Meet The Homes of Hope

Operations Board

Homes of Hope Inc., is governed by a Charitable Foundation Board and an Operations Board. Both play a vital role in the direction and success of our agency. All of our board members are selected based on several criteria including their professional experience and demonstrated interest in our agency.

Our board members have a strong connection to our residents and strive to make dreams come true for people who have special needs.



9 Members

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Dr. Susan Prendergast, President

Susan moved to Bloomington in 1985 with her husband, Chris. She holds a PhD and is an Associate Professor Emeritus at ISU. She has worked as a deaf educator, educational audiologist and assistant professor at Illinois State University until she retired in 2009. Susan joined the Homes of Hope Board in 1993.

Contact Dr. Prendergast:47sprender@gmail.com

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Lesley Zimmerman, Vice President

Lesley is currently employed with Illinois Central College as the Manager of Curriculum and Scheduling Services. She grew up in Central Illinois and has worked in higher education in the Bloomington area for 18 years. She began volunteering for Homes of Hope back in 2000, because of that experience she was honored to become a member of our operations board. "It is one of my life-long passions to be able to work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities."

Contact Lesley: Lesley.Zimmerman@icc.edu

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Larry Hopkins, Treasurer

Larry is an accountant with PM Group. "I have been on the board for many years and Homes of Hope has always put the best interests of the residence first. I'm proud to be a part of this fine organization."

Contact Larry: Lawrencepmil@aol.com

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Maggie Murphy-Severino, Foundation Liaison

Maggie is currently employed as a Senior Vice President for Busey Bank. She joined the Homes of Hope family in the early 1990s and felt privileged to help shape the foundational mission, vision, and values of the agency. The first home was built in 1994 and she said it was thrilling to see the dream come to fruition! Her passion for this agency, and others alike, stems from her oldest sister Susie, whose brain damage was a result of encephalitis as an infant. Maggie's parents cared for her in their home until her death at age 19. Their greatest fear was “What would happen to Susie if we could not care for her?” This memory helped Maggie understand the challenges, fears and hopes that families experience who have a child with special needs. She says, "It is an honor to be able to share in the lives of our residents and their families!"

Contact Maggie: maggie.severino@busey.com

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Paula Sweeney

Paula is a lifelong resident of Bloomington-Normal and recently retired from OSF St. Joseph Medical Center after 36 years in Laboratory Services. She served on the Heart of Illinois Special Olympics Committee and was a past director of Special Persons Encounter Christ (SPEC), which is how she became involved with Homes of Hope. She, along with Father J. Dietzen, attended a heartfelt meeting, led by the mothers of SPEC students where the dream of building a home for their adult children was discussed in detail. They wanted a home to provide a safety net for when they were unable to care for them due to illness or death. They envisioned a home where their children could continue to live in a Christian environment surrounded by a family setting where they were cared for and respected. Immediately after the meeting, Paula wondered aloud how this could be accomplished, Father Dietzen replied, "Everything starts with a dream and I think the mothers of these children will get this accomplished." Paula said, “It is my honor to have been a part of making this dream a reality. Happily, I have been an active board member for over 20 years.”

Contact Paula: Paula.Sweeney@comcast.net

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Colleen Doering

Colleen is currently employes as LPN with Bloomington Pediatrics. Colleen became aware of Homes of Hope about 20 years ago when her son was attending a special needs group presented by her local church. The founding mothers, who had the vision for the homes, were also active members and advocates for the group in which her son was involved. The mission and idea of Homes of Hope were everything that she had hoped would be available to her son when he became older. Colleen works in Bloomington as an LPN for a pediatric practice. Her medical background, paired with the fact that she has a son with a disability, underscores why she is passionate about supporting this organization.

Contact Colleen: cpdoering@myfrontiermail.com

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Katie Novak

Katie specializes in Cooperative Coaching. She started as Homes of Hope's first Development Coordinator in 2011 and now serves on the Foundation Board of Directors as well as Homes of Hope, Inc. Board of Directors. She enjoys interacting with our residents and participating in fundraising activities that help improve their quality of life. Katie believes that Homes of Hope fills a much needed void in our community by providing a caring, spiritual home to adults with intellectual disabilities.

Contact Katie: kandojeans@yahoo.com

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Kelly Byrd

The year was 1994 when Kelly’s life changed for the better. This was the year that she met her husband and his beloved children. He has two sons, which she has adopted and proudly considers her own, and one of them has an intellectual disability. Shortly after meeting, they married and had two children together, making them a beautifully blended family of six. Kelly states, “Being the parent of an intellectually disabled child has inspired me to make my son's life and others as meaningful and fulfilling as yours and mine, despite the challenges they face. Homes of Hope has provided me the opportunity to share my experiences and be a part of an organization that shares the same values as I do.” Kelly is currently employed with RLI Insurance.

Contact Kelly: kbyrd@rlicorp.com

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Paula Porter

Paula is currently employed as a Clinical Program Manager for Neuroscience at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center Paula became involved as a board member for Homes of Hope to ensure our residents have an advocate and voice. Having a healthcare background allows for much needed insight when advocating for their rights, needs, and dignity. Paula’s favorite part is interacting with the residents and watching them live a happy, productive, and joyful life.

Contact Paula: Paula.J.Porter@osfhealthcare.org

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