los Angeles. He also completed a fellowship in Reconstructive Microsurgery at the University of Chicago. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery as well as the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery. His clinical interests include breast reconstruction including advanced microsurgical techniques, skin cancer surgery, general reconstruction as well as cosmetic surgery of the face, breast, and body.

Dr. Iris Seitz Photo courtesy Edward-Elmhurst Health

Dr. Iris Seitz, board certified in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, has joined Edward Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Seitz received her medical degree from Freie Universitat Berlin in Germany and her PhD in neuroscience at Charite University Medicine Berlin. She completed her residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at The University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Seitz received additional training in Reconstructive Microsurgery, Super-microsurgery and Craniofacial Surgery, with an emphasis on facial nerve disorders, functional muscle transfers, peripheral nerve surgery and lymphatic reconstruction, at internationally renowned medical centers in Europe, Taiwan, Korea and Israel. Dr. Seitz’s clinical interests include aesthetic facial reconstruction, complex microsurgical reconstruction of the cranium/scalp and face, focusing on facial paralysis and complex facial deformities in both children and adults. Additional areas of expertise include breast reconstruction, melanoma surgery and reconstruction, super microsurgical lymphatic reconstruction/lymph node transfer, peripheral nerve disorders, migraine surgery and cosmetic procedures.

Sue Buchta Photo courtesy Wilton Enterprises

Sue Buchta has been appointed CEO of Woodridge-based Wilton Brands LLC, effective immediately. Buchta, a seasoned executive who is currently serving as Wilton Brands’ executive vice president overseeing sales, marketing, ecommerce and product development, and previously served as president and CEO of Papyrus-Recycled Greetings Inc., will spearhead the company’s evolution and position Wilton Brands for future growth. Buchta has over 20 years of leadership experience in product development, marketing, sales and general management. Prior to Wilton Brands, she spent 15 years with American Greetings Corporation, most recently serving as president and CEO of Papyrus-Recycled Greetings in Chicago, where she demonstrated an ability to lead a complex organization focused on innovation and creativity.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Naperville resident Mike Hoffman as the director of Central Management Services (CMS). Hoffman is an experienced, transformational leader who joined the agency from the Department of Commerce where he was the chief operating officer. At DCEO, Hoffman ran the day-to-day operations of the Agency and led the Department’s strategic planning efforts. These efforts are transforming DCEO to become more innovative to improve Illinois’ economic and business climate. Prior to his work for the State of Illinois, Hoffman worked for RockTenn (now WestRock), which is a Fortune 500 company that manufactures consumer and corrugated packaging. Hoffman is a retired Major in the Marine Corps, where he served the U.S. for 15 years. Prior to his retirement, he served as a management consultant and Program Manager at the U.S. Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group. In this role, he advised foreign military services on how to implement strategic change in their organizations. Hoffman earned his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and holds a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Elmhurst resident Emily Bastedo has been named the chief of staff to First Lady Diana Rauner. Bastedo brings a unique background to the role with experience as an attorney at the corporate and state level, as well as a local school board official in the Chicago suburbs. Her thorough understanding of law and policy will be an asset as she assists with agency transformation and acting as a liaison for the First Lady across the state. She will also have an active role in the restoration of the Executive Mansion. Bastedo is currently an associate counsel in the Office of the Governor where she is the legal liaison for ten state agencies, boards and commissions including the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Capital Development Board and the Illinois Finance Authority. Bastedo is also a member of the Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 School Board where she sits on the Finance and Operations Committee and Policy Committee. Bastedo is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and earned her law degree from DePaul University.

Ron Heitzman was appointed CEO of Parksite Inc. in Batavia. He succeeds George A. Pattee, who will remain chairman of the Board. Heitzman was a consultant who helped privately held companies with growth and strategy. Pattee will remain chairman of the board focusing the company’s acquisition strategy, seeking candidates with matching or complementary business propositions to tie in with the present structure.

T.J. Hicks has been named development director for Wheaton Park District. Hicks will oversee the continued success and growth of the district’s nonprofit foundations: Cosley Foundation, DuPage County Historical Museum Foundation, and Play For All Playground & Garden Foundation. A veteran of Northern Illinois University and DuPage Children’s Museum, Hicks brings many years of fundraising experience, event management, and board development to the district, along with a passion for seeing not-for-profit organizations positively impact their community. Hicks has a Master of Arts degree in Communication from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor’s in Speech Communication from Colorado State University.


Nina Carter and Michelle Adams, co-owners of The Sugar Path in Geneva, recently won a contest sponsored by a financial company that allowed them to travel to New York and have a one-on-one session with “Shark Tank’s” Barbara Corcoran, who shared her advice for small businesses.

New Business

Edward Elmhurst Hospital President and CEO Pamela Davis in Naperville IL. Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Photography by James C. Svehla
Edward Elmhurst Hospital President and CEO Pamela Davis in Naperville IL. Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Photography by James C. Svehla

Edward-Elmhurst Health has extended its partnership with Naper Events to be the primary sponsor of the Naperville Half Marathon & Marathon for three more years, 2016-2018. The official title during that time will be the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & Marathon Sponsored by Edward-Elmhurst Health. Naper Events is the organization that puts on the event each year. Edward-Elmhurst Health was the primary sponsor of the first three races, beginning in 2013 and including 2015, which featured a downtown Naperville start and finish, raised more than $240,000 for charity and generated more than $2 million for local businesses. Nearly 3,600 runners completed the races—nearly 2,800 half marathon finishers and more than 800 marathon finishers. The 2016 Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & Marathon will be held on Sunday, October 23 with the same start/finish location in downtown Naperville. As part of the agreement, the Edward Foundation continues as the premier charity in the event’s Charity Program. In 2015, the Foundation had 12 runners who raised nearly $11,000 to benefit Edward Hospital programs and services.

Naperville-based CPA firm Brennan & Brosnan LLC has merged with the Oak Park-based Sassetti LLC, expanding the firm’s reach and services. The merger, which was effective January 1, 2016, will allow Brennan & Brosnan to add auditing services to their existing tax planning, tax preparation, accounting, and financial consulting offerings. Brennan & Brosnan’s employees will continue to operate out of their Naperville office. Margaret Brennan and Betsy Brosnan join the five partners of Sassetti as partners in the merged company. Brennan & Brosnan, founded in 1994, specializes in serving the tax and business advisory needs of entrepreneurial businesses and owners in the Naperville area. The firm provides tax planning, tax preparation, estate planning and estate administration services to individual clients and companies in various industries. Sassetti LLC dates back to 1921 and provides accounting, audit, tax and advisory services to middle-market businesses, both closely held and publicly traded, nonprofit organizations, employee benefit plans and individuals.