All Things Local show

All Things Local

Summary: Hear ideas and challenges from people working in local government and nonprofit organizations. Hosted by Dr. Alicia Schatteman, Director of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies at Northern Illinois University. We speak with public service researchers and workers across communities about topics and issues affecting their local towns, villages, cities, and neighborhoods.

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  • Artist: Dr. Alicia M. Schatteman
  • Copyright: Dr. Alicia M. Schatteman


 Episode 18 Shelly Perkins, DeKalb County Housing Authority | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2133

The Housing Authority of DeKalb County has been providing affordable housing options since 1946. As a unit of local government with county-wide jurisdiction, but funded by rents and federal grants, not local taxes. They are governed by a five-member, all-volunteer board. They offer four federal programs including tenant-based assistance through the housing voucher program, unit-based assistance through the low-income public housing program, shelter plus care program for the chronically homeless and multi-family programs. They operate eleven buildings, with a total of 389 units.  If you are someone you know needs housing assistance, you can find more information at

 Episode 17: Tara Russo, Elder Care Services | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1808

On this episode, number 17 of the All Things Local podcast, I speak with Tara Russo, Executive Director of Elder Care Services in DeKalb. She shares her personal background and commitment to seniors in our community. Her college education began in nursing but she quickly found that her heart was in social work, and specifically working with seniors. She talks about the wrap-around services her organization offers to help seniors in all facets of their life, to live their best possible lives at home. Despite the challenge of the pandemic, she has worked to form creative partnerships to serve our seniors, and even to assist other nonprofits to continue their work too. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 Episode 16: Cortney Strohacker, DeKalb County Convention & Visitor Bureau | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1612

On this episode, number 16 of the All Things Local podcast, I speak with Courtney Strohacher, Executive Director of the DeKalb county convention and visitor bureau. She has been in this role about a year and she shares with us her path, her engagement with all sectors in DeKalb County, and her work with DeKalb County Unites. She shares with us how the CVB markets DeKalb County to local residents but also across the state and across the country. While we might not be able to travel very far right now, Courtney is working hard to focus on what we can do to still enjoy our local attractions and sites. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 Episode 15: Gather | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2128

On this episode I speak with Tia Anderson of Heartland Bank and Debra Boughton of NIU, who are leaders in Gather, a program of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. Now in its third year, Gather is a women’s leadership organization that helps strengthen the overall business and non-profit community in the DeKalb area. We talk about why the program was founded and how they are working to support all women. We discuss how women can get involved even during this pandemic. I am a proud member of Gather, along with nearly 100 other women, and I encourage everyone to think about how you can get involved. Go to for more information. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 Episode 14: Fiona Cummings, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2137

On this episode I speak with Fiona Cummings, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. We chat about how Girl Scouts started, how it has evolved over time. We discuss their decision to be much more flexible so they can best serve their members, such as now only leasing space and putting those spaces in high traffic areas like shopping centers. They are also using technology in some very creative ways to keep the staff virtually connected to each and to continue to provide programs but virtually.  She talks about the loss of revenue in many different areas and the impact on their programs and mission because of it. But without a doubt, she, her staff and her board know they can get through these challenges and continue to build strong and confident girls. Fiona taught me about the FAILURE, and fail just means first attempt in learning. And we can all learn a lot from her when it comes to lifelong learning. I hope you enjoy this episode.

 Episode 13: Lynette Spencer, Adventure Works | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1716

Welcome to episode number 13 of the All Things Local Podcast. On this episode, I speak with Lynette Spencer, Founder and Executive Director of Adventure Works. We are four months into the pandemic now and Lynette and I chat about how her organization quickly adjusted and how they are continuing their mission of bringing mental health services to our community in some very unique ways. We discuss her collaboration with government agencies and other nonprofits, particularly in the University Village neighborhood in DeKalb. She shares how she found her passion of social work, and why she decided to take the leap and start a new nonprofit so that anyone who would benefit from adventure therapy would not be hindered by their ability to pay. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 Episode 12: Keri Asevedo, Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2046

Welcome to episode number 12 of the All Things Local Podcast. On this episode, I speak with Keri Asevedo, Executive Director of the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. She shares how Habitat had to quickly adapt to COVID 19 when all building stopped and their Restore Closed to the public. She shares her career path from working in the criminal justice system to running a $3 million nonprofit with 22 employees and 1,400 volunteers.  She admits she is not afraid to ask anyone for anything if its for a cause she believes in, like Habitat.  Housing is one of those basic human rights, Keri argues, that is often tied up with politics of who gets to live where. Somehow we ended up discussing Kim Kardashian and Kanye West but also more timely topics like racism and classism and how all of that is related to housing. You’ll have to listen to hear the full story. I hope you enjoy our lively and informative conversation.

 Episode 11: Michelle Donahoe, DeKalb County History Center | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1907

Welcome to episode number 11 of the All Things Local Podcast. On this episode, I speak with Michelle Donahoe, Executive Director of the DeKalb County History Center. She shares her journey as a public history student, as a volunteer, and now leading an organization that reaches across the county, preserving and sharing our county’s history. During this pandemic, the History Center reminds us all that history happens every day and encourages residents to share their stories, to document what’s going on in the world around them for future generations. I want to remind everyone that Give DeKalb County is May 7 and encourage you to make any size donation to any of the over 100 participating nonprofits. This is a critical time for nonprofits as programs and fundraising events have been cancelled, while many of them are seeing increased demand for their services. Share what you can and support Give DeKalb County on May 7. On behalf of these organizations and the people they serve, thank you. Enjoy this podcast episode and stay well.

 Episode 10: Jo-Anne Stately on Native American Philanthropy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2146

Jo-Anne Stately is the Director of Impact Strategy for the Minneapolis Foundation in Minnesota.  She kicked off the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies' 2020 Research Colloquium series on February 12 speaking about Native American philanthropy.  This recording was made with a live audience so I apologize in advance for the audio quality.

 Episode 9: Part 2 with Police Chiefs of NIU and DeKalb | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1963

I hope you enjoy this second part of my interview with the police chiefs of DeKalb and NIU.  In this part of our interview, both chiefs talk about their department’s collaboration with nonprofits, about very specific events that turned them towards making a career in law enforcement, and then we get into a discussion of mental health issues facing first responders. I am editing this episode as we are all dealing with the disruption to our daily lives and the serious health consequences of the coronavirus. This episode is dedicated to all of those public servants, health care workers, and business employees that are risking their own lives and their family’s lives in order to help the rest of us stay healthy and safe. Take care everyone and enjoy the episode!

 Episode 8: The Police Chiefs of NIU and DeKalb: Part 1 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1857

On this episode, I speak with Chief Tom Phillips of the NIU Police Department and Interim Chief of Police for the City of DeKalb, John Petragallo. We discuss their relationship with each other, to their communities, how they arrived at their positions and why did they go into police work in the first place. We are reminded how the city and the university are intricately linked, tied together, interdependent.  Because of our lengthy and candid conversation, this podcast will actually be split up in two parts. Enjoy this first part.

 Episode 7: Lynnea Erickson Laskowski, Safe Passage | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1979

Welcome to episode number 7 of the All Things Local Podcast. On this episode, I speak with Lynnea Erickson-Laskowski from Safe Passage, DeKalb County’s domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center.  Lynnea shares her journey from student to advocate. She reminds us that sexual assault and domestic violence does not discriminate by income, ethnicity, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Safe Passage works with so many entities to support their clients and could use our community’s help so think about volunteering, donating funds or items they are in need of, like gas gift cards especially as we come into the holiday season. Enjoy the episode!

 Episode 6: Amanda Christenson, DeKalb County Regional Office of Education | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2104

Welcome to Episode number 6 of the All Things Local Podcast, and my second in my new role as acting director of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies. In this episode, I interview Amanda Christenson the Superintendent of the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education. Although she has an extensive teaching background, you might be surprised at what she really wanted to be when she grew up. Hint, it wasn’t a teacher. She does her work with a social justice lens.  The regional office of education does so much behind the scenes for DeKalb County children and I hope you learn as much as I did.  We hear about the extent of collaboration with nonprofits and governments to carry out the vision and mission of the ROE.  Enjoy the episode!

 Episode #5: Alex Nerad, The Historic Egyptian Theatre | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2070

Welcome to Episode number 5 of the All Things Local Podcast, and my first in my new role as acting director of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies. In this episode, we learn all about the Egyptian Theatre from its executive director Alex Nerad. The Egyptian supports the quality of life of this region which attracts residents, businesses, and visitors.  You might be surprised to know that the Egyptian Theatre has a $2 million direct economic impact every year, thanks to the 40,000 visitors to the theatre and it will turn 90 years old in December.  Alex reminds us that the theatre is a community centre, welcoming all generations, from all walks of life. It’s where community conversations happen. Hear about exciting plans ahead with a $4.5 million renovation. Enjoy the episode!

 Episode #4: Dan Templin, DeKalb County Community Foundation | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1974

On this episode, I interview Dan Templin from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Growing up in Peoria, we’ll hear how Dan spent his time at Northern volunteering with local nonprofits and then graduating with a degree in psychology. Eventually administration found him very early in his career, first at the Dekalb County Youth Service Bureau when he became an executive director at just 26, and then he jumped at the chance to get involved in the nonprofit sector more broadly by moving to the DeKalb County Community Foundation.  He truly loves working in what he calls the field of generosity. 


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