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updated: 11/7/2018 12:34 PM

‘Lead with authenticity’ says CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities

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Q: Describe your company.

A: Our five Ronald McDonald Houses keeps families together while their child is in the hospital. Every night, 153 families are able to heal together because of the comfort, compassion and community found at each of our Ronald McDonald Houses. Located near Advocate Children's Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Loyola University Medical Center, UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

Our three Ronald McDonald family rooms located in Edward Hospital in Naperville, at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago and at UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital provide a haven of respite and hospitality for families whose children, including newborns, are receiving treatment.

Located within the pediatric unit and featuring private sleep rooms with showers, a kitchenette, TV and sitting areas, the space provides a homelike atmosphere, allowing families a moment to rest and rejuvenate.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: Our growth is directly associated with the incredible work our pediatric health care partners are providing for critically ill children. As their inpatient intensive care units expand, we are a family-centered solution to keeping families together with their hospitalized child to support necessary medical care and recovery milestones.

Today we are facing the pressure of turning away families at two of our Ronald McDonald Houses in particular. Feasibly studies are complete, and planning is underway to respond to the growing demand for our services over the next 1-3 years.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: Based on the previous question, we will make infrastructure adjustments as we expand to ensure our staffing and space needs meet the needs of the families we serve.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Investing in a marketing infrastructure, and ensuring that marketing and fundraising teams are aligned strategically.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Be realistic on what you are able to accomplish in your first year, and establish a diverse set of mentors who can guide and challenge you.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Lead with authenticity.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: Those who are doing innovative things to solve problems, regardless of industry.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: Although the McDonald's system is our largest corporate partner, RMHC of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that relies on the support of donations from the community and other corporate partners.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Spend time with my kids and husband and binge watch something from the long list of recommendations I have gathered from friends.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: I recently attended an executive club luncheon where Beth Comstock spoke. Her new book Imagine it forward: Courage Creativity, & the Power of Change will be the next book I read.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Our dog Piper, she insists on sleeping in the bed! From a work perspective, turning away families because our Ronald McDonald Houses or Family Rooms are at capacity.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I joined Ronald McDonald House Charities more than 10 years ago because the mission was impactful and relatable to many audiences. It was also important to me, that I work for a charity that my kids could identify with and get involved through volunteerism. If I were not at this charity, I would likely be at another not-for-profit I was passionate about and could make a difference.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: At the age of 14, I bussed tables at a country club in the small town where I grew up.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: Tough question. We are fortunate to have the support of our Chicago sports teams and their venues. If I had to choose, I would go with who might provide the most impactful strategy to elevate awareness of our mission.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.

A: In full transparency, I have a Twitter Account, but rarely check it. I do however stalk my kids on Instagram.