Hometown Heroes: Meet Terri Olian and Betsy Brint of Highland Park Community Foundation! | Chicago North Shore Moms

Hello friendly faces!  It’s so good to back and what better way to integrate back to our Meet a Mom series than to feature two Highland Park moms behind so much good in our community?! We spoke with Highland Park Community Foundation’s Terri Olian (Executive Director) and Betsy Brint, (Chairman) about how the foundation has been supporting the city of Highland Park for 30 years, including emergency response funds during COVID, and now the July 4th mass shooting. Terri and Betsy explain how funds are received and allocated, and how members of the community will soon be able to apply for financial support.

With prideful and warm smiles that spoke to us, it’s clear that Terri and Betsy are the right humans to take a unimaginably impossible task by force, and mobilize the tragic event on July 4th into quick, impactful action. And they couldn’t have done it without the support from you all. From lawn signs, HP Strong apparel and jewelry, and baked goods to dancing and music, the North Shore community has come together to lean on each other and provide support in a way that truly pulls at the heartstrings. “The people are what holds this community together,” says Betsy. Yes that statement has never been more true.

Welcome Terri and Betsy!

CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law.


Hi Terri and Betsy! Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I’m Betsy Brint, Chairman of the Highland Park Community Foundation. I live in Highland Park! My parents still live in the same house on Rice Street in Ravinia. They have been there for 60 years. I absolutely love living here in Highland Park – family, friends, schools, park district, Lake Michigan, Uptown HP, Ravinia, the people, the vibe, the community. What’s not to love?

Hi, I’m Terri Olian, Executive Director of the Highland Park Community Foundation. I grew up in Chicago, but have called Highland Park home for 38 years. What I love about Highland Park are the schools and location. Our first house was close to the Braeside Train Station. I often ran out the doors when the gate bells were ringing. I made it, though often barely!


You’re both moms! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag!

Betsy: Yep! I am mom to three humans and one canine. Please don’t ask me which is my favorite. OK, it’s the canine. But really, he’s everyone’s favorite! And, he is the only one who is still home with my husband and me – loyalty pays off! My oldest, Karly is married to Jackson and they live in Wicker Park. They both love their jobs, they are the family chefs and they have boundless energy. So does their labradoodle, Chewy! My middle child, Zacko, lives in Seattle with his girlfriend Caroline. They also love their jobs, they play lots of pickle ball and they will get a dog soon, they just don’t know it yet. My youngest, Alan, lives around the corner from Karly and Jackson in Wicker Park. He is the only person I know who absolutely cannot wait to get back into the office.


Terri Olian and family.

Terri: Five! Three of my own and two “better halves:”  My oldest son Drew is married to Maggie; my daughter Alix is married to Khaki; and Josh. Drew/Maggie and Alix/Khaki each have two ADORABLE little boys – and by December, each will have one more little one. I’m very excited! They all have houses in the suburbs – not of Chicago, though, of New York. Our son Josh, a certified elementary special ed teacher, works at South School in Glencoe. He absolutely loves his job and cannot wait to go to work each day. And best of all, as a Highland Park resident, he makes up in proximity for the distance we are apart from the others.


Betsy Brint and family.

Please introduce Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) from idea to inception and how it’s changed in the last couple of years.

The Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is a trusted organization that has been in existence for 30 years – and has become a true treasure in our community. Since our founding in 1992, we have infused more than $3.8 million in the community to help neighbors and improve the quality of life for all Highland Park and Highwood residents.

Our mission is to address unmet needs in the community and enhance opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents. Traditionally, we have done this through annual grants to nonprofits that provide a diverse range of programs and services for residents. Our grants fall into five main funding categories: education, creative and cultural arts, senior services, services for individuals with disabilities, and social services. Additional information about our annual grants can be found in our annual Impact Report here.

More recently, the HPCF has expanded its role to include emergency grant funding. When COVID hit, new and increased needs arose. The HPCF created an Emergency Covid Relief Fund and provided grants to local organizations to address urgent needs of residents.

After the July 4th mass shooting at our parade people wanted to find a way to help, so we immediately established a July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund to accept donations that would be used to help victims of the horrific shooting and our community as a whole. We always have been and will continue to be a safety net for Highland Park and Highwood residents.


How did you personally get involved in this organization?

Betsy: I was asked to become involved about nine years ago by a few long-time HPCF Board Members. The best part of saying “yes” to getting involved, has been learning more about the various organizations that serve our community and the caring and dedicated people who work there.

Terri: I started as a donor, supporting neighbors. In 2017, I was brought on to be a part-time Executive Director, primarily to increase awareness about the Foundation and raise funds that would allow the Foundation to have a greater impact on the community. I’ve worked for HPCF for five wonderful years!


You both were set to be a part of the parade that day. Tell us your story.

Yes, we were both at the parade. Betsy and I stationed just outside of the parking garage on Laurel and St. Johns, ready to walk in the parade; we had just started moving when we heard the pops. I thought it was a cap gun. Then people started running toward us. I remember thinking how strange that was, I didn’t immediately think that something was really wrong. Many of the adults around us just stood there, kind of frozen. The teenagers knew what to do, they were directing people shouting, “active shooter, run this way….” We saw moms running with their babies and toddlers in their arms. Everyone seemed to jump into help mode as local neighbors and businesses opened their doors for refuge.


Right now HPCF is hyper-focused on July 4th recovery. How is the July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund helping our community to cope?

Having heard from others, too many others, who have experienced similar tragedies, we try to stay away from saying our community will heal; instead, we think of it more as learning to cope. Seven people were murdered, many more injured and traumatized. When people saw what happened here in Highland Park, it was as if it had happened in their own hometown. Fourth of July parades go on all over the United States. So, this tragedy hit close to home in America’s heart. Donations came in from all over Illinois and all over the country. We heard from people who had connections to Highland Park and from people who didn’t. Donations came from individuals, families, foundations, small businesses and large corporations, sports teams, camp groups, children setting up lemonade stands, people beading jewelry, and more. Neighbors formed neighborhood groups to check on the mental well-being of one another. Food trains were created for victims of the shooting. Memorials popped up and vigils were held almost every night. This is a community that cares deeply and gives generously.

100% of all donations to this Fund will be distributed as gifts of compassion from the hearts of people near and far to let the victims and their families know, “we care.” Funding will also be given to organizations that provide much needed services to victims as we continue to cope as a community.


Highland Park moms mobilize to sell HP Strong lawn signs and t-shirts for HPCF.

How did you mobilize the fund so quickly?

Betsy and I spoke the evening of the 4th, and on the morning of the 5th we created a form with a dedicated web page to capture donations. The City of Highland Park along with City Business Development Manager, Carolyn Hersch, has designated HPCF to help with recovery needs. I could never be more proud of our city managers, staff and mayor who stepped up and mobilized so quickly. In addition to the HPCF Shooting Response Fund, by Wednesday 150 volunteers were set up at the high school for support.


Tell us more about who these funds serve and how individuals and organizations can apply for financial assistance from the July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund.

Our Draft Protocol has just been published and is available at https://www.hpcfil.org/july-4-fund/. We will accept comments from the public on the Draft Protocol until August 12, 2022 at [email protected]. A Final Protocol will be published mid-August and claim forms will be available online. Claims can be submitted through September 7, 2022 and we plan to distribute funds in October, 2022.



What else do you want our readers to know about HPCF?

We want people to know that the HPCF will be here long after the media and camera crews leave. We have been here for 30 years and we plan to be here for many many more. There are ongoing needs in this community both related and unrelated to the July 4th shooting. So when readers consider how and where to spend their charitable dollars, we hope they remember to give where they live. Neighbors helping neighbors is a true act of kindness.


How can our readers help? And, how do our readers get in touch if they need help?

The best way to help the HPCF is to donate. We have a very thorough grant making process and vet all organizations to which we grant money.
Our Board members act as liaisons to the organizations, so we really get to know them. The agencies provide periodic updates, and we stay in touch throughout the year. A complete list of grant recipients and information about their services can be found on our website. Anyone in need of services can look there or call us at 847-433-4100. We are here to help.

About Our Meet a Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!

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