BOARD of DIRECTORS

Renée Alwan Percell

Renée Alwan Percell

Executive Director

Renée is a PA-C with a Master’s degree from AT Still University and a Bachelor’s degree in Bio-Medical Science from Marquette University. She is from Peoria, Illinois where she attended Catholic schools for 12 years starting at St. Philomena and then going on to Peoria Notre Dame.  She met her husband, Jay while serving in the Peace Corps, and they have three children- Micah, Ezra and Adele. Their sons attend Corpus Christi Catholic School in Bloomington.  Their daughter Adele was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder when she was 2 ½ years old and is globally delayed. 

 Renee says, “As a parent of a child with special needs, it is a continual process figuring out and accepting the new reality of what your child can do.  We are constantly evaluating and trying to figure out the best way for Adele to experience life fully despite her delays. She continues to defy the odds and slowly but surely achieves her milestones.” 

Jay Percell

Jay Percell

President

Jay Percell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University. He has been in the field of education for over two decades serving as a classroom teacher, higher education instructor, and a coach.

He and his wife, Renée, have two boys, Micah and Ezra, who attend Corpus Christi Catholic School in Bloomington, IL. Their daughter, Adele, has a deletion of her 16th chromosome, and is currently in the Early Learning Program at Sugar Creek Elementary.

According to Jay, “Inclusion is at the heart of our mission as both Catholics and Educators. All students deserve a chance to have their needs met in the classroom and all teachers deserve the proper resources and materials in order to provide their students with the most optimal learning environment.”

Sarah Palermo

Sarah Palermo

Secretary

Sarah grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and then attended Illinois State University. She has 3 children – her oldest is a freshman at the public high school and her 3rd grader and 8th grader both attend Corpus Christi Catholic School.
She taught high school Family and Consumer Science for 5 years and is now the receptionist and co-registrar at Central Catholic High School. She enjoys running, reading and watching movies.
Her main reason for serving on the Fire Foundation is her oldest is on the Autism Spectrum and attended Catholic School through the middle of 6th grade. Sarah says, “I am passionate about Catholic education and want it to be accessible to more students with special needs.”
Jeremy Head

Jeremy Head

Treasurer

Karen and Jeremy Head started dating in high school, through college, and got married in 2008. Jeremy graduated from ISU with his degree in Actuarial Science and works as a Senior Finance Analyst at State Farm. They have 5 children that they have adopted locally through both foster care and infant adoption and are currently licensed foster parents. All 5 of their children attend Epiphany Catholic School in Normal have varying degrees of special needs and trauma related challenges. They are passionate about advocating for them and educating their school on how best to address their needs and help them to thrive.

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Amy grew up in Aledo, Illinois where she attended Aledo High School, then Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies (2003). She obtained her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Illinois State University in 2005. She and her husband Tom have three children, Collin, Violet, and Charlotte. They belong to Epiphany Parish in Normal and are blessed that all three children currently attend Epiphany Catholic School.

Amy says, “It is an honor to serve on the FIRE Foundation Board as a Catholic, as a parent, and a Speech-Language Pathologist. It is a role that combines my passions for Catholic education and making education equitable for all children, while supporting the staff and faculty of our Catholic Schools to provide the best education possible for the children they serve.”

Michael Stanko

Michael Stanko

Michael graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Telecommunication Management in 2009. I am currently employed at Clinton Power Station as a Sr. Services Analyst – IT and have been with Exelon since graduating from ISU in 2009. He currently serve as the Vice President of Exelon Military Actively Connected- an employee resource group with the mission to help promote a positive workplace environment for those with prior military service. He am a member of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear which helps provide opportunities for a new generation of nuclear enthusiasts to develop leadership and professional skills. He also serve as a Cubmaster/Den Leader for the Cub Scout pack located at Corpus Christi Catholic School and serve on the training team for the Crossroad District. 

Having seen first-hand the struggles individuals with special needs are met with daily, He want to be part of the solution to help those that want the same opportunities as everyone else. He have seen what dedication and determination can do and want to be part of the team that can help those who may not know where to start.  

 

Karen Head

Karen Head

Position

Karen and Jeremy Head started dating in high school, through college, and got married in 2008. Karen graduated from ISU with her Elementary Education degree and is currently a stay at home mom, takes care of nieces and nephews, and owns and operates our small family hair and skincare business. They have 5 children that they have adopted locally through both foster care and infant adoption and are currently licensed foster parents. All 5 of their children attend Epiphany Catholic School in Normal have varying degrees of special needs and trauma related challenges. They are passionate about advocating for them and educating their school on how best to address their needs and help them to thrive.

Carolyn Noel

Carolyn Noel

Position

Carolyn Noel was born in Peoria, IL where she attended Catholic grade school and high school. She continued her Catholic education at DePaul University in Chicago, IL where she graduated with a degree in Marketing. Carolyn has spent the better part of two decades helping employers achieve their strategic business objectives. She is currently leading a team of client managers as Vice President of Client Engagement at Embold Health, a healthcare data technology company.

Encouraged by the sense of community instilled in her after 16 years of Catholic education, Carolyn and her husband, Matt, decided to send their two boys to St. Michael’s Catholic School in Wheaton, IL. 

Over the past several years, Carolyn has watched Renee and Jay navigate unchartered territory with grace, determined to find the best possible education for their daughter. Carolyn has been inspired by what they have accomplished and is honored to be a part of such an important mission.

Melissa Larson

Melissa Larson

Position

Melissa grew up in Peoria, IL and attended catholic education kindergarten through 12th grade.I met my husband, DJ, while attending ISU and were married in 2006. They have three children Shea (11), Max (9), Cass (5), and a fourth on the way. They belong to St. Jude Parish where two of our children are attending St. Jude Catholic School. She feels it is an honor to serve on the FIRE Foundation Board as a Catholic, as a parent, and as a Speech-Language-Pathologist. She would love for children of all needs to be able to have catholic education.

Meghan Brignadello Genzel

Meghan Brignadello Genzel

Position

Meghan grew up in Peoria, Illinois and belonged to St. Thomas Parish, Peoria Notre Dame High School, and the University of Illinois where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication She and her husband Carl have two children, Connor (8) and Olivia (5). They belong to St. Jude Parish in Peoria. Olivia attends St. Jude Catholic School and Connor attends Banner Elementary School. Since being blessed with a child that has special needs, she has made it her mission to help educate, change, and create a community that is more inclusive and accepting of individuals like my son. As a parent of a special needs child, she would all children included in Catholic Education.

Sarah Arundale

Sarah Arundale

Sarah is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s Degree in literacy instruction. She spent 20 years in the classroom working as a reading specialist in McLean County Unit 5 School District, and she has also taught Religious Education for several years at St. Patrick’s Church of Merna. 

Sarah’s daughter, Maggie, was adopted from China 6 years ago and has cerebral palsy. It is the Arundale family’s desire that their daughter could attend their catholic school with an assistant that could help with her physical needs.

Sarah says, “I believe a child’s disability should not exclude them from a faith based education.  The definition of “catholic” is “universal”.  I believe a Catholic education should be extended to any family desiring their child to be raised in the Catholic faith.”

To have an active Board of Directors committed to accomplishing the Mission of the FIRE Foundation, we ask you acknowledge the following expectations:

– Attend meetings

– Contribute to fundraising efforts to support the FIRE’s mission

– Volunteer for certain events

 

PLEASE CONSIDER JOINING IN THIS MOVEMENT OF INCLUSION IN CATHOLIC EDUCATION