Jane has been with Adoption Center of Illinois since January of 1990, when she began as one of the organization’s first home study workers. She holds a master’s degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and is a licensed social worker.
Over the years Jane has been involved in all aspects of the agency; Domestic Adoption, International Adoption and has a leadership role in the agency’s burgeoning Post-Adoption Services Program.
“Assisting families and children as they navigate through the complex experience of adoption is a never-ending journey filled with joys and wonder. Having the opportunity to be involved with a waiting family as they evolve and blossom into an adoptive family is an incredibly rich experience. My time with the agency has been enormously rewarding both personally and professionally. I look forward to the next decade and beyond. My work here is a true privilege!”
Teresa Bernu serves as the Associate Director at ACI, bringing with her over 13 years of experience in the child welfare field. Throughout her career, she has dealt with a wide range of cases, including domestic infant adoption, foster care, and guardianship. Prior to her current role, Teresa worked as the DCFS Post Adoption & Guardianship Liaison at the Cook County Juvenile Court, where she handled legal matters involving families who adopted through the foster care system.
Originally from Minnesota, Teresa attended St. Cloud State University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She continued her studies at Loyola University Chicago, and graduated in 2014 with a Master of Social Work degree. As supervisor of the Home Study Workers at ACI, she enjoys collaborating on cases and working with the ACI team to help bring families together through adoption.
Expectant Parent Counseling Staff
Molly has been with Adoption Center of Illinois since October 2013 as a expectant parent counselor after graduating from the University of Iowa in 2013 with a BA in Social Work. After four years at ACI, Molly returned to her studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her MSW. After graduating in 2018, she returned to ACI as an expectant parent counselor as well as assisting in the domestic home study services program.
“It’s an honor to play a small role in so many families’ adoption journey. Every story is different yet perfect and beautiful in their own way.”
Pam joined the organization in July of 1991. She graduated from the University of Iowa where she earned her bachelor’s degree focusing on psychology, child development and counseling. Pam counsels expectant parents in northern, central and southern Illinois and says that after many years with the agency she still loves her job.
“Parents come to us during a challenging time in their lives. I feel privileged to be able to help the people I work with so they can make well-informed choices. They amaze and inspire me every day.”
Program Coordinators and Administration
Michelle joined the agency in October of 2001. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Michelle originally began coordinating DCFS licensing. Over the years her position evolved and today she oversees all Domestic and International Home Study administration, coordinating the education and training program and monitoring foster family home licensing.
“One of the most exciting times for me is working with families and then hearing about their successful adoptions. My efforts have been part of making a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.”
Claire has worked as a Home Study Worker at ACI since April 2018. She has the honor of walking through the journey of adoption with ACI families. In October 2021 Claire added Adoption Specialist to her title. Adoption has been an important part of Claire’s life with multiple family members and friends who have adopted or who were adopted.
Claire is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. In addition to her work at ACI, she works as a Trauma Therapist at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, providing therapy to survivors of sexual violence and their families. Prior to that she worked at Heartland Alliance as a Case Manager working with immigrant survivors of human trafficking.
We’re thrilled to announce our incoming Director of Development, Emily Mishler. She has a background in philanthropy and entrepreneurship and has served at a variety of non-profits such as higher education, youth support services, and regenerative agriculture. She received degrees from Purdue University (B.A. & B.S.) and the University of Notre Dame (M. B. A., specializing in Philanthropy (M.N.A.)
Robin began working with ACI in February 1990. She graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Robin serves as the receptionist and also composes reports for adoption finalizations.
Jessica started working at the ACI in September of 2020. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography, as well as years of experience with accounting. She worked for a non-profit for 13 years, and is really glad to have found a place with similar values to continue her career.
“I’m excited to be a part of an organization that has such a profound positive impact on people’s lives. I have some personal experiences with adoption, and it makes me happy to see that today more choices are available to all people involved in the adoption process; in part because of places like the ACI”
Adoptive Family Caseworkers
Linda has worked as a Home Study Worker for ACI since 1995. She and her husband adopted two sons through the help of the agency. Prior to being a Home Study Worker, Linda was a music teacher and junior high school counselor. Linda has a BS in Music Education and an MA in Counseling.
‘Working for ACI is very rewarding because of the dedicated people working there, the excellence of the agency and because of all the clients I’ve truly enjoyed working with!”
Leigh began working with Adoption Center of Illinois as a Expectant Parent Counselor working with expectant parents in 2011. After taking some time off with her young children, she returned to ACI as a Home Study Worker in 2019. Leigh received her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago. During her career, Leigh has had the opportunity to work with individuals, families and children whose lives are touched by adoption in a variety of ways. Her experience includes working as a case manager for children in pre-adoptive foster homes, assisting adult adoptees and birth parents with search and reunion, counseling and adoption planning with expectant parents, and completing home studies and assisting adoptive parents in the adoption process.
“I feel honored to be allowed into people’s lives during such an important and significant time.”
Leslie Wright first joined Adoption Center of Illinois in 2009 where she began working with expectant parents as a Expectant Parent Counselor. She later transitioned into the role of Home Study Worker where she conducts home study evaluations for prospective adoptive parents. She is the mom of two boys and received her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago.
“I feel really grateful to work for such a caring agency. I am so honored to get to meet new families and walk through their adoption journey with them. Each family’s story is so beautiful and unique.”
Greg Dezulskis has been working as a Home Study Worker for Adoption Center of Illinois since March 2018, conducting domestic and international home study and post-adoption reporting, from the Wisconsin border to Peoria, Lake to the Mississippi. Greg is an Illinois LCPC with 35+ years of direct service to abused/neglected/at-risk children and adolescents in state and private substitute care: as a Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer supervising trauma-focused interventions for child sexual abuse victims; as a trauma-focused staff psychotherapist for UCAN; permanency planning as a Court Liaison representing the DCFS Adoption/Post Guardianship Unit; child-focused adoption recruitment for the Dave Thomas Foundation/Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. Greg and his wife adopted their daughter through the help of ACI/FRC 26 years ago. His family has a dog and a cat, six chickens, two rabbits, and a turtle named Sookie.
Luke joined the agency in late 2018. He is a licensed professional counselor, certified alcohol and other drug abuse counselor, and holds a master’s degree in counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Luke is continuing his education at the same institution for his doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.
Ann has been with the Adoption Center of Illinois since 2018. In her current role at ACI, Ann is a Licensed Social Worker who conducts home study evaluations prospective adoptive parents and provides post-adoption support services. Ann earned her B.A. from St. Norbert College and her M.S.W. from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ann has worked in the foster care system, domestic and international adoption, and in third party reproduction, so family building has been the focus of her whole career.
“There is no one best way to form your family. It’s an extremely personal decision and I have been honored to have been involved in bringing families together in so many different ways, whether it be through foster care, adoption, egg donation or surrogacy”
Tammy is a Home Study Worker and has worked for Adoption Center of Illinois since 2018. She graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelors in Social Work Degree. She began her social work career at Lutheran Social Services in the foster care program and has continued to be employed in the foster care and adoption programs for the last 24 years. She is passionate about the Child Welfare system and advocating for children. Tammy and her husband have two children and she enjoys her time with her family. Tammy loves her part time employment with ACI and getting to watch the journeys of international and domestic adoptive families.
” I am grateful to be a part of the ACI organization and work with amazing families. There is nothing more rewarding than to watch a family’s journey through adoption.”
Jill has been with ACI since 2016 as a home study worker. Jill has a BSW from Illinois State University and has been an adoption worker for over 28 years. Jill began her career in Child Welfare upon graduation and worked at a residential facility in Bloomington Normal for five years where she learned how to work with children affected with trauma. She then joined the team at Lutheran Social Services where she has done DCFS adoption work, foster care case management, birth parent work, infant and inter-country adoptions. She continues to be employed at LSS full time today. Jill is happily married and has one son, Tracker, who is an engineer in Memphis, Tennessee. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and crafting.
“I truly enjoy meeting new families and being a small part of their journey to grow their family through adoption.”
Sue is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in the adoption field for 20 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining ACI Sue worked with children in the public child welfare system, in post adoption and for several years as an adoption counselor and supervisor. In addition to her work at ACI, she also works as a school counselor for children ages 4-12. Sue 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 ACI.
Henry Over has been with Adoption Center of Illinois since December of 2015 as the coordinator of the Waiting Child Services Program. Henry assists families in locating their forever child through adoption from the foster care system. This includes consultation, linkage to services, contract negotiation and subsidy agreements. Additional duties include monitoring visits for licensing and reference checks.
Henry received his Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois. He worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for 32 years in all facets of child welfare. After retiring from DCFS he served as the Director of Child Welfare for Lutheran Child and Family Services for 5 years. In his spare time he has conducted custody investigations for the court and home studies for Interstate Compact.