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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Jan. 21, 2010                                                     

                            60 SECONDS
                                        
                                     DEB DARO

MOM TO ANNA, A JUNIOR AT BATES COLLEGE, AND ANDERSON, A SENIOR AT HINSDALE CENTRAL • MARRIED TO COLEMAN TUGGLE FOR 24 YEARS • ENJOYS READING HISTORICAL NONFICTION AND MYSTERIES •  LOVES TO GOLF AND TRAVEL

 

   Deb Daro, a well-known expert in child abuse prevention, started her career working at a newspaper. “I went into journalism to make a difference,” she said. “I thought you find problems that are existing, you write up the stories, you get change. I found you couldn’t stay with one issue long enough to get change.” So she went back to school, earning a master’s degree in policy planning and evaluation and later a doctorate in social welfare from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1999 she has been an associate professor and research fellow at the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. “As a researcher, I always think I do the same thing as a reporter. I ask questions. I get answers. I write up reports. And I think we’ve been pretty successful at making a difference,” she added. Daro also is making a difference in her personal life by serving as board chairman of Community Memorial Foundation. After doing volunteer work that has taken her around the country, Daro is happy to do something in her own community. “It’s been just great,” she said. “They have such a terrific staff and I think they’re making a measurable difference. I think the new health care initiative is terrific.” Daro first got involved in the organization when she was asked to serve on the advisory board for the early child initiative, and she has served on the foundation board for four years. She thinks the biggest challenge of the next year will be making sure the health care access initiative is fully operational. Before working with the foundation, she didn’t fully realize the pockets of need that exist in western Cook and eastern DuPage counties. “I think we have this notion that everybody lives in Hinsdale or everybody lives in a big house or everybody has everything they need.” She’s also come to realize how well a local organization can help meet those needs. “I think the power of a local foundation is we are of the community,” she said. “The big foundations get a lot of the play — the Rockefellers and the Fords — but they come and go. They put a demonstration project in a community and three years later they’re out. Although I probably knew community foundations were a good idea, I didn’t really realize it until I started working in one.” Daro sees a parallel between the foundation’s work helping other organizations, as opposed to directly assisting people in need, and the work of a reseacher versus that of a practitioner. Each fills a necessary role. “My strength is thinking about how to solve a problem, understanding its causes, planning a solution and putting the resources in place. That’s my gift.” Some problems might seem overwhelming, but Daro believes anything is possible if people commit to change. “I think it’s what we teach our children, too,” she said. “If you want to see change, then you have to be involved in doing it. There’s no benefit to sitting on the sideline complaining.”

— by Pamela Lannom

 

— Making a difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and Community Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to measurably improve
the health of people work live and work in the western suburbs.

 

 

 

 

 

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