Our people are our greatest asset. From the full spectrum of adult homecare and elder care to childcare and more, the quality services we provide day in and day out would not be possible without the hard work and passion of our dedicated staff. Each member of our team embodies the core values of our business – compassion, integrity, family, excellence, trustworthiness, accountability, and diversity – and strives to make more possible for those in our care.
Cheri McEssy, President and Chief Nursing Officer
For Cheri, BrightStar is the realization of a dream that she thought could never come true. Proud to be a nurse, she didn’t think that shecould find a business opportunity that would let her utilize her professional skills and experience in a way that would also let her answer the entrepreneurial side of herself. BrightStar’s environment of support, strong corporate leadership, and commitment to quality has made joining this family the best decision of her professional life.
She is committed to quality patient care and the development/promotion of a professional base of healthcare providers, as evidenced by the many clinical and professional roles that she has assumed throughout her 20-plus years as a Critical Care Nurse. She is very proud to now be representing the BrightStar name, and she is confident that she can, and will, provide care that is efficient, professional and compassionate.
She is currently the elected Chair of the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) at BrightStar. McEssy is an active member of many professional groups including Illinois Organization of Nursing Leaders (IONL), Athena International, Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), National Private Duty Association (NPDA), Case Management Society of America (CMSA) and Chicago Health Executives Forum (CHEF). McEssy also has been credentialed as a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA).
Sandy Gibson- Regulatory Nurse Consultant
Sandy, a Registered Nurse, has committed her life to healthcare and serving others. She began her career in neonatal intensive care, and quickly realized that upon being released home, many patients didn’t receive the continued care they needed. Sandy then joined one of the first nurse-owned pediatric homecare units, spending many nights on the road training skilled caregivers on how to provide quality healthcare to their patients. Sandy has been a part of numerous start up homecare companies, so the experience she brings to BrightStar is multi-faceted. Upon meeting Cheri, the decision to join the BrightStar of Berwyn team in August 2011 was an easy one for Sandy. Cheri’s energy, vision and commitment to quality care is a winning trifecta in Sandy’s eyes.
Sandy and her husband are avid motorcycle enthusiasts who participate in multiple charity rides for Veteran organizations. She is also a proud mother of three children and two dogs.
Linda Kunicki- Healthcare Consultant
Linda started her life in Chicago and have spent the greater part of it there and in the suburbs with a short time as a child living in Michigan. Every position she’s had has allowed her to service others from children to seniors. These positions have been with health care, senior residences, schools, and other business with progressively increased career responsibilities that have encompassed management, sales, marketing, human resources, training and development.
Her joy each day comes from truly caring for and helping people of all ages, especially seniors and children. From studying trends she knows that our senior population is growing and impacting many of the services needed in our world. This trend is also affecting the seniors adult children who may also have youngsters putting them into the sandwich generation. All these segments are in need of care that services the generations. BrightStar offers services across generations with LifeCare and KidCare. When she saw that BrightStar had earned the Joint Commission Accreditation she knew then it is a premium company which is important to me; however, for her it’s also the people with BrightStar that she met or learned about who showed passion and a mission to serve the community that drew her to become part of this company.
For many years she has been involved in activities with Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) that have guided her to earn championships and performance titles on many of her own dogs and help others do the same.
Her favorite quote, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Zigler
Maria Damacela- Administrative Assistant
Maria was born in Milwaukee, WI. At the age of two she moved to the Chicago area, growing up in Cicero, IL. She graduated Morton College with an Associates in Applied Science degree in Office Management Technology. Prior to BrightStar, she worked as an Administrative Assistant for Youth Crossroads, Inc. for six years. Helping people has always been a part of her dedication to life. BrightStar has allowed her to continue to do just that!
The is the proud mother of two boys. In her spare time, she loves to play Sudoku and go on family walks to the park with Leia, her Old English Bulldog.
Jessica Copeland- HR Generalist
Jessica was born in Warner Robbins, GA, but moved/grew up in Southern IL (Mt.Vernon) not long after. She went to Eastern Illinois University (Go Panthers!) where she received my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Sports Studies, with a concentration in Exercise Science while obtaining a minor in Psychology. She is also a Stott Pilates Trained Pilates Instructor concentrating in rehabilitation through Elements in Motion here in Chicago. Jessica says, “preventive medicine is the best medicine!”
Helping others is the common answer to why people work in the healthcare industry. But even more than that, being behind the scenes in the office and given the ability to hire and give those healthcare professionals that meet BrightStar standards an opportunity to shine and make a big difference in the community, makes her proud to be with BrightStar of Chicago.
Jessica comes from a family of now 15 children (12 adopted/foster children; 3 biological children), all of which are from different nationalities/ethnic backgrounds. This has allowed her to be open minded and very thankful for everything and everyone!
Brickles- BrightStar of Chicago therapy dog
Brickles enjoys his time at the lake at Montrose Harbor and is the first dog to go through BrightStar training. He is extremely loving (a Golden Retriever trapped in a German Shepherd’s body, Cheri likes to say) and is all heart. Brickles is also the official greeter at the BrightStar Chicago office.