Board of Directors

The people who formed Let it Be Us have a lot in common.

They are talented experts in foster care, guardianship, adoption, recruiting, marketing, media, public relations, education and fundraising.  They are parents, foster parents and adoptive parents.  They are an advocacy group for the adoption of foster children because they believe that every child deserves to have permanent, committed parents who will love them throughout their lives.

While Let it Be Us is launching in Illinois, their work is a scalable model to follow.


Susan McConnell

Founder and Executive Director

Susan McConnell, Founder and Executive Director of Let It Be Us, is an adoptive parent and a tireless advocate for children in need of safe and loving homes through foster care and adoption.  She is most proud of the innovative programs that she and her team have developed to recruit foster and adoptive parents in Illinois. She is the recipient of many awards, including a congressional award, for her commitment to children in foster care through the Heart Gallery of Illinois, the state’s only digital recruitment tool.  She sits on the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council where she advises the Legislative Committee and the Healthcare Committee.

Susan is the parent to 4 children, 3 through adoption, and has 27 years of experience in open adoption.  She has a BS and an MBA from Chicago’s DePaul University and is a graduate of Cornell University’s Women in Leadership Program.  She has a deep background in human resources and recruiting within major law firms in Los Angeles and Chicago and she has directed her experience to the world of child welfare, which is largely overlooked by entrepreneurs.


Bob Noonan

Board Chair

Bob Noonan, the Let It Be Us Board Chair, is an adoptive father. He brings 30 years of corporate experience in the Telecommunications field to the Let It Be Us team. He has experience in operations, engineering, marketing and sales and is currently a corporate officer as a Senior Vice President for a Fortune 500 company; ARRIS (ARRIS trades on the NASDAQ under ARRS). He currently manages well over $1 Billion in annual revenue.

Prior to his current role with ARRIS, Bob was an officer for Motorola Mobility’s Home business unit – acquired by ARRIS in 2013. Bob joined Motorola through the acquisition of Tut Systems (NASDAQ – TUTS) where he was the Vice President of Global Operations and one of three 16B corporate officers. Prior to Tut Systems, Bob held various management positions at US Sprint, Tektronix, and (2) of Tektronix’ companies – Grass Valley Group and

Throughout his career, he helped drive new markets that revolutionized the TV industry by using fiber optic back haul networks as well as expanding the educational markets enabling broadband distance learning. In the last ten years, Bob has been very active in the global emergence of IPTV solutions for Telco carriers.

Bob received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical engineering (BSME) from the University of Lowell (now UMass Lowell), Lowell MA and a MBA from University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN.

Bob’s family includes, Wendy, his wife of 25 years, their 3 adult children and now his two precious young sons adopted through foster care.


Kerry Miller


Kerry Miller, Treasurer and Founding Board member of Let It Be Us, is well versed in 501(c)(3) financial reporting and communications.  She lends her expertise to Let It Be Us as well as Saint Anne Catholic Church in Barrington. 

Since she and her family joined Safe Families in 2010, she has become actively involved in the welfare and care of children in the foster care system. In addition to her involvement with Safe Families, Kerry is involved with FISH (For I Shall Help) as well as various fundraising programs, in many capacities, through Saint Anne Church.

When her children were in elementary school, she held various positions including Treasurer of the Athletic Board and Home & School Association at Saint Anne School.  Her work experience is in Finance and Banking, and holds a BS from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  

Kerry’s family includes her husband, Steve, of 25 years and her two children. 


Susan Stoga

Vice Chair

Susan Stoga brings more than 25 years’ experience in brand marketing and communication to Let It Be Us. As a principal and co-founder of Carson Stoga Communications, a suburban Chicago-based public relations and social media consulting firm, Susan’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, national associations and franchisors.

Susan is an award-winning communication and media relations strategist with work recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Society of American and the Publicity Club of Chicago. She is a frequent speaker and resource on crisis communications and the importance of managing brand reputation and is often sourced by media outlets, including Fox Business and Entrepreneur Magazine, to name a few.

Susan previously served as executive director of corporate communication for publicly-held Enesco, Inc., and as public relations manager for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, managing media relations for the chain’s 110 properties in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She also led the Illinois Bureau of Tourism’s PR efforts outside the U.S. while at Hill & Knowlton.

An adoptive parent, adoption advocate and speaker on open adoption, Susan is the mother of a high school son and elementary school daughter. Prior to joining Let It Be Us, Susan spent more than 10 years fundraising and supporting marketing activities for Sunny Ridge Family Center, now a part of Holt International. In addition to serving as a board member for Let It Be Us, she is a member of the Barrington High School’s Fine Arts Boosters Board. Susan is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s journalism school and a frequent attendee of the Iowa’s Writers Workshop.


Elizabeth Felice


Elizabeth Felice brings over a decade of experience as an educator to Let it Be Us. Her work as an English teacher, reading specialist, tutor and coach has provided a rich body of problem-solving experiences and a growing testimony to the power of educational empowerment. As a Barrington, Illinois native, resident, parent and educator, she feels a deep sense of pride in the charitable drive of fellow Barrington residents. Elizabeth considers her work with Let It Be Us an honor and a privilege, and is thrilled at the opportunity to give back to her community.

As a parent and an educator, she has learned that families come in endless varieties of function, and she is dedicated to providing the unconditional acceptance and support that only a family can offer to as many young people in need as possible. As an experienced high school teacher, she is also dedicated to empowering the older children of foster care through the development of educational and life goals, and the encouragement and empathy that each individual deserves.  She has extensive experience with Individual Education Plans (IEP’s). 

Elizabeth holds a BS from Chicago’s DePaul University and an MA from Concordia University. Elizabeth is the mother of one child, now a freshman at the University of Illinois. 


Eileen Gaete

Board Member

Eileen Gaete, a resident of Lake Barrington, is a global strategist at RSM US, LLP, a leading accounting firm.  Fluent in Spanish, she is the mother of three and has been a licensed foster parent since 2017.

Eileen holds a master’s degree in International Management from Liverpool University and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from Butler University.


Mark Mishler

Board Member

Mark Mishler, a resident of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, brings over 35 years of corporate experience in the Specialty Insurance Industry and 20 years of military service as an Army Engineer Officer, to Let It Be Us.

He was the Chairman and CEO of Interstate National Corporation, President, COO and Board member of The Warranty Group and served on the Board of Paylocity Holdings.  In addition, Mark is current Board Member of Make-a-Wish, Illinois.

Mark was an early supporter of Let It Be Us, sponsoring the organization’s first fundraising events and providing much needed support. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania’s Robert Morris University.


Peter Schwarzbach

Board Member

Peter Schwarzbach, a resident of Chicago, Illinois, is the owner of Vin Chicago, a unique chain of wine stores in the Chicago area. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Michigan, he brings over 20 years of business operations and management experience to Let It Be Us.

In addition to his leadership of Vin Chicago, Peter’s background includes work for Toyota in their manufacturing operations and marketing work in the semiconductor equipment industry. Peter enjoys spending time outdoors, running on the lakefront and is an avid sailor.

Rick Smith

Rick Smith

Board Member

Rick brings 30 years of corporate experience in the Insurance Industry to the Let It Be Us team as Co-Chair of the Finance Committee. He has experience in finance, operations and product development. Rick has been with Allstate Insurance for 30 years and is currently a Product Vice President responsible for managing nearly $3 billion in annual revenue.

Rick received a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Business Analysis from Louisiana State University and a MBA in Corporate Finance from the University of Dallas.

Rick’s family includes, Michelle, his wife of 28 years, and their 3 adult children, Brad, Taylor and Andrew.

Brandon Verwijs

Board Member

Brandon Verwijst, a resident of Palatine, Illinois, holds a degree in biomedical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the Director of Engineering at Quadrant Technologies, where he oversees the development and manufacture of medical devices.

Although an engineer by trade, Brandon brings over a decade of experience as a teacher and mentor to children and young adults. Whether he is tutoring for the ACT, teaching guitar at Craven Academy of Performing Arts, or coaching at Chess2Children, Brandon’s mission is to teach children lessons that are not bound by classroom walls.

He has carried this mission into his work as an Educational Mentor with Let it Be Us, where he works with foster care youth to make a lasting change in how they see themselves in this world. He joins the board as assistant treasurer and has served as a mentor for Let It Be Us since 2015.

About Us

Advisory Board

Peter Yankala
Philips Menswear

Elizabeth Sherman, PsyD

Rick Smith
Allstate Insurance

Nadiya Ali

Bob Lee
Barrington Area Development Council

Connie Going
Adoption Advocacy Center