Executive Director of the Economic and Community Development Agency
Barbara Brewer-Watson is the Executive Director of the Economic and Community Development Agency for the City of Kankakee. She is a 1998 graduate of Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School. She graduated Spoon River College with her Associates Degree in 2011 and in Dec. of 2014 she graduated from Western Illinois University with her bachelor’s degree. In May of 2019 upon completing a four-year program, Barbi received her certification as a Professional Community and Economic Developer from the Community Development Institute; a program created by the Southern Economic Development Council in Atlanta, Georgia. Also, in May of 2019 Mrs. Brewer-Watson received her Graduate degree in Organizational Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University.
Her position with the City of Kankakee provides her the opportunity to work with many different businesses and organizations in many neighborhoods across the City. Her primary goal is to keep connecting people and firms to opportunities and resources that will help them thrive here in Kankakee. Kankakee is home to Barbi and her husband Michael Watson. They have two Shih Tzu’s Marbles and Snickers and enjoy volunteering together for different organizations across the region.
MIKE HOFFMAN, AICP, PLA
Mike Hoffman and his team at Teska Associates, Inc. have been serving as the City’s Planning and Zoning Department since August of 2018. In that role they respond to zoning inquires, review all applications for zoning amendments and variances, support the Planning Board, and review, update and administer the City’s Zoning and Planning regulations and tools. Mr. Hoffman has been helping communities define and achieve their vision for over 35 years, including the last 29 with Teska. He has served as project manager for over 30 comprehensive plans, predominately for small and mid-sized communities and counties. His practice has focused on business district and corridor revitalization, development review, and preparation of modern zoning and appearance codes. Creation and management of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts is also a specialty of Mr. Hoffman, having helped create over 20 TIF’s.
Gloria Dowdy has worked for the City of Kankakee since April 2001 where she began her position as a Lead Clerk which lead to her promotion to Administrative Assistant and then to Program Manager. Gloria has earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science at Kankakee Community College. Gloria came to the Community Development Agency from Chicago where she specialized in data input and analysis. Gloria’s primary responsibilities within the Community Development Agency are: inspector, contractor relations, HUD reporting and overseeing the construction side of various government programs.
ASSISTANT PROGRAM MANAGER/PUBLIC SERVICE ADMINISTRATOR
Jan Gathing has worked for the City of Kankakee since October 1990 where she began her position with the Police Department as a Desk Officer, then with Police/Social Services as a Police Social Worker Assistant which eventually lead her to Public Service Administrator/Program Manager. Jan has earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies and has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Communications at Governor’s State University. Jan’s primary responsibilities within the Community Development Agency are: public service, homebuyer programs, relocation for client programs. Jan is also a certified Homebuyer Counselor and teaches both group and individual counseling for the ECDA’s Homebuyer Education program.
BUSINESS ATTRACTION AND RETENTION COORDINATOR
Brad Benoit is the Business Attraction and Retention Coordinator at the Economic and Community Development Agency. Brad will be working with business within the City of Kankakee to help ensure that the City of Kankakee is an environment where their business can thrive. He is a Kankakee native with a background in small business, as his family owns Benoit Greenhouses. Brad was instrumental in helping his family add a retail center to its already successful wholesale program. In addition to a background in small business, Brad has experience in non-profit development, performing arts and education administration which took him to New Orleans, Chicago, and Minneapolis while completing independent contract work in over 15 states and abroad in Italy. Through all of this work he has developed skills in marketing, budgeting, planning, scheduling and public speaking.
STAFF ACCOUNTANT/COMPLIANCE OFFICER
Jonathan Shinabarger is the Staff Account for the Economic and Community Development Agency, where he processes all department expenditures and helps the team follow its many grants’ laws and regulations. A Master of Social Work student expected to graduate in May 2020, Jonathan has several years’ experience providing social services with local agencies like Thresholds, Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KC-CASA), and Catholic Charities. Formerly an aerospace engineering student, Jonathan combines his quantitative skills with a person-centered approach to help CDA effectively use its funding to serve the Kankakee community. In off hours Jonathan is a semi-professional multi-instrumentalist, plays probably too many video games, and loves deep conversations.
Yorelly Villagomez is an In-Take/Secretary at the Economic and Community Development Agency, with the City of Kankakee. She provides assistance with program applications, including assistance in Spanish if needed. Yorelly has successfully completed the Lead inspector course with Occupational Training & Supply, Inc and also has experience with administration. She is also currently attending Kankakee Community College to grow her career. Yorelly loves to spend time with family and help the community as much as possible when she can with the City of Kankakee.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Rachel Schramm began working as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Kankakee Economic and Community Development Agency (ECDA) in June 2020. She is a 2018 and 2020 graduate from Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) completing her B.S. in Public Relations and Strategic Communications with a minor in Legal Studies as well as her MBA with a nonprofit concentration. She was previously a Graduate Assistant and Adjunct Professor at ONU overseeing their Public Relations program and serving as the Project Manager for their student-run agency, which has partnered with the City of Kankakee in the past. She also previously interned at Riverside Healthcare in their Foundation office, the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and one of the largest nonprofits in the United States, Compassion International. She is passionate about seeing the City of Kankakee thrive and looks forward to any opportunity to connect people into this area.