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Meet Our Executive Board of Directors

United Way of the Illinois Valley is comprised of an Executive and Board of Directors whose main goal is to help raise awareness of United Way in our communities.

Spencer Luecke


Employer: Witek Wealth Management
Title: Associate Advisor

Spencer has grown up in the Illinois Valley, attending LaSalle-Peru Township High School then Illinois Valley Community College. After graduating from Northern Illinois University in 2012, she worked in Naperville for a public accounting firm. Spencer has always loved the Illinois Valley and returned to working in the local area in 2016. She is passionate about helping those in the community, both professionally and personally. Outside of work, you can find her on a golf course or shopping at a local boutique.

Melyssa Garten

Vice President

Employer: Machinery Maintenance, Inc.
Title: Business Development Manager

Melyssa was born and raised in the Illinois Valley. After 10 years away from the community, she moved back to join her family's businesses as their third generation of leadership. Melyssa is a first time Mom and enjoying spending extra time with her husband and son. In her free time, she loves to travel, cook, play tennis and spoil her dog, Miya. Melyssa loves being a part of the United Way community and seeing the direct positive impact UW has on the Illinois Valley.

Justin Miller


Employer: City of Peru
Title: Director of Finance

Justin enjoys spending free time with family and friends. He lives and works in the City of Peru. His favorite part about the Illinois Valley and the United Way is being able to work with the people in the community

Laura Hein

Laura Hein


Employer: Eureka Savings Bank
Title: Loan Officer

Laura was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating college in Argentina, she moved to the United States and has been in the Illinois Valley since 2006. Laura spends her spare time with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. Laura is very involved in volunteering in the community and being part of the United Way is one of her favorite ways to give back.

Neal Knauf

Executive Board Member at Large

Employer: Central Bank Illinois
TItle: VP- Loan Officer

Neal was born and raised in the Illinois Valley and currently lives in Peru. He believes there is no better place to reside and raise a family. His favorite part about the Illinois Valley is enjoying the numerous restaurants and annual events hosted within each of the towns. Outside of that Neal spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors.

Kyle Loveland

Executive Board Member at Large

Employer: Maze Nails
Title: Director of Business Development

Kyle lives in Peru and has been involved with the United Way of Illinois Valley for 6 years; previously serving as Treasurer. After college, he moved to Massachusetts to work in the east coast W.H. Maze Co. sales office, but after 4 years was eager to get home to friends and family. When not working or volunteering, Kyle enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors – especially with his hobby beehives.

John Vezzetti

Past President (2020 - 2022)

Employer: Bernardi Securities, Inc.
Title: Assistant Vice President

John lives in Peru Illinois with his wife, Angela, and four children (Geno, Luca, Isla, and Aria). John is proud to be the current President of the Board of Directors for United Way of the Illinois Valley. He would like to thank the Illinois Valley for their past, present and future support of United Way. Give - Advocate - Volunteer

Above: Julie Sloan current Executive Director

Below: Betha Ghighi Assistant Executive Director

Julie Sloan

Executive Director of United Way of the Illinois Valley

When Julie is not seen running around at United Way events, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.  Julie enjoys exercising, gardening, and reading. Her favorite part about the Illinois Valley is the people because everyone is extremely friendly and always willing to help or care for others.

Julie would like to thank all who continue to support the United Way of the Illinois Valley during these unusual times.  We know life is a bit different and perhaps strange right now, but we are here to help and offer assistance when needed in the community.  We know that it is because of our community, made of wonderful people and businesses, that we continue to succeed.  We are here to share our success and mission with all of you.  Please feel free to reach out to Julie should you ever need help.

To those who continue to support United Way – THANK YOU!

Betha Ghighi

Assistant Executive Director

Hi, I’m Betha!

I was born and raised in the Illinois Valley, have deep roots in the community, and a deeper passion for making a difference.  I reside in Oglesby with my husband and our two boys.

Our family loves spending time outside, whether it be biking, playing catch, or even yard work. We embrace every opportunity to soak up the sun. When we are not outside, we cherish moments with our loved ones, making up for lost time and creating lasting memories.

With a diverse background in marketing, fundraising, sales, and leadership. I will bring a wealth of experience to the role of Executive Director. I am currently working with Julie as her Assistant Executive Director as she looks to transition to retirement in the Spring of 2024 (she will be missed)!

My decade-long involvement as an active Rotarian has helped me develop and hone my community engagement and service skills.  I am thrilled and looking forward to partnering with local organizations and continuing to build upon the incredible legacy of United Way of Illinois Valley.  What truly drives me is my love for this community and my constant search for new ways to give back and make a difference. I am passionate about creating a better future for the Illinois Valley and improving lives of those in need. As the future Executive Director, I am excited to lead the United Way of Illinois Valley into a bright and impactful future.

Together, let’s continue building a stronger more vibrant community.

United Way Board Members

Bradley Bianchi,  Bill Zens, Bailee Wallace, Cassie Blair, Jessica Newcomer, Kim Blaydes


We are always looking for energetic and passionate United Way Board Members, please reach out to us for more information!