for Matanya's Hope organizational chart.
Michelle Stark, Founder & President Matanya's Hope
Michelle Stark was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved to Illinois with her family when she was 13 years old.
Michelle is founder and president of Matanya’s Hope. She founded the 501(c)(3) organization in 2005 after returning from a safari to Kenya, East Africa. Stark states, “The visit to Kenya changed my life. I never knew how I would serve this world, but since I was a little girl, I prayed that there would be a way for God to use me. When I felt the calling to found Matanya’s Hope, I knew that my prayers had been answered.”
Michelle has given everything in her power to help the poor children of Kenya breakthrough the walls of poverty by providing them with alternatives to this harsh and desperate lifestyle. Stark sees education as the most important weapon of all against world problems: poverty only being one of them.
She spends several months each year in Kenya where she works one on one with the hundreds of children who seek help from Matanya’s Hope. She lives with the local people and tells us, “I have learned that money does not define wealth. Heart does. The people in Kenya have little to give me besides their love and prayers, but they are the most beautiful people I have ever met.”
It is Michelle’s dream to build several schools in Kenya so that these children can have a better chance at life. We take so many of these opportunities for granted here, but something as simple as a blackboard and chalk is considered a precious commodity if not a treasure in some of these rural villages. If we can send the children to good boarding schools”, Stark says, “they will have a chance to compete with the most privileged students…because money doesn’t buy brains.” “It is time that the poor are recognized as human beings with potential and purpose in this world. We can do that by giving them a chance. They have to do the work.” Stark tells us that by building schools for Matanya’s Hope, the organization will have better access to the students throughout the year…thus improving all aspects of their education – both academically, spiritually and emotionally.”
In addition to Matanya’s Hope, Michelle works as a massage therapist. She is passionate about serving people and making this world better through the gift of compassion.
Michelle is the proud mother of Sean Slutsky, who’s achievements in life have never ceased to amaze her.
Michelle attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and the Art Institute of Chicago. She graduated with a BA in fine arts.
Ann Thomson, Vice President
Ann Thomson began traveling the globe at an early age with her family, living in places such as the Philippines, Singapore and Japan. She attended Northern Michigan University and received a degree in sociology and psychology. Although Ms. Thomson is now retired, she has worked as a juvenile probation officer, a teacher, corporate manager and supervisor for SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect). Ann has recently retired from Decatur Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has always enjoyed working with children and education which is why she has chosen to work with Matanya's Hope.
Anthony J. Madonia, Treasurer
Advanced estate planning, corporate law, succession planning, and taxation
Tony is both a certified public accountant and attorney. In 1990, he received his Juris Doctorate from John Marshall Law School, where he now teaches Estate and Trusts, and Taxes of Estates and Trusts as an adjunct faculty member. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in accountancy from the University of Illinois in 1985.
Tony thrives on tough legal and financial challenges—the kind of complex problems that require elegant strategies to achieve success. He believes that success requires a personal approach to the law as well as detailed planning, so he has created a service-oriented practice in which lawyers become trusted and valuable business and wealth-preservation resources to their clients.
Tony speaks frequently at a variety of professional seminars, serves on the Planned Giving Committee and Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of Chicago, and is a member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. He is coauthor of Generations: Planning Your Legacy, a book on effective estate planning.
Jeanette Contreras, Board Secretary
Jeanette graduated High School in 1982 from Bloom Trail. Following High School, Jeanette attended Prairie State College where she was on the Presidents list. Upon graduation, Jeanette earned her Legal Secretarial A.A.S. credentials.
Currently, Jeanette works for Miller Metals Service Corporation in University Park, Illinois. She holds the positions of Customer Service Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, Safety Department and ISO 9000 Internal Auditor.
/She has a great interest in travel softball, where she coached teams for 24 years.
She was also secretary to the Glenwood Softball Board in 1990. Today, Jeanette coaches and supports her daughter’s serious involvement with the sport.
Jeannette also enjoys crafing, sewing and bible study.
Robert Selent, Assistant Treasurer
Robert Selent is a CPA and CFA specializing in tax at Anthony J. Madonia & Associates, Ltd.’s legal staff with his perspective in tax, securities, audit, cash management and investments. Mr. Selent works with clients to organize personal holdings to maximize wealth, stay in compliance and minimize taxes. Entities include trusts, estates, foundations and non-profits organizations.
Bob’s career has included stints in cash management, investment analysis and tax compliance. He had held positions as controller and financial manager and has owned an accounting practice. His experience spans large corporations, public and privately-held firms and small business enterprises. His expertise has also been engaged to perform compliance audits of governmental agencies and recipients of federal grant dollars. He has been engaged to perform governmental and non-profit consulting projects specializing in financial change management.
Bob graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Northern Illinois University in De Kalb, Illinois. Subsequently, he earned a MBA with Distinction in Finance from De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois.
Professional and community affiliations are important to him. He is a member of the Illinois CPA Society, a Rotary International Fellow and President of South Shore Dance Alliance, Inc., a non-profit involved in fine arts education and pre-professional youth dance development. Bob is a U.S. Navy veteran and a proud Hoosier from Northwestern Indiana where he lives and attends St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. His hobbies include gardening and making homemade table wine using garden produce. Bob enjoys an occasional cigar, jazz, good conversation and, of course, a good glass of wine.
Xuan Li, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Li was born in Beijing, China. She came to Chicago in 2012 for her Master’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago – Liautaud Graduate School of Business. Upon graduation, she completed all four sections of the CPA exams. Currently, Ms. Li works at a local CPA firm, CJBS LLC, as a tax accountant. Prior to joining CJBS, Ms. Li was cloud accounting specialist and tax analyst in the tax department of Anthony J. Madonia & Associates, Ltd.
Xuan values education, thinking education is the key to the success of a society. Before coming to the US, she taught IELTS (International English Language Testing System), which helped many students pursuing higher degrees in the US and UK.
Xuan also enjoys reading and cooking. She makes great Chinese food and pastry that is loved by her friends and family.