"Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort."

Theodore Roosevelt



Rebecca Christiansen is the founder of Celebrate Differences. She is a graduate of Elmhurst College with a Bachelor's of science in nursing and business administration. She is currently employed full time as a registered nurse.

After the birth of her fourth child Ryan, who has Down syndrome, she got the idea to start Celebrate Differences in hopes of showing the world that individuals with disabilities are more the same than different than others.

Rebecca was awarded the American Red Cross Nurse Hero of the year for the Northern Illinois Region in 2018. She also won a meet and greet with Jason Mraz for all of the good she does in the community!


Jeff Christiansen, one of the original founders of Celebrate Differences, is a graduate of Lewis University with master degree in criminal/social justice. He is currently employed as a part of the command staff at a local Sheriffs Office.

Along with being the father of Ryan, he has developed programs and training to assist fellow law enforcement officers with their response to persons with special needs. The Illinois Attorney Generals Office has had him present his training at their Elderly Service Officer 40 hour certification class. He has also completed SAR (Search and Rescue) training to become a trained search manager in the event someone with special needs becomes lost/missing.

Olivia Sprecher

Olivia has both a Master of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois - Chicago as well as a Bachelor's. She is currently employed in the public accounting industry and is working on becoming a licensed CPA in the state of Illinois. Olivia has been with Celebrate Differences since 2011, but has been a longtime advocate for the special needs community when her brother, Ryan, was born with Down syndrome in 2004. With the support and love Celebrate Differences has to offer through the focused efforts of many, Olivia strives to make the world a better place for special needs individuals and their families.


Terry is the father of four, one of which has Prader-Willi Syndrome. His daughter's syndrome has led to his focus on a better understanding of the environmental issues affecting all of us. Understanding those issues and problems that our children face is just part of the journey, getting involved to assist and promote an improved quality of life is also very important. 

Dr. Daniel Zimmerman

Dr. Zimmerman obtained his Doctorate of Management back in 2016 in which his focus was on Organizational Development and Change. In addition, he has multiple Master Degrees and certifications. His focus is on strategy development and growth for small business especially non-profit. A father of three with his middle son being diagnosed with Autism, Daniel was pleased to work with Celebrating Differences back in 2015 in a consulting role. During that time, he was able to really understand the mission and vision of this great organization and was looking for a way to contribute and give back. Daniel is excited to join Celebrating Differences and continue to be a vessel for community knowledge while advocating for all. four

Rob DeLong

I am a former Law Enforcement Officer, currently employed in the telecommunications field with some specialized training in Information Technology. I am a father of 6, step father of 4 and have 11 grandchildren. I am very active in the community and have volunteered for Celebrate Differences for the past 5 years before joining the board full time this year.

Joanie Smick


A not-for-profit organization, Celebrate Differences is incorporated in the State of Illinois and files as a qualified 501(c)(3) organization with the Internal Revenue Service, Id 20-5007373. 

PO BOX 770, Camdenton, MO 65020 | 630.885.3006