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David Weindling, Founder

Since leaving a 15 year career in private business, David Weindling has dedicated himself to education and philanthropy. David worked in marketing and development for Action for Children in Illinois, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to quality child care and early education for all children in Illinois. Just prior to founding Farther Foundation, he administered the college scholarship and educational enrichment grant programs at the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. Always active in the communities where he works and lives, David served as president of the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce and was a Director of the Community Chest and United Way of Oak Park and River Forest. David first traveled abroad when he was ten years old on a month-long family adventure to Japan. He is now committed to enabling others to become inspired and go farther by experiencing the world, its wonders and their own potential.


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Susan J. White

An independent writer with more than 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations and fundraising, Susan White provides creative communications for a variety of non-profit and other valuable organizations.Before starting her own business, her career included serving as Senior Director of Philanthropy for Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and Editor of Publications for the Lincoln Park Zoo.An active volunteer, she serves on the Board of Directors for The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem. Susan is an ardent and adventurous traveler and counts summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, completing the Camino Santiago Pilgrimage in Spain and trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru among her personal accomplishments.


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Griselda Garibay

Griselda Garibay is an MBA-level professional with 15 years of strong project and account management experience in a consulting environment in multiple industries ranging from insurance, software development and non-profit. Her passion is empowering youth to meet their potential as future global and culturally skilled leaders.As a first generation college student, she has greatly benefited from travel throughout her academic experience to expand personal and professional horizons. She spent three semesters studying French as a Second Language in Quebec City, Quebec, paid through the President's Award Scholarship. Later, as part of her graduate degree in International Business, studied in France for a week, visiting and assessing multiple companies such as Moet & Chandon and a Venture Capitalist.


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Melissa Coughlin

Melissa Coughlin is a life-long supporter of social justice causes and an avid traveler.  After graduating from Cornell University, Melissa spent time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working with domestic violence victims in Buffalo, NY, followed by a job with the public defender’s office in Baltimore, MD.  She attended law school at the University of Chicago, where she participated in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice clinic and developed a deep attachment to Chicago and its people. Melissa practiced as an attorney at Sachnoff & Weaver (now part of Reed Smith LLP), specializing in employee benefits law.

Melissa’s love of travel began while spending her junior year abroad, studying at Trinity College in Dublin. She is particularly eager to work with the Farther Foundation because it combines two of her passions, travel and social justice, and because she knows from personal experience the life-long impact traveling outside one’s comfort zone can have on a young person.


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Laura Swartzbaugh

A teacher with 20 years of experience in education, Laura Swartzbaugh’s entire career has focused on increasing opportunities to young people through education. Laura began her career in higher education, teaching in several different disciplines at the University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, and University of Illinois at Chicago. After moving to Chicago, Laura decided to focus on having a greater impact on adolescents by becoming a high school history and English teacher. As a founding faculty member of the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, Laura helped develop and manage an extensive research mentorship program that has partnered hundreds of underserved students with research mentors from institutions such as the University of Chicago Hospitals and Northwestern University’s School of Law. As her carer in education has developed, Laura has increasingly focused on the role of education and mentorship in increasing college access for underserved students.

Laura received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College, her Ph.D. from University of Minnesota, and her Master’s of Educational Leadership from Roosevelt University. Laura is an avid runner, having completed two Chicago Marathons. She has always found travel transformative, from her first trip to Italy as a 13-year old girl through her experience as a chaperone on Oak Park River Forest High School’s trip to Spain in the summer of 2012.


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Paula Rusca

Paula Rusca is an alumna of Farther Foundation. In the summer of 2009 she traveled to Hawaii where she worked with Habitat for Humanity and Waipa Foundation with The Road Less Traveled. After graduating from Whitney Young M. Young Magnet high school, she attended Pennsylvania State University in Erie, PA. At Penn State she majored in Political Science and minored in Economics and International Studies. She completed her Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016; while completing her MPH, Paula had the opportunity to study in both Nicaragua and Haiti. Paula is now a Research Coordinator at the University of Chicago's Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab at the Harris School of Public Policy.


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Bill Kling

Bill Kling is an attorney and public policy expert with over 25 years’ experience in the public and non-profit sectors.  He worked for two well-known public sector law firms in Chicago, and served as in-house counsel at a community college for several years.  During law school and after graduation, he worked as an urban planner in Lake County, Illinois.   His law and policy practice includes clients on the cutting edge of social change including an aquaponics vertical farm, a medical cannabis cultivator, a water quality research and education center, a substance abuse prevention program, and the African American Family Commission, among others.  

In addition to his law and policy practice, Bill currently has an appointment at University of Illinois Chicago, School of Public Health where he teaches policy, law and leadership courses, as well as serving as a Senior Associate in the Great Cities Institute.   He has also served as a policy research specialist for UIC and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as well as several other governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Bill received his B.A. degree in Economics from the University of Colorado and his J.D. degree from Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law, with a Certificate in Energy and Environmental Law and Policy.


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Maryanne Woo

Maryanne Woo is a partner at Reed Smith LLP focusing her practice on product liability litigation and legal project management. She is a director emeritus of the Chicago Committee on Minorities and Large Law Firms, having served as the Secretary of the organization, a member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Talent Development Committee.  Through that organization and by being on her firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, she continues to work towards increasing the pipeline of diverse students and students from disadvantaged communities into the legal profession as well as the retention and promotion of diverse lawyers. Maryanne has also been committed to pro bono work throughout her legal career. She was awarded Pro Bono Associate of the Year by the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Her pro bono work includes the representation of minority- and woman- owned businesses, as well as an Afghan citizen seeking a Special Immigrant Visa. Maryanne received her Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University as well as a degree from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. In her travels, Maryanne has seen a volcano erupt in Costa Rica and received a marriage proposal from a Maasai chief in Kenya (who thought her short stature was a novelty). She also enjoys watching football and sometimes finishing New York Times crossword puzzles.


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Zel Peterson

Zel Peterson has had a 30-year career in sales and marketing. She earned her bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana and a Masters In Management from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. The majority of her career has been child-focused: developing educational toys for V-Tech and Lamaze International, launching VeggieTales videos into the mass market and most recently working in the confections industry (Ferrara Candy and Tootsie-Roll Industries), making her popular among the friends of her two kids!  

Zel has volunteered for the Jane Addams Resource Corporation tutoring under-served high school students and graduate students in ESL. She spent her junior year in college studying abroad at Cardiff University in Wales, which fueled her passion for travel and cultural immersion. Her most memorable trips have been an Africa Photography Safari, a tour of Asia (China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore) and Brazil.


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Nicky Fish

Nicky Fish was born and raised in the Chicago area and seems to have been bitten young by the travel bug.  Unable to study abroad during High School, her family hosted a student from Spain for a year, who quickly became part of the family. This experience gave her the education and strength to study abroad while in college. She ventured to Shanghai for a semester, where she volunteered as an English teacher for underprivileged schools in the community.

She graduated from the University of Iowa with a double major in International Relations and English with the goal of becoming a teacher. Shortly after graduating in 2014, she joined the Peace Corps and began the epic journey to Indonesia. During her two years there she taught and trained at a Middle School in East Java, became TEFL certified, but unfortunately remained only adequate at helping her host family catch escaping chickens.

Nicky is currently a Research Analyst for Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm. She lives in Lincoln Park where she remains an avid reader, dog lover and potato chip addict.