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About Career Resource Center (CRC)

Unemployed and underemployed workers are not just statistics; they are real people, seeking guidance and support. Whether seeking a career change, returning to the workforce after a break, having recently graduated from college, or experiencing the devastating effects of job loss, we cut through the turmoil and get families back on their feet assisting job candidates to find meaningful work.


We provide our community with the tools to search for their future, helping them remain positive and motivated. We teach self-reliance as the cornerstone of success. Members learn more about themselves, explore career options, and develop a focused plan of action through meetings with advisors and attendance at education and training programs. Job candidates learn to articulate their talents and successfully market themselves, maximizing their chance to find satisfying employment.

Transforming careers has remained constant throughout our 31 year history. Individualized counseling, career-skills workshops, and an array of informational material, provided now through a virtual setting, have accelerated the return to significant and productive career paths of over 14,000 individuals. Members span a range of disciplines, professions, experiences, and compensation levels. Keeping pace with changing marketplace demands, technological advances, employer expectations, candidate needs, and the economic environment, we deliver high-caliber employment assistance. Career Resource Center continues to transform careers with responsive, efficient, compassionate, and comprehensive employment resources and support.

Mission and History


Our goal is to Change Lives and Strengthen Communities with Confidence-Building, Results-Focused Employment Resources. CRC began 30 years ago as a religious outreach mission with an innovative approach to serving the needs of a few local individuals impacted by the “white collar” recession. With foresight and wisdom the original founders conceived of and established an organization that relied entirely on volunteers to oversee and deliver services.


Career Resource Center is now an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit career transition center. CRC continues to transform careers through responsive, efficient, compassionate, and individualized employment resources and support. CRC’s mission of Transforming Careers has remained constant over our long history.

Our high-quality services are specifically recommended to professionals in job transition by a significant number of community organizations including family services, libraries, local chambers of commerce, townships, city governments, religious communities, and the state job centers. Our network of 800+ organizations, all who receive our monthly Calendar of Events, allows CRC to use a community-based approach to help move people along the spectrum toward financial stability, working together to build communities of self-reliant citizens. CRC makes referrals to appropriate organizations for assessment testing, computer training, emotional support, financial assistance, emergency assistance and other needs.

CRC is able to leverage the strengths and resources of the surrounding communities by engaging our team of more than 100 volunteers, who offer their expertise pro-bono to serve on the Board of Directors, deliver education and training programs, coach candidates, greet visitors and candidates, and perform many of CRC’s operational functions. These talented cadres of volunteers, who reside in the surrounding communities, make it possible for CRC to fulfill its mission.

Volunteer advisors/coaches are vetted through a rigorous process to ensure that CRC recruits high-quality, experienced professionals. These volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, but what they all have in common is their experience with developing individuals in their careers, the hiring process, and experience with employees during the separation process. Advisors come from senior leadership roles at companies that include Kraft, Bank of America, Accenture, University of Chicago, FGMK, and Arthur Anderson to name a few, and others are professional career coaches.


Meet Our Team

Executive Director
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Executive Director

After serving as CRC’s Executive Director since 2017, Kristina Phillips has announced her departure from the organization, effective the end of February, in order to pursue a new professional opportunity as Executive Director of Family Service of Glencoe in Glencoe, Illinois. Phillips adds “I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished in the past five years and will truly miss the team of staff and volunteers at CRC”. 


Over Kristina's nearly five years as Executive Director, she has been a phenomenal leader and visionary for the organization. During her tenure, CRC expanded and upgraded programs, pivoted to a virtual service delivery model, and raised a record-breaking level of donations.


We all owe a debt of gratitude to Kristina for her tireless work and commitment to CRC's core mission.


We wish her every success.


Search for new Executive Director

CRC's board of directors has begun searching for a new Executive Director. A special search committee has already started to receive expressions of interest from potential candidates.


Tom Ratchford

Board President

Board of Directors
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Tom Ratchford


Current: Financial Consultant; Board, Joseph Academy

Past: Director Finance, Billing Services Group; Vice President/Finance Chief Financial Officer, Stimsonite Corporation

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Claire Thom


Current: Retired; Board of Directors - Inspyr Therapeutics; Scientific Advisory Board - Third Coast Therapeutics, Inc.

Past: Senior Vice President, Oncology Therapeutic Area Head, Astellas; Senior Vice President, Millennium Pharmaceuticals; Senior Vice President, Takeda

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Brent White


Current: Founder, Career Coach, and Job Search Strategist, Peoplefocus

Past: Senior Client Development Director, InsightsNow, Inc.; Vice President, Client Development, MetrixLab; Vice President, SmartRevenue; Executive Vice President, TNS North America

Mary Beth


Current: Founder and President, 2nd Career Consulting


Past:  Executive Vice President & Chief Sales Officer, Mullin TBG; Senior Vice President-Executive Benefit Consulting, Mullin Consulting; Trust Officer, First Chicago


Marilyn Clark

Current: President, Clark Consulting Group, Inc.; Executive Coach, Keystone Partners

Past: Career Management Consultant, Coach, and Trainer, Right Management;  Adjunct Professor, National Lewis University; Adjunct Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

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Chuck Edwards

Current: Retired; Industrial Automation Industry

Dean’s Council Member; Purdue Polytechnic Institute


Past: Executive with Rockwell Automation, Woodhead Industries, Molex, and Lenze SE

Advisor to the Dean and Graduate Instructor, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

Board Member, Electronic Components Association

Member, Business Advisory Council, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management

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Hank Galatz

Current: Associate General Counsel, Employment and Labor Law, W.W. Grainger, Inc.

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Lori Goldstein

Current: Employment Attorney and Owner, Law Office of Lori A. Goldstein; Board Member, New Trier High School Board of Education; Board Member, North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED)

Past: Attorney at Wildman Harrold; Attorney at Holleb & Coff; Board Member and Legal Counsel, Temple Jeremiah

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David Kahl

Current: Managing Partner, ValueSelling Associates

Past: Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Parlano, Inc.; Sales, Gartner, Inc.

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Jody Perl

Current: Principal, Perl Career Consulting: Career Coach, Kellogg School of Management

Past: Admissions Counselor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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John Strauss

Current: Retired;

Highland Park Hospital, Volunteer;

Curt's Cafe, Volunteer

Past: Senior Principal, Accenture

Our Team of Advisors

Mary Beth Barrett-Newman

Mary Beth Barrett-Newman is an experienced executive, coach and mentor with 20+ years of her "1st career" spent in executive benefit consulting and financial services. Mary Beth's goal is to help each client present his or her "best self" in all aspects of a job search. To do that, she focuses on the unique needs of each client, partnering with them to develop a job search strategy and "tools" of the job search. Her experience includes: 2nd Career Consulting - President; Mock Interview Coach - Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, MullinTBG - Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer; Trust Officer - First Chicago.

Meet our Advisors
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Jack Bigelow

Jack Bigelow does not think the goal of networking is to get a job. Instead, the goal is to reach out to as many people as possible and develop relationships because everyone has a contact. "Getting a job is a by-product of good networking," says Bigelow, a former Principal at Arthur Andersen LLP and now a Communications Consultant. His experience includes: Pacific Institute for Research and Education-Facilitator, Communications Consultant; Arthur Andersen LLP-Principal, Communications Consultant, Global Human Resources.

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Marla Gottschalk

Marla Gottschalk is an experienced executive, having recently left her position as Chief Executive Officer of The Pampered Chef, the premier direct seller of high quality kitchen and entertaining products. Marla led The Pampered Chef executive team for 10 years and was responsible for the overall direction and strategy of the business. Marla serves on the Board of Directors for Potbelly Sandwich Works, Underwriters Laboratories, and Big Lots. Her experience includes: The Pampered Chef-Chief Executive Officer; Kraft Foods-Executive Vice President and General Manager of Post Cereals, Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Investor Relations, Vice President Marketing and Strategy Kraft Cheese Division, Vice President Finance Kraft North America; KPMG-Auditor.

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Charles Gurian

Charles Gurian spent the last 25 years in the professional services arena, filling senior management and human resource roles, primarily for law firms. He recently retired as the Chief Human Resources Officer for a large Chicago based national law firm. Earlier, he was a consultant focusing on finance and operations in governmental and healthcare fields, while also providing these services for closely held business clients. His experience includes: Brinks Gilson & Lione-Chief Human Resource Officer; Tribler, Orpett.


Bruce Handler

Bruce has 36 years of Human Resources experience in multiple leadership roles, including serving as Head of Employee Relations for Discover Financial Services. He’s had the difficult task of having to oversee reductions in force and position eliminations; however, he took pride in ensuring that employees were treated with the utmost respect and with hands-on support during those challenging times. Bruce has also personally experienced having his job eliminated and knows what it’s like to be unemployed and going through a job search. He’s a certified professional Life and Leadership Coach, with expertise in career coaching. He’s also highly driven to help others, is an active listener, easy to talk to, and has the ability to inspire action.

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Rich Jones

Rich Jones postulates that securing the right job is the most important and complex sales challenge a job candidate faces. "The key to a successful transition is in matching one's own experience and passion with the needs of the hiring organization." To do that, candidates need an honest appraisal of their aptitudes, experience, and preferences, as well as a realistic understanding of the needs of the hiring organization. He believes job seekers need to create a positive, forward-looking narrative that matches their skills to the needs of the employer. His experience includes: University of Chicago-Director of Corporate Relations; Bank of America -Vice President; Continental Bank-Vice President for International Banking.

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Carol Letofsky

Carol Letofsky shares her expertise with those facing job transition since retiring from a successful tenure as a Human Resources executive. She understands that looking for a new position or switching career directions requires focus and knowing how to apply one’s strengths to the position sought. Individuals re-entering the workforce especially need to concentrate on strengths and nontraditional work-related experiences as transferable experience. Her experience includes: Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) - First Vice President Human Resources and Administration; Human Resources Consultant – Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).

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Hugh Mazza

Hugh Mazza characterizes our impact on job seekers as exceptional. Career Resource Center is strongly results focused, assisting members in designing a strategic yet individualized approach to their search, along with the quality of advising and targeted training to effectively execute those strategies. His experience includes: Kraft Foods Inc.- Vice President Human Resources and Administration; BASF Corporation -Director of Human Resources; SFM Corporation -Director Corporate Administration and Human Resources; United States Department of Labor-Economist.

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John McCracken

John has had a passion for helping those seeking employment and career change for many years.  After finding himself ill equipped for his job search after working for the same company for 20 years, he developed his job search skills through a company sponsored professional outplacement program as well as CRC.  Subsequently, he started up two job support groups which he ran for over 10 years.  Great personal satisfaction was derived from helping others achieve their career goals.   Three times he experienced the trauma of looking for a job while unemployed, so he can identify with those in a similar situation.   He retired from Pfizer in 2019 as VP, Business Development.


Ruth Miller

Ruth is a seasoned HR professional with a concentration in career development, change management and employee relations.  Ruth has spent over 20 years in various positions at Comcast supporting employees at all levels of the organization.  Ruth understands that looking for a job can feel like a full time job.  Confidence, networking and tenacity will lead the job searcher to find that right next position.  Ruth has had three very different careers, Special Education Teacher, Managing a temp/staffing service and Human Resources.  She knows it is possible to change careers and be able to thrive. 

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Don Nemerov

Don Nemerov knows that being able to clearly articulate your skills and how you can add value is critical to a successful job search. "Each person needs to be able to say, 'I do this really well, I've done it here and here and I can do it for you."' He also considers positive thinking to be crucial for candidates. "There may be many people with the same qualifications as you so you need to be able to connect with others and present yourself as someone people want to work with." His experience includes: FGMK-Managing Director; Grant Thornton -Managing Director; Price Waterhouse Coopers-Director; Deloitte Consulting, LLP-Director; Arthur Andersen -Principal.

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David O'Brien

As a human resources executive for more than 20 years, David O'Brien has capitalized on career growth opportunities several times. "From manufacturing to healthcare to employer services for business processes and to high technology software, even though I stayed in human resources, I purposely made the choice to challenge myself and meet new sets of employees by exploring different industries." David O'Brien counsels those he has mentored to go after growth opportunities as well. His experience includes: Chief Human Resources Officer, HydraForce; Sun Coke Energy-Manager, Staffing and Organizational Development; Infogix, Inc.-Human Resources. Leader; ADP-Area Human Resources Director; Abbott Labs-Human Resources Manager.

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Richard Preves

Richard Preves feels each component of a job search needs to be evaluated and addressed. "A one-size-fits-all approach does not benefit job seekers. A thorough understanding of each job seeker results in a tailored plan to maximize their success." As the founder and president of an architectural and planning firm, Richard learned that each project had a particular set of personalities and challenges to consider. In addition, by interviewing, hiring, training, and mentoring professionals for his firm, Richard learned that employees benefitted from a personalized approach to develop their skills. His experience includes: Richard Preves & Associates Architectural and Planning Firm - Founder and President.

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Keith Smiley

Keith Smiley's philosophy is that employees need to take ownership of their own career. "The most satisfying part of my job was helping employees to move their careers forward." Keith Smiley's recent experience includes managing a large operational organization that provided opportunities to coach employees at many levels. His business experience includes pharmaceuticals, medical devices, human resources, and finance. He also mentored new college graduates entering the workforce as they adjusted to the "real world." His professional experience includes: Abbott Laboratories-Information Technology Director; Kraft Foods-Information Technology Consultant; William M. Mercer-Systems Analyst.

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Bridget Toon

As an award-winning Talent Management, Coach and Organizational Effectiveness Leader with a proven track record of building and executing best-in-class talent management processes, career development programs and improving employee engagement with a Master of Arts degree in Counseling, Bridget is an asset to CRC.  She has spent over 15 years helping Fortune 500 companies advance talent management, organizational effectiveness and overall business objectives. Bridget started her career at Washington University’s Career Center as a Career Development Specialist and Academic Advisor and have a strong passion for helping others realize their potential. Bridget's current role is Senior Director, Global Talent Management and Organizational Development at Zebra Technologies. Her past experience includes: Director, Global Talent Management, Stepan Company; Associate Director, Talent Management Lead, AbbVie; Associate Director, Enterprise Organizational Effectiveness, Shire: Senior Manager, Business HR & Talent Management, Baxalta

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Brent White

For Brent White, exhibiting an attitude of confidence throughout the job search is key. "To build this confidence, I work with members to ensure they have a firm grasp of the key strengths they bring to a business, a resume focused on quantifiable accomplishments, and a realistic plan that leverages their ability to secure those sought-after interviews." Brent spent more than 35 years in sales and sales management and held senior leadership positions at Taylor, Nelson, Sofres, one of the world's leading market research firms. Over the years he has been a mentor to many young talented professionals by providing career advice. His experience includes: Peoplefocus-Career Coach and Job Search Strategist; InsightsNow, Inc.-Senior Client Development Director; MetrixLab-Vice President, Client Development; SmartRevenue-Vice President; TNS North America-Executive Vice President.

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Kelly Clark

Director of Programs

Kelly Clark currently serves as Career Resource Center's Director of Programs. Kelly was hired in 2009 when she returned to the workforce after 10 years raising her son. Kelly's responsibilities and title have evolved in the last 9 years and now include creating and developing new programming and services, recruiting volunteers, and event planning. Kelly holds a BS in Marketing from DePaul University. Previous experience includes client services roles at MCI Telecommunications Small Business and Baxter Healthcare- Renal Division. Her experience also includes corporate event planning for Starbucks as a contractor with Creative Group in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

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Karen Bowen, Development Coordinator

Karen Bowen serves as the Development Coordinator assisting the Executive Director with grant proposals. She studied Modern Languages at Wheaton College, and afterwards, worked as a day trader in the S&P market at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. After leaving the workforce for 13 years to raise her three daughters, she earned a certificate in Grant Writing from DePaul University. Karen worked for a year as an intern, writing grant proposals, at the Career Resource Center before joining the staff.

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