Executive Staff / founders
Kimberly Keenan,MS, MSW, LCSW, PhD
Dr. Kim Keenan received a Masters Degree in Social Work from The University of Illinois, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and adjunct professor of graduate studies at The University of Illinois. She earned her PhD in Applied Ecology from The Department of Integrated Ecology at the Institute of Global Education, in association with the United Nations Department of Public Information, Portland State University and Greenwich University. In addition to having maintained a thriving family therapy practice, Kim is a national speaker, educator, therapist and freelance writer. Her research in the health benefits of nature have been featured in over 20 local and statewide articles in addition to Health Environment & Research Design Journal. Currently, she serves as Program Manager, Education and Research Director for The gitm Foundation.
Denise Urycki, R.Ph.
Denise received a full athletic scholarship from Drake University and earned a degree in Pharmacy. The majority of her pharmacy career was in a hospital informatics role. She left the hospital healthcare environment to devote more time to gitm. She has completed Beginning Farmer Program through the University of Illinois Extension 12 month (84 contact hours) program, obtained GAPs: Good Agricultural Practices training, oversees maintenance of over 80 square-foot raised garden beds in impoverished areas of the community, organize, maintain website and social media. She served as administrator for the Good Food Recovery program. She has completed her Master Gardener Training through the University Of Illinois Extension and is now completing the Internship portion. Denise has coached grade school and high school track (ASEP and USATF Level 2 certified) and is locally known for her coaching abilities and sports photography. She serves as the Executive Director of The gitm Foundation.
Urban-Agri Educator / Community Organizer
My name is Dwayne Harris aka Brother Dwayne. I was born in Peoria and moved back to Peoria 6 years ago. I’ve always worked with other organizations in my community like the NAACP, Junior Achievement, Harvesting Dream, SCUC, and several religious groups. I’m planning on serving The gitm Foundation and the community with my experience as a local entrepreneur and as a mentor. I’m currently working on a project called “Working the Economic Blueprint” which is a project that teaches economics by working your economic blueprint. As the organizer/educator, I will show the community how community gardens can improve the community. Community gardens have changed community physical look, and have reduced crime, provided fresh healthy foods, and stimulated an economic growth for the city. I’m willing work with and educate all families, groups, and organizations that want to improve our community.
Urban Ag Educator
Corinna has lived in the Peoria area her entire life. Her love for nature and the great outdoors is evident in her daily routine. She works for the Peoria Park District and is the Manager of Laura Bradley Park. She spends her days working outdoors in a 140 acre park, and she spends her evenings enjoying her 21 acres at home.
She has a degree in Horticulture, and is always soaking up more knowledge about plant life. She loves teaching others about this and is always encouraging people to grow gardens, no matter how big or small!
She has been a Peoria County Master Gardener for the past 7 years, and volunteers in her community educating and helping others “Learn to Grow”
DAN BENDER, CPA
Dan Bender, CPA, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Eureka College. He is currently Manager at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. He serves as a musician at his local church, Great Oaks Community Church. Dan and his wife raise three children.
Amy is the administrator of Tazewell County Health Department. She has worked in Public Health for 27 years and has been an Administrator for 12 years. Amy has a strong background of work with schools and community coalitions. Notably, she helped to develop the Tazewell County Youth Board which is a youth leadership organization that has been active for over 25 years and the 21st Century Schools program which serves 18 participating schools and provides year around out of school time activities in Tazewell County.
Most recently, she has assisted revitalizing the Partnership for a Healthy Community along with Peoria and Woodford Counties. This Partnership is charged with carrying out the work of improving our selected health priorities. Amy has served at the co-chair of the Regional Fresh Food Council and is in the process of developing the Tazewell County Fresh Food Council.
Rachel graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a BS in Advertising and a certification in Public Relations. Since graduation she has worked in marketing and digital advertising. Her passion for giving back to the community has lead to her heart for nonprofit organizations. She is excited to use her experience to increase awareness of local people helping local communities.
PEGGY JACQUES, R.N.
Peggy is a Registered Nurse and currently practices as a Faith Community Nurse with OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. In this role Peggy serves the Catholic related programs in the 61603 and 61605 zipcode areas: the 4 parishes of the Heart of Peoria Catholic Community which are St. Joseph, Sacred Heart, St. Bernard’s, and the St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sophia’s Kitchen and Catholic Charities Food Pantry and Baby Pantry. Peggy has a deep commitment to social justice and public health and is delighted to support the collaborative healthy efforts of gitm.
Peggy has a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing and has been fortunate to work in a wide variety of in-hospital, clinical, educational and community settings. My passion is to meet people where they are and walk alongside them on their journey, to encourage their well-being as much as possible. She totally LOVES older adults!
As a wife, mother of 3, and concerned citizen, Peggy hopes to offer time, work, and support to further the outreach of gitm to the Peoria community. Life is precious and far too short to not build sustainable strategies for the betterment of each of us. Peggy enjoys exercising, reading, laughing and spending time with people.
Rob received his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois-Springfield and recently started his MBA with a specialization in Accounting and Management. He is currently a Cost Accountant at a food manufacturing facility. Outside of work and school, Rob and his wife have a son in kindergarten and an infant daughter. They also attend and serve in the children’s ministry at their church, Northwoods Community Church.
Jody is the owner of The Hive Art Studio & Gallery on Peoria’s riverfront. She received her BS in Education from Bradley University and her ME from Olivet University. She was an educator in the local public school system for 30 years. Her hobbies include photography, painting, and writing. Gardening has been a lifelong passion. Jody sees many benefits in connecting generations through gardening. She enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren in the kitchen, her studio, and outdoors. Providing access to healthy food and teaching environmental stewardship and sustainable practices are of great importance to her.
April is the Student Support Services Manager at Quest Charter Academy High School. She received her BS in Social Work from the University of Indianapolis and MSW from the University of Illinois. The focus of her work has centered around educational reform, advocating for school mental health services, and youth development. April is passionate about serving youth and families living in Peoria. She believes supporting organizations that provide access to fresh food, community outreach, and practical solutions to systematic issues are key to creating change.