Smart Love Preschool


Carolyn Stolper Friedman, M.A.
Executive Director

Ms. Carolyn Friedman received her MA in business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds a BA in Art History and Ibero-American Studies also from Wisconsin. She has over 25 years of experience in leadership positions with non-profit organizations in the human services, the arts and international relations with expertise in capital expansion projects. She founded Smart Love Family Services in 2002. She is also co-author of Successful Fundraising for Arts and Cultural Organizations (Oryx Press), a management book for the non-profit field.

Kelly Perez
Preschool Director

Kelly Perez holds a BA in applied behavioral science from National-Louis University and holds two American Montessori Society teaching credentials, Infant-Toddler (birth through age three) and Early Childhood (ages two-and-a-half through six). Kelly was nominated for the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award. Her professional affiliations include the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health. Since 1987, Kelly has supported all aspects in building and delivering high quality early childhood programs. She has brought her experience as a teacher, teacher educator and consultant, classroom and curriculum developer, parent coach, program administrator and director to Smart Love since 2010.


Eve Alexander

Ms. Eve Alexander received her BA from Eugene Lang College in Education Studies. She has worked with young children for over ten years, and has taught in preschool classrooms, provided child care and facilitated supplemental programming for elementary school students in Chicago and New York City. She adores working with children and is thrilled to be part of the Smart Love community.

Sarah Fink
Toddler Teacher

Ms. Sarah Fink is currently completing a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at National Louis University. She has worked for over four years with infants and toddlers as a daycare teacher and as a caregiver. After a successful career in merchandizing and design, Sarah realized that her passion was with working with parents and young children to foster healthy and happy family connections. At Smart Love, she combines her artistic and early childhood education backgrounds to create fun and engaging experiences.

Nikki Krzebiot
Assistant Teacher and Teacher-in-Training

A graduate of Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, Nikki is in her fourth year of teaching. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked with students aged 3 through 18 as a choir teacher, general music instructor, guest director, and day camp counselor. Most recently, she taught music at a variety of instructional levels during last school year in Addison. Over the summer, she worked at Galileo Innovation camps, where she also taught Pre K & Kindergarten Science/STEM and 1st & 2nd grade Art. She loves getting to know young children for the unique people they are. In addition to teaching, Nikki is also a seasoned stage performer and can be seen throughout the Chicago area in professional and community shows.

Margo Elena Mejia, M.Sc.

Ms. Margo Elena Mejia received a BS from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and an M.Sc. in Organic Agriculture and Food Systems from the University of Hohenheim with a concentration in school gardens and their role in child development. She has over fifteen years experience working in preschool, kindergarten and summer camp settings.

Megan Norowski
Assistant Teacher and Teacher-in-Training

Ms. Megan Norowski has over 7 years of experience working with children of all ages, including as a paraprofessional and personal care assistant for special needs children.  She enjoys being with children and helping them grow and learn. Megan has a BA from Columbia College and plans to earn her Masters in Early Childhood Education.

Linzy Wagner
Substitute Teacher

Ms. Linzy Wagner completed her Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Policy in Social Policy and Psychology with Honors at Northwestern University. She has experience working with children in various age groups, and recently worked in our Toddler Program as a Teaching Assistant Intern where she was introduced to the Smart Love approach. Linzy enjoys helping children reach their full potential to live happy and healthy lives.

Danielle Zar
Substitute Teacher

Ms. Danielle Zar received her Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. She worked with young children as a research and clinicians assistant at the Project on Child Development and at the Speech, Language, and Learning Clinic. She also has experience working with children in educational and care giving settings.


Amber Guenther
Marketing Manager

Mrs. Amber Guenther has a BA in Marketing and German from Western Michigan University. She worked in market research for nearly 10 years before deciding to leave work and stay at home to raise her daughter. She was introduced to the Smart Love philosophy and approach when her daughter attended the Smart Love Preschool. She is passionate about spreading the word about Smart Love and the positive affects it makes in families’ lives.

Carol Johnson, LCSW
Preschool Counselor

Ms. Carol Johnson received her MSW from Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work. She is a psychotherapist with 20 years of clinical experience with children, teens, families, and adults in diverse settings, and an experienced parent educator. She was a teacher and school social worker in elementary schools, and a consultant for Easter Seals Head Start Program. Ms Johnson was also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.

Alba Santillan
Finance and Grants Manager

Ms. Alba Santillan received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from DePaul University and a Master’s degree in Accounting from Keller Graduate School. Alba has over 12 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, grant management and event planning in the Chicago metro area. Most recently, Alba was the Assistant Program Officer at LISC Chicago, where she handled grant management and provided technical assistance.

Smart Love Family Services • Chicago, Illinois • P:773.665.8052 • E:
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