Rebecca Christiansen is the founder of Celebrate Differences. She is a graduate of Elmhurst College with a Bachelor's of science in nursing and business administration. She is currently employed full time as a registered nurse.
After the birth of her fourth child Ryan, who has Down syndrome, she got the idea to start Celebrate Differences in hopes of showing the world that individuals with disabilities are more the same than different than others.
Jeff Christiansen, one of the original founders of Celebrate Differences, is a graduate of Lewis University with master degree in criminal/social justice. He is currently employed as a part of the command staff at a local Sheriffs Office.
Along with being the father of Ryan, he has developed programs and training to assist fellow law enforcement officers with their response to persons with special needs. The Illinois Attorney Generals Office has had him present his training at their Elderly Service Officer 40 hour certification class. He has also completed SAR (Search and Rescue) training to become a trained search manager in the event someone with special needs becomes lost/missing.
Olivia currently is a senior attending UIC where her focus is on the study of accounting.Since the arrival of her little brother Ryan, who was born with Down syndrome, she has been very active in advocating for those with disabilities. Whether she is giving a speech about him and his accomplishments or volunteering at disability events, she strives to make the world a better place for him and other children like him.
Julie has a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration from Lewis University. She has undergone some major life changes over the last six years, having been diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor in 2004. Today, having fully recovered from the removal of her tumor, Julie has dedicated her time to furthering her education and assisting others in need. She dreams of helping others in reaching their fullest potential with the same hopes and opportunities that she was blessed with.
Terry is the father of four, one of which has Prader-Willi Syndrome. His daughter's syndrome has led to his focus on a better understanding of the environmental issues affecting all of us. Understanding those issues and problems that our children face is just part of the journey, getting involved to assist and promote an improved quality of life is also very important. Terry is not only an involved member of the Celebrate Differences organization, but he is also an active board member of the Prader-Willi Syndrome - Illinois chapter.
Bre has lived in Oswego for 10 years with her husband, Paul. She has a Bachelor`s degree in Special Education and a Master`s degree as a Reading Specialist. She has worked as a kindergarten and first grade special education teacher for the past 6 years. Bre is excited to be a part of the Celebrate Differences family.
Missy Paoletti has a Bachelors degree in in speech language pathology from Illinois State University and a Masters Degree in Speech language pathology from governors state university. She also holds a Masters Degree in educational leadership. She currently is a speech pathologist at Gombert Elementary School and works part time at SPOT 4 kids in Oswego. She has co-taught & collaborated with regular education teachers in an inclusion setting as well as provided pull-out services with early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students. She also has experience with the birth to three population.
Missy has dealt personally with her own disability being born with cerebral palsy. She has dealt first hand advocating for herself and for others with disabilities. She does define the fact that anything is possible. She is excited to be working for such an amazing foundation as Celebrate Differences.
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