Executive Team

Daniel Engel

President


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 $60,000 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.

Nikki Schulz

Vice-President


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 $60,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.

Megan Engel

Treasurer


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 $60,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.

Jean Thomas

Executive Director


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 was named Executive Director of 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 $60,000 in its mission, the majority to support other Autism related services.