Who we are.



NIFC Board: Nick Ryan, Perry Bigelow, Michael Vickery

Executive Staff: Michael Vickery-Executive Director, Dan Vallaro-National Director of Community Life

Advisory Board: Bruno Bottarelli (Founding Board member), Jon Ferguson (Founding Board Member), Troy McMahon (Founding Board Member), Neil Gerald (Casa de Luz Founder), Ginny Gerald (Casa De Luz Founder), Marilyn Brautigam (Casa de Luz Founder)

More of our Leadership:

Michael Vickery began as the IFC’s first employee back in 1998 and serves as the Executive Director. His duties include developing program initiatives and working with the board of directors to ensure the IFC remains mission-driven and spirit-filled.  Mike graduated from Northwestern University’s Human Development and Social Policy Program and also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  In 2004, Mike was honored by the American Institute for Public Service and NBC5 with a Jefferson Award for his work in communities across the Chicago area. As an Executive Director, Mike has led the development of nonprofit initiatives adding millions of dollars in facilities, programming, and fundraising across the United States and Central America for community building projects. He helped found Casa de Luz, a childcare center with two locations in Honduras.  Mike also wrote the initial curriculum and programming for Community Life, a program operating in over 50 locations in across the country in 2018, creating value for residents through the development of relationships and genuine  community. Mike lives in Kankakee, IL with his wife Sondra, their four daughters and two dogs. He volunteers in his own community as an Assistant Varsity Football Coach and as a Tester-Observer-Handler for the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Inc.

(708) 253-7090 | mvickery@instituteforcommunity.org | @MikeVickery



Nicholas M. Ryan is the CEO of Marquette Real Estate Investments, LLC, one of a family of related real estate companies called the Marquette Companies.

Mr. Ryan co-founded Marquette in 1983 and since its formation, it has designed, developed, acquired and operated more than $2 billion of apartments, master planned communities, student housing, mixed use developments, office and industrial properties.

Marquette Management, Inc., is the National Award winning apartment operating company of Marquette, has more than 250 employees, and currently manages 9000 apartment units throughout the central portion of the United States. The Marquette Principals have managed more than 50,000 apartment units throughout the country, during their careers.

Mr. Ryan co-founded Kensington / Marquette Partners in 1994, which has acquired more than $1 billion of investment properties on behalf of its clients, including apartments, senior housing and student housing.

Mr. Ryan is a civil engineer, graduating from Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in 1975. He is a board member of the National Multi-Housing Council, the National Institute for Community, Choose DuPage and is a member of the Pension Real Estate Association.


Nick lives in Naperville, IL, with his wife Teresa and their numerous dogs.




Perry Bigelow is the founder of Bigelow Homes. In 2005, the company was honored by Professional Builder magazine as the recipient of the prestigious “Builder of the Year” award. The award recognizes one building company in the nation that best represents replicable ideas that can be emulated by other builders. Bigelow Homes was selected for “Doing Good by Doing Right.” Perry was named “Energy Builder of the Year” for eight consecutive years by the Chicago Sun Times. He has been featured twice on public television’s “This Old House.” Bigelow Homes developed HomeTown in Aurora, IL, a spiritually, culturally, and environmentally sustainable community of 1,300 homes located in nine real neighborhoods. Perry is perhaps best known for guaranteeing heating bills on his homes throughout Chicagoland for the last 25 years. His desire to use respectfully God’s gift of the earth is the foundation of his business philosophy.


Born in Michigan and raised in Florida, Perry received a B. A. in Mathematics from Taylor University and a B. S. in Civil Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Ohio State University. Perry was a member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Environmental Building Association and an Adjunct Professor of Housing and Urban Development at Eastern University Graduate School of Business.


danDan Vallaro is the National Director of the Community Life Program.  Dan started volunteering for Community Life in 2008 with his wife, Lindsey.  They were the first Community Life Team at HighPoint Apartments in Romeoville.  He graduated from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing.  In 2010 he stepped down from his position at UPS to help launch Community Life full time.  Since then he has managed teams across the country, helped develop and implement various training and marketing programs and, in 2018, was promoted to the National Director of Community Life. Dan lives in Romeoville with his wife Lindsey and their 3 sons; Nate, Ian and Mack.   

(815) 255-8245 | dvallaro@communitylife.info


Bryan Bernicky is a Director of Information Technology for Marquette Management and has been in the field for over 20 years.  He is a very involved leader and coach in the community currently serving at the Church at Highpoint coaching the music arts team.  A graduate of Columbia College with a B.S. in Instrumental and Vocal performance, Bryan performs in and around the area in various music productions and bands and is a studio musician and producer.  As a former Volunteer of the Year at the Institute for Community, Bryan loves to serve the community of Romeoville and the surrounding areas and is committed to making community great again through his gifts of music, technology and Christian mission.  Bryan lives in Plainfield with his wife Amy, two sons Brandon and Jonny and dog, Eddie. 



Lori Rodriguez Casey, Vice President, Mesirow Financial 

Lori Rodriguez Casey joined the firm in July 2014 as vice president of asset management for the Real Estate Direct Investment business. Mrs. Rodriguez Casey has more than 25 years of real estate experience, all within the multifamily sector. Prior to joining Mesirow Financial, Lori worked for The Marquette Companies, a Naperville, Ill.-based private real estate company that has been a leading property manager and developer of apartment and condominium communities and has significant expertise in purchasing value-add apartment communities. During her 17 year tenure at Marquette, Lori was a business developer and regional manager, most recently overseeing the operations of a portfolio of 11 properties consisting primarily of value-add and new development property and totaling more than 3,000 units. At Marquette, Lori worked with numerous institutional partners including Hunt and Seminole. Prior to Marquette, Lori worked as a regional manager for Insignia Management Company and Coventry Properties. Lori is a certified Apartment Portfolio Manager by the National Apartment Association (NAA) and a former Chicagoland Apartment Association Board Member from 2010 – 2011. Lori is currently a member of the National Apartment Association and the Chicagoland Apartment Association.

Tim Kukuk

Tim has been a resident of Romeoville since 1998, when he moved to the HighPoint Apartment complex.  In 2001 he purchased a home at the nearby Hometown Romeoville neighborhood as a result of a partnership between Bigelow Homes and Marquette Management.  Since 2006 Tim has been a board member of the Hometown Homeowners Association.  He is also a member of the Character Committee at the IFC.  The Character Committee meets as needed to help residents and members remain as valuable members of the community.

Tim has been with Brenntag Specialties since 1998.  Brenntag is the global market leader in chemical distribution, with more than 550 locations in 74 countries.


Copyright © 2019 Institute For Community - All Rights Reserved.