Let it Be Us Staff

Susan McConnell

Executive Director and Founder of Let It Be Us

Susan McConnell founded Let It Be Us to direct her experience toward a 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 is responsible for establishing the Heart Gallery of Illinois  – the State’s photo listing of children awaiting adoption, which increases a child’s chance of adoption to  50%. She also designed the Let It Be Us Targeted Recruitment Program and their Adoption and Foster Care Information Fairs. Susan and her husband are the parents of four children, three of whom came to their family through adoption.  Susan has 27 years of experience in open adoption.  You can reach Susan here. 

Amber Racokzy

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment and Licensing Specialist – Foster Parent Licensing Coach

Amber is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and earned a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University in New York after completing her undergraduate studies at Valparaiso University in Indiana. She has spent her career working with children and families in mental health, juvenile justice, school, and child welfare settings. Amber has been involved in foster and adoptive parent recruitment and licensing in the Northern Region of Illinois for more than a decade as a Licensing Specialist and as a Supervisor. Amber enjoys helping individuals and families identify their strengths and she feel honored to be invited into people’s lives each day. She is consistently looking for ways to improve services and outcomes at all levels, and appreciates working alongside other passionate, committed individuals and teams associated with Let It Be Us. You can reach Amber here.

Morgan Diaz 

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment and Licensing Specialist – Foster Parent Licensing 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 a Child and is 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 and is committed to increasing the number of licensed families in Illinois.  You can reach Morgan here. 

Jodi Carlson

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment and Licensing Specialist – Foster Parent Licensing 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 also worked with DCFS guardianship subsidy documentation and has experience facilitating adoptions. Her experience also includes providing guidance and support to foster parents during the permanency process.  Jodi will work with Let It Be Us families who are interested in obtaining a foster care license for the purpose of being foster or adoptive parents. You can reach Jodi here. 

Michelle Prickett

Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment and Licensing Specialist – Foster Parent Licensing Coach

Michelle is experienced in foster and adoptive parent recruitment, coaching, licensing,  and family support.  She has a degree in business from Roosevelt University and has been involved in foster and adoptive parent recruitment and coaching on many fronts within child welfare in the Northern Region of Illinois. She especially likes working with families who are in the process of obtaining a foster care license for the purpose of being foster parents and/or adoptive parents. Michelle has been active in the foster and adoptive parent world because she and her husband have been foster parents and they have adopted four children from foster care. Michelle will work with Let It Be Us families who are interested in obtaining a foster care license for the purpose of being foster or adoptive parents. You can reach Michelle here. 

 

Mary Jo Cusack

Director of Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment 

Mary Jo believes in, and understands, the importance of providing all children with a loving and safe home. Mary Jo has been involved in community nonprofit development and was an integral part of the movement Leave No Children Inside. She has been instrumental in the development of the Heart Gallery of Illinois as well as the Let It Be Us Targeted Recruitment Program which matches waiting children with waiting families. She holds a BA in Marketing from Lakeland College and has a background in marketing, sales, print media, television and radio.  Mary Jo and her husband have 4 children, two of whom are in college, and one who is in law school.  You can reach Mary Jo here.

Alex Montgomery

Director of Strategy and Operations 

Alex Montgomery has a wealth of experience in nonprofit management. 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.  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.

Lisa Hanson-Braun

Targeted Recruitment Specialist and Grants Administrator

Lisa is passionate about helping children be healthy and happy and finding their forever homes which is vital to each child’s success. She 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 (Partners for Our Communities, Metropolis Performing Arts Center, The Bridge Youth & Family Services, One-Five Foundation) that care for children and families through a variety of programs to improve overall well-being. She excels at Recruitment, Grants, Special Events, and Volunteer Management. Lisa is the editor of the Let It Be Us publication “Wednesday’s Children of Illinois. Lisa and her husband have two sons and a Wheaten Terrier named Duncan. You can reach Lisa here.

Lily Cusack

Social Media Coordinator

As a journalist, Lily focuses on telling the stories of people who are often overlooked in the media, including children in foster care and those awaiting adoption. She earned her Bachelor’s of Journalism, magna cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a minor in French and certificates in Multicultural Studies and General Honors. She has reported for NPR, NBC, Reuters News, and newspapers in Maine, Missouri, and Illinois. She has managed social media accounts for Reuters News in Brussels, Belgium; CELIE, a non-profit in Washington, D.C.; and the United Methodist Church in Missouri. Lily is currently attending law school at William & Mary Law School in Virginia, where she plans to begin a career in international public policy. This summer, in addition to working for Let It Be Us, Lily has a fellowship with a non-profit international legal organization in Kigali, Rwanda. You can reach Lily 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.  

Ross Cochran 

Director of Resource Development 

Ross brings his expertise in communications and donor resource development to Let It Be Us. Ross is also an alum of WGN Chicago Radio. He has a BS from Bradley University in Theater and has experience as a pastor. Ross and his wife Lauren are licensed and active foster parents who provide respite to children in Illinois foster care who are in need of a stable home. They are parents to their daughter, Abigail, and are awaiting the birth of their second child. You can reach Ross here.  

 

Lizzie Kaboski

Research and Marketing Intern 

Lizzie is a rising sophomore at Indiana University majoring in journalism with a concentration in public relations. As a native of Barrington, Illinois, she appreciates and values the importance of giving back to the community and advocating for those who often struggle to advocate for themselves. She has a passion for leadership and communication, bringing with her experience as the Barrington High School Choir President, Retreat Leader at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, and a volunteer at the Boys & Girls club of Bloomington, Indiana.  Lizzie focuses her work on the Heart Gallery of Illinois and is extensively researching Heart Galleries across the country with the goal of producing “best practices” of Heart Galleries.  Through the work of Let It Be Us, the Heart Gallery of Illinois now ranks among some of the most beautiful Heart Galleries across the country.