Slide background


Donald J. Sebek, M.Ed.
Executive Director

Don has been the Executive Director of the agency for almost 42 years, starting in that position in May of 1972. He received his Masters of Arts in Education (Guidance & Counseling) from Loyola University in Chicago in 1968. Prior to Bremen, he served as a Probation Officer at the Juvenile Court of Cook County for 2 years followed by 3 years as a Counselor in High School Dist. 228.
Read more

In addition, he taught on a part time basis for several years as an associate college professor in the Lewis University Corrections program at Joliet State Prison. He also served as a member of the School Board for HS Dist. 228 for three years. He maintained an active caseload of clients for the first half of his tenure at the agency in addition to his supervisory duties, but, when Bremen shifted from being solely a Township organization to not-for-profit status in 1986, the administrative requirements involved dictated that his full attention be directed to that area. Don has always fostered the “Bremen Family” concept at the agency and is very proud of the accomplishments and successes that our kids have achieved with our help and support over the past four + decades. His goal is to insure that every child that walks through the door of Bremen finds a safe harbor where they can be helped to develop the skills and strength needed to overcome whatever difficulties they are facing and to be supported and encouraged to reach their full potential and ultimately contribute in a positive manner to their community.

Joy Rihani, MSW, M.Ed., LCSW, CADC
Clinical Director

Joy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  Her education has always had social work as her main focus, beginning at Bradley University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Social Work.  Joy continued her education at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned a Master of Social Work with a concentration in schools.
Read more

Shortly after graduation, she received a certification to provide social work services in a school (Type 73).  After six years of working Joy then went back to Olivet Nazarene University and received a Master of Arts in Education; as well as, receiving a certification to become an administrator in a school (Type 75).

Joy has been working at Bremen since 2004! Being that her concentration was in schools, she left Bremen full time to work in a local school district.  But because Bremen meant so much to her, she continued to work part-time as a social worker and as the summer program director.  When the opportunity to come back to Bremen full-time opened up, although a difficult decision, it was an easy one to make.   Bremen provides more than just mental health treatment to the children it serves.  Bremen provides a feeling of safety and love with a strong sense of family.  Joy has never witnessed an establishment that brings such a feeling of warmth and protection to our young people as does Bremen.  There is no doubt that no matter who walks in to this agency, if they have open arms, they will feel the strength of the “Bremen Family.”  For Joy, family is a priority, and in turn does not feel like she is going to work every day, but a second home and helping her family get through rough times.

Program Coordinators

Jamie Gilmartin, M.A., LPC, CADC
DASA Coordinator
Jamie is the Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) Coordinator at Bremen Youth Services.   She also is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  Jamie attended Eastern Illinois University where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Political Science.  Her Master’s in Community Counseling was completed at Saint Xavier University.
Read more

Jamie specializes in substance abuse disorders and oversees the substance abuse treatment program at the agency.  Some areas of interest she is very passionate about are eating disorders, domestic violence, and trauma.  She works with clients in individual, family and group therapy.  Jamie developed and co-facilitates Balance which is body image enhancing group aimed to assist adolescent girls in developing a healthy self esteem.

Her career at Bremen Youth Services began 8 years ago and that is when she fell in love with the counseling profession and more importantly working for a community agency.  Working at Bremen is more than job or a career for Jamie, it is a huge part of her life.  She holds the agency near and dear to her heart and continually make efforts to have the agency thrive as well as provide the community with much needed affordable mental health care for clients and their families. 

Agency Staff

Lawrence A. Dunbar, MS, CAADC, CPS, PCGC, MISA2 
Mr. Dunbar has worked in the field of substance abuse treatment, prevention and mental health since the early 1990’s. Mr. Dunbar has a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Masters Degree in Health Service Administration, both from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. In addition, he also has a Certificate in Addictions Counseling from Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois.Read more

Mr. Dunbar has served on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Alcoholism and Other Drugs Abuse Professional Certification Association (IAODAPCA) and has served on their Executive Committee of the Board and is currently serving as Treasurer. He has also taught for the University of St. Francis in their graduate Health Service Administration program and Waubonsee Community College in their Addiction Counseling curriculum. Mr. Dunbar currently works as a Consultant for Bremen Youth Services in Oak Forest, Illinois.

Samantha Greenwald, M.A.
Samantha received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University in 2013; Go Buckeyes! She went on to receive her Master’s in Clinical Counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2015. Samantha is currently in the process of becoming a licensed counselor.
Read more

Samantha started as an intern here at BYS in 2014, and enjoyed the experience so much that she pursued a position as full time staff. Samantha is currently the prevention coordinator and is working with local high schools to implement strategies to lower the incidence of underage drinking. In addition, Samantha holds a case load of client’s and runs several groups here at BYS including; create, connect, cope; expressive therapy for both middle school and high school adolescents; and the social skills group.
Samantha’s real passion is working with adolescents, transitioning into adulthood. She believes it is important to provide these individuals with tools that can be successfully used throughout their adulthood. Samantha looks forward to learning even more at BYS and getting as involved with the community as possible.

Samantha Hicks, M.A., LPC
Samantha received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. From there she immediately entered into a Master’s program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she obtained a degree in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in children and adolescents in 2014. Samantha is currently in the process of becoming a licensed professional counselor.
Read more

Samantha started as an intern at Bremen Youth Services in the fall of 2013 as a part of her Master’s Program. She enjoyed the staff and all of the opportunities that Bremen offered so she stayed on and volunteered her time after graduation. Samantha is now on staff at the agency. Along with seeing her own case load of clients, she also is the mentor program coordinator. She also is involved in facilitated the Expressive therapy and Social Skills groups at BYS. Samantha is also involved in providing prevention education in the local schools.
Samantha enjoys the opportunity that Bremen Youth Services has offered her to gain further experience and knowledge in the counseling and prevention education fields. She loves the variety of ways she can help children, adolescents and their families and working with the staff of Bremen.

Juanita Jenkins, MSW
Juanita is a Social Worker and a licensed Child Welfare Specialist through the Department of Children & Family Services. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in social Work from Governors State University. After completing her internship at Bremen Youth Services in 2008, she was offered a position with the agency providing social services at BYS’s satellite office located in Robbins, Illinois, an extremely impoverished community.
Read more

Since her employment at BYS, Juanita has implemented girls groups, social skills groups, an afterschool program, winter & summer camps, as well as children holiday events. Juanita also facilitates Youth Prevention Education Programs in the local school districts.

Juanita has a deep passion for working with children and older youth who are struggling with multi-issues that has impacted them in a negative way. Juanita’s favorite modes of therapies that she incorporates into her counseling sessions are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, and Motivational Therapy. Over the years Juanita has worked with children who have experienced poverty, abuse, bullying, gang life, foster care, neglect, and a host of other issues.
Bremen Youth Services has provided Juanita the unique opportunity to not only grow as a social service professional, but also exposed her to a wide range of clinical experiences and trainings enhancing her skills, talents, and abilities with working with children and their families. Bremen Youth Services has been a blessing in Juanita’s life, because it has allowed her to be a blessing to others.

Ashwini Krishnakumar, M.A., LPC
Ashwini is a Licensed Professional Counselor who received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Specialization and a Children and Adolescent Concentration from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in July 2013. She has completed additional specialized trainings for Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.
Read more

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009. Ashwini has over four years of clinical experience working with children and families. She has experience working at a behavior modification preschool, a children’s museum that focuses on developmental play and a crisis hotline for runaway adolescents.

Ashwini has a genuine passion for working with children and families. She believes that the most important relationships for a child are their relationships with their family members. These are the relationships that set the bar for an individual’s future relationships. Ashwini works in a collaborative effort with the children and the parents to create custom goals for developing a healthier lifestyle. She is interested in working with youth that experience trauma, grief or loss, school-related issues, and struggle with depression and anxiety. In addition, she provides parental support and guidance to cope with the challenges that come with parenting. Ashwini uses a multicultural lens, Systemic Therapy (family and relational), Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and holistic approaches to resolve problematic behaviors.

Ashwini’s passion has grown over the past year while working at Bremen Youth Services. She completed over 1000 clinical hours of internship at Bremen before she was hired to conduct individual, family, and group counseling at the agency. In addition to the clinical work, Ashwini enjoys conducting prevention programs at local schools. Ashwini and Bremen Youth Services share the same passion in helping our youth, and Bremen is truly an agency that aids the development of youth from multiple angles. 

John Kummerer, MSW, CADC
John was a successful business owner for over 20 years before choosing a new path in life. He always had a passion for helping others through difficult times, so he returned to college in the 1990’s to pursue an education and a new career in the helping professions.
Read more

He earned his first degree at South Suburban College which was an Associate Degree in Human Services / Substance Abuse Treatment. In the late 1990s he served an internship for a year and a half at the South Suburban Council for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, which is an in-patient facility treating people with substance abuse disorders. During this time he also volunteered his time helping addicts and alcoholics at The Guildhaus in Blue Island, Illinois. The Guildhaus is a halfway house for alcoholics and drug addicts in early recovery.  Eventually the Guildhaus offered him a position as a substance abuse counselor where he worked for several years.

John continued his education at Governors State University where he earned a Master of Social Work degree. During this time John focused a lot of his education and research on the treatment of substance abuse disorders, anger management, and the treatment of anxiety disorders.

At present John is a counselor at Bremen Youth Services where he works with troubled young people and their families. He is a certified drug and alcohol counselor (CADC), and specializes in treating young people who are abusing substances. He also runs the S.T.E.P. (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) Group here at Bremen which helps parents learn new techniques to help them raise happier and more cooperative children. John is very proud to be part of the Bremen Family where he has learned to grow as a professional, as a person, and as a father. 

Jim Peltzer, M.A.
Jim received his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and has 6 years of clinical counseling experience. His clinical interests include working with individuals with Autism, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and overall working with adolescents.
Read more

Bremen is special to Jim because he believes it is unlike any other counseling facility.  When a child walks through the doors, the place doesn’t look like a cold-feeling facility.  Instead, everyone there greets you with a smile, is eager to help the children they work with, and just there to make sure children have someone to talk to.  It isn’t all about labeling someone or testing someone.  Bremen is just a friendly face.  

Melissa Racine
Melissa started out at Bremen Youth Services as a camper in their summer program. She lovedthe program and staff so much that she never left. In her first year at the agency, it felt like she had been with “family” forever. Knowing how wonderful that feeling was, she wanted to make sure that all the children who came to summer program felt the same way. Melissa made sure that each child that she worked with received the attention and encouragement that some may not get when they go home for the day. These children have left a special place in her heart and she looks forward to summer each year.
Read more

Currently she is studying social work at the University of St. Francis to become a school social worker. Working at Bremen is assisting her in applying the skills learned in the classroom to the agency. Melissa is now helping with the mentor program, which she has been a part of, as well as the prevention program in area schools. Melissa enjoys spending time at Bremen all year long and learning from the amazing staff which she calls her “Bremen family”.

Susan Ryan-Michalak, M.A., LCPC, NCC
Susan received her undergrad in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Special Education, from De Paul University in Chicago. From there, she taught as a cadre in Bridgeport for a year and a half, in various grades from Pre-K through Grade 8.  Following that, in 2001 she became a Cross – Categorical Special Education Teacher in First Grade.
Read moreSince then, she has worked with children with behavioral, medical, academic, physical and emotional issues (Bipolar , ODD, ADHD, ADD,  Aspergers, Autism, PDD, Downs Syndrome) and other various syndromes.  She has been trained over the years to work with children with Autism and Behavior/Emotional Disorders using the TEACCH method.  In 2003, Susan started Graduate School at Governors State University, specializing in Marriage and Family Counseling.  She was trained to work with families, children, marriages, adolescents and adults along with behavioral and emotional disorders, and other related diagnoses.  Her clinical area of interest is working with children, adolescents, and families with anxiety, depression, ODD, ADHD, Bipolar, eating disorders, divorce, academic issues, special needs, trauma, phobias, self-esteem and anger.  Her undergrad has also allowed her to help families whose children have special needs.  In these cases she advocates and advises concerning their diagnoses and creating a plan for home and support.

Bremen is unique to her because it is like a home for children and staff.  She feels the workers are amazing and professional.  They are all here because they care; this is evident. Susan feels like it is a big family, including Hope the dog, who is lovable and makes children happier.  Children feel like it is a safe place to go and have great memories, becoming stronger and happier.  The summer camp and other programs and groups are remarkable. The atmosphere can make anyone feel relaxed.  Bremen will be in the hearts of children forever, along with the help and strength they received while getting better.  Bremen has made a lot of people smile and feel better.  

Sarah Sheets, M.A., LCPC, RYT, LFYP-1
Sarah is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor as well as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with The Yoga Alliance and a Lifeforce Yoga® Practitioner for Depression and Anxiety (LFYP-1). She received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Counseling Specialization and Trauma Concentration from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2011. After completing her clinical internship at Bremen Youth Services in 2011, Sarah was offered a position providing individual, group, and family therapy in addition to implementing Youth Prevention Education programs in local school districts.
Read more

Sarah enjoys working with individuals of all ages, but has a particular interest in working with children, adolescents, and young adults. Her clinical interests include helping individuals with past and/or present trauma, depression, anxiety, body image issues, low self-esteem, self-injurious behaviors, relational issues, and LGBTQ related concerns.

Sarah utilizes a holistic approach to psychotherapy and she enjoys incorporating experiential and expressive therapy techniques into her work with clients including the use of art, music, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and guided imagery. Facilitating the Expressive Therapy groups at BYS provides Sarah with the opportunity to expose clients to the healing power of these creative therapeutic approaches. Sarah also utilizes Systemic, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Existential Therapy approaches to assist individuals and families in resolving identified issues.

Bremen Youth Services has provided Sarah with the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally through the wide range of clinical experience she has gained. She values being able to work in an environment that truly cares for and accepts each and every individual who walks through the door. Sarah feels blessed to be a part of The Bremen Family and to be a part of the clients’ lives that she has the pleasure of working with.

Erica Sidenstick, MSW, LCSW, CADC
Erica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor.  She received both her undergraduate and graduate level degrees in Social Work with a minor in Psychology from Governors State University.  Upon graduation, she served on the Board of Directors with Governors State University Alumni Association for four years.
Read more

Erica has worked with Bremen Youth Services since 2004.  Erica has a wide range of experience in both the clinical and school settings.  Her roles over the years have included providing individual and group counseling, implementing Youth Prevention Education programs in local school districts, completing drug and alcohol assessments, facilitating alternative to suspension opportunities for anger management and drug and alcohol education, and facilitating parenting support groups.  Erica works well with various presenting issues and is especially drawn toward working with the adolescent and young adult population presenting with conduct disorders, substance use concerns and/or legal issues.

Erica is grateful to be a part of the Bremen family, a place where strong bonds are formed and relationships are nurtured.  It is within Bremen’s distinctive environment that she believes staff, interns and clients alike have rich opportunities for healthy creative self-expression.  Erica fondly regards Bremen Youth Services as not only a place for change for her clients, but also as a place for her own personal and professional growth.  

Ashley White, M.A., LPC, NCC
Ashley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Sociology in 2008 from St. Xavier University and received her Master’s Degree in Community/Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2013.
Read more

Ashley has experience providing individual, family and group counseling utilizing Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) approach with her clients. Ashley enjoys working with children and adolescent clients and their families helping with depression, anger management, eating disorders, behavioral issues and more.

Ashley began as an intern at Bremen Youth Services.  Ashley’s desire to work with children and adolescents grew further by working directly with youth at the agency. Upon completion of her internship, she remained on as a volunteer due to her love of working with the agency, children and adolescents.  Ashley is now a part time staff member at Bremen Youth Services. 

Support Staff

Jackie Diaz
Office Manager

Jorge Fernald, M.D.
Psychiatric Consultant

Board of Directors

Chuck Quinn—President
Bobby Matz—Vice President
Chuck Wolf—Treasurer
Laura Brown—Secretary
Suzanne Andersen
David Bryant
Francie Edgeworth
Bruce Galassini
Cheryl Host
Ken Keeler
Sandy Kukla
Joseph Larmon
Lori Manning
Melissa Ragle

Advisory Board Members

Bessie Jordan
Honorable Michael Stuttley
Jeff Watanabe