Our Staff

Beacon Place relies on dedicated and committed staff members and volunteers to help support all of the programs and experiences available at Beacon Place. In 2016, Beacon Place added it’s first paid staff members and while these individuals all have extensive professional backgrounds and accomplished expertise, what brings them to Beacon Place is their strong desire to partner with the children and families in our community.  We could not do what we do without the dedication and passion of so many people who truly believe that we are all neighbors helping neighbors, working together for a brighter tomorrow.


Barbara LaFasto, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Western Illinois University and a Master of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations from Loyola University. Barbara has more than 25 years of experience in Human Resources and Compensation Management, working at Rust-Oleum, Baxter Healthcare and Hewitt Associates, before retiring in 2007.

Barbara first fell in love with volunteering while in college and her passion for assisting the hungry and the homeless led Barbara to a local food pantry where she volunteered for more than five years after her retirement.

In 2012, as a founding member of Beacon Place, Barbara was excited to join a group of dedicated volunteers that wanted to do more for the children and families in Waukegan.   Barbara has assisted in developing and coordinating the Summer Lunch and Backpack program, and the Teens/Tweens programs at Beacon Place. She has also held several board positions and began serving as the Executive Director in 2016.

Barbara and her husband Frank have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren and reside in Lake Forest, IL and Littleton, CO.


She joined Beacon Place in 2014 and established the tutoring program. She will be responsible for helping to identify and implement educational and enrichment experiences for kids and adults. Anne spent a number of years working as a volunteer for the Illinois Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Disabilities Association as well as serving in various positions with the Spirit of 67 and District 67 APT.

Anne Durot graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. She began her career at Price Waterhouse in Chicago, Illinois and continued in financial positions with Coopers & Lybrand and the Bank of Boston.

Anne, husband Mike, and children Molly and Duke, have lived in various cities in the US as well as living in Cookham, England. Anne and Mike are currently empty nesters living in Lake Forest, Illinois.


Linda Benge graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelors in Science degree in Nursing and earned a Masters degree at the University of New Mexico. She worked as Head Nurse of the University of Iowa Medical Clinics and as a Clinical Nurse Educator at the University of New Mexico.

After relocating to Illinois 16 years ago, she decided to pursue her passion for volunteering.

Linda has been committed to working with the Waukegan community. For the past 15 years through volunteer roles at the Holy Family Food Pantry. It was at the  “pantry” that she met and joined a group of volunteers who went on to “found” Beacon Place in 2012. She has been deeply committed to the mission of Beacon Place and served as a founding board member for 3 years. Throughout her tenure Linda has worked with the Tutoring Program and Summer Lunch and Backpack Programs. She is currently responsible for marketing assistance and graphic design for Beacon Place print and on-line media.  Linda lives with her husband, Bill, in Lake Forest and has 3 children, and 2 grandchildren.


Karen Kolb graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education with an area  concentration in mathematics. She taught for over twenty years with the last 15 years teaching middle school mathematics at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Mundelein, IL. She retired from teaching in 2010 but has had a lifelong commitment to helping children learn.

After retiring, Karen started looking for a new challenge. She started volunteering at food pantry in Waukegan and became drawn to the needs of this community and joined Beacon Place when it was formed in 2013.  She soon became involved with the “MOMS” group and as she spent time with the moms, she learned of their concern for their children’s success in school and decided to start the Afterschool Homework Club which she has managed for the last four years.

Karen and her husband, John have lived in the Chicago area for over 38 years. They have three daughters Kristen, Brittany and Carolyn and three granddaughters Naomi, Addison, and Ainsley. Since their retirement, they spend their time with their grandchildren, traveling,  and volunteering.


Maria McGuire graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in management combined with a minor in American literature. After working as a women’s sportswear buyer and vendor’s representative for different organizations in Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio, she relocated to Illinois in 1996. While raising her family Maria  pursued many school, civic and community volunteer activities.

In 2013 she joined Beacon Place because she admired the work they were doing bringing change to the local community. Fluent in Spanish, Maria employed her bilingual skills within a variety of the Beacon Place programs including the Summer Lunch and Homework Club, before recognizing that she wanted to concentrate on her efforts on working with women and became the Program Manager for the MOMS group.  Maria particularly enjoys helping women develop supportive bonds as they learn about healthy and economical cooking methods, crafting, and health and safety information shared by guest speakers.

Maria lives with her husband Jeff in Gurnee where they raised their children, Libby and Nick.


Rosa Vara became involved at Beacon Place in the summer of 2013 when her children convinced her they wanted to get involved in the fun summer program that just opened around the corner from their home. Rosa joined the MOMS Club and has been a committed volunteer at Beacon Place ever since.

Rosa grew up in North Chicago from age 6 on and moved to the Beacon Place neighborhood in 2001. She is responsible for managing all client data and registration and serves as a local community representative.

Rosa strongly believes in the mission of Beacon Place and the opportunities it creates for the families in the community. Rosa lives nearby with her husband and 3 children.