BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Learn more about Kandice Henning
Kandice is the Founder and Executive Director of the Alive Not-for-profit Center in Naperville, Illinois. The first organization of its kind, Alive aims to provide the community with an inclusive experience of learning, sharing, and discovery that enables people to connect with what makes them come alive. From the merger with NaperBridge in January of 2015, Alive will have an even stronger teen program.
Kandice is a Life Coach and Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT). After spending 25+ years as an executive in the corporate world at Accenture and IBM, she is now following her true passion – helping people to create the life they desire. Kandice is a graduate of Life Coaching school, Coach for Life. She also is a certified Heal Your Life Workshop Leader (Louise Hay’s work). She has her 200hr CYT from Moksha Yoga in Chicago and is currently obtaining her 500hr CYT through ParaYoga (Rod Stryker). She has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Illinois.
Board Vice President
Learn More About Tina Hinch
Tina and her husband reside in Naperville. Both of their two adult children are employed and reside in warmer climates.
Learn More About Anita Knotts
After nearly 30 years in the financial services arena, Anita Knotts is a highly accomplished senior executive with vast expertise in sales, marketing, and business development in the competitive wealth management market. After spending the first part of her career as a successful investment advisor followed by years of leadership, Anita is now embarking on the next phase of her career as an entrepreneur. Anita has recently launched her new business Lotus Women’s Institute LLC. The mission of the organization is to bring financial literacy to women as well as encourage more women and people of color to choose financial services as a career path. She believes strongly that firms who implement initiatives to hire diverse teams – specifically for frontline roles – will have a competitive edge.
In 2019 she was recognized by Investment News as a “See It, Be It Role Model” for diversity and inclusion as part of their annual Diversity & Inclusions Awards program. Her recognition was well- deserved, as her passion to educate, encourage and empower women to take a larger role in their financial lives drove the launch of the successful Women & Wealth initiative during her time with Calamos Wealth Management. Within the broader Calamos enterprise, Anita formed the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN); a forum for women associates to regularly meet and openly discuss topics pertaining to professional development and personal work/life balance. She is a frequent contributor and presenter on the topics of women and wealth and leads the Chicago Western Suburbs Chapter of Ellevate, a global professional women’s network with a mission to close the gender-based achievement gap in business by providing women with a community to learn from and lean on. Anita received her B.S. in Economics from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. with a Distinction in Finance from DePaul University. She also holds Series 7, 63 and 65 licenses.
Learn More About Grace Buzzard
Grace Buzzard is a V.P. of Strategic Operations at SAP, a Fortune 500 company with 25 years in Software
as a Service (SaaS). Grace started at Fieldglass, a startup in 2000, and has seen the company grow from
startup to acquisition.
Technology helps improve the way we live. Technology is part of every industry, and she believes
Girls/Women in S.T.E.M. is needed to propel solutions that include a different viewpoint. Grace sits on
the Sr. Advisory for Benedictine University L.E.A.D.S Program, striving to see more future leaders build
their confidence and have the support network to go beyond.
Grace earned her degree in Psychology from the University of Loyola and an M.B.A. from Notre Dame.
Learn More About Ebony Baker
Ebony Baker is engaging, supportive, and knowledgeable about the K-12 school systems in the Chicagoland suburbs. With over 22 years in education, she has served as a school administrator, school counselor, and currently MTSS School Social Worker in Naperville District 203.
She specializes in student and family engagement through connecting families and students to provide resources and tools to develop actionable success plans toward academic and social-emotional goals. Ebony has served as the DuPage County Illinois Principal Association, Equity Chair, and is currently serving as a committee member for the diversity and equity committee within her school districts. She is also an active member of her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and DuPage AME Church in Lisle, Illinois.
Ebony’s passion for understanding how equity and diverse learner needs impact student and family engagement is at the forefront of all her decisions and conversations with all stakeholders connected to student progress, mindset, and growth.
Learn More About Chris Gandy
Chris was a Communications major at the University of Illinois. Outside of the classroom, he played on the Fighting Illini basketball team where he was co-captain and earned 2nd Team All Big-Ten honors. After college, Chris played professional basketball for the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and in L’Hermaine, France.
Early in his career, Chris worked as a Northwestern Mutual Financial Network Representative. While there, he received numerous awards and was a top producer. He became a Million Dollar Round Table Member in 2003 – the premier association of financial professionals. In the spring of 2005, Chris moved his financial services practice to the Molyneaux Financial Group, LLC, a general agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. There, he received the Impact Award in 2006 as well as the Management Council and Leaders Conference Honors in 2007.
Chris donates his time and efforts to many organizations. In 2012, Chris found a way to give back to sports by becoming a board member of the Chicago Concussion Coalition (Founded by Chris Nowitzki, of the Emmy Nominated movie “Head Games”, he finds passion in helping resolve the issue of CTE in sports) which strives to make amateur sports safer for children. He is on the Board of Directors for the Urban League, is part of the United Way’s Young Community Leaders, and volunteers for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. In 2013, Chris was nominated to the NBARPA committee board for the Chicago chapter and, again, qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table.
“Our Fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch”
Learn More About Edward Bugg
Edward Bugg has been a resident of Aurora’s Far Southeast side since he and his wife had their home built in in 2004.
Since moving to Aurora, Edward has become involved with numerous local organizations. In 2013, he was elected Alderman of Aurora’s Ninth Ward and was re-elected in both 2017 and 2021. Alderman Bugg currently serves as the Chairperson of the Rules, Administration and Procedures (RAP) Committee of the Aurora City Council and is a member of the Finance Committee. As Alderman, Bugg has worked with local residents to build a dynamic, vibrant Community and in 2019 Aurora’s Ninth Ward was the #1 Community for Millennials to move to in Illinois to raise a family.
Aside from his role with the City, Edward serves on the Boards of Grace Community Christian Church and Remington Crossing Homeowners Association. Before moving to Aurora, he served as the Executive Secretary of the Park Forest Community Development Cooperation.
Edward’s educational background includes both a degree in Business from Eastern Illinois University and a Law degree from the University Of Illinois College Of Law. He has worked in both the business and legal fields for various levels of government and as the Vice -President of an Arbitration/ Mediation firm in the private sector.
Edward and his wife Beth have 3 children. They are involved in the local schools, various sports leagues and volunteer at Feed My Starving Children and the Aurora Inter-Faith Food Pantry.
Learn More About Karina Garcia
Karina is the first female President & CEO of the Aurora Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is also the first to be born outside of the United States and to become a Naturalized U.S. citizen. Mrs. Garcia is the owner of two local businesses. She is the President of A&A Transportation 1 Inc., a growing transportation business in the construction industry and a business partner of CBG Renovators, an LLC real estate rehab corporation dedicated to purchasing and rehabilitating real estate.
Born in Mexico City, at age 9, Karina was brought by her parents to the state of Illinois, which soon became the American Dream. Mrs. Garcia has always been an active member of her community. In 1995, she began to volunteer her time to the community and translate letters and take people to appointments to translate for them. Mrs. Garcia served as a volunteer at World Relief, and at Accion Latina where she would teach U.S. residents the U.S.A. Constitution who were getting prepared to be tested to become U.S. citizens. The same year she started attending DePaul University for training in the immigration procedure. Mrs. Garcia served four years as a volunteer for the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce(AHCC) and was named Volunteer of the Year for two consecutive years in 2009 and in 2010 by the members of the AHCC. Mrs. Garcia has participated in “Toys for Tots”, “Matching Pallet” with the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry and Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, “Pampering our Woman” with Mutual Grounds, “LockUp” with the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council and “Girls Run the World” with the Aurora Police Department. Mrs. Garcia sat on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Food Pantry, Board Member of the AHCC, Board Member of the Family Shelter Services, current Board Member of the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, current board member of the Aurora Puerto Rican Council, current board member of the APS Training Institute and current committee member of the Miss Fiestas Patrias DuPage. In 2014, Mrs. Garcia participated as an author in the first Today’s Inspired Latina Book where she shared her success story and now is a nationwide book.
In her role as President & CEO, Mrs. Garcia focuses her time on the many issues affecting the Hispanic community. An unwavering characteristic of the President & CEO is her aptitude for showing caring and understanding in all that she does. Mrs. Garcia spends much of her time meeting with entrepreneurs, young professionals and business owners who come from all over the west suburbs. One of her recent achievements was meeting with a group of young professionals in Aurora to discuss the needs of our millennials and how she can cultivate resources that are needed. Over the past five years she’s been invited to the schools to speak about her career and achievements, has also participated as a guest speaker at the “Multicultural Career Language” with West Aurora High School and was also invited to be “Principal for a Day” at Dist. 129, as well as with Girls Scouts of America, Mutual Grounds.
Mrs. Garcia was also the President & CEO for the non-for-profit Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Dollars for Scholars(AHCCDFS) – a Program of Scholarship America, where she was the founder of Miss Fiestas Patrias Aurora and was able to give out more that $60K in scholarships in partnership with board members, St. Augustine College and the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board. Karina was awarded by the AHCCDFS and by St. Augustine College for her outstanding support offered to both organizations. Mrs. Garcia launched a network called Mujeres in Business were they would meet once a month to promote women’s empowerment and each other’s product, they have brainstorm sessions, panelist, motivational stories of success and an annual Mujeres in Business Luncheon to award “Woman Who Have Lead by Example.” After several events the group grew to be the largest diverse network of women, which led Mrs. Garcia to shift the branding of the network to the next level. Knowing that this group had turned into the largest diverse group of women, to make it more inclusive and open for other opportunities for women, the name changed to International Women of Influence.
Learn More About Paul Hinterlong
Naperville Plan Commission, 2005-2009 City of Naperville Advisory Commission on Disabilities, Board Member, 2012-Present
City of Naperville Special Events Committee, Board Member, 2012-Present City of Naperville CAPS (Citizens Appreciate Public
Safety), Board Member, 2012-Present Naperville Healing Fields, Board Member, 2012 Centennial Beach 75th and Naperville
Park District 40th Anniversary Aquathon Committee, 2006 Naperville 175th Birthday Heritage Committee and co-chair of the
Electric Light Parade, 2006 Naperville 175th Birthday Unity Committee- area captain, 2006 Westside Homeowners Association
President, 2002-2005 Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation Director, 2004-2005 Washington St. Corridor Study
stakeholder group, 2003 Downtown DuPage River Trail stakeholder group, 2003 Centennial Park Skate Park Facility citizen
committee, 2003 City of Naperville Comprehensive Transportation Plan work group, 2002 Community First Founding and
Board Member, 2000-Present Conservation Foundation member and annual participant of the DuPage River Sweep Naperville
North High school Class of 1983 Reunion Committee.
Learn More About Rick McNeel
Rick received a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has served on several Boards over the years including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce board. He is currently is on the Board of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Engineering College Advisory Board at the university of Nebraska.
As a person who grew up on a cattle ranch in western Nebraska and attended a one room schoolhouse for grades kindergarten through eight, Rick is a big believer that hard work and determination can allow anyone to lead a successful life. He also has concerns about the work ethic and lack of opportunity for many of our nations disadvantaged youth. The Alive Center is on the right track to teach our youth that they can succeed, feel great about themselves and contribute to society.
His favorite quote is by Indira Gandhi “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those that take the credit. Try to be in the first group, there is less competition there”.
Learn More About Paul Novak
For the past 13 years, Paul has worked with individuals, families & businesses, guiding them through the areas of investment management and financial planning. He has worked with some of the best minds in the industry and currently holds the role of Partner and Senior Wealth Manager at T2 Asset Management in Oakbrook. Paul has earned numerous awards for his work in investment management, including appearing in the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Magazine for his long standing ‘Five-Star Wealth Manager’ designation.
Aside from his passion for wealth management, Paul also has a desire to give back. In 2008 he founded LEADZ, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to giving back to the local community. Spear-heading LEADZ’s second chapter in Naperville, Paul was able to raise a significant amount locally, while providing a platform for local business to volunteer and thrive.
Paul has substantial board and leadership experience, serving on multiple private sector, chamber and not-for-profit boards. He is also a past Rotarian, and knows the true meaning of “service above self”.
Above all, Paul is a family man. He is a new father of a 5-month old baby girl, and looks forward to new sets of rewards and challenges that will bring. He hopes to teach her “not to try to fix whatever comes in your life. Fix yourself in such a way that whatever comes, you will be fine” – Sadhguru
Learn More About Dawn Portner
Dawn graduated from Lewis University with a Master’s degree and from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree, both in the field of Criminal Justice.
Volunteering is an important part of Dawns life and she is looking forward to serving on the Board if the Alive Center