Mary Ann Paolantonio, President & Founder
Mary Ann Paolantonio was born and raised in Melrose Park. She is the daughter of Silvio and Carmella Paolantonio. Her maternal grandparents, Michael and Anna Maria Branda, came to Melrose Park in 1915. Mary Ann and her two brothers grew up in her grandparent’s first house… and 100 years later, it still remains Mary Ann’s home.
Mary Ann attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School and graduated from Mother Theodore Guerin High School (now Guerin College Preparatory H.S.) in River Grove. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Management from Triton Community College and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In 2003, upon receiving a merit scholarship from DePaul University, Mary Ann decided to continue her education. She pursued her studies part-time, while continuing her public service work. In 2008, Mary Ann was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Pre-Business Law.
Mary Ann is proud to serve the community she has always called home. In 2001, Mary Ann became the Village’s youngest female to be elected Village Clerk—a position she currently still serves today. During this time she served as Chairperson of the Village’s American Cancer Society’s Annual ‘Relay for Life’ for 9 years, Chairperson of Mayor Ron Serpico’s U.S. Marine Corps ‘Toys for Tots’ Drive from 1997 to the present, Local Chairperson for U.S. Census in 2000 & 2010, and spearheaded the Village Clerk’s ‘Coat & Vote’ Coat Drive. Mary Ann is a member of the Municipal Clerks’ Association and League of Women Voters.
Prior to establishing MAP of Hope Foundation in 2013, Mary Ann had always been involved with charitable and not-for-profit organizations. Her early involvement began over 20 years ago when she volunteered for the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinians. In the Sister’s Guild, Mary Ann has held many offices, including Past President and has served as Chairperson for both their fundraising events - ‘St. Joseph Table’ and ‘Person of the Year Award Dinner.
Every year, Mary Ann continues her family’s 92-year tradition of the Branda Family Candlehouse being part of The Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Feast procession. In 2005, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Feast Committee honored Mary Ann with the ‘Woman of the Year’ Award for her dedication to the community.
Mary Ann’s outreach also extends to the local business community. She served as President of the Melrose Park Chamber of Commerce from 2006 to 2007.
Mary Ann Paolantonio believes her love of community and great passion for service to others comes from her parents. Mary Ann stated, “I am very proud of my upbringing. I am grateful for the opportunity to continuously serve so I can in some small way help keep our community a great place for future generations to form a solid foundation of life-time values.”
Maria Winkelhake, Vice President
Maria Winkelhake is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University; where she earned a degree of Hospitality Management and a minor in Business Administration.
At a young age she found she had a love for the senior citizen's. Maria volunteered for many local skilled nursing facilities as a teenager. In college she continued to work with her sorority to plan events to raise money for Alzheimer's Awareness.
After college, Maria joined the Guild for the Missionary Sister's of St. Charles Borromeo. Maria served the guild for three years, and contributed her service and time with their fundraising efforts for the dear sister's.
Maria's passion and love for senior's has shown throughout the years in her career. She has 10 years of experience working in sales for senior living, assisted living, and memory care communities.
Belmont Village, where Maria currently works hosts events to make donations to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Foundation as well as the American Alzheimer's Association.
She is honored to be Vice President of MAP of Hope Foundation and proud to work with this amazing group.
Gina Marie (Ciolino) Serpico , Secretary
Gina Marie (Ciolino) Serpico Gina is a first generation American on her father’s side. Her father came from Palermo, Sicily, Italy in 1957 at age 10. His family came to America with nothing but the clothes on their backs and had to earn everything to survive. As an immigrant, his goal was to have his children get an education and find work after schooling, learning from his own experience. Also passing on his family traditions to his children was important to him to remember where he came from and the new life he was given.
Gina grew up for a while in Melrose Park attending Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, until her family moved to Bloomingdale, where she attended schools including Central Middle School, Westfield Junior High and graduating from Lake Park High School in 1988. After high school, she started working for her father at his construction company. She took a few classes at Triton College, but never completed a degree. To this day she still is employed by her dad and works for two other companies in his building.
Gina is the mom of two children, Renata Josephine (1998) and Raffaele Joseph (2001). Renata was born with a birth defect that required three surgeries in her first year of life. Gina relied on many family members and friends to get her through the difficulties of this. Because of this result she has dedicated her time to giving back to others in need with various organizations.
In 1997, she joined the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Provincial Guild, helping with fundraising efforts. She is past President of the Guild for two terms since being a member, and also held offices as Treasure and Vice President. Currently she is the Co-Chairperson for their annual Dinner Dance and annual St. Joseph Table fundraisers.
In 2002, she was Co-Chairperson for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life – Melrose Park, forming a participating team and running the Luminaria Ceremony and continued until 2010.
In 2013, she joined MAP of Hope Foundation, founded by Mary Ann Paolantonio, along with other women whom she worked with fundraising for the American Cancer Society, taking their ideas and helping out organizations with various fundraisers.
Vanessa Raflores , Treasurer
Vanessa graduated with Honors from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors of Science in Operations Management and Information Systems. She also attended Northwestern University for some post-graduate work in Mathematics and Computer Science.
Her career began with the Federal Government interning at the Social Security Administration while still in college. Upon graduation, she had the choice of continuing her career with SSA or work in the private sector. She decided for the latter as she was recruited by a Telecommunications company and hired as their youngest Production Supervisor to spearhead their ISO 9001 certification in the mid-1990’s.
Vanessa’s career continued in the private sector working in various industries such as Aerospace & Defense, Software, and Consulting.
In late 2004, Vanessa decided to take a break from Corporate America and she started on her own in Real Estate and Financial Services. With the flexibility of making her own schedule and no longer traveling for work, this is when she also found time to pursue other passions such as traveling for fun, volunteering, and spending more quality time with family and friends.
Some of Vanessa’s past and present volunteer work includes: Little Brothers- Friends of the Elderly, Chicago Cares, Lambda Legal, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Human Rights Campaign, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Parkinson Foundation, American Cancer Society, Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, and of course, MAP of Hope Foundation.
Vanessa is proud to be a founding member of MAP of Hope Foundation and is happy to serve as the organization’s Treasurer since it’s inception.