Let it Be Us Staff

The Let It Be Us team is experienced in Illinois foster and adoptive parent recruitment.
Our work is innovative and our work is successful. 

Susan McConnell

Executive Director and Founder of Let It Be Us

Susan McConnell founded Let It Be Us to direct her experience toward the child welfare sector that has largely been overlooked by entrepreneurs and business leaders.  She has an undergraduate degree in business and an MBA, both from Depaul University.  She is also a graduate of Cornell University’s Women in Leadership Program. She has a background in human resources and recruiting within major law firms in Chicago and Los Angeles. Susan sits on the Illinois Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council where she was appointed by the Illinois Director of the Department of Children and Family Services in 2017. Susan was on the team that established the Heart Gallery of Illinois, the State’s photo listing of children awaiting adoption, which gives a child a significantly increased chance of adoption. Susan and her team have designed the Illinois Waiting Children’s Gallery, a gallery of waiting children that allows every child to be featured first throughout the day, so that no child is left behind. Susan also designed the Let It Be Us Targeted Recruitment Program, which places children who are in emergent need and those who are challenging to place in the safest homes, keeping them out of shelters, and their Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment Events, which recruit thousands of potential foster and adoptive parents for children in Illinois foster care. Susan and her husband are the parents of four children, three of whom came to their family through adoption.  Susan has 28 years of experience in open adoption.  You can reach Susan here. 

Alex Montgomery

Deputy Director

Alex Montgomery has a wealth of experience in nonprofit management and nonprofit legal strategy and operations. As a nonprofit professional with 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, she has experience leading fundraising and operations teams, expanding and managing back-office functions, and overseeing multi-million dollar facility renovations.  Alex earned a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Williams College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.  Alex has been instrumental in the development of the Let It Be Us Parent Recruitment Events. She also has extensive experience with private and state contracts. She is also a mother through adoption with a passion for reimagining how we define family and ensuring all children are in safe, healthy, happy homes. You can reach Alex here.

Vanessa Baie

Director of Targeted Recruitment and Coaching 

Vanessa comes with seven years of child welfare experience. She began working initially in foster care as a Permanency Case Worker, and then moved into other positions in the field including; foster parent licensing, administration, quality assurance and risk management, and most recently in clinical social work as a Therapist and Parenting Educator for birth parents and children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Vanessa earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC, and is a Licensed Social Worker with the state of Illinois. She is also a Licensed Direct Service Child Welfare Employee and is Rule 402 and Child Care Act certified. She will begin her PhD in Clinical Social Work with the Institute of Clinical Social Work in Chicago in the fall of 2020. Vanessa is deeply passionate about child welfare and committed to improving outcomes for the safety and well-being of all children in Illinois. You can reach Vanessa here.

Morgan Diaz

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruiter and Coach 

Morgan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Kaplan University. She has experience as a Case Manager and a Program Director within Child Welfare Agencies in Illinois. She has a Child Welfare Employee License (CWEL) and is Child  Adolescent Needs and Strengths Certified (CANS). She is Leads certified, has a Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol Certification (CERAP), and is Rule 402 and Child Care Act certified. Morgan has experience directly supervising case management, assignment of caseloads, and implementing client service plans. Morgan joins our Let It Be Us team of Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruiters and Coaches.  You can reach Morgan here. 

Jodi Carlson

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruiter and Coach

Jodi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University. She has spent her career working with children and families in foster care and adoption. Jodi has experience as a Statewide Permanency Specialist, Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol Manager, and a Statewide Permanency Specialist. She has a Child Welfare Employee License (CWEL) and is Child  Adolescent Needs and Strengths Certified (CANS). She is Leads certified, has a Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol Certification (CERAP), and is Rule 402 and Child Care Act certified. Jodi has extensive experience with DCFS guardianship subsidy documentation and has experience facilitating adoptions. Jodi’s experience also includes providing guidance and support to foster parents during the permanency process. . You can reach Jodi here.

Rebecca Thomas

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruiter and Coach

Rebecca is a Foster Parent Support Specialist with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and a Master’s Degree in Education. While her professional career has been primarily in education, she has worked for non-profit organizations such as Head Start, Inc. She has managed several grant programs including a federal grant for single parents.  She also has an extensive background in advocating for children with special needs.  Rebecca has a love for children and when her youngest child left for college, she and her husband embarked on a foster care journey where they have provided a safe and loving home to children who need one for as long as they may need one.  She has now broadened that journey to include finding safe, healthy and loving homes for children across the state of IL. You can reach Rebecca here.


Lisa Hanson-Braun

Director of Development and Grants Administrator 

Lisa has BA in Political Science from Iowa State University.  Over the last 25 years, Lisa has worked for agencies in the northwest suburbs of Chicago that care for children and families through a variety of programs to improve overall well-being. She has extensive experience in Development, Grants, Special Events, Fundraisers, and Volunteer Management.  You can reach Lisa here.

Jeri Bark

Administrative Coordinator 

Jeri brings many years of administrative and accounting experience to Let It Be Us. She is an expert in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and database management. She is also an expert in organization, list making, list keeping, and everything important to keeping us functional in all of our operations. You can reach Jeri here.