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Board of Directors

January Retreat - Team2

2019 Board Retreat: Peter James, President,  Patricia Oji, Membership Committee Chair, Chris McKeon, Director-Marketing, Arika Clark, President – Elect, Don Darling, Secretary & Wynne Lacey,  ICF-Chicago Admin

2020 Board of Directors Nominees


Peter James headshot 

Peter James, PhD, ACC

Peter is a certified and trained coach, speaker and professor. Peter offers more than two decades of leadership-laden experience stretching from his service as an officer in U.S. Army to his role as the Chair of the Business School within a major university. Peter possesses a PhD in Organizational & Management, a Masters in Business Administration and is a certified DisC assessor.

Peter has been able to traverse the corporate landscape effectively and efficiently. Along with his strong communication skills and dynamic facilitation/public speaking style, one of his greatest strengths is his ability to coach executives and business owners through obstacles, barriers and hurdles.As a business and leadership coach, Peter works with clients as they look to transform their business from the inside out. By focusing on individuals and culture, Peter's goal is for leaders and executives to cease just being good; but look to being great, for the ultimate benefit of both employees and customers alike.

Connect with Peter: LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Past President

Debbie Leoni 

Debbie Leoni

Debbie Leoni is a professional speaker, trainer and “Fearless Living” coach and author who teaches personal development and positive change through the body, mind, and spirit. For over twenty years Debbie has championed the idea that physical health and inner courage through change are intertwined. As a trainer and coach for Elevate USA, she helps participants connect with practical, emotional, and spiritual life to heal past wounds, find purpose, and create a vision and action plan that can powerfully motivate them to achieve their long-standing goals.

Central to this “Fearless Living” philosophy is being mindful of one’s choices at any given moment, enabling the recognition of patterns and beliefs, and acting sensibly on the analysis of those actions. Debbie has extensive experience as a health-conscious personal trainer and recognizes the link between personal health and mental state. She has also worked as a therapeutic facilitator for struggling teens where she helped instill a sense of accountability, responsibility, teamwork, and self-reliance through high-impact educational workshops. Her leadership training program “Fearless Living” instructs participants in techniques to develop a deeper mindset for leadership that unfolds on a core mental level that enables strong decision making.

Debbie is the author of “I Am Fearless: 12 Elements of Fearless Living” as well as a contributing author for "Pure Wealth:  26 Crazy Ways to Profitability.   Debbie’s training is impactful, unique, and well-balanced between practical advice, spiritual understanding, and physical accountability. Participants experience lasting positive results through personalized exercises, meditations, facilitated discussions, and internal processes that create accountability for the individual to their goals. Associations & Honors: International Coach Federation; Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva: Board Vice President, Membership Committee, Greeter, Worship Associate, Group facilitator for: “Meditation For Connection” meditation group; Community Emergency Response Team; Kane County Magazine 2015 Woman of Distinction; 2015 Inspiring Woman, Itasca Bank and Trust Company Women’s Initiative Education: Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching; American Council of Exercise Aerobic Instructor; National Academy of Sports Medicine; Master Integrated Coach from Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching; Spiritual Director; Resource Academy Leadership Coach; Resource Academy Family Coach; Yoga Studies Institute Yoga Instructor; Level II Reiki and Healing Touch Practitioner; Debbie attended Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois.  Debbie lives in Geneva, Illinois.

Connect with Debbie: Website

President – Elect

Arika Clark headshot 

Arika Clark, ACC

As a credentialed coach, mentor, and educator, Arika has extensive experience working with adults in diverse populations. Through coaching, she empowers people and helps effect change in their lives. In addition, Arika is a strong entrepreneur, she is President and Founder of a multi-state area company proving coaching, training, and speaking. Arika also holds an Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC) designation with the International Coach Federation (ICF), national credentials as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, possess a Master’s degree in Adult Education, is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, and serves as an adjunct instructor at Moraine Valley Community College. During the last 20 years, she has also owned and operated an interpreter agency, providing services for thousands of individuals.
Understanding that it takes a village to grow, as well as the need for community involvement and engagement, in her spare time Arika generously gives of herself by her active participation on multiple Boards. Arika is the President-Elect of the International Coach Federation, Chicago Chapter and Secretary of OnePatient Global Health Initiative.   

Arika has traveled the United States extensively, visited 25 countries, and even lived in Japan where she developed curriculum and taught English as a Second Language for prominent local business programs. The experiences she gained during her times inland and abroad have shaped her global perspectives, providing her a valuable insight into her very diverse clientele. Arika currently lives in Chicago.



Don Darling 

Don Darling

Don Darling has been mentoring and helping people develop for many years. He became an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF) in Nov. 2015; and renewed his 3-year ACC Credential in September 2018. He currently has more than 450 hours of coaching. Don has completed formal Training for Trainers in StrengthsFinders though Gallup University; Emotional Intelligence through TalentSmart; and Situational Leadership II through Blanchard.

Don retired at the end of March 2018 as EMAD Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Chicago, IL, where he supervised seven economists.

In addition to working 29 years as an Economist, Supervisor, and Coach and Mentor for HUD, Don taught high school for 18 years and was an adjunct college instructor in the Albany, NY area. Don has a BA degree in math and economics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and an MPA from the University of Southern California. Don enjoys reading: in particular, research on how the brain functions, what motivates people, and how teams and organizations become high performers.

Connect with Don: Website



Robert Conlin

I have always found that helping others is THE gift I have and one that is my passion.


From healing hearts as a cardiac critical care registered nurse in my first career to the regional director of a multimillion-dollar medical group healthcare system, it has been this experience that has led me to understand the critical importance of relationships in life.


I’ve supported families and individuals during some of the most tragic life and death scenarios and pushed and grew my leadership running the business side of healthcare while creating excellence against the odds among my teams. My expanded ability to be with others and meet them where they are has certainly been shaped by this career path.


While moving up the healthcare corporate ladder I knew my gifts and skills were not being fully utilized. I discovered the growing field of coaching and going through the rigorous Coaches Training Program with Accomplishment Coaching I further developed my skill in being with and getting the best out of others, including myself.


I am an associate credentialed coach by the International Coach Federation, hold an MBA from Benedictine University and a baccalaureate of science in nursing from Purdue University. I have completed Level 1 training in the Gottman Method, which is a research-based approach to relationships.


My philosophy is that we are in relationship to everything and the top three opportunities for growth exist in self, loving others, and career. Now, as a relationship coach, I’m doing the work that I was meant to do to fulfill my life purpose.

Director of Programs

Sheryl Shields


Sheryl is an Executive Coach who’s passionate about helping teachers and school administrators live healthier and happier lives. Sheryl leads various training sessions, workshops and classes on creating a positive classroom environment, how to battle burnout, ways to rekindle your passion, and techniques on working with difficult students and staff.  She uses various Emotional Intelligence methods to help her clients identify and manage their emotions, which reduces stress and creates a positive school climate. 

Sheryl earned a Masters in Organizational Leadership and Coaching from Lewis University in 2017, a week before retiring from a 20 year teaching career. She has taught various workshops and classes for Chicago Public Schools, Joliet Township District 204, Community High School District 218, and Lewis University.  She published “Teaching can kill you: How to survive and BE HAPPE in the classroom” in 2015.


Membership Director

Lillian Ferrer

Lilly Ferrer is a certified Integral Coach – a designation awarded to her by New Ventures West. She has a master’s degree in Organization Development from Loyola University. She is also fully trained in the Myers-Briggs type indicator, has received training at the Gallup University in the use of their employee engagement survey, and has worked with 360 degree leadership effectiveness analysis surveys.

Lilly uses an integrated approach to coaching. Her goal is to help executives see they are corporate athletes who need to care for both mind and body in order to reach new levels of inspiration. Corporate America teaches us we must always be striving, working, and pushing our way through barriers which can lead to neglect and eventual burnout. An integrated approach to coaching encourages corporate athletes to use an intentional pause to spark bursts of creativity and to break down barriers with great clarity. Her interest in executive and life coaching has led to coaching managers on many levels, trainees new to organizations, and women with entrepreneurial spirits.

In addition to her coaching and organization development education, Lilly has ten years of experience in human resources, six years leading a team in organization development and ten years working on the front line as an account manager. She has done strategic planning, team building, created employee engagement strategies, facilitated small and large meetings, planned and facilitated conferences, conducted Myers-Briggs workshops, created mentoring programs, and facilitated partnering meetings with internal and external stakeholders for multi-million dollar projects. She is currently serving as the Engagement Champion for a region of 500 employees and has produced increases in the employee viewpoint survey results every year for the past four years.

Lilly resides in the suburb of La Grange and enjoys her coaching practice, traveling, kayaking, meeting new people, working on community projects, and relies on her meditation practice to keep her grounded.




More info to come.