2021 HeroHelps Summit Speakers


Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant 

As a lifelong resident, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant is honored to serve as Will County’s fourth Chief Executive Officer. Jennifer is a champion for hard-working families and businesses in Will County and brings an extensive background in education advocacy, innovation, and public service.

Prior to her role as County Executive, Jennifer served two terms in the Illinois General Assembly. As a State Senator, Jennifer was a leading advocate for public education and supporting students and teachers. She was an architect in reforming Illinois’ broken education funding system, investing hundreds of millions of new dollars to schools annually and was instrumental in passing legislation aimed at addressing our teacher shortage.

Throughout her legislative career, Jennifer focused on fostering a vibrant Illinois and helping others through infrastructure investment, workforce development and training, protection of seniors and expanding services for veterans.

Jennifer began her career teaching high school students before becoming a school principal. Jennifer first entered public service in 2006 when she was elected as Will County Regional Superintendent of Schools. As Regional Superintendent, Jennifer opened Lincoln School, a program for at-risk students and advocated for quality professional development opportunities for teachers. She has also served as Adjunct Professor at the University of St. Francis, Joliet Junior College, and Olivet Nazarene.

Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant has been recognized by various organizations for her dedication and commitment to the community throughout the years. She received the Athena Award from the Joliet Chamber of Commerce, the Outstanding Career Achievement Award from Joliet Catholic Academy, the Key Community Leader from Delta Kappa Gamma/Beta Rho Chapter, the Certificate of Appreciation for Legislators from Delta Kappa Gamma International Society, the Friend of Agriculture Award from the Illinois Farm Bureau, the 2016 Government Award from the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, and the SSPRPA Excellence in Leadership Award by the South Suburban Park and Recreation Professional Association.


Jennifer graduated from St. Francis Academy in Joliet before earning a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Francis. In 2007, Bertino-Tarrant completed her doctorate at Loyola University in Curriculum Instruction, with concentrations in supervision and finance.

David Jones, IDHS

David T. Jones

David T. Jones has served as the Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) for the City of Philadelphia, a city with more than 1.5 million residents, since 2017. Prior to that, he was Deputy Commissioner at DBHIDS, beginning in 2013. Prior to his time in Philadelphia, Jones was Chief of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services for the Montgomery County (Md.) Department of Health and Human Services. There, he administered a wide range of diverse programs addressing child and adult mental health, substance use disorder, crisis centers, victim’s assistance
and consumer services. As a behavioral health administrator for more than 25 years, David has developed
in-depth knowledge of state and federal regulations, including Medicaid managed care and mental health
rehabilitation standards. He has managed urban and suburban public behavioral health systems challenged to increase access to care and expand the range of services available to residents with behavioral health care needs.

Additionally, he has national experience developing multidisciplinary coalitions to affect sustainable community level change. David earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Community School/Clinical Child Psychology from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Rebecca G. Baker, Ph.D.

Rebecca G. Baker, Ph.D., is the director of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term SM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, in the Office of the Director, NIH. Dr. Baker leads coordination of NIH HEAL Initiative programmatic activities between the Office of the Director and relevant Institutes and Centers (ICs). She manages the Office of the NIH HEAL Initiative, including NIH HEAL Initiative staff, and oversees management of NIH HEAL Initiative governance committees. Dr. Baker helped develop the NIH HEAL Initiative, working closely with NIH and IC leadership. She also provides expert advice to and represents the NIH Director on initiative-related activities, including interagency efforts in pain and opioid research and policy.
Prior to holding this position, Dr. Baker was special assistant to the NIH Director and the Principal Deputy Director working directly with NIH leadership to analyze complex biomedical research policy issues and assist in the development of new science and policy initiatives. Before that, she worked in the NIH Office of Science, Outreach, and Policy, where she worked on legislative, communications, and policy issues. Dr. Baker also worked in the NIH Office of Science Policy, where she contributed to the development and implementation of the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy. Previously, she worked as a postdoctoral scientist using next-generation DNA sequencing to identify novel disease-causing genes in patients with rare immunological diseases. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor's degree from Cornell University.

Kathleen Burke, PhD.

Dr. Kathleen Burke is the Director of Substance Use Initiatives in the Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office. In this role, Burke manages the Illinois Drug Overdose Prevention Project in Will County and serves as a member of the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council. Dr. Burke offers naloxone training to law enforcement and citizens of Will County to prevent overdose deaths. She is a member of the Governor State University Addictions Studies and Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, the Will County Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships Collaborative Executive Committee and Stepping Stones Treatment Center Board of Directors. Burke has advanced several new programs to address opioid use including Recovery Coach training program, medically-assisted treatment, Safe Passage police deflection program, emergency room warm handoffs and recovery housing.  Burke holds degrees in Health Care Administration from Penn State (Bachelor of Science), Rush University (Master of Science) and a PhD in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.