Our Staff


Scott McLellan

Executive Director

With nearly 20 years experience at Boys & Girls Clubs, Scott is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to succeed in life. He is a firm believer that children who participate in sports programs receive skills that benefit them throughout their lives. Scott was awarded a scholarship to play basketball at Olivet Nazarene University, where he graduated with a degree in Social Work. Because of this, he is deeply tied to Heart of the City’s mission to create opportunities for youth to attend college through the game of soccer. In his free time, Scott enjoys playing golf and basketball and spending time with his family.


Ingrid Harrison

Director of Finance
Ingrid has worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade, specifically in organizations that focus on improving the lives of young people. Heart of the City was a natural step in her career path to continue in a field that makes a positive impact on youth. Ingrid has more than five years experience working as a Director of Finance, and earned her MBA in Finance from Nova Southeastern University. She also holds undergraduate degrees in Supervision and Management, Business Administration, and Education in Linguistics and French. In her free time, Ingrid enjoys baking.

Maria Sievert

Director of Development & Marketing

Maria has been in non-profit development for nearly a decade, working for both national and community-based organizations. Her passion is working closely with the Lake County community to make positive impacts on youth. Maria graduated from Augustana College with degrees in Business Management & Marketing and English Literature. Maria participated in golf, volleyball and competitive horseback riding throughout her childhood and recognizes the many benefits she received from those opportunities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and two dogs, as well as playing recreational volleyball.


Dean Smith

Director of Operations

For Dean, soccer is a way of life. He has been involved in soccer all of his life and even played professionally in England. After his professional career, Dean began coaching at Derby County F.C. Academy and has since worked as a college coach, Director of Coaching, and most recently a staff member of Illinois Youth Soccer Association. Dean was drawn to Heart of the City because he saw an opportunity to help youth access a sport that he knows can make a positive difference in their lives. A fun fact about Dean is that he loves karaoke, especially classic 90’s British songs.


Julio Serrano

Director of Coaching

Julio has more than 20 years of experience coaching soccer. He holds several USSF National Licenses and NSCAA certificates and has coached athletes ranging in age from 5 years old to college-aged. On a collegiate level, he has coached at Cañada College, Georgetown and University of Pikeville. As the son of immigrant parents, Julio relates closely to many of the youth in our community. He is passionate about sharing his love of soccer with the youth in our program and his energy shows every time he steps onto the field! A fun fact about Julio is that he is an ordained minister and has married 13 couples.


Jennifer Ptak

Administrative Director

Jennifer joins us as a seasoned administrative professional with over 20 years experience with an emphasis in project management, implementation and new business development. Jennifer’s love for Waukegan and Lake County really took a leap when she became active with the Waukegan Chamber of Commerce as a volunteer in 2018. Her youngest daughter became involved with the Summer Soccer Academy offered at Heart of the City, and that is when Jennifer decided she wanted to be part of Heart of the City and its mission. In her free time, Jennifer loves cooking, being outdoors, watching her oldest daughter compete in competitive cheer and her youngest daughter play soccer and tumble.


Letisia Gutierrez

Lead Program Administrator
Lety brings over 12 years of business administrative experience in the corporate environment to her role as Office Manager at Heart of the City. As someone who grew up playing soccer in Waukegan, Lety has a deep passion for giving back to this community and serving the youth who live here through the game of soccer. She earned her Associates degree in Arts Business Administration from Columbia College. In her spare time, Lety enjoys watching movies, playing softball, and spending time with her kids.

Andreina Banales

Education Coordinator
Andreina grew up in the Waukegan community and is passionate about creating opportunities for the youth here to have brighter futures. She is in the process of obtaining a USSF national coaching license, and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University. In her free time, Andreina loves to paint, hike and explore new places.

Leah Perri

Development & Marketing Coordinator
An athlete all her life, Leah knows how enriching and transformative sports were for her, so she is excited to make a difference in the lives of young people through Heart of the City. Leah earned a scholarship to play volleyball at Winona State University, where she graduated with a degree in English: Writing.  Prior to joining Heart of the City, Leah worked as a journalist for two years at a daily-issue newspaper and completed a marketing and communications internship at a non-profit. Leah enjoys gardening, yoga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Mayrani Rios

Program Administrator
Mayrani has worked in customer service roles for nearly five years. She studied early childhood education at the College of Lake County, and has two USSF national coaching licenses. Mayrani wanted to work for Heart of the City because of its focus on helping kids in need achieve better futures.  In her spare time, Mayrani enjoys watching soccer and spending time with her family.

Va Shon Watkins

Academy Supervisor

Va Shon has been coaching soccer for over 7 years. He holds several USSF national coaching licenses as well as a USC coaching diploma, and he played soccer at the College of Dupage. He was the assistant coach at Elgin Community College for one year. He is excited to create a positive impact in the lives of youth in Lake County through soccer. In addition to being a soccer fanatic, Va Shon is also a movie buff and enjoys watching movies from any era, from the 40’s to modern day, as well as foreign films.

Board of Directors

Lori Kleiman


Jessica Sarowitz

Vice President

Elyse Litwack

Treasurer & Secretary

Guy Hincker

Development Committee Chairperson

Janice Zagorniak

Program Committee Chairperson

David Motley

Board Member

Ann Carroll-Butler

Board Member

Maggie Morales

Board Member

Victor Gonzalez

Board Member

Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. Without a strong board of directors and committee members supporting our efforts, we could not keep building stronger players, families, and communities in Lake County.

Interested in becoming a committee or board member? Email our Executive Director at scott@heartofthecitysports.org.