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Brenda Valadez

Operations Director

I grew up the youngest, in a household of 8, where poverty was the daily norm. Beans and potatoes were served often and plates were always licked clean. I've raised 2 children of my own and 4 grandchildren on beans and potatoes and I know what it means to go to bed hungry.  I came to Empower Boone County Food Pantry as a neighbor in need. The pantry opened their arms and their hearts to me. I received prayer, food, clothing, friendship, love, AND A JOB OFFER!!  This was not a hand out. This was a hand UP!  Working at the pantry allows me to give back and perhaps the opportunity to pay it forward to those in need.  It reminds me that no matter how bad my day may seem, there is always someone who is worse off than I am. Working at the pantry allows me to have a positive attitude to push through my bad days and it opens my eyes to God's challenge to make a change in the life of others in need, just as the pantry has done for me.


Dawn Shondel

Development Coordinator

Dawn was sent to BBCFP (Empower Boone) on a light duty assignment through a vocational work program. The moment she connected with the staff here, she felt this was the place she wanted and needed to be. There is a passion here to help others in need that matched hers. Dawn particularly loves the smiles she sees on the faces of the neighbors being helped and loves to hear their words of appreciation at being able to feed their families. Dawn has come to realize that she was not sent here as a light duty assignment, but instead as a vocation. When not at work, this mother of five loves to care for her children, her mother, and grandmother. 

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Chon Zapeda

Warehouse Supervisor


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Larry Lott

Warehouse Assistant/Driver



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Eric Miller


Resident of Poplar Grove since August 2015.  Engaged to Karri Anderberg.  Three daughters - Addison, Brooklyn, and Cora.  B.A. Economics & Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001.  J.D., The John Marshall Law School, 2004.  Admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois since November 2004.  Also admitted to the following bars for the practice of law:  6th Circuit Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Northern District of Illinois.  President, Eric J. Miller Law Group, Ltd., Rockford, Illinois, 2015-present.  Associate Attorney, Farwell Farwell & Associates, P.C., Arlington Heights, Illinois 2004-2014.  Elected Delegate from the 16th Congressional District to the 2016 Republican National Convention.  Elected Trustee of the Village of Poplar Grove, 2017. Comment, The "Cost" of Securing Domestic Air Travel, 21 John Marshall Journal of  Computer & Infomation Law 405, 2003.  Staff Editor, John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law, 2003-2004.  Parliamentarian, Wisconsin United Residence Hall Association, 2000-2001.

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David Larson


Board member since 2012. David is the owner and publisher of the community’s newspaper The Boone County Journal which he started publishing in 1996. Larson has a Masters of Arts degree from Northern Illinois University in History. As a life long member of the Boone County community he has an interest in social issues and public policy.  

Gloria Totz

Board Member

Gloria, a lifelong resident of Belvidere, married for 46 years, has raised her family in Belvidere and is now retired. Gloria joined the Pantry Board to share a different perspective on the services offered and the quality of food provided by Empower Boone. Gloria has been a recipient of Empower Boone's services on occasions over the years.

Veronica Skaradzinski

Board Member

As a SNAP-Ed educator for University of Illinois Extension, Skaradzinski is excited to support the board as a partnering agency. In her role, Veronica aims to create health equity by supporting organizations that serve families who are low income. Since growing up in Belvidere, she takes personal interest in supporting the pantry.

Sheryl Prather

Board Member

A resident of Belvidere since 1996 and a self employed mother of four. Sheryl is the secretary on the executive board of directors of Boone County CASA, and member of the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce. She understands the hardship that face members of the community and hope to help strengthen the organization by serving however she can.