City Club of Chicago: Our Collective Well-Being – The Role of Human Services in Illinois
February 23, 2017
Our Collective Well-Being: The Role of Human Services in Illinois – Donald Dew, Maria del Socorro Pesqueira, Judith Gethner, and Nancy Ronquillo
Donald J. Dew is the President and CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc. (HSI), a vital Chicago-based health and human services organization providing programs and services for thousands of children and families in need.
Dew joined HSI in 1984 and held various management positions before being selected to lead the organization in 1990. During his leadership tenure, HSI has: employed workers with disabilities to manufacture pillows to various airlines and Amtrak; assembled over 8,000 Ameritech collector telephones for the 1996 Democratic National Convention; developed an Ameritech-HSI Bill Payment Center; acquired a ServiceMaster franchise; and developed the HSI Research Institute. Additionally, over the past 15 years HSI has secured over $20 million from HUD and the Chicago Department of Housing to develop 160 units of senior and disability housing.
Prior to joining HSI, Dew fine-tuned his social work skills by working in the Juvenile Court of Cook County, the Westside Veterans Administration Hospital, and the Mile Square Health Center. Dew also served on the Community Mental Health Council and served as a consultant for the Institute of Community Health in Oak Park.
Throughout his career, Dew has received numerous awards and certificates in recognition of his stellar work. Among others, these accolades include: CARF Board of Trustees Service Award (1996-2001); National Association of Black Journalists Community Service Award (1997); Lewis University Distinguished Alumni Award (1998); RUSH University Medical Center MLK Humanitarian Award (2005); Lewis University BSU Outstanding Alumni Award (2006); NAACP-Westside Branch Community Service Award (2007); UIC “City Partner Award” (2009); NAACP Joliet, Illinois Community Service Award (2010); and Westside Minister’s Coalition Human Service Award (2012).
A native of Chicago’s West Side, Dew graduated from Hales Franciscan High School and received his MSW from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois. He received his BA in Social Work from Lewis University, where he currently serves as Adjunct Faculty for Organizational Leadership within the College of Arts and Sciences.
Maria del Socorro Pesqueira
Maria Pesqueira is the President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, one of the longest-standing Latina organizations in the nation providing human services pertaining to gender violence prevention and intervention, leadership development, and community engagement.
Pesqueira is a nationally renowned leader in the areas of human service delivery, arts/culture, and nonprofit management. As an award-winning visionary leader, she is a sought-after speaker addressing local, national, and hemispheric audiences on a wide variety of topics ranging from private/nonprofit partnerships, women and family issues, health disparities, immigration reform, violence prevention and intervention, and the future of philanthropy.
Her civic and community involvement include appointments to the Congressional Commission for a National Women’s History Museum, National Council of La Raza, Illinois Children and Family Services Advisory Commission, Illinois Partners for Human Services, The Arthur Foundation, Community Memorial Foundation, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Mayor of Chicago’s Minimum Wage Working Group, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Aetna Medical Advisory Board, and The Chicago Network.
In recognition of her work, Pesqueira has received many prestigious local and national awards. In 2016, Chicago Business Journal named her one of its 50 “Women of Influence”, while AJC Project Interchange selected her to be a National Latino Opinion and Policy Leader. In 2015, Pesqueira was named a Chicago Community Trust Fellow, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund gave her its “Excellence in Community Service” award. Previously, she received the “Making a Difference Award” from Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and Crain’s Chicago Business named her to its “40 Under 40” list.
Pesqueira is the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Program at Harvard University. She is also a graduate of the Mini-MBA program in Nonprofit Management at St. Thomas University and she received a BA in Latin American Studies from DePaul University. Pesqueira and her husband, David, are proud parents of their son, David Ollin.
Judith Gethner is the founding Executive Director of Illinois Partners for Human Service. Since 2009, she has grown Partners from a start-up to over 850 providers of human services located in every legislative district across Illinois.
As a leading voice within the sector, Gethner has led a successful campaign to educate service providers on the budget impasse and other fiscal issues; she has informed the political discourse on human services through collaborative advocacy efforts with community organizations, state agencies, elected officials, and the private sector; and she has been appointed to lend her expertise to numerous government councils and agencies. In particular, Gethner has been appointed to the State Health Improvement Plan Council, the Illinois Single Audit Commission, and the Social Service Advisory Council.
Gethner brings a strong combination of private and non-profit sector experience to her work. She was trained by the Industrial Areas Foundation in organizing and was Campaign Manager for Vote YES on the ConCon. She served as Executive Director of College Living Experience, which helps special needs students attend universities; was Access Living’s 2014 Advocate of the Year; and has done consulting on organizational development. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Illinois Consortium for 21st Century Schools and the Chicago Grand Neighbors Association.
Gethner holds a BS from Northern Illinois University and an MA from Northeastern Illinois University.
Nancy Ronquillo has served as the President and CEO of Children’s Home + Aid since 2001. She has exercised leadership in the human services field for over four decades, and colleagues say she has an unparalleled vision for a better future for children, youth, and families.
Since 1883, Children’s Home + Aid has been a leader in responding to the changing needs of disadvantaged children and families in Illinois. Today, the organization delivers over 70 social service programs throughout 40 Illinois counties. During the past decade Children’s Home + Aid has implemented many innovative programs and forged new partnerships that create bright futures for over 40,000 children and families every year. In 2012, Children’s Home + Aid launched the Center for Policy, Practice and Innovation to ensure “Best Results” and to bring what works to scale.
As a leader in the field, Ronquillo has served as the Founding Chair of Children’s Home Society of America and as the Founding Chair of Illinois Partners for Human Service. Currently, Ronquillo serves on the boards of the Children’s Home Society of America, the National Veterans Arts Museum, Thrive Chicago, the Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, and the Chicago Horse Center. A member of the Economic Club of Chicago, Ronquillo has been named “Business Woman of the Year” by the American Business Women’s Association and has received the “Woman of Distinction Award” from the YWCA.
Ronquillo holds an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern Illinois University.