Meet the Realizing Dreams Team

Jim Cantoni, Founder of Realizing Dreams, Author of 7 Steps for EMPOWERING YOUTH: Self-Awareness Developing GRIT and a Growth Mindset

Jim Cantoni

Founder and author of Cracking the Code to Student Success

“Inspire Potential in Ourselves so that we can Inspire Potential in Others. It’s, the Theory of Our Purpose in Life.”

Jim Cantoni is Founder of Realizing Dreams, motivational speaker and a game-changing Youth Empowerment Coach. He and his wife Jackie of 25+ years, have two boys who inspire and challenge them get out of their comfort zones everyday.

In 2017, Jim Cantoni collaborated with Brian Tracy to author Realizing Dreams: Cracking the Code to Student Success – Advancing Human Potential in Education and Health.

In a game-style of play, Jim unlocks student potential and powerfully engages, equips and empowers™ all ages to dream, believe and achieve. Within 60 minutes Jim Cantoni empowers students to create a personal “Game Plan” for their successful future.

To strengthen relationships and improve educational outcomes, in school, family and community partnerships, Jim gives youth voice and choice in their lives. He inspires potential, synchronizes the energy and experience of generations and puts kids and adults on the same page about their future and  transforms lives in education and health.

Jim Cantoni is the creator of Teamwork and FamilyPlay™ a hands-on community building game, author of five motivational books and the creator of The New Math of Health™.  He is a capacity building practitioner who equips all ages with self-efficacy Life Skill Assets™ and a growth mindset using his more than 15 Einstein inspired and infused leadership and teaching strategies for emotional intelligence.

anna weselak

Anna Weslak

Advisory Board Member

Anna’s love of teaching has offered her the opportunity of teaching the very young, as well as the young at heart.

As an educator and a teacher with a Masters Degree in Education, Anna Weselak brings Realizing Dreams her vast training experience in education, business, and non-profits. As an entrepreneur in for a small business in a very highly competitive market allowed Anna to develop lasting relationships in the business community.

Through leading an active life and supporting community and volunteer organizations for over thirty years, Anna strengthened her leadership skills and knows the importance of healthy relationships, teamwork, and effective communication. Anna runs her own consulting business, Weselak & Associates, is an instructor for International Renewal Institute, Inc. and an Associate Trainer with the Center for Teacher Effectiveness.

Ms. Weselak is a past president of the Illinois PTA and past president of the National PTA and truly believes in giving back to empower our future generations.

Ms. Weselak runs her own consulting business, Weselak & Associates, is an instructor for International Renewal Institute, Inc. and an Associate Trainer with the Center for Teacher Effectiveness.  She has held seminars, classes, and workshops for a variety of businesses, agencies, and organizations. She serves on the faculty of College of DuPage and St. Xavier University.  Her professional memberships include the Lombard Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Brook Area Association of Commerce and Industry.  She is a past chairman of the board of directors of The Oak Brook Association of Commerce and Industry.  Weselak served a two year appointment on the McDonald’s Global Mom’s Advisory Panel and served as an examiner for the Lincoln Foundation.  She serves on the board of Three Fires Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is president of the Zonta International Oak Brook Club.  She holds membership in the National Association of Women Business Owners Chicago Chapter, the American Society for Training and Development, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum and Development, and the National Association of Parliamentarians.

Ms. Weselak has been recognized for many of her accomplishments including:  a National and over 25 State PTA Honorary Life Memberships, Lombard Woman of the Year, listed in six editions of Who’s Who, 1996 edition of 2000 Notable Women in the U.S., 1997 international edition of 500 Notable Women, a recipient of an Illinois School Board Association Those Who Excel Merit Award, the International Communication Award of Excellence, Illinois Association of School Administrators DuPage Citizen of the Year, and by The Business Ledger 2003 Annual Achievement Award and their 2004 Most Influential Woman in Business Award.  For six years, she served on the state board the Illinois Federation of Woman’s Clubs and was a member of the Board of Directors of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL). Weselak has been a member of the PTA for over 30 years as a teacher and as a parent.  She is a past president of the Illinois PTA and past president of the National PTA.  In 2009 she was named an Outstanding Alumni of Northern Illinois University from the College of Education. Weselak was recently named as a 2014 Woman of Distinction by the Suburban Life Magazine.

As the CEO of Weselak & Associates, Anna prides herself on leading a nation-wide company servicing a diverse client base by customizing seminars, workshops, and classes to meet the individual needs of each client while being focused on each participant in every class and seminar. She is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, Certified Professional Motivators Analyst and Certified Professional Emotional Intelligence Analyst.

Mary Mackey Photo

Mary E. Mackey

Community Engagement Director

Individually we can make a difference, collectively we can change the world.~ Mark S. Lewis, Author

Mary compassionately develops relationships with potential partners and volunteers to the benefit of communities locally and throughout the United States.

Her volunteer interests include social issues pertaining to food, shelter, youth empowerment and education.

With a career spanning more than a decade in event management, Mary brings her dedication and expertise in non-profit fundraising, planning conferences, workshops, and other high-level special events experience  to the Realizing Dreams: YES! Youth Empowerment Summits.

Mary’s passion and dream is to continue making a difference in the community and transforming lives with equity in education and health.

She is currently pursuing a degree in Social Work from the University of Saint Joseph.

Laura Hecker

Laura Hecker

Advisory Board Member

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Laura connects with people and makes everyone feel valued and appreciated.

Besides caring for her husband and four boys she loves to travel and has a passion to give back to help the lives of others and ultimately, leave the world a better place. She brings her more than 30 years of dynamic, proven, strategic leadership and advanced program management experiences in the insurance industry to Realizing Dreams.

Laura thrives on building relationships for collective impact and combines her insight and unique ability to plan and execute conceptual ideas into real results. Laura will help Realizing Dreams deliver key strategic projects for our organizational improvement with a keen focus on measurable outcomes as we expand to empower schools, families and communities throughout the United States.

Laura is an active volunteer in her community where she has served on several boards. She volunteers in many capacities from being a room parent, soccer manager and travel soccer uniform coordinator. She coordinates site managers for her town’s local travel soccer tournament and has taught pre-school for her church. Her education experience includes:

  • B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, The University of Connecticut
  • H.I.A. (Health Insurance Associate) designation, Health Insurance Association of America
  • C.E.B.S. (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist) designation, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • ABX Green Belt, Aetna Business Excellence proprietary customer-centric continuous improvement process using complementary Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.