About Us> Our Staff

Susan E. Cowen, LCSW, Executive Director

Susan joined Family Service of Glencoe as the Executive Director in December 2011. A passionate advocate for maximizing the potential that exists in all of us, Susan has made a career out of making a positive difference in the lives of people in need in Illinois. 


As CEO of the Youth Network Council/Illinois Collaboration on Youth, Susan was a voice of advocacy for the vulnerable and the underserved. As Vice President of Adapt America - a community-based mental health service organization - and as a key player at other area social service agencies, Susan has applied her commitment to social services in a variety of environments, facilitating positive change in the lives of at-risk youths, individuals and families across the state. With enthusiasm and a strong spirit of collaboration, Susan has endeavored to empower others with the tools they need to create happier, healthier and more self-sufficient lives for themselves.


A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Susan has a B.S. in Public Law and Administration from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Masters in Social Work Administration from San Diego State’s School of Social Work and has completed Ph.D. coursework at the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois.

Cynthia Brunson, BA 

Cindy is co-facilitator of the Family Service of Glencoe Domestic Violence Program. She received her bachelor's degree at De Paul University and is completing her Master's in Community Counseling at Argosy University. In addition, Cindy has participated in the 40-hour Domestic Violence training and numerous other domestic violence workshops. She has facilitated men's and women's domestic violence groups for 13 years. In addition to her work in domestic violence, Cindy started CASA Lake County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) with two other CASA Cook County volunteers in 1994. She currently serves on the CASA Lake County advisory board.

Beth Jerva, LCSW

Beth Jerva is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Yoga Therapist, and Registered Yoga Teacher. She has been working as a therapist for the past 15 years. She has explored many healing modalities to incorporate into traditional psychotherapy. Her experience spans addiction, trauma, depression, and anxiety. As a therapist, she believes in the importance of empowering her clients to heal and develop the awareness and skills needed to facilitate the change they are seeking within themselves and/or their lives.

Beth has worked with adolescents as a wilderness therapist in Oregon, at Haven Youth and Family Services in Winnetka, Yellow Brick Treatment Center in Evanston, and at Chapman Center in Evanston. She also has a private practice in Glenview. She has taught at many local studios and continues to offer workshops that incorporate the healing qualities of yoga. She has presented at clinical seminars on the nature and benefits of Yoga Therapy at Loyola University, Yellowbrick, and Cathedral Counseling Center in Chicago.

Beth Jerva received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and received her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University. She hopes to help individuals find what they are seeking within themselves and within their lives.

Currently accepting new c

Alicja Lapaj, Business Manager

Alicja Lapaj joined Family Service of Glencoe in August 2012. She studied International Business at Krakow University of Economics in Poland. She received her B.S. degree in Accounting at DePaul University. Alicja has worked in the field of business and accounting for over 10 years. Before coming to FSG, she held positions of Office Manager and Accountant in the for-profit sector. She is very happy to be a part of Family Service of Glencoe.

Kathryn Livingston, LCSW

Kathy Livingston is Therapist and Program Director at Family Service of Glencoe. As a therapist who has worked with adults and children for over 15 years, Kathy supports the psychological needs facing adults, parents, families and children in our community.  Kathy's expertise is helping individuals with depression, anxiety, trauma and coping with infertility.  Kathy's focus is also on helping adults and children cope with divorce, blended families, bereavement and loss.  Prior to coming to FSG, Kathy worked in hospital, school and private settings as a therapist and an educator. She holds a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago and a Master's degree in Teaching from National-Louis University. 

Currently accepting new clients.

Brian McHugh, MSW

Brian has worked on the Family Service of Glencoe Crisis and the Domestic Violence teams since joining the staff in 2009.  He is on-call for Glencoe Public Safety, responding as needed to families in crisis. Brian also conducts domestic violence evaluations and co-facilitates FSG's Alternatives to Violence group.  He has worked at the North Shore Senior Center in the Adult Protective Services area, with Alternatives, Inc. as an on-call Crisis Specialist, and with Uptown Hull House as a Child and Family Specialist. Brian received his Master's degree in Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams School of Social Work. He also has many certifications that enhance his qualifications, including Domestic Violence Certification, DCFS Certification and  Balance and Restorative Justice Certification.

Not currently accepting new clients.

Joan Merlo, LCSW
Joan Merlo is a psychotherapist, educator and writer with over 20 years of experience serving individuals, families and groups at local hospitals and social service agencies before joining FSG in 2002. She is a graduate of Loyola University School of Social Work, where she was adjunct faculty and has completed a post graduate degree at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago. Joan has also recently obtained continuing education certificates at Wellesley's Stone Center for Women's Studies and Harvard Medical School Seminars in Mindfulness & Attuned Relating. She has expertise in facilitating healing , mindful awareness, self care and self confidence with her clients during periods of change and challenge in such areas as parenting teens and young adults, "power grand-parenting," handling anxiety and depression, and adjusting to divorce, bereavement, or job loss. Joan also has a private practice in Highland Park and is a frequent adult education lecturer and retreat presenter for north shore churches and community organizations.

Joan is accepting new clients.
Alec  Ross, LCSW, RDDP 
Al Ross is Senior Therapist and Program Director at Family Service of Glencoe. He works with the FSG clinical team to develop programs that dynamically serve children, teens, and their parents. Al has been working in direct clinical practice, program development, supervision and teaching for more than 30 years. A graduate of University of Chicago, Al is currently adjunct professor of social work at Loyola University and also teaches at Northwestern University and the Institute for Clinical Social Work.

Al is accepting new clients.

Sarah Scherdt, Director of Development and Communications

Sarah brings ten years of nonprofit experience to her role as Director of Development and Communications at Family Service of Glencoe. Her background includes graphic design, marketing, donor relationships, volunteer recruitment, community partnerships, and special events. Sarah received her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Michigan. She is also a proud alumna of the AmeriCorps*VISTA program where she served youth and families in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Passionate about connecting people and services, she desires to create awareness of our diverse offerings and celebrate our work in strengthening families. 

Janet Sorensen, MA, MSA, Administrative Director

Janet Sorensen joined Family Service of Glencoe in March 2011.  She has Masters degrees in Counseling Psychology and Accounting and is a CPA.  Janet has 25 years of management experience, most recently as Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Financial Officer at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter.  Janet is a hospice volunteer, and prior to joining the staff of FSG, she also volunteered at CJE's Adult Day Services and at the Alzheimer's Association.