Board of Directors




Maria Barnes – (Board Term 2015 – 2017) Currently serving as Vice President of the Board of Directors, Maria has held a seat on the Board since October, 2014. While attending Illinois State University she studied Special Education for the Visually Impaired and has an AAS in Human Services.

Being a mother has been one of her greatest joys. Her son, Kamm, also volunteers with BDP; participating in fundraising, parades and being part of the pageant committees. Maria enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially outdoors. She has a great love for animals and turns no one away that finds their way to her doorstep.

“Lending a hand for support, a shoulder to lean on or an ear for listening has always come natural. Volunteering is just an extension of these things. Butterfly Dreams has provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn, to grow and to serve within our communities.”


Margaret Hesse  (Board Term 2014 – 2018) Margaret is the Treasurer and a member of the Board of Director of Butterfly Dreams Pageants.  Margaret is an attorney and shareholder with a local law firm, focusing on education law.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and particularly enjoys being a great Aunt Marny.  She is an avid runner, reader, theater enthusiast, and knitter.  Margaret dedicates her time volunteering with Butterfly Dreams Pageants to the memory of her “god-sister” and special needs cousin, Maureen, who left this world before she could be a participant in this pageant.   

Syndi Sills (Board Term 2014 – Indefinitely) Syndi has served as the President/Executive Director for Butterfly Dreams Pageants, Inc. since its inception.  She founded the organization in memory of her brother P.J., and continues it in hopes it will offer many yearly opportunities nationwide to any girl or guy, with an intellectual/dev disability, to shine in their communities.  She believes all these young men and women deserve to feel like prince and princesses all year long, with the pageant being the cherry on top of the entire year of activities.
She truly hopes with all her heart that each and every butterfly (those with or without challenges) that joins this family feels the joy and love it provides.  “We want everyone to know that our interest in them goes beyond the borders of the weekend of the pageant.  We genuinely love and care for them as a true family would.”
Kelli Stehlik – (Board Term 2015 – 2017) Kelli graduated in 1984 from Arizona State University with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Marketing. She has completed over 50 MBA hours at the University of Phoenix. Kelli worked as a Sales Manager in the computer industry for over 10 years before becoming a stay at home “domestic engineer” mom. She has been married to her husband Steve for 24 years and have three children, Luke (20), Jake (20) and Sara (15). 

Kelli is a 19 year cancer survivor and has volunteered extensively with the American Cancer Society “Relay for Life”.Kelli and her daughter, Sara, have over 8 years experience helping with Pageants for Individuals with Disabilities. In 2013, this mother/daughter team was recognized as “Volunteers of the Year”. Kelli and her daughter have worked with the Butterfly Dreams organization in various capacities since its inception in 2013.


Kallan Virgin  (Board Term 2016 – 2018) Kallan is currently serving from 20015 – 2017 term on the Board of Directors and her primary role is to advise on financial matters. She works as a senior accountant for a large corporation in St. Louis, Missouri.


Kallan was born and raised in Southern Illinois and graduated from McKendree University in 2008 with a degree in Management and Accounting. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, crafting, reading and blogging about her travels.


Karen Yamnitz – (Board Term 2014 – 2016) Karen has served as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Butterfly Dreams Pageants Inc. since its inception. In the beginning stages of Butterfly Dreams, Karen filled many roles including Team Leader of the Teen Division for the Illinois pageant and Sponsorship Coordinator for both the Illinois and Missouri pageants. She has also filled many roles on pageant day including running raffle tables and working backstage at the pageants. Karen has also enjoyed helping out at numerous fundraising activities and public appearances for our participants. Currently Karen coordinates Butterfly Dreams participation as a qualified charity in the Combined Federal Campaign.
Outside of her many roles in Butterfly Dreams, Karen works full time and enjoys spending time with her husband Dan and two children, Austin and Addison, who is a member of the Butterfly Dreams Jr. Committee. She also enjoys swimming, reading and spending time with friends and family.