Biography of Randi Gillespie, Director Special Needs Services
As someone who is navigating the complexities of the special needs world on behalf of my family, I hope to simplify the complex for other families with loved ones with special needs. I have a passion for counseling and advocating for families while creating meaningful opportunities for them as they plan for their loved one’s future.
Born and raised in Lawrenceville, N.J. Three children including a teenage daughter with Down syndrome and a teenage son with mental health challenges.
Bachelor Degree in Psychology from Bradley University and Masters Degree in Counseling Services from Rider University
Career Highlights: Served as Executive Director of Alliance Human Services providing services for children with developmental disabilities and medical challenges who were in the foster care system.
Served as Family Support Coordinator for the National Association for Down Syndrome where I was the initial contact for parents seeking information about their child’s diagnosis.
OUTSIDE OF WORK
I enjoy exercising , adventurous activities, and weekend-long excursions with my husband and kids.
I believe that every day should start and end with a good joke and humor should be sought through the day.
Presented Advocacy Information to the following medical groups: Condell Hospital, Loyola University, Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital, and Resurrection Hospital
Presented Educational and Advocacy Sessions to Grade Schools
and Middle Schools on the following topics: Spread the Word to End the R-Word, Random Acts of Kindness, and We are More Alike than Different
Presented Special Needs Planning Education to the following local non-profit groups: Adult Down Syndrome Center, Autism Family Center, Clearbrook, Jewish Child and Family Services, North Suburban Special Education District, DuPage County Special Needs PTA, Ray Graham Association, Wilmette Public Schools, Glenbrook South High School, New Trier High School and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
PUBLICATIONS & MEDIA
Newspaper: Chicago Tribune Op Ed “A boy, his sister, and Down Syndrome”
Magazines: Chicago Parent Magazine and Parents.com
SPECIAL NEEDS MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
Honored by Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association as their 2014 Family of the Year. Former board member of GIGI’s Chicago Playhouse. Former board member of the National Association for Down Syndrome. Chairperson of the Village of Northbrook Special Needs Inclusion Commission.