Meet Our Staff

  • Head shot of Marlene Christ, Project directorMarlene Christ, Project Director: Marlene Christ is the Project Director for STAR NET Region VI. She has extensive experience in early childhood programs and services. Marlene has worked as a school based speech-language pathologist, diagnostician on an Early Childhood Team; Early Intervention service provider, and supervisor of an Early Intervention program. Marlene also served as supervisor of the speech-language program and assistive technology program at Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education and as an educational consultant and trainer for Infinitec. Marlene has a B.A. in Speech, a M.H.S in Communication Disorders and has completed graduate coursework for a School Administrators Certificate. Marlene can be reached at


    Headshot of Mary Ann Bonello, program secretaryMary Ann Bonello, Program Secretary: Mary Ann Bonello is the Program Secretary for STAR NET with the friendly voice that answers the phone, takes messages, assists with the library, and keeps track of the whereabouts of the STAR NET staff. Mary Ann also handles all workshop and webinar registrations and maintains our data collection system.  She is also the parent of an adult son with disabilities and has firsthand knowledge of working with school programs. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom for many years, Mary Ann was employed as an Executive Secretary for a major corporation. Mary Ann can be reached at


    Headshot of Becky Handler, resource specialist Becky Handler, ECSE Professional Development Specialist: Becky has her B.S. and M.S. in speech language pathology. Her past work experience includes team teaching Kindergarten children with severe communication disorders, consulting and an inclusion facilitator in a school district. She has extensive experience consulting and mentoring in early childhood blended and early childhood classrooms, day care sites and Head Start programs.  All of her trainings focus on delivering developmentally appropriate practices and including young children as active, full members of their classrooms. Becky can be reached at


    Headshot of Rhonda OConnor, resource specialist Rhonda O'Connor, ECSE Professional Development Specialist: Rhonda has a Master’s in Special Education and licensure in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education.  She has years of experience as an early childhood special education teacher.  She has focused on teaching young children with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities, working at preschools and therapeutic day schools. She is an accredited Trainer of Trainers for The Pyramid Model for Social Emotional Competence. Her trainings focus on developmentally appropriate practices and social emotional learning.  Rhonda can be reached at


    Ron and grandchild with pink balloons and sweet sign Ron Gonser, ECSE Professional Development Specialist:  Ron has his graduate degrees in social work and education administration. His experiences range from working in mental health, alternative schools, and early childhood programs. His last 15 years were spent as Principal of a Pre-K-5th grade building. Ron has an extensive background working with special education students, specifically students with behavioral and emotional concerns, and is a strong advocate for inclusive practices at all levels. Ron can be reached at

    Michelle Evans, ECSE Family Professional Development Specialist/Resource Specialist: Michelle Evans has a wide variety of experience working with children who have special needs. In addition to being a parent of two children with special needs, Michelle is also a Developmental Therapist for Early Intervention. She has an extensive background of working closely with families and coordinating community events. Michelle earned a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  Michelle can be reached at