Maribeth Velazquez Swanson, received her M.S.W. degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work, and a B.A. degree from Asbury College (University), Wilmore, Kentucky. She has earned the designation of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the State of Illinois.
As Social Services Secretary (Director) for The Salvation Army Central Territory, she provides executive level oversight, coordination, direction and leadership for a multifaceted range of social service programs that serve some of the most vulnerable throughout 11 Midwest’s states.
Maribeth has over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit environment. She has led organizational strategic planning, national accreditation studies, developed programs and resources for counseling, case management, homemaker, domestic violence, healthy marriage and family programs. Ms. Swanson has initiated significant program development and expansion of counseling, foster care, group home and in-home services that addressed both prevention and intervention services for abused and neglected children and their families.
In 2006, she led the development of The Salvation Army’s STOP-IT Initiative Against Human Trafficking. This nationally recognized program provides education, outreach, case management and trauma informed response for both domestic and foreign victims of human trafficking throughout the Chicago metropolitan region.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Swanson played an integral role in coordinating emergency social services on behalf of The Salvation Army, both serving evacuees in Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana.
“ For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Michael A. Smith, Ph.D., LCSW, is the Assistant Social Services Secretary and Director of Pathway of Hope.
Dr. Smith began his employment with The Salvation Army in 2005 at National Headquarters. He administered an anti-trafficking capacity building project funded by a federal grant. In the role of National Consultant for Trafficking Survivors Services, he wrote the first edition of The Salvation Army’s Anti-trafficking Training Manual. Also while at NHQ, he co-wrote the first grant that funded the STOP-IT program in Chicago, and he continues as an active member of the National Anti-Trafficking Council.
Dr. Smith is a frequent speaker on combating human trafficking and more recently has focused on developing demand reduction curriculum. He has served The Salvation Army as a Divisional Social Services Director in both Southern California and Oregon/Idaho. Currently, he serves as the Assistant Social Services Secretary and the Pathway of Hope Director at the Central Territory Headquarters. Michael is a licensed clinical social worker and earned a doctorate in social work from Florida State University.
Connie has worked in the territorial social services department for 21 years, directly assisting the Social Services Secretary. She holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from National Louis University.
Connie researched and wrote for TFC approval the full and condensed versions of the Safe From Harm for Vulnerable Adults program. She has written programs approved by the Social Service Commission and had work published in Caring Magazine. Connie enjoys supporting all aspects of the Social Services Department's work and finds "serving suffering humanity" the Army's noblest goal and most pressing concern.
Prior to her work with The Salvation Army, Connie was employed as a Methodology Analyst for Applied Learning, Inc. in Naperville, IL.
Rebekah Joyce is the Client Management Systems Administrator in the Central Territory's Social Services Department. Her role includes developing and managing the client management system to strategically serve Pathway of Hope and other social services case management throughout the territory. As an employee of The Salvation Army at THQ since 2006, she has specialized experience in database management and youth development. Rebekah received her B.A. degree in Business Non-profit Development and Human Resources from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.
Edita is the Contracts Administrator for the Social Services Department of The Salvation Army Central Territorial Headquarters. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Edita moved to United States in 2001. She joined The Salvation Army in July of 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Science & Business Administration (BSBA) – Major in Accounting Degree from the Philippine School of Business Administration. She earned her CPA license in the Philippines in May of 1990 after passing the board examination. In her current role, Edita processes grants and contracts with local, state, federal government, quasi-government entities and private organizations providing funding for social services programs throughout the Central Territory. She also coordinates the Territorial Mission & Program Council (TMPC) process which evaluates MPC proposals for implementing new programs or significantly changing existing programs.
Susan Spreiter is a program consultant for The Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Social Service Department where she coordinates program evaluation/consultation for the Territory and conducts training on a number of topics. Sue co-authored the National Salvation Army Social Service Standards and Evaluation Self-Study materials. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Bethel College (now Bethel University) in St. Paul, MN and a Masters degree in Social Work (with a focus on program development, policy and administration) from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Prior to coming to Territorial Headquarters in 1999, Sue supervised Salvation Army social service programs in Minneapolis, followed by six years as the Director of Social Services in the Greater St. Paul metro area. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Mark Rund.
Bryant Erickson has been an employee of The Salvation Army for over 17 years. During his employment, he has held several positions within the Metropolitan Division prior to his current position with the Central Territory's Social Services Department. His primary job role there is evaluating programs throughout the territory. Bryant has a MSW from the George Williams College of Aurora University and is a licensed social worker in the state of Illinois. He worships at the Rockford Temple Corps in Rockford, IL with his wife and two daughters Allie and Kaitlynn.
Pilar Meyer Dunning, LCSW, Program Consultant for Children & At-Risk Youth In this capacity, Ms. Dunning supports diverse programs across 11 Midwest states that provide services to youth and families. In addition to this, Ms. Dunning also leads The Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking initiative across this region. Prior to her current role, Ms. Dunning served as the Program Manager for The Salvation Army’s STOP-IT Program, Initiative Against Human Trafficking in Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity, she led and supervised the program which provides comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking in Illinois. Ms. Dunning provided professional training and technical assistance to diverse organizations including law enforcement, social service, and healthcare providers in order to enhance their understanding of human trafficking. Ms. Dunning was instrumental in starting STOP-IT’s work with trafficking survivors in 2007. Ms. Dunning obtained her BSW from Kuyper College, and her MSW from Dominican University. Ms. Dunning is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Linda Brinker, MSW, LCSW, is the current Project Manager for the Pathway of Hope, a new initiative within the Central Territory designed to work with families who desire to take action toward sufficiency. She has over 25 years of experience working in a variety of social service agencies, including those focused on epilepsy, mental health, developmental disabilities, and child welfare. She worked for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago for over 9 years and has 20 years of management and grant administration experience. Linda has been involved in the creation and implementation of many new initiatives designed to reach underserved populations. She has previously supervised clinical teams comprised of case managers, social workers, vocational counselors, community educators, and outreach staff.
Michael is the Pathway of Hope Administrative Assistant/Data Support Specialist.
Michael started with The Salvation Army in 2015. The Data Support Specialist role provides vital aid to the Client Management Systems Administrator, as well as the Data Analyst on numerous projects.
Prior to working at THQ, Michael worked in the Planning Department at the City Hall of the City of Geneva, Illinois where he had numerous projects, including grant writing and data visualization. Prior to that position, he also worked in the field of data for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Office of Admissions. Michael has an extensive volunteer history, primarily centered on building homes, coaching chess, and teaching English to non-English speakers.
Michael earned his B.S. in Business Administration-International Business from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, his M.Ed. from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and his MPA-Nonprofit Management from Northern Illinois University.
Gena Price is the Administrative Assistant in the Central Territory’s Social Services Department, providing support to the professional staff with projects and day to day operations, as well as maintaining and updating databases and technologies. Gena studied Business Administration at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana, and is a graduate of Watterson College in Louisville, Kentucky with certification in Legal Office Administration. She is a Certified Microsoft Office Specialist and has a background in educational technology, training, and project management. Gena also has an extensive history of volunteerism and service, and has been involved with youth ministry and mission.