The Fall Fest Committee is announcing that the Fall Fest in 2018 will be moved to a Saturday this year to better accommodate everyone. Mark it down for Saturday, November 3rd. We will be back at the Lone Tree Manor in Niles, IL. The change will allow guests to easily attend without having to adjust their work schedule.

If you’d like to be a part of the Fall Fest Planning Committee or volunteer on the day of the event, contact Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A good book and a great cookie—now that is a wonderful combination. And now, thanks to the amazing folks at The Book Cellar, you can buy both AT THE SAME TIME! The Book Cellar is the first location outside of Dorothy’s Can-Do Café to sell our cookies.

The cookies are baked and packaged each week by the participants in our bakery classroom. Then a small group of participants walk over to The Book Cellar to replenish the display and count the inventory for billing.

Gateway is hoping to expand the number of retail shops selling the cookies in the future. Pairing with The Book Cellar was the perfect start as they are a local business who cares about their community.

The Book Cellar is located directly across from the Giddings Plaza fountain in the heart of Lincoln Square at 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.

You can also visit 


Here is an interesting Gateway historical tidbit.  Gerry Hennelly was on the GTL Board of Directors from 2003 to 2007 prior to his wife, Cheryl’s appointment to executive director.  He attended his first Gateway dinner dance in 1987 while he was dating Cheri.  Since 1987 and up until his board appointment, Gerry has worked on the sidelines making sure that Gateway was the best it could be and function as a viable center for the Gateway community.  His top priority was to see that participants would have a safe and comfortable place to come together and grow.  Working on the sidelines meant ensuring all the repairs got done so that people could focus on the day-to-day operations.

Fast forward to February 2018.  Gerry accepts the Board of Directors’ invitation to apply for a board appointment.  In Gerry’s words, “In order to carry on the legacy that Dorothy Hough and Cheri created, I decided that I would again serve Gateway as a board member.  As Cheri did, my daughter Samantha, and my son Patrick, and I cherish the mission and the passion on which Gateway was built, and I want to keep it alive.”

With unanimous approval, he became a board member and wasted no time in making a significant contribution by taking on the responsibilities of Board Treasurer.  Welcome back, Gerry.  Your leadership is a gift to Gateway! 

You can spot them holding fundraising events, working the GTL booth at the Lincoln Square Farmers’ Market, on the dance floor at the GTL Fall Fest, and attending GTL family social occasions. They tackle structural problems with an aging building, look for ways to acquire new training equipment, and, most importantly, address the many issues that challenge Gateway’s financial health.  They are the volunteer Board of Directors who are inspired by Gateway’s mission and take a stand for adults with intellectual disabilities to exercise their rights to live full and productive lives. 

We caught up with the Board members to talk about their aspirations for Gateway and insights into its future.  This is an important time in Gateway’s history.  Its State funding maybeat risk while new opportunities for growth run alongside it. Managing both situations is the balancing act from which they plan and make decisions.  When asked about their greatest strength as a governing body, responses ranged from a “willingness to do whatever it takes to move Gateway forward” to “fresh perspectives and ideas, and an energy to keep us buoyed around the work that must be done.”The board members have a vision for Gateway that they want to share with the current and future families and donors.

The Vision

The foundation of the vision is the creation of synergies between Gateway and groups of people who want to be a voice for adults with disabilities and with contributors to their growth and well-being. The participants and their families have tough challenges, and Gateway is there to ease them.  Gateway will survive and thrive when this vision begins to be realized.

It all begins with becoming more financially independent from the State of Illinois.  To achieve this, our vision sets its sight on the following drivers:

· Putting Gateway to Learning on the map in the community and beyond its borders to attract parents of  adult children with intellectual disabilities who never heard of Gateway and more donors and advocates to the mission of Gateway,  

· Pushing out the boundariesso that Gateway participants have a physical presence out in the community.  Their spirit injects a greater sense of community within the community. There are also great opportunities for businesses to educate GTL participants and give them a chance to exercise their skills in simple work tasks and earn a little spending money ,

· Expanding our base of volunteers to include individuals and organizations who want to hold their own fundraising events for Gateway, teach a class of their own design to GTL participants, organize or participate in a participant outingor become a Board member,

· Capitalizing on the versatility of the Can-Do Café by creating it as a meeting place for groups and social events, as well as a greatplace to have a cup of coffee and cookies,  

· The Can–Do Café is planning toincrease its revenue-generating capability through online ordering internet sales and through retailers selling packaged cookies and goods.

As you read about this vision, think of where you see yourself possibly fitting into one of its many dimensions.  To get more information, contact Board President, Bob Smolen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


It’s official!  Kathryn Lavin is Gateway’s new executive director, and she is ready to lead and serve.  Board President, Bob Smolen stated that after a long and thorough candidate search and interview process, everyone is thrilled to have found Kathryn “Kathy” Lavin.  “The Board was extremely impressed with her credentials, her commitment to Gateway’s participants, and her enthusiasm to make an impact.” 

In response, Kathryn has offered her personal words about her leadership appointment. “I am SO excited to join the Gateway to Learning family.  From the moment I first walked through the doors, I could see the joy and respect among the participants and staff.  As a parent of a 21-year old daughter with a disability, I know how valuable this is.   I am also very humbled and honored to share in the great service that Dorothy, Cheri, and the entire staff have provided for so many years. I look forward to meeting and working beside everyone who touches Gateway in some way to make this community and the world a better place for people with DoAbilities.”

As we’ll all get to know Kathy over the next few months, here’s some important information Gateway wants everyone to know about her credentials.  She was the Executive Director of AblePlay-Lekotek, a national leader of inclusive and accessible play.  For 30 years she provided a myriad of services to children and adults with intellectual challenges/developmental disabilities.  She is an active advocate for persons of ALL abilities and for inclusive education; and she has extensive experience in strategic planning and in program, professional, and policy development.  Her Board memberships include the Chicago Community Trust Disabilities Fund, the Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, and the national organization, Camp Pals.  Kathryn holds two BA degrees, one in Education and the other in Human Development.  She obtained her master’s degree from the Jane Addams School of Social Work.

In addition to Kathy's appointment, the Board has promoted Malgorzata "Maggie" Zukowska to a new position as Gateway’s Director of Operations. Maggie's 20 years of service at Gateway complements Kathy's 30 years in social service.  Both women are looking forward to working together to provide the leadership that will keep Gateway strong and growing. 


Gateway to Learning
Special Education
and Training Center

4925 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2609

P. 773-784-3200
F. 773-784-3299

 Dorothy's Can Do Cafe
4925 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2609  

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