Gorton Staff and Board

Staff | Board


Amy Wagliardo portrait

Amy Wagliardo,
Executive Director
amy (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Amy came to Gorton in April of 2016. She has spent her career in arts and cultural programming, having previously worked with the Dallas Symphony Association, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation (now the AT&T Performing Arts Center), Southern Methodist University and Midwest Young Artists. She holds an M.A. in Arts Management and an M.B.A. from SMU, as well as an undergraduate degree in music from the same. She has also completed the Kellogg Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northwestern University. Having grown up in central Indiana, Amy lived in Texas for 22 years before moving to the North Shore with her family in 2014. Amy loves being back in the Midwest and feels very lucky to work at Gorton. She is the treasurer for the school PTSA. When she is not working, she spends quality time with her family going on all sorts of adventures near and far. She lives in Lake Bluff with her husband Sam and two sons.


Karen McCabe,
accountant (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Karen, a Certified Public Accountant, spent her early career working in public accounting for large and small accounting firms, as well as financial accounting positions at Fortune 500 companies. After the birth of her daughters, she worked independently in accounting for several small businesses and nonprofits in the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff area. She obtained her BBA from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. Karen and her husband Tom have two adult daughters and have lived in Lake Bluff since 1993. Having grown up in Lake Forest, Karen appreciates the Gorton Center and all it has done for our community over the years.

Leslie Lord,
Marketing Director
leslie (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Leslie lives in Lake Bluff with her husband, two children and dog, Blaize. She received her BFA in Graphic Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has worked both full-time and freelance in marketing & graphic design for both large and small companies and non-profits. She feels very lucky to be able to work with the talented team at the organization that has brought so much enrichment and joy to her family and the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Community. In addition to spending time with her family, Leslie loves to read, knit, walk with Blaize, travel & cook.

Zach Vanes portrait

Zachary Vanes,
Director of Film

zach (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Zach lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood in Chicago. He received a BA in English Literature and Film Studies at DePauw University and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He recently served as programmer for the Onion City Film Festival. A lifelong film lover, he has scooped popcorn at the Music Box Theatre, projected film on 16mm and 35mm at Doc Films at the University of Chicago, worked behind the scenes at Kartemquin Films, and introduced film screenings on four continents. He never misses a chance to visit a library book sale or an old movie theater.

Krista Hanson,
Event Coordinator

krista (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Krista has been an Event Coordinator at Gorton since 2011. She enjoys renting space at the center, managing the calendar and coordinating tenant leases with job-share partner Martha ReQua. Krista has a BS in Finance from University of Illinois. After 10 years in the corporate world, Krista quit and moved to Fort Sheridan in Highland Park with her husband to raise their two kids. Now she could not be happier working with the amazing team at the beautiful Gorton Community Center.

Libby Johnson,
Program Director

libby (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Libby Johnson is a new transplant, moved to Lake Bluff in the spring of 2017, and joined the Gorton family shortly thereafter. A devoted Iowa Hawkeye, she lived downtown Chicago for 7 years, working for an experiential marketing agency. She brings to Gorton a passion for helping the community and an eagerness to provide new and exciting programs for all ages.

Martha ReQua,
Event Coordinator

martha (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

I live in Lake Bluff with my golden retriever, Rigby. I am the Mother of two adult daughters and have four grandchildren. I owned and operated the Frame Forum, Inc. in Lake Forest for 32 years before I sold it to retire. In 2005, I started working at Gorton 1 day a week as an administrator assistant. The job grew to 3 days after a year. I now work 4 days a week as one of the Events Coordinators, renting space for weddings, parties, meetings and any other events. I love my job and the great staff I work with at Gorton. You will find me in the office with Rigby greeting people when she is not asleep. When I am not at Gorton I enjoy taking a long walk with Rigby through town, playing tennis, gardening, volunteering or just being with my family and friends. I run the Market Square Car Show every July to raise money for melanoma and am an active member of As Good As Gold, a golden retriever rescue group, among other volunteering. I look forward to seeing you at Gorton.

JoAnn Carpenter,
Director, Children’s Learning Center

joann (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

JoAnn Carpenter is ecstatic about being a part of the Gorton Drop-In Learning Center team. Her work experience with children expands over twenty years. During these twenty years, she has had the opportunity to hold both director and classroom positions. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Barat College in Lake Forest, IL, M. A. in Human Resource Development from Webster University in St Louis, MO and early childhood education credentials, Infant Toddler Specialist and School Age Programming certifications from the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. To read more about all the Children’s Drop-in Learning Center staff, click here. 

Tricia Sweet portrait

Tricia Sweet,
Facilities Director

tricia (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Tricia received a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross in psychology with a concentration in gerontology and a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University. After working at the Rehab Institute in NYC as Director of Social Work, Tricia and her husband David relocated to Lake Forest 15 years ago. Tricia joined Gorton in 2011 first as a Marketing and Program Director, then Special Events Director and finally as Facilities Director. She couldn’t be happier working with such an amazing team at Gorton and watching Gorton grow! Tricia and David have 3 children. She loves tennis, squash, cooking, reading, and is a proud hockey mom.

Rich Torres,
Theater Manager

rich (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Rich has always had an interest in audio and video production. It dates all the way back to eighth grade when he walked into the television studio at Gordon Tech High School. Seeing the lights and cameras lit a fire in him and he chose to pursue an A/V career. It has been a long and winding road for Rich. He studied at Indiana University and worked as a reporter for the Fine Arts/NPR radio station while also working as a videographer for the IU Sports Information Department. After college, Rich worked at the Chicago Board of Trade as a clerk, Poplar Creek Music Theatre as the House Manager and then worked as an on-air talent and producer at WCKG and WXCD radio stations in Chicago. Rich started work in the A/V department at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates where he eventually headed the department before landing at the Gorton Community Center. Rich has a son in college and likes to spend his spare time playing golf or tennis and other sports or playing guitar and listening to music and attending concerts. An animal lover, Rich is on the lookout for another Basset Hound to own him.

Ann Wildman,
Director of Special Events

ann (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Ann spent a majority of her early career in executive search working for Heidrick & Struggles, identifying and placing leadership talent at the top levels of Fortune 500 companies within the North American technology and consumer practices. Prior to her work at Heidrick, Ann was an Associate for A.T. Kearney in both the Chicago and Atlanta offices. After retiring from the corporate world, Ann became interested in non-profit work, specifically running events and chairing mission-based initiatives, which led to her interest in the Special Events role at Gorton. Enjoying her position immensely, Ann is excited about bringing everything from children’s theater to live music and entertainment to community gathering events to Gorton. She hopes to continue Gorton’s mission as “the gathering place to educate, entertain and inspire” as well as bringing a touch of the “city experience” right here in Lake Forest. Ann has a Bachelor of Arts from Marquette University. In her spare time, Ann enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, racquet sports and spending time with her husband, two children, and friends in the community.

Catherine Yehle portrait

Catherine Yehle,
Director of Development

catherine (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Catherine received her BA from the University of Arizona and she and her family have lived in Lake Forest for 15 years. Before moving to Lake Forest, she and her husband Jeff lived in the city of Chicago, spent 5 years in Boston, MA before settling in Lake Forest. Catherine’s career included working at WNUA Radio and Frankel & Co in Chicago and coming in on the ground floor at Monster.com in Boston where she produced their first Super Bowl commercial: “what do you want to be when you grow up?…” Catherine and husband Jeff have 4 children, all of whom attended and currently attend – public school in Lake Forest. Catherine was the Director of Programming at Gorton Community Center from 2014-2017. She is now the Director of Development. Catherine has been involved in our community since moving to Lake Forest where she was a board member of Lake Forest Open Lands, Vice President of the Associate Board, and now on the Education Committee for Open Lands. Catherine sat on the Lake Forest Caucus for three years (2013-2016) where she was Ward Chair in 2015. Catherine also served on all APT for all schools.

Sue Johnson,

sue (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Sue came to Gorton from Lake Forest College where she worked in development as the alumni database manager, focusing on leveraging technology to increase alumni and donor engagement. Sue began her career in science as a lab tech and biology teacher then transitioned to the corporate world of information technology. She enjoys working on the people side of technology and has managed numerous new computer systems projects and was the manager for systems training at a corporation. Since moving to Lake Forest 12 years ago, she has worked in the non-profit world. She was a volunteer educator at Open Lands, and the office/data manager at Mothers Trust Foundation where she got her feet wet in the world of development. She expanded her development skills at LF College and now brings her experience to Gorton as a Development Associate. Sue is thrilled to be working with people and technology doing non-profit work at Gorton that benefits all of the community.
Sue, her husband Greg and their two children, both recent college grads, live in west Lake Forest. In addition to seeing friends, movies at Gorton, and golf in the summer, Sue loves visiting the Open Lands and Lake Forest Beach all year round. Sue has a BS in Biology and Education from the University of Vermont.

Michelle Hirschfeld,
Social Media
michelle (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Michelle is a social butterfly and a former news reporter, which makes her well suited to handle social media for Gorton Center. Michelle began her career as a television news reporter and anchor. During her time in news, she interviewed five U.S. presidents and covered state politics in Texas for television stations in Austin, Dallas and Houston. After leaving news, she went to the corporate world and handled crisis communications and public relations for Farmers Insurance Group Inc. Michelle was the company spokesperson for Farmers and was on the front lines of natural disasters, lawsuits, charitable giving and sponsorships. After Farmers Insurance, Michelle handled the public relations and social media needs for companies including Walmart, Ronco and Aquasana. Along with her husband and three children, Michelle moved to Lake Forest in 2016 and quickly immersed herself in the community joining the executive board of the Spirit of 67 Foundation and becoming president of the Newcomers Club. 

Jesus Escobar,
Lead Porter

jesus (at) gortoncenter (dot) org

Jasmin Rodriguez,
Evening & Weekend Hospitality Coordinator

Jasmin has been working in TV, film, print and commercial since 2014. TV includes Chicago Fire Season 5 and 6 as a Stand-in/double. She has worked in several independent films such as Faithful Disappointments, Coffee House, The Eight Hour and the TV true crime series American Greed. Jasmin has also been busy as a commercial actor having appeared on camera in television commercials including regional spots for Honda of Kenosha, Blue Cross Blue Shield and recently completed a print job for US Cellular in Milwaukee Wisconsin. She completed her training at Second City and Vagabond. Jasmin is a dedicated actress and hard worker who is constantly looking to improve her talents. She enjoys nature, working out, travels to Germany, helping out her fellow actor friends and staying focused and positive to fulfill her dream of one day becoming a successful actor. 

Gorton logo

Jose Alfaro, Porter

Juan Hernandez, Porter

Jorge Sanchez, Porter

Maro Tellez-Contreras, Porter


Jack Westerman

Jack has spent his entire career in the private equity industry, first as an attorney with a global law firm, and more recently as an investor in North American industrial and business services companies. He has invested on behalf of institutional private equity funds and family office investors.

Jack obtained a BA from the University of Michigan, a JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and an MBA from Emory University. A Chicago-area native, Jack lives in Lake Bluff with his wife, Brooke, and their four children, where they have resided since 2007. He is grateful for the many fond memories he and his family have shared at Gorton over the years, and serves the board and our community to perpetuate the Gorton vision: to engage and enrich all generations through vibrant social experiences and exceptional arts and culture.

Andrew Trees
Vice Chair

Andrew Trees received his BA from Princeton University as well as an MA in literature and a PhD in history from the University of Virginia. He grew up in Lake Forest and moved back with his family in 2011. He is currently a professor at Roosevelt University. He and his wife, HeeSun, have two boys, and the whole family enjoys the many wonderful offerings at Gorton Community Center.

Tim Morris

Tim has worked in Private Equity for 18 years and leads Investments in Manufacturers across the US. He lives in Lake Bluff with his wife Susan, his 3 daughters Catherine, Avery, and Samantha, their dog and 2 cats. His Family moved to Lake Bluff from Tennessee in 2012 and they enjoy the wonderful Community and Resources of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.

Tim joined the Gorton Board in 2017 as a way to help give back to the Community and he currently serves as Treasurer and Head of the Investment Committee for Gorton’s Endowment.

Diana Moore

Having come to Gorton since she was a small child, Diana knows the value of a top-notch community center; and wanting to help enable Gorton to serve future generations she joined the Board in 2015.  In addition to Gorton Diana has volunteered with many local community organizations including Lake Forest Caucus, the Lake Forest schools, the Junior Leagues of Evanston and Chicago, and First Presbyterian Church.  She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College – Go Mammoths!  Diana and her husband David have four grown children, three dogs, a cat, and a food import and manufacturing business.

Nick Bothfeld
Finance Chair

Nick Bothfeld has lived in Lake Forest for over 25 years now; his wife and generations of her relatives have lived here forever! It was the perfect place to raise their two children who are now grown and on their own. Nick has been active in the community serving many years on the Lake Forest Caucus, and as president of the Winter Club. Previously he was board chair of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, as well as treasurer of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. His service now as finance chair for Gorton Center further exemplifies his commitment to the community. Nick graduated Harvard College and earned his MBA from the University of Chicago. He runs the Lake Forest based financial planning and investment advisory business, Bothfeld Financial Partners. He enjoys hiking, biking and fishing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as traveling with a focus on birding trips with his wife.

Matt Nagel
Officer at Large

Gorton logo

Pim Alley

Elizabeth Brandel

Liz has a BSBA from Valparaiso University and MBA from DePaul University.  Since moving to Lake Forest in 2008, with her husband, Rich, and two sons, she has been involved with multiple community organizations in addition to Gorton including Newcomers Club, Encore Club, and the LFHS Education Foundation.  As Chairperson of the LFHS Education Foundation she oversaw the creation and launching of the Business Incubator.  She is also currently a member of the board of the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation.

After finishing her 29-year career in corporate finance, Liz became involved with Gorton in 2011, As President of the Friends of Gorton she led their efforts to raise the funds necessary for supporting ongoing operations.  She joined the Gorton Board in 2013 and has held a variety of positions including Secretary and Vice Chairperson during her tenure.  Liz and her family view Gorton Community Center as the heart of this wonderful Lake Forest community and a valuable resource for vibrant arts and culture programming.

Jessica Fairchild

Jessica joined the Gorton Board of Directors in May 2021.  Jessica joined the Board to assist Gorton with its mission to be at the heart of the community.  Jessica knows that Gorton is a key gathering place and asset in the Lake Forest community for people of all ages, after having spent many years in Lake Forest before leaving for college.  Jessica and her husband, Brian, both attended various schools in Lake Forest growing up, including Lake Forest High School.  They moved to Lake Forest again in 2014, after having spent time away in college, in Chicago and Milwaukee, and have two children.  On the career side, Jessica is a founding partner at the law firm of Croke Fairchild Morgan & Beres, which is a growing full-service law firm based in Chicago.  Before that, Jessica held other roles where she has practiced as a corporate attorney, including time spent as the General Counsel for the 2016 Olympic bid organization.  Jessica has been an avid tennis player throughout her life, including playing for the University of Illinois Women’s Tennis Team as a scholarship athlete.  Jessica received her B.A. in accounting from the University of Illinois and her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.  In addition to playing tennis, Jessica enjoys other racquet sports, the outdoors, watching Netflix and spending time with friends in the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities.

Will Georgi

Will has worked in the energy and clean tech sector for nearly 20 years.  He currently works for Lithion Battery as the North American Sales Director.  Will grew up in Lake Forest and then returned in 2012 to raise his children Liam and Jane- who both went to the drop in center at Gorton and have participated in many other activities over the years.  Will views Gorton as a cornerstone to the LF/LB communities.

Kate Hanson

Kate Hanson, originally from Rockford, Michigan, has lived in the Chicago area for 18 years.  After a few years living close enough to Wrigley Field to hear the “roar of the crowd”, Kate and her husband Geoff moved to Highwood.  While living in Highwood, Kate volunteered at the Highwood library and the various Highwood festivals.  Moving to Lake Forest came naturally for Kate and Geoff as their family of 4 expanded to 5.  Lauren (12), Annie (10), and Caroline (8) give Kate many opportunities to continue her interest in volunteering through school organizations and coaching softball.  Kate recently returned to the classroom, teaching Science at Everett Elementary School after a handful of years being a full-time, stay at home mom.  While enjoying her time at home, Kate became involved at the Gorton Drop-In Learning Center and this is where her love of Gorton began!  Kate and her family love attending live music and family events at Gorton.  Sharing all the wonderful events Gorton has to offer with new and young families in the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities is the main reason why Kate shares her time volunteering on the Gorton Board.

Kirtland Hayes

Mr. Hayes is retired after 40+ year career in management of information systems, technology development, and consultant to a corporate national accounts marketing organization.

Timothy Hender

Tim grew up in Lake Forest and went to Lake Forest High School.  He married his school sweetheart Alana.  They have three kids Julia (Tulane U), Brody (Elon U), and Cooper (LFHS).  Professionally Tim has been in the investment business for his entire career.  He spent 15 years trading stock options in the trading pits of New York and Chicago, before becoming a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual 10 years ago.  Tim Has been on the Board at Gorton for 8 years serving in various roles including Board Chairman, Treasurer, and Development Chair.  In his free time Tim enjoys Snowboarding, Surfing, Sailing, Running, Polar Plunging and watching the Chicago White Sox!

Andra O’Neill

Andra attended Northwestern University and National Louis University and graduated with a BS in Math and Psychology. She and her husband moved to Lake Forest in 1997, raised their five children here and now have a son and his family living in the community. She has been a residential real estate broker since 2000 and enjoys welcoming new families to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. She is currently on the Lake Forest Northwestern Hospital Women’s Board and has found it so rewarding being a part of this group and supporting the new hospital. She is looking forward to being on the board and spreading the wonderful message of all that Gorton offers. In her free time, she loves walking and running in Open Lands, reading and spending time with family.

Mark Pasquella

Mark considers Gorton a truly unique civic resource, offering world class entertainment, education and social programming within a wonderful, multi-function facility.  As such, it stands as one of the pillars of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff’s cultural vibrancy.  He is honored to be a member of the Board and looks forward to maintaining and enhancing all that makes Gorton so special for our community.  As a 30+ year commercial real estate professional with CBRE, Mark advises Fortune 100 companies on their corporate real estate facilities and portfolios around the world.  Mark and his family relocated from Chicago to Lake Bluff in 2003 to raise their children, followed by a move to Lake Forest in 2010, where they currently reside. As recent empty nesters, Mark and his wife, Susan, are enjoying some free time now that their three children are in college.  Mark received an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS from Indiana University.

Karen Rode

Karen Rode is a Partner with Aon Investments, Inc. where she leads the firm’s global private equity and infrastructure research group. Prior to joining Aon in 2010, Karen was a Senior Managing Director for GE Equity, the private equity arm of GE Capital, where she managed a $2.8 billion portfolio of private equity limited partnership investments and co-investments.  She was also President and CEO of Global Fund Partners, GE’s fund of funds, and Practice Director of the Healthymagination Fund, GE’s internal healthcare growth equity fund. Previously, Karen held several roles within Heller Financial, Inc. (later acquired by GE Capital) where she led the underwriting and syndication of highly leveraged debt facilities supporting middle market private equity owned companies. Karen began her career as an auditor with Ernst & Young.  She is a member of the CFA Society of Chicago and a Certified Public Account.  She holds a B.S. in finance and accounting from Indiana University and a M.B.A. in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Thomas C. Sheffield III

Thomas C Sheffield III grew up in Lake Forest about two blocks from the Gorton Community Center. Tom would ride his bike past Gorton every morning on his way to Lake Forest Country Day school. As a student, Tom was in LFCDS drama performances at Gorton. Tom left Lake Forest to attend boarding school and university but returned to returned to settle down in Lake Bluff in 1994. He earned his MBA in Finance, Accounting and Statistics from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1997. Tom currently lives in Lake Bluff with his wife Lucinda. They have 4 children, who all attended Forest Bluff Montessori and participated in drama performances at Gorton.


Currently Tom is a senior portfolio manager at Northern Trust Company in their Lake Forest office. Tom works with wealthy families and individuals in the wealth management arm of Northern Trust and has done so since 2002. Prior to Northern Trust, Tom and his wife Lucinda lived in Sydney Australia where Tom was managing director of an international insurance brokerage company Mackellar Robinson.


With his background, Tom has served on and has chaired the investment committee at Gorton, managing the assets for Gorton’s endowment and Hughes Film Series. At the beginning of his board role in 2013, Tom served on the Master Renovation Committee of Gorton responsible for the Master Renovation Plan which dramatically transformed the inside of the Gorton building and Theatre. During his 8 years on the board Tom also served as the Board’s Officer-at-Large for 2 years and as a member of the Executive Committee.


Tom wants the Gorton Community Center to be the premier venue and meeting place for Theatre and the arts for the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Communities. Tom is grateful that he has helped Gorton become financially sound and fiscally responsible, while being able to grow its programming. He continues to help the organization develop its identity and reputation as the first class entertainment venue in the Chicago area.

Steve Valenti

Steven Valenti is a Lake Forest resident and the president/owner of Lake Forest based, All Things Party, LLC.  For more than 25 years, Steve has dedicated his professional life to the event industry. Learning the art of entertaining from the ground up, he has created and managed events throughout the US and in 27 different countries.  His clients include many of the world’s most respected individuals, brands and organizations.

Steve’s affiliation with Gorton began over a decade ago when his children would play at the drop-in center.  He was always impressed with the quality of the people involved with Gorton and welcomed the opportunity to join the board.  Steve enjoys serving the Lake Forest community through Gorton and participating in the many exciting programs Gorton offers.

Richard O. Wood

Dick Wood & his wife Tricia raised their three children in Lake Forest/Lake Bluff and have lived in the community for over 45 years.  Dick is a lawyer practicing government state and federal administrative law, primarily regulation of companies and products regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.  He has served on the Lake Forest Zoning Board of Appeals, has been as a Board Member/Officer of both Shoreacres and the Winter Club and currently serves as a Board Member of both Gorton and his condominium association.