Gene Salvadalena, Executive Director



Gene Salvadalena grew up in the Seattle, Washington area, living there for much of his formative and higher learning years, graduating with a BA in Urban & Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University.  His career in industry spanned over 23 years with The Boeing Company in Engineering, Human Resources, and Corporate leadership positions, and a short stint in Organization Development at Gates Learjet.  He complimented that experience working for several years at The Charmm’d Foundation, a Chicago area foundation, where he was the Director for Leadership Development helping mentor and coach civic and non-profit leaders from all community sectors.

Since 2001 he and his family have lived in the Cary, Illinois.

Gene’s passion has always been helping others, and in giving back to the community, volunteering in many community capacities, and currently serves as the Vice President of the Cary Park District Foundation Board.

He is an ardent sports enthusiast; an active participant in golf, racquetball, and tennis, and a true Chicago and Seattle area sports fan living the dreams of the Cubs, Bears, Seahawks, Huskies and Mariners with amazing couch viewing experiences.

Servant Leadership, organization change, business focus, building strong teams, and helping leaders grow have been both his journey and practice throughout his career.  Being at the helm at Home of the Sparrow has provided a unique opportunity to tap into those learnings and help address such a worthwhile cause.



This is a very special time for Home of the Sparrow as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary. Throughout the years, we have had so many outstanding volunteers, donors, staff and community supporters who have helped our agency become what it is today.  All of those involved have been extremely dedicated to our goal of helping women and children get back on their feet.

Our history started in the mid 1980’s, when several local churches uncovered the critical need for helping our homeless population, and advocated for something to be done. Home of the Sparrow’s first shelter, originally called The McHenry County Interfaith Shelter Program, started in December 15, 1986.  In February of 1987, Home of the Sparrow became a non-profit organization, initially helping twelve women and children.  The number we have served has grown exponentially over the years, and in the last fiscal year, we helped over 830 women and children with a range of integrated programs and services. 

We have an amazing team and support system in place to help us achieve our mission.  In addition to our compassionate staff, we have dedicated board members who guide our direction and provide professional insight.  We also have over 800 tremendous volunteers who help in various ways throughout our agency, including speaking to the community and sharing our story, ensuring that our properties are well maintained, helping at our Sparrow’s Nest Thrift Stores, interacting with children in our Book Buddy and Child Care Programs, teaching in our Education Programs, helping at special events, and assisting at headquarters.  Volunteers have been, and continue to be, the cornerstone of who we are…they are our DNA.  They got us going in 1987, helped to define our direction, and continue to be an integral part of who we are.  Our staff, volunteers, sponsors, donors, and advocates have each helped provide Hope, Opportunity, and Support that empowers women and children as they journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency. They have put in place the necessary building blocks to create a wonderful foundation, as the demand for our services continues to grow.

Our organization continues to be strong and valued by the community.  Almost daily, I meet someone who shares their story about how we have helped them or how they have helped us. These stories serve as an anchor to why I’m here, and how I can do my part.  I truly wish that I could replay each of these amazing conversations with you.

Thomas S. Monson once said; “The past is behind…learn from it, the future is ahead…prepare for it, the present is here…live it”.  We are definitely following those sage words in our continued journey of helping those in need. 

Thank you to all those who have been a part of Home of the Sparrow’s rich history, and I welcome those who will be a part of our future!


Gene Salvadalena

Executive Director