Chicago Gifted Community Center
Creating connections - Creating community
In Chicago and the suburbs
Carole Jones, President, Far West and Western Suburban Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator
Carole is an active mother of two and works full time for Dole Packaged Foods. Founded SOS for 2e (Support Options and Solutions for Twice Exceptional Children) in 2011 in Naperville Illinois. She continues to advocate for children rights for the past 11 years locally, statewide, and nationally. Carole is honored to be a board member of the Chicago Gifted Community Center and will continue to contribute to the Gifted and 2e communities.
Violeta Balan, Vice President, City of Chicago Coordinator
Violeta, a parent of two gifted elementary-aged children, is forever grateful to CGCC for helping her survive the shock that followed the finding that she was raising exceptional children. Originally from Romania, she moved to Chicago almost 30 years ago and fell in love with the city at first sight. Before becoming a mother, she worked in international arbitration and litigation for a major global law firm, enjoyed being an adjunct law professor, traveled the world as a global business development manager and learned the inner workings of an agency of the United Nations before graduating from college. Her most demanding and rewarding job, however, has been that of a parent and she is on a continuous quest how to better understand and support her children’s gifts and challenges. Her favorite CGCC activities are its book club gatherings and the parent SENG-model seminars. As the city of Chicago’s coordinator, she has the honor to welcome new members and she is looking forward to be of assistance and grow our community of local gifted families.
Linda Zanieski, Treasurer
Linda is the mother of one son. Prior to becoming a mother, she was a consultant with Cap Gemini. She is the quiet driving force behind the scenes; she keeps the calendar full of area events, updates the summer programs information, pays the bills, writes the updates and is in a constant search for enrichment activities for her son.
Katherine Peterson, Secretary and Professional Member Coordinator
Katherine is first and foremost the mother of two 2E young adults, through whom she discovered the challenging and joyful world of giftedness. She has been a SENG Model Parent Facilitator since 2010 supporting her children by emphasizing their unique personal process. Her family has public, private, & home schooled, traveled for learning, devised a self directed gap year abroad, and continues to be fascinated by giftedness through all life chapters. Katherine takes great joy as a Coach, supporting the grounded and purposeful self development of women through self discovery and the uniqueness of their personal process.
Sarah Alexander, LOGYC Leader and North Suburban Coordinator
Sarah is homeschooling her two gifted children in the northern suburbs. Before she realized that being gifted is also a special need, she worked full-time as a Hazzan. She now has a part-time pulpit but is somehow busier than ever as she co-coordinates (and teaches some of) the classes for LOGYC Gifted Coop and tries to stay at least one step ahead of her children. Homeschooled herself, Sarah always swore that she would never homeschool – while she loved it, it was so much work for her mother. Now she has come to realize that it is not only extremely rewarding, it is also much easier than when she was a kid, thanks to resources like the CGCC.
Newenka DuMont, West Suburban Coordinator
Newenka has two gifted children who are now adults. She became active in the gifted community in order to be a better advocate for her children and now looks for opportunities such as CGCC to pass on what she has learned. She founded a parent support and advocacy group in her area, she has worked with the Illinois Association for Gifted Children (IAGC) as a member of their board, and is a trained SENG Parent Group master facilitator.
Pamela Shaw, Social Media Editor, Far North Suburban Coordinator
Pamela has multiple part-time jobs which allow her the flexibility to manage the ups and downs that come with parenting two twice exceptional teens. She is a substitute teacher, private music teacher, virtual school teacher, professional development facilitator, and online course reviewer. She received her M.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis on Gifted Education from the University of Missouri. Her Illinois teaching endorsements include K-12 Music, K-12 Gifted, 5-8 General Science, and 5-8 Language Arts. She served on the Illinois State Board of Education’s Gifted Advisory Council for three years, and currently serves on the board of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children as Co-Chair of the Policy and Advocacy Committee.
Aileen Kelleher is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in working with gifted and twice-exceptional children, adults and families. She was born and raised in Chicago and currently lives on the south side with her husband. She loves to constantly learn and share information about giftedness and neurodiversity, and is passionate about the power of community for gifted people and families.