Leadership

It's Our Little Story is made up entirely of volunteers. We have great team members from all walks of life.
They bring depth and experience as well as diversity to ensure IOLS maintains the highest of standards.

Board of Directors

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Maebelle Obispo

Co-Founder & CEO

Maebelle Obispo is the Co-Founder & CEO of Its Our Little Story Org (IOLS) who works alongside with an array of professional volunteers to empower the youth affected by neglect and abuse.

Maebelle believes that through advocacy, we can show children that they can dictate their future.  They can break the perpetuating cycle of abuse but we have to show them it starts with the choices they make to better their future.

Maebelle has endured abuse as a child and has been driven to help others.  At a very young age, she wanted to become a Human Rights Attorney.  She worked with the United Nations and volunteered through DePaul University.  Her circumstances evolved and lead her to Co-Founding IOLS.

Maebelle studied Political Science at DePaul University, certified grant writer, learned the benefits of art therapy, & is currently working on receiving her certification for NFP leadership at Notre Dame & will be pursing a Masters in NFP & Business.

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Kristie Sams

Co-Founder

My dedication and passion for IOLS come not only from my own experiences with abuse but from an innate and moral duty to be a voice for abused children, teens and adults.

I am very proud to have co-founded IOLS in 2009.

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Deb Derro-Noble

Co-Chair & Committee Chair

Debbie comes to us as an Account Manager at SDL Insurance Solutions where she helps her customers understand the importance of insuring themselves, their families, and their businesses.

In her spare time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her family, working in her yard, exercising, traveling, reading, and volunteering to help those who are less fortunate. Her favorite opportunity so far was a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to help build and rebuild five homes.

Debbie’s passion for helping IOLS comes from when she was sexually abused in her early adolescent years. Her goal has been to help children and adolescents like her to overcome their past and no longer be a victim and held captive to those wounds. Debbie feels that IOLS’ mission is the perfect vehicle to help her to achieve her goal.

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John Foster

Co-Chair & CTO

John  has been innovating in technology for some 40 years. He brings a wealth of experience to IOLS gained from working in very diverse industries. John has gained technological experience in his time spent in,  Atomic Energy research at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Automotive Industry Robotics at The Rover Group, Banking Technology at IBM Global Services, Systems Consulting at Large Law firms in Dallas and Boston, and Virtualization in Medical facilities and device manufacturers.

John has personal experience of what it is like to be in the Foster care system as a child and passionately supports IOLS's mission and core values.

John has a BSc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and numerous Technology certifications from Microsoft, Citrix, VMWare, and ITIL Service Management. He also joined Mensa UK at the age of 19.

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Danielle Davis-Foster

Board Secretary

“We can all be Heroes to a child. They are our future and deserve nothing less.”

Danielle’s passion for helping children started at a very young age. This passion led to over 22 years as a professional nanny where she specialized in “special needs” families. She later pursued, and is currently working in, a career within the educational field where she is working with special needs children within a classroom. Although she doesn’t have professional training within the secretarial realm, working with special needs children and families has taught her skills in organization and efficiency. These skills are now applied and being enhanced within this non-profit charity. She continues to rise to these challenges as her passion continues to grow for helping children through this charity.

 

Advisory Board

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Troy Owens

Attorney at Law & Advisory Board Member

Troy is a partner in the Illinois law firm of Owens & Laughlin LLC. He was admitted to practice law in 1991, and immediately accepted a position as a prosecutor in the Boone County State’s Attorneys Office. He was promoted to the position of First Assistant State’s Attorney in 1993, where he became responsible for all levels of felony litigation in Boone County. In this capacity, Troy was able to focus the SAO’s prosecutorial efforts in crimes against children. He authored the Boone County Multidisciplinary Protocol for the Investigation of Child Abuse, integrating the statutory enabling functions between the SAO, jurisdictional law enforcement, DCFS, and associated critical third party entities. ias heart for the abused has grown to include women who are trafficked and exploited.

 Troy left government practice in 2004. He entered private practice, where he practices personal injury litigation, as well as securities and commercial litigation. As a part of his personal injury practice, he still remains engaged in child abuse cases on behalf of child victims.

 Troy is a proud father of two beautiful daughters, Callie and Chloe Owens. He is getting married in 2018 to Karen Russell. Troy is an enthusiastic member of Willow Creek Community Church in Huntley.

Board Members

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 Karen Russell-Owens

Committee Chair

As a young child Karen knew that working with children would be her passion. As a young girl she babysat for a family who had Down Syndrome that shaped her world in helping others. Karen struggled through a abusive family life growing up. The family she babysat for took her to many events with children. Children with special needs showed her the love and compassion she had longed for. During her adolescent years a priest at her school was moved to another parish after molesting young boys. Although Karen and other students had spoken up to their elders nobody listened because he was a priest. Later after the statute of limitations were up he was convicted and sent to prison for molesting over 200 boys. He was moved from parish to parish after the elders knew of his abuse. Karen made a promise to herself to never allow this to happen to another child and to allow children’s voices to be heard. Karen has volunteered with many organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Turning Point,IOLS, Refuge for Women, Gigi’s Playhouse, Leo Club and Promised Land. Karen currently works for the Huntley School District in Special Services as well as Gigi’s Playhouse. Karen’s passion for helping others with never stop. Karen is proud to serve on the board of directors for It’s Our Little Story and make a difference in the lives of others. Karen currently lives in Huntley with her husband Troy. Through their blended family they have five children.

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 Michelle Woodmancy

Committee Chair

Every child regardless of circumstance has a voice that deserves to be heard. Being a mother of three children of my own, this is something that resonates deeply within. For me, the passion that comes with making a difference in the lives of others, especially children, is something that God has instilled in my soul which I am so grateful for.

Having many years of experience in the world of Sales/Marketing as well as many rewarding years of volunteer experience with different organizations, I understand the profound impact that can be made by giving selflessly and embracing opportunity as opposed to being frozen by fear.

I’m so humbled with the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of It’s Our Little Story. Working alongside with our passionate board members as well as volunteers within our organization is such a rewarding experience. Giving back to the community and truly making a difference in the lives of children whose voices deserve to be heard, to be part of the process of their recovery and prevention is priceless.

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 Mary Gail Mejia

Committee Chair

I am currently studying to be a Pediatric Nurse. Initially, I wanted to be a psychiatric nurse.  I was intrigued by the way the nurses and psychiatrists handled every situation with a voice of reason, the correct medical help, and understanding each person individually with their diagnoses.  However, through my recent experience volunteering at a mental health facility, I realized that being a psychiatric nurse was not going to be a good fit.  I thought being a psych nurse would benefit me by helping understand, supporting, and teaching others with not only anxiety and depression, but other mental illnesses.  But I had to acknowledge my volunteer experience triggered weak and vulnerable emotions.  I did not want to give up but I was not happy. Luckily, I had my family, friends, and most importantly my cousin, Maebelle to help me see through.

My cousin Maebelle, has driven me to be a better person, inside and out. She has opened my eyes about abuse prevention. I have learned how important it is to talk about the abuse that goes on everyday. Whether it’s mental, physical, or emotional abuse, I believe that we have to work together and find a solution to prevent any kids from enduring the pain and guilt they go through. My cousin Maebelle asking me to be part of this organization, as the Digital Marketing Strategist only empowers me more to learn and understand the experiences a victim of abuse goes through.