Board of Directors

Sonny DeGuzman


Sonny was born in May of 1974 in Brunswick, Maine, but calls Portage, Wisconsin his hometown. He graduated from Portage Turner Senior High School in 1992 and spent six years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications with an emphasis in Organizational Communications and a Professional Business Minor in Human Resources Management. Upon completing his Bachelor’s Degree, he became the Human Resources Manager for Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI and spent eight years working in Hospitality and Food and Beverage industry finishing up his career tenure with Chula Vista Resort as an HR Director. In 2004, Sonny moved into Higher Education Administration and began working in a student facing/advisor role with the University of Phoenix – Chicagoland Campuses. While with the University of Phoenix, he spent nearly eight years ultimately moving into a Human Resources Training Administrator, Campus Training Manager, and Regional Training Manager roles. Within the last five years, Sonny has been in a managerial or leadership capacity in the retail industry formerly working for Coach, Target, and now with his current role with Rally House. He is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix. Sonny is currently in a retail leadership position as a Key Holder with Rally House Stores in South Barrington, IL and has spent the last 12 years residing and working his professional career in the Northwest Chicago suburbs.


Sonny was named to Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.) as an active Board Member in September of 2015 continuing his avid energy and passion for his philanthropic and charitable endeavors. Aside from his current involvement with C.A.R.E., Sonny has also been actively involved as former member of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and has had a number of volunteer engagements with the American Cancer Society, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Feed My Starving Children, Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement of Chicago, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Forensics Program.

Daniel Engel


Born in Palos Heights in March 1975, Daniel grew up in Justice and Bolingbrook, Illinois, until he graduated from Romeoville High School in 1992.  After high school, Daniel joined the United States Marine Corps until 2001. Earning the title Marine, he performed many duties including supply warehouseman, unit admin clerk and later unit admin chief, information systems management officer and operations chief, where he also designed personnel tracking systems earning him several achievements and commendations. He served in Okinawa, Japan as well as many different stations in the United States including Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calfornia; Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California; Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina; Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas; Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and the Military Entrance Processing Station Chicago, Illinois. Following his time in the Marines, he attended Northeastern Illinois University, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Daniel was named President of Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.), Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization, in September 2015. Since its inception, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services. As the first president of the organization, Daniel's main focus has been to ensure that the vision of the founders is met by organizing and registering C.A.R.E. to become a legal entity focused on assisting those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and their loved ones.

Megan Engel


Born in 1974 and raised in Lake in the Hills, IL, Megan Engel is a graduate of Harry D. Jacobs High School's class of 1993. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Eastern Illinois University in 1997. She has worked as a daycare teacher since graduating college and has many years of experience working with special needs children. She is married to Tony Engel, also a board member of C.A.R.E., and together they have a son named Gavin. In her spare time, Megan loves to spend time with her family, read books, and watch Investigation Discovery.


Megan was named Treasurer of Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.), Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization, in September 2015. Since its inception, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.

Tony Engel


Born in 1972, Tony grew up in Justice and later Bolingbrook, Illinois until he graduated from Romeoville High School in 1990. Tony started his own business in Michigan in 1996 and after selling it, moved back to Illinois and attended Lewis University in Romeoville, getting an undergraduate degree in Accounting. Still unsure of his career path, he continued his education by receiving his MBA in Finance from Keller Graduate School of Management in 2003. Tony joined Chicago-based rock band Veilside in 2006 as their lead vocalist, and in 2010 became the Finance Manager for one of the largest steel distributors in the United States. In 2013, Tony married fellow board member and Megan Engel, and they currently reside in Plainfield, Illinois with their son, Gavin.


Tony was asked to become a board member for Chicago Autism Resource & Education, Chicago’s only autism resource, education, and advocacy organization, in September 2015 due to his involvement with “Breaking the Silence”, a concert series Veilside hosts annually to raise autism awareness. Tony was elected Treasurer in 2017.  Since its inception, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other autism-related services.

Jim Obos


Born in Chicago, Illinois in June 1964, Jim grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois, until he graduated from Buffalo Grove High School in 1982. After high school, Jim started working and taking business classes at Elgin Community College. Jim also attended Dale Carnegie training and returned to support the program as a graduate assistant 4 times over as many years. As a successful professional salesman he has received numerous awards and considerations from his work and colleagues. With his background in marketing, sales and personality he is focused and driven toward success. He is married to his wife Becky for over 30 years and has raised 3 successful children, including a U.S. Marine. Jim and Becky own and run a high energy and successful photography business JPM Photography - Your Dreams Captured. He currently resides in Lake in the Hills, Illinois.


Jim was asked to join Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.), by the founders for his dedication to the Autism Community as well as his professionalism and dedication to success. C.A.R.E. is Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization, and Jim joined in September 2015 as a Active Board member. Since its inception, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services. Jim is dedicated to support and grow C.A.R.E. and help the organization focus to ensure that the vision of the founders is met, by contributing to organizing events and support for it's main fundraising event, Breaking the Silence: A Benefit for Autism Awareness. Jim's involvement in C.A.R.E. is personal as he grew up around relatives that have had and currently have challenges and needs within the Autism Community, He has a passion for assisting those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and their loved ones.

Nikki Schulz


Born in 1970 and raised in Wheeling, IL, Nicolett Schulz is a graduate of Wheeling High School’s class of 1988. As a child, Nikki spent a great deal of time with a neighborhood family that had a son who had MS. She learned at an early age that disabilities can afflict any of us at any time and it is through the love and support of family and community that people can overcome these “obstacles” and enjoy life to the fullest.  Roots for charity work run deep. Before she was old enough to have a paying job, Nikki volunteered her time working at the Indian Trails Public Library in her neighborhood and spent Saturday afternoons reading to small children. As she grew she donated her time to assist her dance instructor with the beginner classes and offered one on one help to those that were having trouble. The need to help has carried on into adulthood and her interest in our cause began at the 2nd annual Breaking the Silence where she attended as a patron, but quickly jumped in and gave her time to sell raffle tickets. Her involvement grew each year and she now is the founders' right hand when it comes to our annual fundraiser as well an active member of our board. In her spare time she participates in 5Ks and enjoys taking road trips and exploring new places whenever possible!


Nikki was named Vice-President of Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.), Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization, in September 2015. Since its inception, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.

Jean Thomas


Born in the summer of 1971, Jean is a Chicago native. After attending various high schools, Jean completed her High School Diploma in 1990 and began working as a Licensed Cosmetologist. In April of 1994, she married her high school sweetheart and began to start a family. In 1999, her middle child was diagnosed with a seizure disorder for which she knew nothing about. Because of his illness and the birth of her 3rd child, she decided to return to school and become a licensed Medical Assistant. But after working for a couple of years in pediatric offices, she was forced to quit and care for her ailing son. It was during that time that she and her husband created Breaking the Silence: A benefit for Autism Awareness (BTS). The commitment to her children and to the BTS event is what drives her to help other families with not just the Autism diagnosis but special needs services. It was at BTS4, she was approached by the Executive Director of a local autism charity and asked to work side by side with them to help families in Illinois afflicted with Autism. But due to changes within the charity personnel, she was let go. Discouraged but persistent, Jean and her husband Ron, with the help of donors, developed Chicago Autism Resource & Education (C.A.R.E.).  She continues to help parents and families, learn to self advocate, learn their special needs rights and give direction to caregivers.


Jean is a co-founder and was named Executive Director of C.A.R.E., Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization. Since its inception in September 2015, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.


Ron Thomas


Ron Thomas was born and raised on the North West Side of Chicago, IL holding deep seeded roots from a family owned and operated plumbing and drainage business, Bell Drainage Co. established in 1948 and still running strong today. Graduating from Luther North High School in 1989, he jumped right into the family business establishing a important role bringing a modern flair to old school values. Long before being a parent of a special needs child, Ron accompanied his mother at a very young age in yearly support for the school his son Justin now attends, New Horizon Center for Persons with Disabilities and Autism. A successful business person and musician, Ron along with his wife Jean, decided to put their resources and knowledge gained from Justin's battle with being diagnosed with Autism to use for others and start Chicago Autism Resource and Education. Ron, Jean, and his band Veilside host annual Autism Benefit, Breaking The Silence:A Benefit For Autism Awareness that has raised over $80,000 for Autism Awareness in the past and holds the bar higher every year. An activist for his community, Ron can always be seen helping those in need.


Ron is a co-founder of C.A.R.E., Chicago’s only autism resource, education and advocacy organization. Since its inception in September 2015, C.A.R.E. has raised and invested more than $90,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.