Our Founders

Deneen & Alena

Deneen had a vision to create an environment where she could influence young girls to develop personal leadership skills while simultaneously teaching the importance of giving back to others.  Her passion for volunteerism points back to her early childhood. In addition to her father being a devoted Chicago Police Officer, he also spend most Thursday evenings volunteering at the local YMCA.  It was during those evenings where he taught physically and cognitively challenged children to swim. This weekly tradition evolved into supporting the Special Olympics where Deneen’s father provided an opportunity for the children to flourish.   By witnessing first-hand the personal impact of giving to others—Deneen incorporated leaning in to help others and continues to create an environment of giving back and has encouraged her daughter, Alena to do the same.

Deneen’s vision also incorporated an opportunity for young women to develop individual leadership skills.  Deneen has spent nearly 30 years working for various Fortune 500 companies. During her tenure, she has been professionally trained and coached by some of the most admired global companies.  It is from her experiences in Corporate America where she learned the importance of respect of self and others, creating a personal brand based on integrity, authenticity, professionalism, commitment, humor and a strong belief to be an advocate for yourself and others.  

Alena’s giving heart was the foundation and premise that created #hugeheart.  At a very young age, Alena was inclined to naturally help others. The common message from her teachers is that Alena is a kind natural leader and always eager to assist others. Alena has been involved in numerous volunteer activities in both her school and local community. She has been involved in student council; recipient of several middle school  leadership awards as well as selected as an 8th grade WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) Leader.  Recently, Alena was awarded the "John H Wredling" Human Services award; selected by her teachers and school administration for demonstrating an extrodianary commitment to community service and leadership. She shares the vison and passion to expand #hugeheart outside her local community.