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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.

Melyssa Garten


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.

Madison Coleman

Vice President

Employer: First Federal Savings Bank

Title: Mortgage Loan Officer

Madison was born and raised in the IV – She started in banking at 19 years old and has been in banking ever since! She has a 3-year-old daughter named Wren and a 4-year-old chocolate lab named Ruby! In her free time, Madison likes to shop, cook, read, hangout with friends and family, and spend summer days poolside. Madison loves being a part of United Way and building lasting relationships with others that have a positive impact on the community.

Jackson Powell


Employer: CL Real Estate Group

Stacie Sines


Employer: Eureka Savings Bank

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.

Bailee Wallace

Executive Board Member at Large

Employer: Carus LLC
Title: HR Business Partner

Bailee Wallace is a passionate and dynamic HR leader that supports over 100 employees in the operations function at Carus LLC. Prior to joining Carus in 2021, she spent a decade in various HR roles, where she recognized that people often need a helping hand to get back on their feet and meet their ultimate potential.

After relocating back to the Illinois Valley where she was born and raised, Bailee immediately desired to build meaningful connections and give back to the community. She was introduced to United Way and was thrilled to join the Board of Directors to combine her love for people and her commitment to making a difference. Bailee became an Executive Board Member At-Large in 2024.

Outside of work, Bailee enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and reading.

Spencer Luecke

Past President

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.

Above: Betha Ghighi Assistant Executive Director

Betha Ghighi

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

Tony Andere – OSF HealthCare Saint Paul Medical Center

Jason Miller – LP High School

Bob Tieman – Tieman Builders

Madi Brown – Hometown National Bank

Bill Zens – Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce

Kim Blaydes – Jeff Perry Dealership

Brian Inman – Inman Electric

Beth Coleman-Weger – Local Realty Group

Brandee Bell – Sequoia Digital

Jessica Newcomer – First State Bank

Maurissa Riahi – Starved Rock Media Group

Alicia Hughs – BMP Tri County Special Education

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