Our Team

Executive Director


 Jessica Friday, Executive Director of the Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center, passionately promotes advocacy, awareness, justice, and healing for victims.  In addition, Jessica firmly maintains that efficient and effective victim services and community outreach efforts are of the utmost importance to the continued growth of the organization and safety of our communities.  Prior to joining the team at Shining Star, Jessica reverently investigated crimes against children for nearly twelve years as a detective with the Dixon Police Department.  Jessica has a Bachelor’s of Science in General Studies from Northern Illinois University, and is currently completing her Master’s of Public Administration through Capella University.  Jessica currently serves on the Lee County Board of Health, on the Lee County initiative combating domestic violence and violence against women, and volunteers as a mentor in the Dixon Public Schools.  In addition, Jessica has been trained in Finding Words Illinois Forensic Interviewing, and has conducted numerous forensic interviews for Shining Star over the past 8 years. 




 Marissa Krager is the Counselor at Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center. Marissa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Services from   Northern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Aurora University. Prior to her current position, Marissa did crisis therapy with   foster care children to stabilize their current home placement. Marissa’s role at Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center will be to provide therapy and   group services to abused children and help them go from being a victim to a survivor. Marissa works with the multi-disciplinary team to conclude the best therapy approach for each individual client.   

Forensic Interviewer


 Jessica Cash has been working with children and families for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal   Justice from Upper Iowa University. She is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling at Judson University. Additionally,   she has attended numerous conferences and trainings on child abuse, youth mental health, domestic violence, and crisis management. Jessica   previously worked as a Children’s Domestic Violence Advocate at HOPE of Ogle County. There she provided individual services to children, facilitated   children’s support groups, and worked with parents providing crisis intervention and support. In June 2014, Jessica began working at Shining   Star Children’s Advocacy Center as the Family Advocate. In this role, Jessica provides emotional support for abused children and their families   throughout the forensic interview process and beyond.  She links them with vital counseling services and assists them with accessing other important   community resources. Jessica works with the multi-disciplinary team to ensure the best possible outcome is reached for children disclosing   abuse.  

Family Advocate



Melissa Folkers works as the Family Advocate at Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center. Melissa has over 10 years of experience in the Human Services field. Prior to her current position, Melissa was the Director of Social Services of a psychiatric rehabilitation facility.

Melissa has extensive experience and training in psychiatric rehabilitation, mental-health first aid, suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, crisis-intervention, sexual assault and domestic violence prevention. Melissa obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services through Purdue University Global, specializing in Youth and Family Services and Administration. 

Melissa received training through the Illinois Coalition against Sexual assault and the Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence. Melissa served many years as a Sexual Assault Preventionist through the YWCA of the Sauk Valley area. As a sexual assault advocate she worked with rape victims and children of sexual abuse. Her work included providing legal and medical advocacy for victims of violence, crisis-intervention, professional training, community outreach and lobbying at the State Capitol for equality and victim’s rights. 

Following that position, Melissa then worked in two community schools establishing support services through a school-based Counselor program. Through this position, Melissa provided direct services to students and families, providing emotional support and referral of services. Melissa worked as a Tier I and Tier II interventionist collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team, working to enhance the social emotional well-being and academic success of the student population. Melissa created and implemented a Leadership Engagement and Development (L.E.A.D.) program for the middle school students, in addition to a Character Development program. 

Melissa was introduced to the professional arena as a CASA/GAL serving Lee/Ogle/Carroll Counties in 2008. After successful completion of a 30 hour training on Court Advocacy, Melissa’s duties included advocating for the best interest of the child through the Juvenile Justice system, interview all parties involved, submit a written report to the Courts, attend court hearings, and testify when necessary. 

Melissa is excited to be a new member of Shining Star CAC.  

Board of Directors


Cathy Ferguson-Allen

Vice President  

Dave Schreiner


Lee County Sheriff's Department

 Chief Deputy David Glessner


Rochelle Police Department

 Chief Eric Higby


Lee County State’s Attorney 

Matt Klahn

Yavette Yarbrough


Ogle County Sheriff's Department 

Lt. Michael Schabacker


Ogle County State’s Attorney 

Eric Morrow


R. J. Gabaldon

Department of Children and Family Services 

Richard Echevarria

Dixon Police Department 

Lt. Brad Sibley 


Department of Children and Family Services

Angie Lopez


Dorothy Bowers


Maggie Nye


Kathy Marine

Community Partners


United Way of Lee and Ogle County

YWCA of the Sauk Valley

HOPE of Ogle County 

KSB Hospital 

Mobre Counseling 

Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois

National Children's Alliance 

National Children's Advocacy Centers