Founder and President
Jill’s philosophy is “Imagine…then Create!” Inspired by Walt Disney she has a passion and vision for theme oriented special events. She spent most of her life in the fashion and makeup industry. Jill is an advocate for the arts and has brought her musical talent into schools and family centers. She has a historical interest in Coney Island, when it was a magical playground to the Victorians, and also enjoys being a judge at Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade.
Jill is also a mermaid collector. She believes that mermaids are more than just hair and beauty. She believes they are a constant source of intrigue and creativity. They encourage everyone to sparkle, they’re great at recycling and friends with all sea life, they’re brave, they care about the ocean and their home, and they keep swimming even in rough waters. Jill founded Girl from the Grotto as a way to give beach themed gift bags to medically ill children from May through October, to encourage creative expression, and bring fun and smiles to their faces.
Chloë is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of Massachusetts. The majority of her professional experience has involved case management, advocacy, and counseling, primarily with immigrant and refugee communities in New England. Having witnessed the transformative and therapeutic power of imagination, creativity, and expressive arts for both children and adults in her own work, Chloë is thrilled to join in the mission of Girl from the Grotto.
Secretary / Treasurer
Debra Kopczynski relocated to Milwaukee from Fairfield, Connecticut in 1995 to join Hatco Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial foodservice equipment, where she serves as Director of International Sales. Debby has traveled to over 60 countries, pioneering the concepts of sanitization and food safety standards. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Fairfield University, is ServSafe certified and has earned the Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) designation. Since 2014, Debby has volunteered as an Advisory Board Member of MMAC’s World Trade Association. Her passions include cooking Italian cuisine, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She enjoys mentoring young women in business and spending time with her son, Anthony, a sophomore at UWM.
Michael has been a Fairfield resident since 1996 and is a retired professional from the IBM Corporation. After an accomplished 28-year career in Accounting and Finance, he is now looking forward to writing the next chapter in his life, which includes being a new Grandfather. Michael has been a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport since 2005, and is serving on the Vestry as well as having been being Junior Warden for two years. He has co-chaired a successful Capital Campaign as well as three Stewardship Campaigns. He is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and serves on the Benefits Committee chairing the annual Gala fund raising effort for the last three years. His motto is “Carpe Diem.” His goal is to give back to those in need and make small differences in the world through meaningful and positives changes.
Eileen Riccardi holds a Master's Degree in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing from Yale University. Formerly, Eileen was the Director of a Partial Hospital Program at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven serving a dually diagnosed population. She received her Bachelor's in Nursing from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in 1985. Her nursing career as an RN began at NYU Medical Center where she worked in Pediatrics. Eileen has been volunteering in CT in various capacities for many years. She is currently an Honorary Governor for the Fairfield Regional Board of the Connecticut Audubon Society.
Since moving to Connecticut 30 years ago, Kathleen has been a tireless volunteer for schools, church and several charitable organizations. While living in Norwalk, she and her husband, Paul, were instrumental in employing special needs adults through STAR, Inc. After moving to Fairfield in 1996, Kathleen joined the board of AIND (American Institute for Neuro-Integrative Development) which runs Giant Steps School, a non-profit center dedicated to supporting education, medical research, and advocacy efforts to enhance the lives of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Other organizations that Kathleen has given her time to include Operation Patriot Packages, which she created as a way to organize care packages for soldiers serving active duty overseas; The Fairfield County Christmas Tree Festival, of which she was a co-chair; Teddy Bears and Teacups; Tony Robbins Thanksgiving Basket Brigade; Make A Wish Connecticut; the Worcester, MA Korean War Memorial committee; and St. John’s Food for the Poor soup kitchen, also in Worcester; and the Nantucket Film Festival. Girl from the Grotto is Kathleen’s latest volunteer project.
The Rev. Dawn Stegelmann has lived in Connecticut since 1990. An Episcopal priest, Dawn has served at Trinity Church, Southport, and is currently an associate rector at St. Luke's, Darien. She is an adjunct professor at The General Theological Seminary where she teaches courses in Christian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. Dawn is a certified spiritual director and a retreat leader. She holds a B.A. in English from Hillsdale College, an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and an S.T.M. from The General Theological Seminary. Dawn's interests include travel and pilgrimage to places throughout the world. She has 3 sons.
Marguerite Mains believes everyone is a story. Her story uniquely brings both experience and meaning to Girl from the Grotto. Professionally, she was Creative Director of Corporate Concepts with decades of experience working with industry leaders. Although respected worldwide as creative voice, she sought a more meaningful career, returned to university and earned an advanced degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Supporting patients and their families living with life threatening illnesses was foundational to her practice. Children were always at the heart of her practice whether they were the patient or the child of a patient. Marguerite’s personal story also includes a cancer diagnosis. 15 years as a survivor, she has an earnest understanding and profound compassion for the patient and the family’s journey. With a motto of “living outside the box” after treatment and cancer remission Marguerite and her husband Harvey are the “old” and proud parents of a 15-year-old daughter who is adopted from Guatemala.