United Way of Will County Staff
Michael Hennessy, President & CEO
Mike joined United Way of Will County as President and CEO in 1989. In this role, Mike holds the organization accountable to the community, supports the staff and Board of Directors, and utilizes resources to solve problems in the community, all while determining the direction for United Way of Will County. In addition, Mike works to fulfill community voids. He was integral in the formation of many local non-profits and services. These include South West Suburban Philanthropic Network, Day Break Homeless Shelter, Child Care Resource and Referral, Joliet Alliance for Youth, MAAP (Will County Community Needs Assessment), and Will County Disaster Relief Fund.
Mike began his career in public service in 1970 working on the psychiatric floor at St. Joe’s Hospital in Joliet, IL. He then worked at Provisio Association for Retarded Citizens (now The Arc of the United States (The Arc)) as an administrator, social worker, and eventually Development Director. He advanced to Executive Director of Cerebral Palsy of Will County, before becoming President and CEO of United Way of Will County.
In 1974, Mike completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a business minor from Lewis University. Mike earned a double masters in organizational behavior and counseling psychology from George Williams College in 1979.
Currently, Mike serves on the Board of Directors for Will County Center for Economic Development, acts as the treasurer on the Board of Directors for Community Services Council of Joliet. Mike has been a member of Rotary Club of Joliet since 1990; he has served as president and has chaired their foundation drives since 2001.
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Sarah Oprzedek, Development Director
Sarah joined United Way of Will County in 2006 to manage campaigns and community relations as a Resource Development and Community Relations Manager. She was promoted to Senior Resource Development Manager in 2008 and promoted again to Development Director in 2012. In this role, Sarah leads the team to a cohesive vision, cultivates new and long-term relationships, and creates the path for the future of United Way of Will County’s community impact and positive change.
In 1998, prior to joining United Way of Will County, Sarah became actively involved in the United Way of Will County campaign for Ecolab while working there as a student intern. After graduating in 2002, she advanced to a full time position in Human Resources at Ecolab, becoming their employee campaign coordinator in 2004.
Sarah earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Social Work from Lewis University in 2002.
Sarah spent two years on the Board of Directors for the Council for Working Women-a division of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce and was elected to the Board of Directors for South West Suburban Philanthropic Network in 2008. She enjoys time with her husband, Brendan, and their two children, Soffia and Isaac.
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Kristi Harrington, Finance Director
Kristi joined United Way of Will County in 2018 to maintain financial transparency and accountability while preparing and monitoring all financial information presented to all constituents.
Before joining United Way of Will County, Kristi worked for Livingston County & Will County in their respective Tax Extension Departments. In these roles, she processed tax extensions, audits, GIS and TIFs, new properties, and school bonds. For more than 12 years, Kristi held the position of Accounting and Office manager for Bielfeldt Realty.
Kristi studied business at Heartland College.
Currently, Kristi treasures her time with her husband, five children, and six grandchildren. Kristi and her husband enjoy spending their weekends camping during the summer.
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Loren Yaksich, Community Impact Manager
Loren joined in United Way of Will County in June of 2015 to lead investment procedures, support community/partner relations and manage internal programs that ultimately drive social impact and positive change in Will County.
Prior to joining United Way of Will County, Loren was at The South Suburban Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse as the Community Relations Representative. There, she coordinated community relations activities and external education/seminar events. She also developed and maintained referral relationships and agreements, help implemented and provided support related to clinical electronic records, and coordinated the Spring Banquet and other fundraisers, while providing overall support and assistance to the Board of Directors.
In 2004, Loren graduated DeVry University with a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications Management. She graduated from Keller’s School of Management with a Master’s in Business Administration in 2005.
Currently, Loren lives in Tinley Park, with her husband, Gary, and young daughter, Emilie. She loves traveling, animals and has been riding horses since childhood.
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Samantha Young, Corporate Engagement Specialist
Samantha joined United Way of Will County in 2017 to build and enhance year-round corporate engagement, volunteerism, and resource generation in order to drive community impact and positive change in Will County.
Prior to joining United Way of Will County, Samantha completed a service year as a Community Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA at Northern Illinois Food Bank. Under Hester Bury’s mentor-ship, Samantha was able to fundraise $136,000 for the opening of their South Suburban Center, a site to sort and package food for member food pantries in Kankakee, Kendall, Grundy, and Will Counties.
In 2016, Samantha earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Kentucky. While working to complete her degree, Samantha studied abroad at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England, spent three weeks solo backpacking Italy and Spain, was a member of the Global Scholars Program, and a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi.
Currently, Samantha is on the Board of Directors for Joliet Area Young Professionals – a division of the Joliet Chamber, spends time with her two golden retrievers, and, as always, has her eye on the map for where to travel next.
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