Award-winning nurse an advocate for patients worldwide

  • Teri Dreher

    Teri Dreher

  • Terri Cunliffe

    Terri Cunliffe

  • Amanda Poole

    Amanda Poole

  • Bob Kenney

    Bob Kenney

  • Deb Reiter

    Deb Reiter

Posted6/7/2015 1:00 PM

In 2007, Teri Dreher of Libertyville watched as her father-in-law became ill on a cruise ship and needed medical help in Belize. As his condition deteriorated, he was sent back to the United States.

As a nurse, she realized how stressful such emergencies can be for families.


That's why in 2011 she founded North Shore Patient Advocates, a Libertyville company that provides guidance and resources for patients and families so they can navigate the medical profession.

"That whole situation with my father-in-law taught me a lot," said Dreher, 59. "And there are a lot of incidents like that where people don't always know what to do and don't know what normal is. They need an advocate to help sort it out."

Dreher was the oldest of nine children. Her father was in the military, and she moved around the country 37 times before graduating high school. After she was inspired by an aunt, who was a nurse, Dreher also became a nurse serving in the ICU, stem cell transplant and cardiovascular areas for 38 years. She worked at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Lutheran General and elsewhere, before starting her own company.

Besides untangling the medical and insurance systems, Dreher also has volunteered to help the less fortunate in Africa and founded two nonprofits, Hands and Hearts International to provide medical orientation, and Aid Africa's Children that helps to get government aid for African schools.

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In 2004, she took her first trip to Africa as a nurse to help train and do hospice care. A new hospice center was not yet completed when she arrived and she instead saw 780 children who were malnourished and "in bad shape." She and other nurses helped to do physical evaluations of the children. She was hooked, and returned several times to Africa to help.

She also works as the community health catalyst for International Teams in Elgin and does various assessments in Africa, Ukraine and elsewhere. She has been so busy with International Teams, she eventually dissolved Hands and Hearts.

She is also active with her church and with the Rotary. In fact, she has been honored as the GLMV Chamber Entrepreneur of the Year, Rotarian of the Year, and other awards for her work around South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania.

"I like to help people, and so far, it has given me the opportunity to make a big difference in many lives," she said.

Covenant gets first female CEO

Terri Cunliffe of Evanston has become the first female CEO of Covenant Retirement Communities Inc. in Chicago. It is one of the nation's largest not-for-profit senior services provider with 14 retirement communities nationwide. She has been with the organization for more than 25 years.



Michael Grudecki said that after eight years, including 7 years in Batavia, he has decided to close the retail portion of his business, Vignette Home Decor Inc., by Aug. 2. He said the loss of tenants in the shopping center where the business is based and no need for a store front were among the reasons. He also wants to spend more time with family, including his new baby daughter, Emily Ruth.

Rick Williams is the new vice president of information technology for Oak Brook-based Ace Hardware. ... Amanda Poole is the new manager of the sustainability department at Baxter & Woodman Inc. in Crystal Lake. ... Bob Kenney, who grew up in Arlington Heights and now lives in Cary, marks five years as a mortgage professional with 1st Advantage Mortgage in Cary.

Deb Reiter, president and CEO of CMIT Solutions of The Tri-Cities, an information technology service provider for the small and medium-sized business community, has been named to CRN Magazine's exclusive list of "Women of the Channel." The annual list highlights the accomplishments of female executives in the IT sector. The company serves Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, West Chicago, Aurora, Elburn, Warrenville, Wheaton and elsewhere.

Josie Howard-Ruben has been named chief nursing officer at Des Plaines-based Emergency Nurses Association. She recently served as lead nurse planner for Advocate Health Care for about 10 years. ... Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and CEO of AbbVie in North Chicago, was in New York last week to participate in the Jefferies 2015 Healthcare Conference.

John Potts, president of Peerless-AV in Aurora, said the company, which makes audio and video solutions and accessories, marked the 20th anniversary of its Mexico facility. ... Justin Hunter heads up Pure Health and Wellness, formerly Hunter Family Chiropractic, at 213 W. Jefferson Avenue in downtown Naperville. ... Mike Peters hosted a grand opening last week for his new business, Midwest Siding Supply, in Elk Grove Village.

Kevin A. Byrnes, a real estate appraiser from Elmhurst, has received the Volunteer of Distinction Award from the Appraisal Institute, a global professional association of real estate appraisers with nearly 21,000 professionals in almost 60 countries.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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