Meet Melissa!

On Wednesday, June 1st it was announced that Melissa Riddle would be assuming the role of President of Easterseals Central Illinois. Steve Thompson will be retiring from his 42-year career with Easterseals at the end of August 2022.

Melissa joined the Easterseals Central Illinois team in 2021 as the Chief Operating Officer and quickly put her 17 years of nonprofit/healthcare experience to work! She sat down with us yesterday to answer a few questions to help our extended Easterseals family (all of you) get to know her a little better.

Hometown:   Metamora Community, where I currently reside today.

Family:   Tony (husband), Lauren (daughter), and Tyler (son).

Pets:  2 Labrador Retrievers

Favorite sports teams:  Chicago Cubs

Favorite weekend activity:   Kids Baseball and Softball games

Alma Mater: Goshen College

Tell us about your career leading up to Easterseals:

I began my career with McGladrey & Pullen, LLP with a focus on auditing. One of my clients was The Children’s Home Association of Illinois. I had the chance to join their team as the Chief Financial Officer. Over the next 17 years, I was able to expand my experience as the President and Chief Financial Officer into the day-to-day operations including Human Resources, Information Technology, Quality Improvement, Facilities, and the overall mission of the organization.   I enjoyed being a part of the statewide Child Welfare Advisory Committee, advocating for kids and families in the state of Illinois.

What is your favorite thing about working at Easterseals?

Obviously, the mission of Easterseals is incredible. Getting to be a part of this great work is so humbling.  One of my favorite things is the team of dedicated, talented professionals that make up the Easterseals Central Illinois staff. Every single individual that works for this organization shows up each day wanting to make a positive impact on the communities we serve. 

Easterseals believes every child deserves the best; what does ‘the best’ mean to you?

My background is in business operations. So to me, means our families deserve the best from start to finish. Our families have said that they receive the best in therapy, at school, and at camp. But ‘The best’ also means clear communication about insurance, billing, scheduling, and access to services. ‘The best’ means we work alongside families throughout the entire process at Easterseals to be their partner and advocate. Being the best means constantly listening and learning from our families.

What does the future hold for Easterseals?

For the last 100 years, Easterseals has been a solid foundation for families in our community. Thanks to the work of Steve Thompson and the leadership teams over the previous few decades, we are entering an exciting time for Easterseals.

When I think about the future, I think about sustainability and staying the course. Easterseals Central Illinois started providing services at a once-a-week clinic in a storefront over 100 years ago. This year we are opening a new facility in Bloomington with the Bloomington-Normal YMCA, renovating our Peoria Service Center, and expanding access into rural communities with telehealth. Timber Pointe Outdoor Center is leading the state in inclusive recreation opportunities, and the Easterseals Learning Academy is making an impact across 15 school districts. Our partnership with Child and Family Services in 11 counties in Central Illinois is improving access to vital early intervention services. Our impact is broad, and we are committed to sustaining that impact. We are committed to ensuring every child is 100% included and 100% empowered because that is what they deserve, it is what their families deserve, and it is what our communities deserve.

Steve Thompson Announces Retirement as he Celebrates 42 years with Easterseals Central Illinois

June 1 2022 (Peoria, IL)- After 42 years of dedicated service, President and CEO of Easterseals Central Illinois, Steve Thompson, has announced his plans to retire effective August 31, 2022.   Effective immediately, Melissa S. Riddle will step into the role of President assuming responsibility for all aspects of Easterseals operations.  To support the transition, Steve Thompson will continue in his role as CEO through the end of August. 

“It has been a remarkable privilege to be a part of an organization focused on ensuring that every child is given the opportunity to reach their full potential. I have been honored to work alongside our dedicated staff, tireless volunteers and an extraordinary Board of Directors.”

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson began his career at Easterseals in 1981 and has served as President and CEO since 1986. During his first year, the organization served 875 individuals. In 2021, Easterseals Central Illinois served more than 5,000 families across its six locations. Thompson has been  widely recognized as an exemplary leader and known for consistently making the needs of children with disabilities and their families his first priority.  His life’s work, and that of his wife Morene, has been driven by a steadfast belief that every child deserves the best. 

“I am proud of the positive impact Easterseals has had in the lives of children and families in Central Illinois for the past 103 years.  Going forward, Easterseals is committed to sustaining and growing that impact,” shared Steve Thompson. “During the past year, Melissa Riddle has demonstrated a passionate sense of purpose and the skills to advance our mission.  I’m confident that Easterseals will thrive under her operational expertise and leadership.”

Melissa Riddle joined the executive leadership team at Easterseals in 2021 as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that, Melissa served as President and Chief Financial Officer of the Children’s Home Association of Illinois. During her 17 years with Children’s Home, she gained extensive knowledge in nonprofit management and the delivery of services for children and youth.   

 “I am grateful to so many children and families who have shown me that the “best” is not a destination but a never-ending pursuit. In this spirit, I know that the best is yet to come for Easterseals Central Illinois. With an excellent staff, high-quality programs, exemplary boards, generous donors, committed volunteers, and a strong endowment, Easterseals will continue to be recognized as a trusted and caring organization far into the future.”     

Steve Thompson