OUR TEAM

Barb_v2 830×830
Barb Thayer
Executive Director

Barb joined the Candor Health Education in 2011 and currently serves as the center’s Executive Director.  Previously, she held several positions at Candor Health Education including Chief Operating Officer where she led the development of a long-term strategic plan for the organization. Barb has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and currently lives in Burr Ridge with her husband and three children. She is thrilled to be part of an organization with such a rich history and looks forward to making Candor Health Education more impactful to families in the Chicagoland area.

Helen-830×830
Helen Baker
Health Educator

Helen has spent most of her 20-year education career in 5th-12th grade classrooms designing and teaching culturally informed History and Studio Art curricula. In 2017 she was honored to receive University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator award.

She holds degrees from Salem College (BA) and University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (MA). She is a birth and postpartum doula committed to reproductive justice and birth advocacy work. Currently, Helen is working towards the completion of her MSW with plans to seek clinical licensure.

She views her work with Candor Health as a natural extension of her belief in the need to empower individuals through evidence-based programming in order to help them make informed decisions affecting their health and well-being. She and her spouse are raising their two daughters in the Western suburbs and enjoy all that Chicago has to offer.

Betty-830×830
Betty Barsley-Marra
Senior Health Educator

Betty Barsley-Marra began her career as an Early Childhood Development Specialist with the University of Missouri initiating a statewide system for the early identification of children with special needs. Upon returning to Illinois, she joined the faculty of Roosevelt University teaching psychology and education courses. She has taught and mentored countless students, teachers, counselors, youth development professionals, parents and community members regarding physical and mental health related issues through her work at Roosevelt, Merrillville High School and as a family life educator with University of Illinois Extension. She considers it a great privilege to have worked across the lifespan with infants through seniors. Betty earned her undergraduate degree at Northern Illinois University in Family Development and Early Childhood Education and her MS Ed from University of Illinois Chicago in Educational Studies with a specialization in Human Sexuality Education and Counseling and post Masters work in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys long distance cycling and indulging her love for the arts including pop culture. Her claims of “I saw him/her when” can be attributed to her habit of frequenting obscure venues to see bands, plays, performances and exhibits.

David-830×830
David Bedney
Health Educator

David Bedney began his professional career as the Health Educator for the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health division of the Riverside County Department of Health in Riverside, California, after receiving his Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) Degree from Loma Linda University.  He then moved to the Midwest where he decided to continue his educational pursuits and received his Doctor of Medicine Degree (M.D.) from what is now Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, The Chicago Medical School.

As a health educator at the former Robert Crown Center for Health Education, he was passionate about improving individual and community health through education and public awareness.  Over the years he has delivered presentations on a variety of health topics to more than 175,000 youth and adults.  Now returning to Candor Health Education, he is enthusiastic about being given the opportunity to once again influence the lives of young people in a positive way, which he hopes will impact them to make good and healthy choices for many years to come.

David is strongly committed to both God and family.  Happily married for more than 34 years to his wife, Marcia, they are the proud parents of two adult sons, Gerald II and Gavin.  He finds personal enjoyment in music, reading and writing, and was a Kansas City Chiefs fan long before Super Bowl LVII.

LB-830×830
Laura Benn
Marketing Manager

Laura joined Candor Health Education in May of 2021. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication & Media Studies from Aurora University. Following her graduation she worked in marketing and content creation roles that focused on creating and implementing companies brand identities and increasing awareness for those brands. Laura believes that learning about how our bodies work from a young age is pivotal in our overall development, adding, the more we know about our bodies, the better we can take care of them.

Mark-830×830
Mark Boozell
Accountant

Mark joined Candor Health Education as their Accountant in July of 2020.  Prior to joining Candor Health Education, Mark worked as Controller for The Sureway Group, a manufacturing company in Franklin Park.  Mark graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University (where he met his wife Karen, an educator for over 35 years) and then went on to earn his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management.  Mark is a parent to two sons who both attended Candor Health Education programs.

Dan-830×830
Dan Delgado
Health Educator

Daniel joined the Candor Health Education team in 2022 as a full-time Health Educator. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health from Northeastern Illinois University, with a Minor in Exercise Science. During his time at Northeastern, he was able to intern for the Senior Project Manager of Health and Wellness at the Chicago Park District. After graduating, Daniel was a Public Health Ambassador in the southwest region of the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Healthy Chicago Equity Zones initiative. As a Public Health Ambassador, he worked as a community lead in the Clearing and West Lawn neighborhoods of Chicago to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities through community outreach, engagement, and health education. Daniel is a strong believer that health education is an integral part of promoting lifelong, healthy habits that lead to positive health outcomes and a higher quality of life. He is also a strong believer in nutrition and physical activity, and has spent many years coaching youth and high school football.

Eleanor-830×830
Eleanor Evins
Health Educator

Eleanor joined the Candor Health Education team in May of 2019 as an intern and transitioned to becoming a health educator with the organization in August of the same year. She is a double-alumni from Northern Illinois University (NIU) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Health specializing in health promotion. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing Education from NIU and hopes to eventually teach the next generation of nursing students within a university setting. Eleanor has a variety of professional and academic interests and has worked as a registered nurse in a number of different healthcare settings such as inpatient critical care, outpatient surgery, and reproductive medicine. As a nurse and health educator, she values the role of primary prevention in addressing health disparities and promoting optimal health. She is excited to work with an organization that gives her the opportunity to continuously provide primary prevention and health promotion education to the students served by Candor Health Education.

Susan-830×830
Susan Foley
Health Educator

Susan Foley joined Candor Health Education as a full time Educator in September of 2021.   

She earned a BS in Health Education from Illinois State University (1994) and was a member of Eta Sigma Gamma, a Health Education Honorary Society.  

Prior to joining the Candor Education Team, Susan spent 2 years as a faculty member for Illinois State University’s College of Health Sciences, 9 years teaching health education at the middle school level and 4 years working as a Special Education Assistant while completing her LBS1 (Learning Behavior Specialist endorsement) at National Louis University.  

Susan brings to her work extensive experience in curricula development, depth of content knowledge and the strategies to differentiate instruction to meet individual need. Her greatest joy is working and connecting with students, providing them with the tools and information they need to make healthy choices in regard to their physical, social and emotional health. 

Kim-830×830
Kimberly Fronk
Health Educator

Kim Fronk joined Candor Health Education in August of 2019. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Miami University in Ohio and a Masters in Educational Administration from Northeastern Illinois University. She has been a 4th – 6th grade teacher at Chicago Public Schools, Oak Park District 97 and a K-8 substitute teacher at LaGrange Highlands. Kim has always had a passion for teaching and sharing her love of science with her students. As an educator and parent, Kim wants to help children navigate this often challenging world and support them in making informed and healthy decisions. She is excited to be part of an organization that encourages parents and youth to ask questions, talk openly about puberty, sex education and the impact of drugs and alcohol while looking at it through a scientific lens. In her spare time, Kim enjoys spending time with her family, being active in her church and playing tennis.

Katie-830×830
Katie Gallagher
Director of Education

Katie is the Director of Education at Candor Health Education team after working for over twenty years as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and middle school levels. She has a rich background in child development, curriculum development, and social-emotional learning. As a building principal, Katie provided teachers with ongoing feedback, curricular support, and professional development opportunities. She implemented progress monitoring tools to allow for more data-driven decision making regarding student needs and curriculum updates. She worked to improve school/parent communication through the implementation of a schoolwide LMS (learning management system). Katie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Loyola University Chicago. Katie knows first-hand the value of Candor Health Education programs to students, teachers, and families in the schools we serve.

Liz-830×830
Liz Garcia
Senior Health Educator

Liz received her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from Illinois State University. During that time, she became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through The National Commission for Health Education (NCHEC). Liz joined the Candor Health Education in April 2017.

Rebecca_Headshot-830×830
Rebecca G
Administrative Assistant

With a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, Rebecca brings a distinctive intellectual perspective that's poised to enhance the Candor team's collective efforts. Rebecca's experience in education and community development will help deepen our insights in the areas we serve.

Rebecca enjoys working at Candor because of the positive work environment, ample growth opportunities, and the collaboration with dedicated colleagues across the organization.

Sherry_Headshot-830×830
Sherry Gruner-Aoyagi
LMS Coordinator

Sherry joined Candor Health Education as their LMS Coordinator in September of 2023. Prior to joining Candor Health Education, Sherry worked as a Developmental Training Coordinator for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois where she worked assisting developmentally disabled adults with their everyday health needs for four years. She also worked as an LMS Training Coordinator at Comcast for eleven years where she gained her extensive LMS background and knowledge. Sherry graduated with an Associate in Arts degree with an emphasis on Business Administration. She is excited to be part of an organization that educates young people in making important life-changing decisions. She enjoys travelling, crafting, and spending time with her husband, three kids and her two cats Minnie and Spud.

Sarah H-830×830
Sarah Hawkins
Health Educator

Sarah joined Candor Health Education in August 2021 as a part time Health Educator.  She has a background in case management and home healthcare coordination and is very passionate about the need for inclusive, equitable, science based sex and drug education reaching children so is very excited to be starting in a career path that helps facilitate that mission.  Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and lives in Lombard with her husband and four children.

Ydalis-830×830
Ydalis Jimenez
Administrative Assistant

Ydalis joined Candor Health Education in October 2021 as an Administrative Assistant.  Before joining Candor Health Education, she worked at Oak Park Hospital Senior Services, VA mail-out pharmacy, and Westchester Public Schools. She is happy to join an organization that empowers young people to make important and informative life-changing decisions. Ydalis enjoys traveling and camping with her husband, 3 kids and London, her Schnauzer. She also is an animal lover who has fostered over 30 cats and kittens.

Carol-830×830
Carol Kato
Health Educator

Carol graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia with a double major in Psychology and Diversity Studies. She loves learning about the brain, it’s development, and how that development affects many different cultures across the world.

She spent most of her career working with orphaned children who have suffered severe trauma, teaching therapeutic ways to unlearn certain behaviors. She also taught children who suffer with severe mental illnesses, autism, and down syndrome.

She loves to travel. Her goals is to visit every single country in the world at least once. She also loves trying new foods and learning about other’s cultures.

Karime-830×830
Karime Lopez
Administrative Assistant

Since joining Candor Health Education in 2008, Karime has become the welcoming face and voice for Candor Health Education. She is responsible for the reservation system and schedules nearly 80,000 students a year,providing program confirmations and invoicing. With her mastery of the system and understanding of all of Candor Health Education’s offerings, she is able to guide teachers and parents toward programs that meet their needs. Additionally, she coordinates vendor visits and provides administrative support throughout Candor Health Education.

SandiCrop-830×830
Sandi Metcalfe
Health Educator

Sandi joined the Candor Health Education as a Health Educator in the Fall of 2018. Prior to joining the Candor Health Education team, Sandi spent several years working in DuPage County managing a Special Olympics sports program in a community special recreation cooperative for youth and adults with disabilities. It is here where she realized her passion for helping school aged children feel empowered and in control of their health and lifestyle choices. She looks forward to continuing this passion through delivering community health, sex, and drug education programs under the mission and vision of Candor Health Education. Sandi received a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation and Master of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Illinois State University.

Shelly-830×830
Shelly Nicholson
Director of Development

Shelly joined the Candor Health Education staff in October 2015 as the Grants Manager. Prior to Candor Health Education, she worked for the McHenry County Department of Health as a grant writer and manager of a community outreach, education and health insurance enrollment grant as part of the initial roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. She has a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. Shelly worked as a health educator for the US Peace Corps in Ecuador early in her career and is very happy to help sustain and expand Candor Health Education programming for the next generation.

Sarah-830×830
Sarah O
Data & Reporting Coordinator

Sarah joined Candor Health Education as an Administrative Assistant in July of 2018. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from Northern Illinois University, Sarah worked for five years for a non-profit organization helping adults with disabilities live full and abundant lives. The following six years were spent working for Northwestern Medicine in the inpatient Behavioral Health and Addictions settings. The topics of general and mental well-being are important to Sarah and she believes that educating children on these topics can lead to healthy, productive adults.

Mishawn-830×830
Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal
Health Educator

Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal joined Candor Health Education in the Fall of 2016. As a Health Educator, she strives to pique the interest of young audiences by delivering science-based content while making the real-world connection. She is a double-alumni of Benedictine University, receiving a Master in Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Education. Mishawn has worked in several Public Health settings (March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, and SIDS Alliance). To broaden her Public Health outreach, she publishes books, educational activities, and board games designed for children and youth. Mishawn is a passionate Public Health professional, and is delighted to be a member of the Candor Health Education family.

Tara-830×830
Tara Schreiner
Health Educator

Tara joined the Candor team in 2023 with a passion to connect with young people to empower them to make informed, educated decisions about their bodies and their health. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Carroll University in Wisconsin. Tara taught 3rd and 4th grade and coached basketball at the middle school level for several years. She then took time away from her profession to raise her three sons in the western suburbs. During that time Tara committed herself to volunteer leadership roles in her community schools and church. Tara enjoys live music, fitness, travel and spending time outside with her husband, her boys and her dog, Sadie.

Laura S-830×830
Laura Schwartz
Client Relations Manager

Laura joined Candor Health Education as the Business Development Manager in September of 2017.  Prior to joining Candor Health Education, Laura worked in business development for Orange Theory Fitness in La Grange while raising her three children.  Early in her career, Laura taught 5th grade in Riverside, Illinois after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Dayton.  Growing up in the western suburbs, Laura has had the unique perspective of attending Candor Health Education when she was a 5th grader herself, bringing her 5th grade students to Candor Health Education as a teacher, and being a parent of a student who recently attended Candor Health Education programs.

Tammy-830×830
Tammi Tannura
Health Educator

Tammi has worked in community health for over 25 years mostly in the areas of sexuality education and substance abuse prevention. She has taught in schools, universities, correctional facilities, after-school programs, and drug treatment centers.

Tammi has a Bachelor of Science in School Health Education from Western Illinois University and a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in community health from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  She has published teaching ideas in peer-reviewed journals, presented at state and national conferences, and is a lifetime member of Eta Sigma Gamma, the National Health Science Honorary.

In her free time, Tammi enjoys outings with her family, working on jigsaw puzzles and reading.

Rose-830×830
Roseanne Tenuta
Health Educator

Rose joined Candor Health Education in July of 2008 as a Health Educator. In her role at Candor Health Education, she is also responsible for assisting with  curriculum development. Prior to joining Candor Health Education, Rosanne taught Biology and Health Education at Oak Park & River Forest High School for 30+ years. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Illinois, a Masters degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in curriculum from Northern Illinois University, and an Ed.S. degree from Northern Illinois University in Counseling.

Lance-830×830
Lance Williams
Education Manager

Lance received his Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from Illinois State University. After graduating, Lance began working with the Kane County Health Department as a Health Contractor, aiming to lower childhood obesity and tobacco use within the community.In February of 2011, Lance joined Candor Health Education as a Health Educator. In addition to teaching, Lance contributes to curriculum development and educator scheduling.

English Spanish