Legal, Financial & Operations

Not-for-Profit Status & Executive Leadership

Stepping Stones Network is a program of Oasis Productions, a 501c3 faith based organization that can receive tax-deductible donations.  Suzanne Baker Brown serves as Executive Director of Stepping Stones as well as President of the Board of Oasis Productions.  Suzanne has a rich history in women’s ministry and helping people who have come out of abusive and destructive situations rebuild their lives.  Suzanne has corporate leadership and management consulting background.  She has also helped to launch and lead a number of not-for-profit organizations.  Governing Board includes Suzanne Baker Brown, Michelle Bobart, Kelli McMiller (Secretary), and Ginny Girmschied (Treasurer).  As of October 2020, we are recruiting three new Governing Board members and desiring to create a ten person Development Board.  If you have interest in a Board position, please contact

Community Engagement

We have learned from similar organizations that an endeavor of this magnitude is expensive and requires a large number of volunteers to assist – in other words, “it takes a village”.  Some might say the price is too high, but what is one life worth?  In God’s eyes, every life is a treasure and worth every effort and cost to be redeemed and restored. Therefore, a key focus will be to engage the entire community to work together in unity to help with everything from fundraising, working with the clients, presenting educational materials, etc.  We operate with around 40 on-going committed volunteers at any given time.  Many who who have been dedicated for multiple years and make their roles with Stepping Stones Network a priority in their lives. Stepping Stones Network has several social networks, businesses and churches that partner with us through our Champion Network. We initiated several Community Collaboration meetings amongst social agencies and are an active member of the Lake County Human Trafficking Coalition and Partnership for a Safer Lake County.  We also engage through email and social media platforms.


Our approach to fundraising includes reaching out to individuals and organizations through our email, social media, and community engagement network.  Our primary funds include our monthly giving program (24 to Restore), and our current crowd funds: Butterfly Fund and 25 to Thrive: Church Engagement. We hold an annual event in November, Festival of Trees, in partnership with Loyola’s Cuneo Mansion and Hawthorn Mall, both in Vernon Hills, IL.  See the Festival of Trees page on this website for more detailed information.  Post Covid, we intend to launch a second annual event, The Butterfly Ball, targeting professional women in the city of Chicago.

We pursue foundation and competitive grants and have been generously funded by the Robert & Aimee Hombach Foundation, Community Purse, Grainger Foundation, and Lake County Community Trust.


Our 2020 budget (CoVid adjusted) is $418,000.  We file annual Federal and IL AG 990’s.  Our first audit will take place spring of 2021 for the 2020 fiscal year.  Our fiscal year is Jan 1 to Dec 31.

Staffing & Operations

We operate with a core staff mix of full-time (4) and part-time employees (4), contractors (5), and incredibly committed volunteer leaders who act like employees (17).  Our full-time employees are all dedicated to direct client service.  To keep administrative costs low, our management and operations team are all part-time or committed volunteers.