Transforming our Nation One Child at a Time.

+618 874 6505

564  Veronica Ave

East St. Louis, IL 62205

Meet the Board of Directors for Uni-Pres Kindercottage!


Barb Jutting, President

I have been an active member of Evangelical United Church of Christ in Godfrey for 42 years.  I have had leadership positions, and have participated in volunteer work which includes chairing our “Adopt a Spot” Landscaping program, being a member of our Hearts in Service ministry, and being coordinator of our Scrip program, which generates money for capital improvement.  I also enjoy singing in the chancel choir and playing in the handbell choir.


 I attended Southern University of Illinois at Edwardsville where I was conferred a Master’s of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology and a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech and Hearing Association.  I also obtained certification in Educational Administration from SIUE.


I spent 14 years in the public schools as a speech therapist for 3-12 year olds in regular and special education classes.  I most recently retired from my position as Director of Evangelical School For The Young Years, and Principal of Evangelical Elementary and Middle School after 12 years.  


As one of the largest non-Catholic schools in our area, our enrollment for elementary and middle school has averaged around 300 students with approximately 90-100 in our preschool, with only 10% of the enrollment coming from our own church membership. We employ 34 teachers, 2 office staff and 2 custodians.  As a ministry of Evangelical United Church of Christ, I was privileged to be a part of this ministry to the children and families of our community.


Now in my second year of retirement, I continue with the church volunteer work, and have joined the Alton Community Service League, and P.E.O.  Oh yes, and I still substitute teach in preschool on occasion.

I have visited Kindercottage a few times now, and have met the hard working teachers, where Brenda and her staff make everyone feel welcome. Playing with the babies, and reading to the 3-5 year olds has certainly been a joy!  The Center definitely has a family atmosphere, one that needs to be continually cultivated.  I am interested in helping the Center move forward to meet the needs of children and their families in East St. Louis. 

Dr. Phil Wilhem, Treasurer.

Dr. Phil Wilhelm has been lifelong member of the United Church of Christ.  He currently serves as Director of Music at O’Fallon UCC and has been in that role for nearly 20 years.  Phil has served on both the board of the Illinois South Conference and the former Executive Council of the National Setting.  He attended the LIFE program Eden in its early years. Phil has a lifelong service in education.  He taught in the public school system before going to McKendree University, where he trained future teachers.  Phil retired early to pursue other interests, but continues to adjunct for Illinois State University.   Phil has a Bachelors and Masters degree in music and a PhD in education.  He has been a supporter of Kindercottage for many years and is honored to be serving on the board of directors.

Mary Anne Jenkins, Secretary

Mary Anne Jenkins was born in Evansvillle, Indiana in the 1940’s to Rev. Robert Baumann (Evangelical and Reformed) pastor and Kathleen (Brucker) Baumann. She attended schools in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. Mary Anne graduated from Granite City High School in the 60’s and Illinois State with a B.S. in Education. While living in Terre Haute Mary took graduate level classes in Education at Indiana State University. Her teaching experiences included Head Start, preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, Fifth and Sixth Grade with retirement taking place in 2009. She married William Jenkins in Granite City in the 1960’s and they had three daughters and now two granddaughters. Mary’s hobbies include sewing and antiquing. Her passion is to help children find their way and to aid them in the pursuit.


Johann Ellerbrake

Johann Ellerbrake attended high school in the Washington DC area. After graduating from high school, she attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio. She earned an undergraduate degree in Physical Therapy from Washington University and an MA in Management from Webster University. Johann is married to Richard Ellerbrake and they live in Lebanon IL. They have two adult sons, Chris and Steve, four grandchildren, and two great grand children. She has worked as a Physical Therapist at Barnes Jewish, Deaconess, and Christian Welfare Hospitals, as well as Mamie O Stookey School. In addition, Johann has served as Executive Director for both Rankin Jordan Pediatrics Bridge Hospital and Mamie O Stookey School. She also is a consultant at Southwest Regional Special Education Association, President of Illinois South Conference Board of Directors, former President of UPKC Board of Directors, board member of Puentes De Esperanza, President Greater St. Louis Lead Poisoning Council, member of UCC Board for Homeland Ministries, Chair of Evangelism & Church Growth Committees, board member United Congregations of the Metro East (UCM). 


Dr. Jackie Aregood

Dr. Jackie Aregood grew up active in the social service community of the United Church of Christ. She first worked in East St. Louis volunteering as a teenager rehabilitating Habitat for Humanity houses. She later worked summers and volunteered with the Neighborhood Houses where her father Rev. Jack Aregood was the director. Other volunteer and work experience with nonprofit organizations include ICASA, Call For Help, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, UVA resuscitation committee, Free Peoples Clinic Chicago, Family Focus, and Charlottesville Free Clinic. 


Upon completing college, she attended medical school in Chicago and completed her medical training in internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Virginia.  Dr. Aregood is a practicing psychiatrist employed by SIHF, a federally qualified healthcare center headquartered in Sauget, Illinois. 


She is married to Mark Russo, retired Lieutenant Colonel US Air Force. They have three teenage children and are active members of O’Fallon United Church of Christ.


Flo Jeffreys

Retired after 50 years of nursing, the last 19 of which were spent as cardiology nurse practitioner at St Louis University.  My 50 years took me to all kinds of nursing opportunities: medical/surgical, emergency, intensive care, electrophysiology, pediatrics, industrial nursing, childbirth instructor, practical nursing instructor with clinicals in acute care and nursing homes, home health nursing.  I have been blessed to be a part of the life journey of so many of my patients and their families in both urban and rural areas in the Midwest and Gulf Coast.  


Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, formerly part of the United Church of Christ missions, gave me a sound nursing base.  Living with the Deaconess sisters showed me how service to others is being God's hands and feet.  Their ministry is still alive in the  Deaconess Community Faith Nurse Ministry today.  My BSN was obtained at McKendree College, MSN and Nurse Practitioner completion at St Louis University.


I have participated in mission trips with the United Church of Christ at the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation and Biloxi Back Bay Mission following Hurricane Katrina.  


I am currently a member of St Paul's UCC in Lebanon, Illinois where Pastor Don Wagner leads his flock. St Paul's is committed to supporting UPK. Our church also supports the ecumenical Lebanon Matthew's Ministries, where I am currently in training as a client advocate. 


My previous experience on Board of Directors includes Christian Home Care Services, two terms for UniPres KinderCottage, and two terms for Southern Illinois Health and Wellness Center in Washington Park.  My interest in East St Louis was peaked when Brenda Crisp, UPK director, assisted me with community health assessment of services/resources for ESL children while obtaining my MSN.  I also became very familiar with East St Louis while completing a year of home health nursing there in return for a grant from Illinois Public Health for college tuition.


Erin L. Beavers

My husband Tom and I just celebrated our 15th anniversary. We have 3 kids, Annie (13), Caroline (7), and Brady (5) and a dog Benny. I grew up in Edwardsville and attended EHS. My parents and grandparents are all EHS grads. I went to college at The University of Tulsa and law school at Drake University Law School.


Attorney and Partner at The Gori Law Firm in Edwardsville. I’ve been with the firm since 2009.

I am currently Vice President of the Board for CASA of Southwestern Illinois.

Member of First Presbyterian Church in Edwardsville for my entire life having grown up in that church. I am an Elder and have served on Session twice. I have chaired the Mission Outreach Ministries Committee and Nominating Committee and served on Youth Ministry Committee. I have also served on a special tasks forces for developing a playground and strategic planning.



Phil Kershner

I grew up in Southern California when it was mostly orange orchards. I was born the same year Disneyland opened. I remember that Tomorrowland promised flying cars. Still waiting. I went to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod schools and, because I enjoyed school, I decided to become a teacher (probably a bad decision for my future students). I did a double major (math and history) at Concordia Lutheran Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. Still in love with the Chicago area (or was it the Cubs), I stayed on and got a master's degree in history from Loyola University. That was followed by a teaching position at Lutheran High School South in South St. Louis County, starting in 1980, where I ended up teaching mostly math (no, Loyola did not give me my money back). 


So how did I get involved in the UCC? Well, I married my wife, Sandee, in 1988 and as we were both disenchanted with the discrimination against women in the LCMS, as well as their belief in hell for those who didn't buy into their doctrine, we left the LCMS (although I continued to teach for a few years at the high school, where I got some heat for bucking their theology) and joined a UCC church. In 1997 I quit teaching and went to Eden Seminary from where I graduated in 2001 and took a position as pastor at Marine United Church of Christ in, believe it or not, Marine. I love it here and I guess they like me well enough to have kept me for 20 plus years. Or they just haven't had the energy to form a new search committee. It is the only church I have ever served.


I read with a passion, both fiction and non-fiction. My openness to reading books which challenge progressive political thought, as well as my contrarian nature, have gotten me into trouble more than once with the UCC (at both the national and conference levels). The autonomous nature of the UCC has been a good thing for me. Neither John Dorhauer nor Traci Blackmon can't fire me if they wanted to (which I'm sure they do). Both were involved in an ad hominem attack on me which appeared on the front page of the Pension Board website for about a month. Has anyone else had that kind of fun? If you are interested in the story, I would be happy to share it with you.


My other hobby is hiking. I hiked to the top of Pike's Peak in 2016 and to the top of Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the lower 48) in 2019. I have also hiked a great deal in the Swiss Alps. My mother was from Switzerland, so I guess I come by this naturally. My dad was half bald, so I guess I come by that naturally, also (thought I should explain the picture in advance).


I have a friendship with Brenda Crisp that goes back many years. And a love for the Kindercottage that goes back equally many years. So, I was happy to throw my name into the hat when the call went out for people to serve on the board. Seeing that I was selected, I have to wonder if mine was the only name in the hat.


My wife and I have two grown daughters. I often say that I learned the meaning of unconditional love by having children. Lauren lives in Minneapolis and Ashlyn lives in Iowa City. Neither is married, although both have partners. So maybe...