Experienced Veteran Leadership and Staff

Paul Baffico, Founder and President, U.S. Army, 1LT 1969-1971, served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne in 1970-1971 as a combat communications platoon leader. He has been a monthly docent for the National Park Service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC since 2006; a certified Veteran Peer Support Specialist, the 2012 Chicago Red Cross Military Hero of the Year, past Chairman of the Governing Council of the Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services Federal Grant and founder of the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation. His book Last Mission for a Reluctant Patriot was published in 2014. Mr. Baffico spent 34 years at Sears Roebuck where he was the President of the Automotive Group and CEO of Western Auto. He holds a B.A. from the University of San Francisco.

Juan Mendez,  United States Marine Corp, E-6 Staff Sergeant,  Operations and Program Manager, LCVFSF Veteran Peer,  devoted 14 years to the Marine Corps as an Infantry Unit Leader. He was deployed overseas eight times with three deployments to Iraq and other assignments in the Asia-Pacific region and the Pacific Theater. Juan was introduced to the nonprofit sector during his last duty station while serving as the Milwaukee Toys for Tots Program Manager. Juan said, “I gained a passion for community outreach because I was able to connect community members who wanted to help, with underserved populations in need of assistance.” While Juan is new to the foundation, he already enjoys his work. “I’m impressed with the partnerships the foundation has formed and the collaboration that these make possible. We talk about the most effective solution to complex problems, and we all benefit from the exchange. I have learned the value of listening. I have seen the value that LCVFSF adds as a greater Lake County resource hub.” He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from North Park University and is enrolled in a master’s degree program in social work.

M.J. Hodgins, Secretary, Director of Community Development is the retired Project Coordinator for the Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services SAMHSA grant at the Lake County Health Department. She was a LCHD Assistant Clinical Coordinator for substance abuse, a counselor with Alexian Brothers and Rush Behavioral Health Programs. She also developed and coordinated a satellite DUI treatment and services program in Lake Villa for The Counseling Center of Crystal Lake. Ms. Hodgins holds an Associate’s Degree in substance abuse counseling from College of Lake County, a Bachelors’ Degree in Counseling from DePaul University, and is a registered CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor). Her dedication comes from being a former Vietnam-era Navy wife and daughter of a WWII Army veteran. 

Dr. Mary Roberson, ED.d, Social Services Supervisor, is a Navy veteran who holds a Doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She teaches graduate classes at National Louis University and undergraduate classes at the CLC. She has over 20 years of proficiency in the Human Services and Behavioral Health field. Previously the Managing Director for Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (retired) where she had oversight on SAMHSA Grants, which included technology-assisted care, adolescents with co-occurring addiction and mental health; women at risk of infection for HIV and homeless involved in the criminal justice system. She has served on multiple boards: Executive Board of Illinois Department of Human Services DASA Women’s Committee, the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Association, the Waukegan Coalition to Reduce Recidivism, and the Lake County Opioid Initiative. Dr. Roberson is a member of the Lake County Drug Court Team and Veterans Treatment Assistance Court. She completed the Great Lakes ATTC Communities of Color: Training of Trainers and Next Generation of Leaders.

Robert E. Gorman, Jr., Veteran Peer Support Specialist, Veteran 1LT U.S. Army, Airborne qualified. Served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, 1969-1970. He is a mentor for 19th Judicial District Veterans Court of Lake County and food pantry volunteer at St. Francis De Sales Parish in Lake Zurich. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Gorman had a career in Advertising, Corporate Communications and Public Relations with the Allstate Insurance Company, as well as with his own private company after his retirement from Allstate.

Jessica Lopez, United States Marine Corps, Sergeant, Veteran Peer Support Specialist, is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, receiving her bachelor’s in Social Work. She is a graduate student at Dominican University, working on her Master of Social Work with military concentration. A native of Kankakee County, she served four years in the Marine Corps on Okinawa as a Comptroller. Jessica brings her youth, vitality, and enthusiasm to LCVFSF. In addition to learning all the various aspects of being a Peer Support Specialist, she is responsible for special events such as Patriotic Painting.

Angel A. Andrade, United States Navy, Veteran Peer Specialist served in the U.S. Navy for five years as an interior communications electrician, completing his service as a petty officer second Class. He was deployed to the Gulf on the U.S.S. Bainbridge. He then served at Lovell Federal Health Care Center where he completed his service. Angel is a student at College of Lake County where he is completing an Associate of Arts in Business Degree. He is a former president of the Student Veteran’s Club of CLC. Angel began volunteering at the DryHootch Drop-In Center August of 2018 and is a local resident of Round Lake Beach. “Angel’s extensive experience in the Navy, Veteran and student cultures will be a tremendous asset added to our staff base of knowledge. We are fortunate to him as a colleague,” said LCVFSF President Paul Baffico. 

Ashton Kroner, United States Marine Corp, E-5 Sergeant, LCVFSF Social Media Contractor, is also currently serving as Outreach Coordinator for The Road Home, a program of The Center for Veterans and Their Families in Chicago. She deployed with the 1st Communication Battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq and was sent on temporary duty assignment as a Lioness, gathering intelligence from local women. After completing a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, Ashton became a Marine recruiter in the Albany, N.Y. area.  She has a bachelor’s degree, is a mother of two, and is married to a fellow Marine. She is one of many Veterans who continue to serve their country and community after they no longer wear the active duty uniform.

Daniel Sheline is a Veteran volunteer, having served 10 years in the United States Navy from 1987-1997. He left the Navy as a Petty Officer Second Class and received many group and individual awards including the Navy Achievement Medal. He served during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in 1991. He is currently a Sergeant with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in the Corrections Division since 1997. He has been a Field Training Officer, a member of the Correctional Response Team and is currently the Accreditation Manager. He is a member of the American Correctional Association, Illinois Correctional Association and the Correctional Accreditation Managers Association.

Ron Bruner, LCVFSF Volunteer Veteran Peer Specialist, United States Army, Illinois National Guard, is a retired bank executive and Chicago native. He is a graduate of Lane Tech, Roosevelt University, and holds an MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. After serving in the Illinois National Guard for six years where he saw duty during the Sixties, Ron went into the banking and trust business where he enjoyed forty years of success. Since his retirement, Ron has always made it a habit to spend the majority of his free time volunteering. At Lake Forest Hospital, he was recognized as the volunteer of the year. He also trains his champion dog and finds ways to make other contributions to his community. LCVFSF is fortunate to have Ron turn his attention to the business administration needs of the Foundation. Ron recently complete DBSA Peer Training and has been certified by the state of Illinois as a Veteran Peer Specialist.  

Mike Maguire, Service Platoon Volunteer Leader came to LCVFSF as a concerned and loyal patriot that was interested in helping care for Veterans.  He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.  He became a CPA and worked for Deloitte before venturing out on his own as a day trader.  Mike is passionate about his volunteer work with the Foundation as well as the Service Platoon.  He is an exemplary citizen that we are very happy to have working with us.  

Tom Dunn, Army Veteran, all around Veteran volunteer. Tom had a brief stint in the Army during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged with a medical problem shortly after being drafted.  Since he came to LCVFSF, he has been an all-around volunteer that is absolutely essential, no matter the job is.  His dedication to Veteran care is outstanding.

Carlos Perez, Veteran Peer Specialist: during his 27-year active duty and reserve career with the Army, he served in transportation, supply and drill instructor roles, deploying to Iraq in 2007.  Carlos also served as an law enforcement officer with the Waukegan Police Department, retiring recently after 25 years of service.  Carlos and his wife Daisy own Daisy’s Artish Café in Lake Villa, one of the foundation’s four Cup-A-Joe sites in Lake County.  Carlos attends College of Lake County and is using  his Veteran education benefits to study Health and Wellness, as well as Physical Education.