- About Us
- Our Staff
Kim PerezPresident, CEO
Kim joined The Cradle on December 1, 2016 as President and Chief Executive Officer, responsible for bolstering the organization’s capacity to continue leading the way in services for building and strengthening families for years to come.
She has extensive non-profit and social service experience, most recently as the Executive Director of People’s Resource Center, a non-profit in Wheaton serving low-income families. Kim spearheaded that organization's expansion and capital campaign for a new, permanent facility in Westmont to serve the low-income community in the southeast region of DuPage County.
Prior to her 6+ years at People’s Resource Center, Kim held several leadership positions at the social services agency Lifelink. Kim spent twelve years at Lifelink and served as their Vice President of Child and Family Services. In that role she directed all the operations for the division, including Foster Care, Intact Family Services, Head Start, Healthy Families, as well as the agency’s international adoption programs.
Originally from Iowa, Kim has a Master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago. She, her husband and son reside in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.
Linda HagemanExecutive Director of Adoption Services, Vice President of Professional Services
Linda has been with The Cradle since 1989 and has directed The Cradle’s placement programs for over 18 years, advocating locally and nationally for best practices in the field of adoption.
As Executive Director of Adoption Services and Vice President of Professional Services, Linda is responsible for overseeing the quality and integrity of the services provided to all members of the adoption circle. She is responsible for new program development and modification of current programs to meet client needs and maintain an ethical and contemporary approach to adoption. She manages several departments at The Cradle including: adoptive parent services, birth parent services, post adoption services and The Cradle Nursery. She also serves as a member of The Cradle's senior management team.
Prior to joining The Cradle, Linda worked in public and private child welfare agencies providing direct service to birth parents, adoptive parents and children.
Linda received her MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has four children and currently lives in Evanston.
Sarah O´DonnellVice President of Development & Marketing
Sarah joined The Cradle in March 2017 and serves as the Vice President of Development and Marketing. In her role, Sarah is responsible for the management and execution of fundraising efforts, volunteerism, public relations, marketing and brand positioning to help build and strengthen families through the support of Cradle partners and friends.
Sarah has a comprehensive background working in the nonprofit industry and in local government. She has held development and marketing leadership roles with People’s Resource Center, Wheaton Park District, The Morton Arboretum and the Village of Algonquin. Combining her professional experiences, Sarah uses her expertise in donor development and retention, mass and social media marketing, public and private partnerships, data analysis, and creativity to advance existing and future impact strategies – especially related to children and families.
Sarah is an alumna from George Williams College at Aurora University and has recently completed a fellowship with Community Memorial Foundation. She also serves in a volunteer leadership capacity with the West Suburban Philanthropic Network, DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Rotary Club. Sarah, her husband and daughter reside in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
Nijole YutkowitzVice President of Inclusion and Community Development
Nijole joined The Cradle in 2011 with responsibilities for both The Cradle Foundation and The Sayers Center. Nijole works to educate the African American community about adoption & recruit more African American families to adopt. She also provides on-going support and opportunities for connection to all families who have adopted African American children.
Another primary responsibility is raising funds to support The Cradle with an emphasis on The Sayers Center Program. In this role Nijole is is responsible for identifying new major donors, soliciting African American owned companies and corporations and increasing gifts among existing Sayers Center families.
Prior to coming to the Cradle, Nijole spent nearly 30 years in sales in the corporate sector, working with a number of magazine wholesale and publishing companies including NewsCorp, Time Warner and Johnson Publishing Company.
Nijole received her B.A. in Psychology from Chicago State University. Nijole and husband Larry are the proud parents of Taylor and Cradle baby Harrison.
Dana T. MulhallLCSW, Clinical Supervisor of Expectant Parent Services
Dana began at The Cradle in 2000, first as a birth parent counselor and then as an adoptive parent counselor. Dana now supervises the team of counselors who work with expectant parents considering adoption and birth parents. She enjoys supporting the work of the counselors as they support their clients. She is also a facilitator of adoptive parent educational workshops. Dana received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Catholic University in 1998 and Master of Social Work degree in 2000 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois.
Sue PuffPaffLCSW, Clinical Supervisor, Adoptive Parent Services
Sue has worked in the social work field for 13 years, 7 of that in adoption. She received her Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois. She has a myriad of adoption experiences which includes adoption in the public child welfare system, post adoption and providing counseling to adoptive families. Sue is committed to the field of social work and is passionate about creating families through adoption.
Ashley AkiyamaLCSW, Cradle Counselor
Before joining The Cradle, Ashley earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the School of Social Service Administration at The University of Chicago. During this time, Ashley completed internships within adoption and children’s grief therapy. Most recently, Ashley worked in a community mental health setting, counseling teens and young adults, and providing coaching and support in their transition to adulthood and independent living.
Arletta BarbelMA, Cradle Counselor
Ever since her experience as a peer mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister program, Arletta knew she enjoyed mentoring and offering support. Before coming to The Cradle, she worked as a Crisis Counselor at Chicago Youth Centers and as a respite worker at Metropolitan Family Services. Arletta received her Bachelor's Degree from Southern Illinois University and her master's degree from National Louis University.
Corinne FergusonLCSW, Adoption Counselor
Corinne received her Master’s degree in Social Work with a clinical concentration in Child and Family Therapy from Loyola University, where she also received her Bachelor’s in Social Work. She also has advanced training in group facilitation. Before coming to The Cradle, Corinne helped prepare families for adoption as a Case Manager. Her previous experience also includes youth advocacy in the Illinois court system.
Prior to becoming a social worker, Corinne spent nine years working in the healthcare field in a hospital setting and a small private practice on the north shore.
Nina M. FriedmanLCSW, Director of Post Adoption Support
Nina has an in depth understanding of adoption issues. She has extensive experience working with adoptive and foster children and their families, adult adoptees, and birth parents. Prior to joining The Cradle’s staff, she worked with adoptive and foster families at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and Community Counseling Centers of Chicago. She also had a private social work therapy practice working with individuals, couples, and families.
Nina has a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis with a concentration in Mental Health and a specialization in Family Therapy. As an undergraduate, she majored in Psychology with a minor in Family Relations and Human Development at The Ohio State University. Nina is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois, has her DCFS Child Welfare Employee Licensure and is a Licensed Direct Child Welfare Services Employee. She represents The Cradle on the Illinois Adoption Registry-Confidential Intermediary Advisory Council, the Illinois Post Legal Adoption Services Meeting of Agencies, the Original Birth Certificate Access Oversight Committee, and the Stakeholder Advisory Team for the National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation.
Dori FujiiLCSW, Adoption Therapist
Dori Fujii is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in the field of public and private child welfare and adoption since receiving her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She has consulted with DCFS in their pre- and post-adoptive services programs and since 1997 and has worked at The Cradle with families adopting domestically and internationally.
Dori has specialized training in attachment focused, trauma-informed treatment modalities and is a registered Circle of Security® Parent Educator and registered TBRI® Practitioner. She has particular interest in helping parents find effective ways of understanding, communicating and connecting with their children and teens. Her approach is practical and relationship oriented. She stresses the importance of being aware of how past experiences play a role in shaping the thoughts, feelings and actions of all members of the adoption circle.
Katie GattoneMSW, Adoption Counselor
Katie has over 16 years of experience working in the field of social work. She has worked with foster and adoptive families throughout her career with experience completing subsidized adoptions and special needs adoptions. Katie also has experience in licensing and post adoption services. She has a Master’s in Social Work from University of Illinois-Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. Katie enjoys being a part of a fabulous team at The Cradle and helping build families through adoption.
Meghan HoppsLCSW, Cradle Counselor
Prior to joining the counseling team at The Cradle, Meg completed internships at two different adoption agencies and went on to work as an Adoption Specialist with children in the foster care system. After receiving a B.A. from Marquette University with a double major in Social Welfare & Justice and Sociology and a minor in Family Studies, Meg received her Masters Degree in Social Work from Loyola University in Chicago. Meg enjoys meeting new people and learning about the lives of people from all different backgrounds.
Mandy JonesLCSW, JD, Certified Theraplay® Practitioner and Trainer, Adoption Therapist
Mandy has worked almost exclusively with adoptive and foster families since she began her career. A Certified Theraplay® Practitioner and Trainer, she takes a particular interest in helping families with young children form strong attachments and work through sensory concerns. Mandy is also experienced in helping adopted individuals with identity, loss, and anxiety concerns throughout their lifespan. Through her work as a trainer, she educates parents and professionals about attachment and parenting the adopted child. She regularly presents at both local and national conferences. Mandy also takes a particular interest in organizing and participating in events that foster community between adoptive and foster families. One of her favorite experiences has been traveling with families who have adopted internationally as they have embarked on homeland journeys.
Mandy earned her BA in Political Science and her BS in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. She earned her Master of Clinical Social Work and Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University.
Carmen KnightMS MFT, Adoption Counselor
Carmen has been working in the adoption field since 2006. Before joining the Cradle, she worked with both Bridge Communications, Inc. in Chicago, and The Ties Program-Adoptive Family Travel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She also interned as a therapist at the International Adoption Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Some of Carmen’s past experiences in the adoption field include: working at culture camps and adoptee camps, leading classes and seminars on adoption topics at various conferences and for adoption agencies, speaking on panels, helping families prepare logistically and emotionally for touring their child’s country of birth, emotionally supporting families doing birth searches and reunions, and working with adoptive families as a therapist. Carmen earned her bachelor’s degree from Knox College in Social Science Education and Secondary Education, and her master’s degree from Edgewood College in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Lorrin PottsMSW, Adoption Counselor
Lorrin has worked in the adoption field since 2011. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Children, Youth, and Families from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining The Cradle, Lorrin worked as an Adoptive Parent Counselor, Expectant Parent Counselor, and Post-Adoption Specialist at an adoption agency in Wisconsin. She also worked for the Resource Link Children’s Mental Health Program with the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and completed an internship in Early Intervention Services. Lorrin chose to pursue a career in social work in order to work in the adoption field, and she is excited to continue her career at The Cradle.
Jennifer RogersLCSW, Cradle Counselor
Jennifer has extensive experience in a wide variety of areas, from providing clinical advice to attorneys to running parents' and children's support groups. She has also worked in private practice as a therapist and supervised child care programs. Jennifer received her Bachelors of Psychology and her Masters of Social Work from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Kathy SantangeloAdoption Counselor
Kathy has worked in the social service arena for over 25 years. She has worked in the adoption field for the last 20 years, both in the public and private sectors. Kathy has several years of experience working with families adopting medically complex children through the foster care system. She also has experience with expectant parent counseling, domestic infant adoption and international adoption. Kathy received her degree from Northern Illinois University in Family Social Services. Kathy has truly found her passion in assisting families as they navigate their adoption journeys.
Melissa ShikanyLCSW, Cradle Counselor
When Melissa joined The Cradle team as an Expectant Parent Counselor, she brought with her the experience and knowledge of her past fifteen years in the field. Her love for working with people, especially in underserved communities, developed from her years as a foster care case manager and most recently from her time working as a social worker in a CPS High School. Melissa received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development/Family Studies from Indiana University in 1999 and her Master of Social Work degree in 2005 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois.
Judy StiggerLCSW, Adoption Therapist, Clinical Director of Adoption Learning Partners
As Adoption Therapist, Judy works with children, adults, and families with post adoption issues. She provides training for parents, educators and clinical professionals. As Clinical Director for Adoption Learning Partners, Judy creates content and coordinates with professionals. Previously, Judy coordinated international and domestic adoption programs. She authored "Coping with Infertility" and many articles related to adoption.
Judy conceptualized www.AdoptionLearningPartners.org, creating the content for Conspicuous Families and other courses. She presents at local and national conferences, and serves on the advisory board of Adoptive Families Magazine. In 2000, Congress recognized Judy with an Angel in Adoption award, in recognition of her years of service and expertise. Judy and her spouse are the adoptive parents of two grown, special needs children and are also birth grandparents of one, and grandparents of two, lovely granddaughters.
Pam TancrediLCSW, Cradle Counselor
Pam has many years of social service work, from helping children build self esteem to counseling young adults to reach their community and educational goals. As a Cradle counselor, Pam uses her experience to work closely with clients as they explore adoption for their child. Pam received her bachelor's degree from Miami University and her master's degree from the University of Chicago.