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Welcome to our TTN Chicago
Member Spotlight

Welcome to our Member Spotlight page that features insights and ideas from our members and goes beyond the information provided in our Member Directory. We'll be sharing profiles of other members in the coming weeks.

This month we are shining the spotlight on...

Rachel Stempel
Our Longest Standing Member  

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am an eighty-year-old mother of three sons, and grandmother of nine between the ages of 20 and 31. My Hispanic students correctly say I am a "wealthy" woman with so many offspring. I live in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago in a small house that I moved into 20 years ago with my mother and her caregiver. Coincidently my home is not far from my long-time boyfriend with whom I now share weekends and vacations.
 
What caused you to join TTN?
In 2000, I was getting divorced; my position as Director of Leadership Development at the Jewish Federation was eliminated and my mother was in hospice. I knew about TTN in New York City and that some women were starting a Chicago chapter, so I went to those early meetings feeling I had something to offer and much to gain.
 
What transition are you currently going through?
For years I would chafe at news reports of "elderly" people who drove into fire hydrants or fell for a scam at age 67.  That's not elderly I thought, not me. Now at 80, I can no longer fool myself.  I take those reports seriously, take my driving test every 2 years and try to keep in mind safe practices. I can always use some good advice.
 
What advice would you give to those who want to change careers?
Take the time to find something that makes you happy. I’ve volunteered throughout my life and my work in teaching English as a second language to adults was the most rewarding. I reached out to my contacts, was hired to teach English, and to this day I still work at my dream job twice a week. I even get paid.
 
What do you look forward to?
The list is long; time with family and friends; TTN book, movie and lunch groups; volunteering at the Enabling Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden sweeping, weeding and planting on Fridays; gardening in my own yard; teaching ESL on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. With winter fast approaching, I look forward to reading a good book in a cozy chair, seeing a foreign movie at the local art theater, having lunch with a long-time friend.
 
What keeps you healthy?
My doctor is a gem and watches over me.  I do Pilates twice a week, walk regularly with friends, climb up the stairs to the bedroom and downstairs to the laundry. I garden 7 months a year. A careful eater, I finish the day with a cup of decaf and a square of dark chocolate every night, my guilty pleasures.

Learn about our Previously Featured Members:


Dorothy Balabanos
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member, Marketing Committee Co-Chair

Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and bred in Chicago, I am in my kinda retired phase of life. After four decades in marketing (with almost two decades also teaching at DePaul University), I’m on to the next phase of my life…actively living it. My current interests include extensive volunteering; enjoying the cultural trappings the city has to offer; meeting new people/making new friends; yoga; reading; getting/staying fit; learning new things and facilitating classes at the Osher Center for Lifelong Learning; and whiling away the hours.
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to retire or are currently considering retirement?
1.       Do the math—over and over again. With life expectancy increasing, you want to make sure you have enough money (income and savings) to get you through at least 30 years. 
2.       Understand that retirement is a journey on to itself. You’ll want to do different things at different phases. Don’t replace the hours you spent working with activities that don’t interest you. Express gratitude that you can take this journey.
3.       Let things unfold for you. Some of the most delightful things happen when you stay open to new experiences and people.
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life?
1.  They take longer than you think they will
2.  Resistance to change is futile
3.  You need to let go of a part of your old self, so that the new one can emerge
 
What new things do you want to explore?
I want to use my creativity in a new and artistic manner. I’m thinking of taking a beginning art class at Lillstreet Art Center next year.
 
What do you love most about Chicago?
Despite all of its problems (and there are many), the city has a vibe that I haven’t found anywhere else.
 
What motto do you live by or what quote inspires you?
Kindness, kindness, and still more kindness.

Roni Buckley
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member, Membership Committee Co-Chair

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a native New Yorker and have lived in Chicago for the past 22 years since my own personal hostage crisis when my husband was transferred here. I reluctantly made the move and realized that the relocation provided an opportunity to reinvent myself; and, so I did by returning to school and obtaining a doctorate in Adult and Continuing Education.  My research has been on the correlation between vibrant aging and lifelong learning – something that provides an interesting perspective for all women as they age.  I currently teach and advise at DePaul University’s School for New Learning – it’s college for adult students.
 
What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
I see TTN as a means of personal growth for women interested in lifelong learning, social and cultural opportunities and relationship building with others.  Appealing on all levels for sure!
 
What transition are you currently going through or contemplating?
Currently, I am reducing my teaching and academic advising roles and expanding my already busy volunteer schedule. My husband and I have two adult children-one on the West Coast and another in Germany – so not too many quick visits with children and grandchildren.  Busy and engaged is my preference and TTN supports that objective.
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to retire or are currently considering retirement?
Identify your passion and move in that direction in your retirement. Whatever it is, put some plans into place BEFORE you retire and remain engaged throughout your retirement. I have known many women who, in spite of health issues and personal loss, have continued to find purpose and enjoyment in their lives. Why not you and me?
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
Embracing life and building relationships with people of all ages.  I believe every person alive today whether they are one hour old or one hundred years old is my peer.  People in different life chapters have much to offer – perspectives, interests, attitudes – all providing broadening experiences and understanding for others.
 
What motto do you live by or what quote inspires you?
“Life is a banquet and most poor people are starving to death.” (Quote from my favorite fictional character Auntie Mame).

Carol Dietz
Member of Marketing Committee 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I just moved back downtown after 15 years in the suburbs, and love it--and the wonderful women I’ve met through TNN and Northwestern’s Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning, where I currently serve as chair of the committee that helps generate 200 different study group courses for “mature” learners annually.  During my corporate career in research and strategic planning, I was fortunate to have worked across the U.S. and also overseas, during the transformational three decades that saw technology revolutionize both business and our way of life. Now semi-retired, I can pursue all of the things (even the wacky ones) that I dream of.
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to change careers?
Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. I thought it was crazy to start my own company when I was 50.  The first one was an online home delivery meal service for working women--it flopped. The second one, strategic planning for retail development, succeeded.  To build confidence, I suggest reading "A Path Appears".
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life?
The arc of my life has fundamentally changed about every five years, bringing both blessings and serious challenges.  Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can rise to the challenges, you won’t fear the future.  We are all stronger, more flexible and resilient that we can imagine.
 
What new things do you want to explore?
I am insatiably curious about everything, especially the sciences and ancient cultures, the afterlife and dinosaurs.  I’m also concerned about the wounded planet we are leaving to our children, and want to do something about it. I have no athletic talent--in Catholic school, our team sport was the rosary.
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
I keep this quote from David Brooks in my wallet: “The people who have character make deep, indelible connections outside of themselves, to tasks that cannot be completed in their lifetime.” (And my large, hyperactive German grand-toddlers keep my heart in fibrillation).
 
What’s one very special skill and talent that you have that only your closest friends know about you?
I do a great impression of Richard Nixon.

Ann-Marie Downing
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member, SIG and TPG Coordinator, Community Service Chair

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a retired special education teacher, with over 25 years teaching experience with elementary and secondary school students in the Boston area. My husband and I have three adult children-- one lives in Chicago with his wife; the others are in Boston and Portland. We moved to Chicago last year, after living in the same house for 36 years. I was feeling lonely and lost for a few months. I remembered a quote from Aristotle: “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” I decided to “take the bull by the horns,” realizing that I was the bull! I discovered volunteer organizations and activities that let me find my find passion, purpose, as well a connection to Chicagoans who share common interests and an enthusiasm for life. I now believe that my journey into another phase of my life will involve friends, laughter, and the knowledge that “we are all in this together!”
 
How do you have fun?
Fun comes in two categories—individual fun and friends/family fun. When I am alone, my fun consists of reading a book, knitting and listening to WBEZ, podcasts and Ted talks, walking to the lake, doing yoga, listening to music and making wreaths. When I am with my family and friends, I have fun going to museums, theaters, movies and restaurants; having people to dinner; hiking; watching  a TV series; sitting and walking along the beach; and most of all, laughing about silly things to the point I cannot breathe.
 
What new things do you want to explore?
I would like to investigate more areas in Michigan and in Wisconsin. In the city, I am a little infatuated with the train system and my goal is to explore a few more colors of train lines beside Red, Brown, and Purple. Someday soon, I may just ride the train lines all day and see where I wind up. 
 
What do you love most about Chicago?
When I first came to visit my son, I was in awe of Lake Michigan. I enjoy the convenience of living in the city and walking everywhere. I love to go into the little shops on Armitage Street  and in Bucktown, as well as the vintage stores where you can purchase the  second hand clothes I wore in my youth. You may see me in the store singing the Beatles songs “And I love her” or “All you need is love.”
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
Being around young people has always inspired me. I love learning about technology, apps, recipes, music and Millennials’ philosophy on life. Last summer, I dragged my husband to  a Katy Perry concert and he had to endure my screaming along with the ten year old girls I was imitating. This year I went to a Sam Smith concert and yes, I bought a t-shirt. I am collecting t-shirts as I attend more concerts and become a groupie, but I’ll be going by myself next time because my husband was not so thrilled! 
 
What motto do you live by or what quote inspires you?
The most wasted days are ones without laughter.

Mary Lee Gosz
Transition Peer Group Leader, Meet and Eat Special Interest Group Co-Chair

Tell us a little about yourself
My life hasn’t followed a single path but has been like a patchwork quilt of experiences -- and I plan to continue adding many new colorful, textural pieces to it !I grew up in Indianapolis, graduated from Duke, got an MSW at Indiana U, was a probation counselor in Virginia before moving to Chicago in 1983 to get an MBA at Northwestern (Kellogg). I worked in corporate banking and then fell into my dream job: developing training curricula - first at the old First Chicago and then later at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). My husband and I have been married 28 years and have a daughter and a son, both of whom now live and work near us in Chicago!
 
What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
I’ve been in transition for a few years. In 2014, after a reorg, I left the position I loved at IIT. I got very involved volunteering in my community. By 2017, though, I realized that I was becoming isolated (and bored!) in our quiet suburban town. Our two children were on their own, all my friends were working, and I needed more stimulation. I convinced my husband that a “pied a terre” would be great for me - and closer to work for him. Luckily, I found TTN as we were settling into our city apartment. I was delighted to get involved with this great group of women - at the right time for me.
 
What have you learned from your transition?
I knew it would be hard to leave the comfort of our suburban home and life where we’d been for 23 years and essentially create a new daily life. I decided to see a therapist to help me sort out what I could change, what I couldn’t, and how to manage it all. I began to learn about mindfulness meditation, journaling, and yoga - and practicing those has been huge for me! I’ve learned to practice enjoying the moment instead of worrying about the future (I need a lot of practice with that). I have also learned that it can take a while to make new friends - and that it was ok to admit that I wanted new friends. Slowly, by putting myself in new situations, I have developed a great new network of friends.  I think I’ve now successfully navigated this rather bumpy transition.
 
How do you have fun?
I love to learn! I love taking classes, going to lectures and performances, meeting people and learning their stories.  I have also joined Impact Grants Chicago, two mentoring programs - at One Million Degrees and Year Up, and a study group at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. I’ve taken classes in sewing and knitting at Lillstreet as well as classes at the Graham School (UChicago), OLLI (Northwestern), and Center for Life and Learning (4th Church). I love learning about psychology, art history, architecture, and efforts to address the issues of inequality in education, housing, employment, and mental health services in Chicago.
 
What keeps you healthy?
Weight Watchers for life, Pilates, walking, yoga, prayer and meditation, good friends, a great relationship with my husband, two children, and two sisters! Practicing gratitude is key.
 
Ann Greenberg
Featured Member  

Tell us a little about yourself
I am a newly arrived resident of Chicago, having lived here for about 2 ½ years.  I moved from Connecticut after spending 22 years there raising my family. 
I am a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner.  I am in the process of reestablishing my practice here in Chicago.  I usually work with women and really love the opportunity to help other woman gain insight and control over their finances and help them plan for their futures.
I am an avid tennis player, I play on a Team at Midtown Tennis Club.  I also really enjoy new opportunities to learn and explore EVERYTHING.  Earlier this year I went on an amazing adventure to India. I look forward to many more adventures both here in Chicago and abroad. I also love meeting with friends and family and just connecting with people.

What transition are you currently going through? 
Boy…that is a big question, as I am going through many transitions! First, my last child flew the nest and went off to college. Then, I left a home in the suburbs of Connecticut where I lived in for 22 years.  I sold the family home and put my whole life in a dumpster and moved to a small apartment in downtown Chicago. Then, I had to make all new friends and connections. Then, I had to start a new Financial Advisor Practice in Chicago. So the answer to that question is everything is in transition.

What advice do you have to have for members who want to make a career change?
I would say that life is so short and that you never know what is behind the door that you haven’t opened yet. Be curious, be creative and be brave. You never know what great things will be waiting for you.
 
What have you learned from all the transitions that you have experienced?
I know transitions can be really scary. Transitions can feel both awful and exciting in the beginning.  Change is really good- you can become and do anything you want to do. That is so empowering- you aren’t stuck in what “used to be”. Also be open to everything – you never know what you might like.

Why do you choose to live in Chicago?
I love the vibrancy of the city. I also love the incredible opportunities to do new things that weren’t available to me in the suburbs of Connecticut. The Chicago Institute of Global Affairs is one of my favorite things to do in the city.  I can see amazing lectures and hear about the current events from the most brilliant minds in the world.  Those experts never came to my suburban town.
 
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to who you were ten years ago?
You just never know what will happen in the future.  I never thought I would be in Chicago and here I am.  So plan for the worse and hope for the best, because the only thing you can count on is that things are going to change, especially when you least expect it.

Deborah Holton
TTN Chicago Chapter Member

Tell us a little about yourself.
I would describe myself as down-to-earth and rigorous with a sweet, light-hearted core. I come from a long line of Southern educators, preachers, artists, and musicians whose influence shines throughout my life in myriad ways. I’m a Chicagoan who grew up in Bronzeville’s Lake Meadows where my church was home to activists and intellectuals who helped shape the Civil Rights Movement. I received my BFA in Theatre and Drama from Howard University; and, my Ph.D. in American Theatre Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. A fiction writer and poet, I also hold a Creative Writing MFA from Solstice, Pine Manor College. While my ancestors and role models live on in me, I continue to evolve to be my next “best me.”
 
What transition are you currently going through or contemplating?
After over thirty years as an educator and mentor of adult learners at DePaul University, I’m nearing retirement. For the past five years, I’ve been “on the hunt” to find out as much as I can about transition in general and retirement in particular. I’ve been gathering information, talking with people, interviewing leaders, and attending talks, like TTN’s “Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?” by Joy Loverde, to learn as much as I can so that my path to retirement is well-planned and values-centered. I became a certified coach specializing in transition and a member of the national Retirement Coaches Association so that I could share and support other women on their retirement journey.
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to retire or are currently considering retirement?
Planning for retirement is both wise and essential, given life’s complexities. Why not design it so that it is deeply rooted in your values, in what matters most to you? Drawing from a variety of resources, tools, and support options, women who are considering retirement can craft what I call their “next best self” that way. For Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom still rings true: “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
 
What do you love most about Chicago?
Chicagoland, with its majestic lake that looks like the ocean and its converging rivers, is vibrant with culture and diversity. There is much to love here: festivals, marathons, music (oh, the music!). These days though the museums and gardens--from the Art Institute to the Writer’s Museum, from the Morton Arboretum to the Chicago Botanic Garden and all points in between—comfort and nurture me.
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
I have three grandchildren who never cease to inspire me to try new things. As new beings on the planet, they bring wisdom that teaches me in unexpected ways. When I stretch myself to experience things like star-gazing or foreign television mysteries or treat myself to dance concerts that reinterpret the old while making something new, those creative sparks remind me that we can be forever young, when we choose to be.
 
What motto do you live by or what quote inspires you?
In every vital activity, it is the path that matters. —Egyptian Proverb
 
Sujatha Kailas
Explore Chicago Special Interest Group Co-Chair

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a part-time Gastroenterologist spending half my time in Chicago (the place I love) and half my time in Wisconsin (with the person I love – my husband). After working full time for about 25 years, I decided it was time for me to explore my other passions in addition to my work, which is by far my most precious passion. So, in my newfound free time I travel, volunteer and do stuff with my TTN friends.
 
What caused you to join TTN?
I saw The Transition Network mentioned in an article in The Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago. The article was about the new domain of people that are breaking free and living life on their own terms. They are not retired, but at the same time, they don’t call themselves working either. When I found out that there was a chapter in Chicago, I was immediately on board.
 
What transition are you going through?
I have moved from being a full time physician, mom and wife to doing all three of them part-time. How can you be a part time mom or wife, you ask? My daughter is in college on the east coast, and now needs me more as a friend and less as a mom. My husband is in Wisconsin full time as he starts winding down his business. I am spending half my time in Chicago and half in Wisconsin, making me a part time wife. But in reality all my roles are full time, as I am trying to carve out time for myself. This is a huge change for me as I was a very busy practitioner who also had multiple administrative roles throughout my career. I was also a typical “Helicopter Mom”.
 
What have you learned from all the transitions in life?
Change adds energy to life. Embrace it. Think thoroughly about the transition before making it, look at it from all angles and get input from people that have experienced change as well as those that will be affected by your change. Don’t burn any bridges; keep your options and your attitude open.
 
What do you look forward to?
I look forward to the time when my husband and I can live in one place all the time. I look forward to my next trip, as I am finishing up one right now. I look forward to spending time with family and friends and most importantly I look forward to the day when I can watch News without being horrified or disappointed.
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
Explorations keep me young at heart. So does meeting new people, going to new places and volunteering with teenagers and young families. The transition I made a year ago added years to my life. Sunshine, music, exercise and even Netflix--I am not going to lie –also keep me young.

Emma Kaladjian
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in New York and New Jersey and was a big fan of “Murray the K,” “Cousin Brucie” (NYC deejays) and American Bandstand. I ventured to Chicago to attend college at Northwestern and loved Chicago so much that I have stayed ever since. I can’t believe I am entering my second decade of retirement from full-time work! My career transitions included social work; law school grad; investment attorney and corporate law division head; and investment adviser and CFP® since 2007. As a former Co-Chair of the TTN Chicago Chapter, I am an enthusiastic supporter of TTN and attend just about all of our Special Interest Groups. I even learned a new hobby, seed beading, in one of our former groups. I love the experience of sharing insights and lively conversation in our discussions of books, movies and theater. 
 
What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
When I left work and my long time career, I felt isolated and in need of a new community. I attended a TTN program presented by a co-founder and an author of TTN’s signature book, Smart Women Don’t Retire, They Break Free! . I discovered so many interesting women who were sharing my same experience and talking about what’s next. I signed up immediately!
 
What transition are you currently going through or contemplating?
I am currently negotiating with my husband about downsizing and deciding when to sell our home and where we will go next. While I used to enjoy taking on challenges, this feels like a big hurdle!
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to change careers? If possible, refrain from jumping in to a new career and take time to explore what work will be enjoyable.  Consider volunteering your services or “interning” at organizations or companies that might be of interest. This may be an opportunity after a former career to do what is meaningful and satisfying.
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life? They keep coming! Whether positive or unpleasant, it’s good to have friends who are supportive or who have walked that path and can share insights and experience.
 
How do you have fun? I love exploring Chicago’s ethnic restaurants.  Also gardening, road trips and travel.

Joy Loverde
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member, Membership Committee Co-Chair

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Chicago and raised in a traditional Italian household, surrounded in a culture of family, food, music, art, and love. I am the author of the best-seller, The Complete Eldercare Planner, and the recently released, Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?  In addition to my family, I owe my success to my old friends. They teach me how to keep my priorities straight. My website is: www.elderindustry.com
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to retire or are currently considering retirement?
Nothing will be handed to you from this point on. You are wise to anticipate change, and consequently plan for what you want during this critical stage in life. Your plan must also include revising your plans at the onset of every transition.
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life?
There is no better way to navigate the process of making important decisions than to actively engage in the process of critical thinking.   
 
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
In the summer, you will find me dining outside with friends at Bella Luna (Dearborn and Superior). In the winter, you will find me dining with my sister at the bar at Topo Gigio (Old Town).
 
What keeps you healthy?
I do not hang out with toxic, negative people. I take nothing personally. My happiness depends solely on me.  This strategy keeps me happy and healthy.
 
What’s one very special skill and talent you have that only your closest friends know about you?
I am a fanatic rollerblader.
 
Catherine Marienau, Ph.D.
Featured Member  

Tell us a little about yourself
My entire professional life has been with innovative college programs for adult learners, the majority of whom are women (average age mid-40s). For the past three-plus decades, I have been with the School for New Learning at DePaul University, as faculty mentor, program director of two graduate programs, and teacher of various subjects, with my favorite being Women’s Issues. I am the single parent of one (adult) daughter and two (senior) dogs.

What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
I recently joined TTN Chicago for the opportunity to connect with women from a variety of fields and explore wide-ranging topics. I look forward to making new friendships and engaging with Chicago and Oak Park in more fun ways.
 
What transition are you currently going through?
After 48 years working full-time in adult higher education, I am ‘retiring’ as of June 30, 2019. I am also transitioning out of my 60s as I turn 70 in April.  Not surprisingly, I am adding aging to my long-standing interests in adult learning and women’s development.
 
What new things do you want to explore?
I intend to join the 21st century with regard to using technology. For example, I am in the process of learning to design online college courses, create podcasts, and develop web sites; and, I might indulge in a more sophisticated cell phone.
 
What are your passion projects?
I look forward to collaborating with remarkable women on my ‘passion projects’: Karla—research, vital women in their 80s; Gail—podcast, Women Over 70…Aging Reimagined; Carolyn, book, The Other Side of Menopause—Integrative Approaches to Health and Well-being; Kathleen, book, practical applications of brain science to learning and training. I look forward to spending more relaxed time with loving family and friends, and, of course, continuing to travel.  See one of Catherine's articles here: https://womensenews.org/2016/04/my-role-models-worry-more-about-losing-their-minds-than-their-looks/
  
What keeps you healthy?
Pushing the envelope on learning keeps me healthy. So do close relationships with my under-30 daughter, great family and amazing women friends.  I credit my personal trainer and the occasional work out to still having all my original joints. Oh, and red wine helps too.

Kimberly Mulcahy
TTN Chicago Steering Committee Member, Chapter Chair

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a divorced mom with a son who just finished his Master’s degree. Yay, I am tuition payment free!  He lives nearby in Chicago with his lovely girlfriend. I work in HR for an awesome French cheese company. I’m still figuring out "what’s now, what’s next", but I love my solo life!
 
What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
I moved to Chicago/Streeterville from the western suburbs last May. I’m living solo after 30+ years of marriage and realized I didn’t have any friends outside work who live in the City. I love working with our Steering Committee members and meeting other professional women around my age who are looking to stay active and engaged and get the most out of life now and in the years to come. 
 

What advice do you have for TTN members who want to change careers? 
Go for it! After the company I worked for most of my career was sold and relocated to NJ, I ran my own PR/communications business for nearly 10 years; then went to work for my favorite client. I am now working in HR leading Learning and Development and Talent Management and Recruiting. Never stop learning and trying new things!
 
 How do you have fun/what do you love about Chicago?
I love going to the theatre for plays, musicals and ballets – and Chicago is such an amazing city for all things cultural. I enjoy walking around the city and still feel like a tourist as there is so much to see, to do and to enjoy. I love yoga and working out with my trainer. I have discovered that almost everything is better with a glass of wine!
 
What motto do you live by or what quote inspires you? 
Don’t look back, make the most of what you do every day and stay focused on the positive.

Jennifer Ohl
Member of Membership Committee

Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a software consultant and I enjoy reading, bike riding and swimming, and most other activities not involving computers!  I have travelled to 48 of the 50 states for work and over 30 countries for fun!  During my free time I volunteer at the Inspiration café in Chicago, an organization that provides free restaurant style meals to low income and homeless individuals and provides food service training.
 
What caused you to join TTN?
I moved to Chicago from Miami in May.  This was a major change for me- the weather, the culture, and language.  I felt it would be helpful to learn from others going through major life changes and experience the ups and downs of making a major change together.
 
What have you learned from all the transitions in life?
Slow down and breathe!  Things that seem daunting and difficult are much easier when you break them down into bite size pieces.  Be positive, proactive and take it one step at time. 
 
What do you look forward to?
I look forward to working less and spending more time with my nephews, who are 16 and 18 and will be going to college soon.  I look forward to my trip to Barcelona and Amsterdam, two places that have been on my bucket list for a long time.  I look forward to spring and summer in Chicago!
 
What keeps you engaged and vibrant?
Making new friends at TTN, having new adventures and exploring new neighborhoods at home and abroad. 

Diane Redleaf
Featured Member  

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Stanford Law School-trained civil rights and family defense lawyer. I have used my legal training to helpfamilies—mostly families who are underprivileged--navigate the treacherous child welfare system. Through my work in systemic reform litigation and legislation and through individual legal representation, I have prevented the destruction of thousands of families. I’m happily married to University of Illinois mathematician Anatoly Libgober and we live in Oak Park but are working on downsizing our home. I have two adult children that I’m very proud of and will be a first time grandmother in October.
 
What caused you to join TTN
At age 63, I found myself in an unexpected transition that hadn’t been welcome or expected.I had thought I worked out a perfect transition plan out of my Executive Director position where I could stay at the Family Defense Center (which I had founded in 2005) and lead legal and policy work there until I was in my 70’s and ready to slow down. That didn’t happen and I needed to reach out for lots of resources and connections to other women who might be supportive. TTN looked to be exactly the right network for me to tap into.
 
What transition are you currently going through?
While the past two years have been the most unsettling period in my whole life, they also have been among the most fruitful and rewarding. I have much more control than ever before over the projects I do. Working on my book They Took the Kids Last Night, writing and leading federal legislative policy efforts have been very interesting, exciting and rewarding. I have more time to write and think and connect with people who matter to me. At the same time,figuring out how to navigate this time in which older women seem to be undervalued and not given opportunities we deserve has been challenging.
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life?
I have learned to be resilient and make the most of new opportunities—that’s the big adventure side of the transitions I’ve had in my life.
 
How do you have fun?For me, work and starting new projects is the most fun, especially when it involves meeting people from all over the country who care about justice and are joining together to fight for the rights of families. I also love to take long walks in nature, to write, and I have discovered I love improv comedy. My husband and I both are amateur string musicians and the most fun we can have is to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends playing string quartets.
 
What do you look forward to?
I am thrilled to become a grandma.Raising my kids was the most rewarding experience of my life and my kids are my most favorite people in the world.I can’t wait to have another very young member of the family to spend time with.

Viki Ryan
Featured Member  

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, I am now a dual citizen and have called Chicago home since 2011. I have raised 2 daughters with my husband Bob, in multiple countries and cities across the globe. My passion work as a Health Wellness Coach and Fitness Professional helps me coach, support and guide middle aged and beyond men and women who are yearning to look, feel, move and live better as they actively age. I am also certified in both traditional Yoga as well as Laughter Yoga.
 
What caused you to join TTN Chicago?
I recognized that as many of our friends were moving away to warmer climates or closer to family, I had a thirst to build new connections and cultivate new relationships. Because part of my work is done from home, TTN encouraged me to get out!
 
What advice do you have for TTN members who want to change careers?
Do it! I recommend the support of a coach or trusted advisor as you enter this new transition phase, and to give yourself permission to listen to your inner wisdom and heart to make the choice that is right for you.
 
What have you learned from all of the transitions that you’ve experienced in life?
Laughter really is the best medicine.  Being in transition is guaranteed for as long as I breathe; it is fluid and it’s the only way to grow and flourish.
 
What keeps you healthy?  A loving attitude. Gratitude. Moving well, moving often. Practicing a preventative integrative whole being approach to life
What’s one very special skill and talent that you have that only your closest friends know about you?
I give a phenomenal cranial & foot massage!



 
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