Lori R. Vallelunga has been selected by unanimous vote by the Board of Directors of Bethel New Life to serve as the nonprofit’s third president and CEO.

Vallelunga has been on the job since May 16. She replaces Steven McCullough, who left last August to become chief operating officer of The Safer Foundation. Vallelunga previously served as senior vice president of strategic development for The Hope Institute for Children and Families.

She began her career as a clinical psychologist serving the Humboldt Park neighborhood and has held positions with medical and social service organizations in the Chicago area and Springfield. She was chosen by Bethel following a national search.

“Dr. Vallelunga is passionate about Bethel’s mission and has an impressive track record,” said Nat Piggee, chairman of Bethel’s Board of Directors, in a statement from the nonprofit. “The whole Bethel family is pleased to welcome Dr. Vallelunga and is looking forward to working under her leadership on behalf of the families we serve.”

Concerning her selection, Vallelunga stated: “Bethel New Life has had tremendous impact on the families that it serves and on its community,” she said of the 30-year-old community organization.

“I am honored to join Bethel New Life and
to have the opportunity to build upon the great work Bethel has done.”

Blago recalls dad’s biz in Austin during trial

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich talked about many things when he took the witness stand in his defense at the start of his federal corruption trial last week.

From playing baseball as a kid to his “disco”-style in college, Blagojevich spent hours reminiscing about his upbringing in Chicago. At one point, he mentioned the laundromat his dad operated near the corner of Madison Street and Central Avenue for a few years in the late 1960s. Blagojevich recalled that he and his older brother, Robert, worked at the laundromat, which was a few miles from the family’s apartment at Cicero and Armitage avenues.

“It was a neighborhood that was changing racially at a very turbulent time,” the ex-governor said, noting Austin had been mostly Italian but was becoming predominantly African-American.

Blagojevich said he remembered standing outside his father’s business two days after Martin Luther King Jr. died – he would have been 11 – watching the fire engines go by on their way to put out the fires that erupted after the assassination.

The former governor has continued with his opening testimony this week.

Compiled by Austin Weekly News and AustinTalks