The Chicago Bridge is a grassroots organization for professionals in the field of aging. It is our goal to provide support, networking and social opportunities for our members of all ages while encouraging leadership potential. While Chicago Bridge is primarily focused on the development professionals in the early to mid-stages of their careers, we gratefully welcome members of all experiences levels to help fulfill our mission. Students are also encouraged to join. There are no dues or membership fees.
To provide opportunities for professional development, leadership and support to emerging professionals in the field of aging.
To inspire and invigorate connected, passionate, and informed professionals to be a part of the transformation of an aging America.
Chicago Bridge History
The Chicago Bridge evolved after several emerging professionals attended the 2003 ASA-NCOA Conference. These individuals attended a session given by NextWave, a networking group based in the San Francisco Bay area. Their mission was to cultivate leadership among Generation X professionals in the field of aging and offer opportunities for personal and professional development, networking and support. In 2004, the Chicago NextWave group started as an informal group with a similar purpose. Within a year, it had 50 members signed on to a Google Group Listserv and about 20 members coming to regular meetings. In 2006, it was decided that our mission should include emerging professionals of any age who are in the early and middle stages of their careers. The group was then renamed Chicago Bridge.
Since then, the group has continued to grow and as of 2014 has over 600 members. The active Google Group Listserv keeps members informed of educational events, networking and job opportunities. Members often use the Listserv to pose questions on current challenges in their workplace, such as finding particular resources for the older adults they serve. Approximately 15-35 people attend each monthly event. The website and blog were created in 2009, and 2010 marked the start of the Mentorship Program.
Each new leadership core continues to grow and innovate, to ensure that Chicago Bridge stays Mission focused and grows towards the defined Vision.
Chicago Bridge Leadership
The Chicago Bridge leadership core is a committed team of volunteers and has a flat leadership structure. Interested members apply for leadership roles every 2 years.
Learn more about past leadership members
Chicago Bridge Leadership Core
Christine Flynn, Program Director (2016 – 2018)
Christine Flynn, MSW is an alumna of Loyola University Chicago where she received her BA in Political Science and History as well as her MSW with a focus in Gerontology, Policy and Program Development. Upon graduation she served as a Long-term Care Ombudsman in Missouri serving all of Northeast Missouri, St. Charles and North St. Louis Counties. In 2016 she founded Culture Change Consulting which acts as a resource for residents in long-term care communities, their families and staff members to begin or continue their culture change journey. Christine is also a published author and is a sitting board member for the Illinois Pioneer Coalition.
Cynthia Germain, Events Director (2016 – 2018)
Katie Janak, Social Media Director (2016 – 2018)
Neil Kelleher, Membership Director (2016 – 2018)
Richard Juarez, Outreach Director (2016-2018)
Lori Long, Leader at Large (2016 – 2018)
Lori Long, MSW, graduated in 2014 from the School of Social Services Administration at University of Chicago, with the focus on Immigrants in Social Administration Programs. Her graduate internships were at the Mary Crane League and Asian American Advancing Justice-Chicago. Lori decided to go back to clinical case management after working for Chinese Mutual Aid Association as the Manager of In-home Services. She currently works as a Long Term Care Coordinator at Cigna-HealthSpring.
Current Mentorship Program Leaders
Kristen Pavle, Mentorship Co-Founder/Advisor
Kristen Pavle is an advocate for health justice, currently serving as the Director of Long-Term Services and Supports at the Community Care Alliance of Illinois (CCAI). Through her work at CCAI, Kristen is helping to build a Medicaid long-term care system in Illinois that provides quality services, and that is primarily community-based and consumer-centered. Kristen has a Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan.
Gayle Shier, Mentorship Co-Founder/Advisor
Gayle Shier, MSW, is a doctoral student in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Health Sciences Integrated Program where she focuses on Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety. She has experience in non-profit management, grant writing, policy analysis, and research. Gayle received her Masters of Social Work and Aging Specialist Certificate from University of Michigan School of Social Work
Stacey Jirik, Mentorship Director
Carla Vassilos, Mentorship Director