Staff Updates – May 2014


The following people have joined Special Olympics Illinois or received new assignments within the organization:

Darling,Missy14Missy Darling of St. Charles has joined Special Olympics Illinois as Manager of Young Athletes in the Northern Region. She will be responsible for managing Young Athletes sites and coordinators, providing support, training, and planning and executing events. Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children aged 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities.

Previously she has worked at Oklahoma State University as the Coordinator of Athletic Marketing and was a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Committee. Before that she was a Graduate Assistant of Marketing/Community Relations at Central Michigan University and was a Student Assistant for Special Olympics Michigan.

Darling graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Health Fitness in Preventive and Rehabilitative Programs in 2010 and a master’s degree in Sport Administration in 2012.

While at CMU, she was a member of the track & field and cross country teams, serving as the team captain of both. Darling was a member of Chi Alpha Sigma the National College Athlete Honor Society.


Dirks,Michelle14SOILL has named Michelle Dirks the new Manager of Business Development and Partnerships in the Lombard office. Dirks is responsible for creating and maintaining business partnerships, client relationships and provide support to area directors and the Development team.

Previously, Dirks served as the Sales and Marketing Manager at the Oak Park Area Convention Center and Visitors Bureau where promoted tourism, managed the radio/TV/print advertising budget and managed revenue. Most recently she was the General Manager for the Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park where she managed the store and employees, monitored finances and managed marketing and collateral materials.

Dirks received a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus in radio, TV and film from Loyola University of Chicago.


Dobson,Lynde14SOILL has named Lynde Dobson as Sangamon/Area 17 Director in Springfield. Dobson will be responsible for managing Special Olympics activities including training, competition, fundraising and administration for the area.

Previously, she has worked as the director and assistant director of intramural sports at University of Virginia in Charlottesville along with several other positions in the athletics and recreation field. She has experience with all ages working in club sports and is certified to teach first aid.

She received her bachelor’s degree in recreation administration and her master’s degree in physical education from Eastern Illinois University in 2006.

Dobson has held several director and committee positions for ACIS (American Collegiate Intramural Sports) national basketball and football tournaments.  She also has experience in officiating through VHSL (Virginia High School League) basketball, volleyball and lacrosse and was a member of Eastern Students Officials Association. Her certifications include American Red Cross AIC/CPR/AED and first aid. She is certified in Recreational Sports School Management and has her Supervisor Essentials Certification.


Duncan,Vanessa14SOILL has named Vanessa Duncan of Mattoon as East Central/Area 9 Director at the Area office in Charleston. Duncan will be responsible for managing Special Olympics activities including training, competition, fundraising and administration for the area.

Previously, she has served as a mental health provider in Cumberland, Douglas, Coles, Clark and Edgar Counties in Illinois at her job at Cumberland Associates Counseling Center. She has worked with children and adults with dual diagnoses through her work with Douglas County Mental Health Agency.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University and her Phlebotomy Certification from Lake Land College of Nursing in 2006.

Her sports competition and fundraising experience includes her role as a board member for the Mattoon Youth Basketball League, her annual fundraising efforts for Psycho-Social Rehabilitation, writing letters to local businesses to seek financial support of child consumers to attend Camp New Hope and coordinating fundraising events.


McMillin,Alex14Alexandra McMillin has been named the new Manager of Communications for SOILL in the Lombard office. McMillin is responsible for developing and executing on-going media relations strategies and tactics to promote Special Olympics Illinois and lead internal and external communication initiatives.

Previously, McMillin has held several marketing and development positions at the Raue Center for The Arts in Crystal Lake, where she served as a project manager for several initiatives, designed promotional campaigns, worked with media pickup and created marketing material. She was a marketing consultant/intern for Digital Tour Bus in Chicago and was a marketing volunteer for KRUI, Iowa City.

McMillin received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.