Board of Directors

Sasha Bassett

President

Sasha is beyond thrilled to be back in her home community of Alton after much time away.  She moved away at age 7, and since then has been a rolling stone through Grenada, St. Vincent, Chicago, England, Nebraska, Springfield IL, Olympia WA, Thailand, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Washington, DC. The rolling stone has come home to roost.

She’s a mission-driven young professional, with an eye toward building a strong community with opportunities for all. She hopes Main Street will be a vehicle for bringing people together to realize their collective power. She believes strongly in the importance of beauty & the arts in raising people’s spirits and creating positive change.

Before joining Alton Main Street, Sasha received her BA from the Evergreen State College in International Relations and Philosophy. She received her MA in International Nongovernmental Organizations through Webster University. She has worked with several nonprofits including: United Cerebral Palsy, the YMCA, a youth shelter, and the Syrian Emergency Taskforce. Reflecting her community-driven spirit she has volunteered for animal shelters, the International Institute, Downtown Springfield Inc, back-to-school clinics, Human Rights Watch, and more.

When not volunteering, she can be found practicing Brazilian martial arts (capoeira), yoga, and traveling.

Stephanie Schrage

Vice-President

Stephanie Schrage is a lifelong resident of Alton.  She has had her eye on Main Street since she first heard of the organization and was very exited to be a part of the process and join the board of directors in January of 2018. As the daughter and grand-daughter of small business owners, she feels that she is familiar with the struggles that local small businesses face and what it takes to overcome them. She wants to help.

She has worked as the practice manager at the Spay and Neuter Clinic in Bethalto since it’s reopening in March of 2015, and her passion for the environment has led her to marketing for Illinois Solar Inc.; a residential and commercial solar company, also in Bethalto. Stephanie is a graduate of Marquette High School and holds a degree liberal arts from Lewis & Clark Community College with a focus in mass communication and public relations.  She hopes to bring the community and small business owners together to continue to grow and promote the city and all that it has to offer.

Her previous volunteer experience includes fundraising, promotions, and various community support programs. Animals are a passion of hers as well, and she previously served on the Board of Directors for SNIP Alliance as their Clinic Operations Adviser. You have probably seen her at an event somewhere around downtown with one of her Yorkshire Terriers at some point.

In her free time moments. she enjoys exercising, yoga, gardening, crafting, cooking, and spending time with her pets and family.

John Simmons

Treasurer

John Simmons founded Simmons Hanly Conroy in 1999 with seven employees and a focus on asbestos litigation. Under his leadership, the firm expanded to a national litigation firm with more than 250 employees, including over 70 attorneys, spread between six offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis and Alton, Illinois. Today, the firm represents clients from across the country in the practice areas of asbestos and mesothelioma, dangerous drugs and medical devices, prescription opioid litigation, sexual abuse litigation, environmental litigation and other mass torts and complex litigations.

Simmons started the firm because he believed he could provide a higher level of legal care to clients by combining legal expertise with service-minded values. In 2009, his vision led him to start the Miles for Meso 5K, which raises awareness for mesothelioma cancer and funds for research. To date, the race has raised more than $650,000.

One year later, Simmons’ vision expanded yet again when he and the firm made a joint $10.2 million donation to build the Simmons Cancer Institute on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Springfield. The Cancer Institute is the only one of its kind in downstate Illinois. Physicians there see more than 20,000 patient visits per year, and no matter the financial resources patients may have, they are never turned away from care.

Motivated by Simmons’ core belief of giving back to the community, firm employees have donated more than $1 million of dollars to local charities and events through the Simmons Employee Foundation. Additionally, under his leadership, the firm has donated nearly $20 million to cancer research nationwide and hundreds of thousands of dollars to local non-profits and organizations under his leadership.

Simmons earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville after serving for two years as an Army combat engineer. He graduated with his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas.

Trish Holmes

Organization Committee Vice Chair

Trish Holmes is a lifelong resident of the Riverbend area. She currently is the Director of Member Services with the Riverbend Growth Association (RBGA) overseeing membership and events and loves working closely with area businesses. She understands and supports giving back to her community and loves to be involved. Trish sits on the Board of the Alton Women’s Housing Association, the Madison County Regional Leadership Council, and is an active member of the Riverbend Rotary Club. Trish earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the University of Missouri St. Louis after earning her Associate Degree at Lewis & Clark Community College. In her spare time, Trish loves a good book and working out. She loves downtime and relaxation.

Emily Keener

Design Committee Chair

Emily Keener lives in Alton with her husband Nate, daughters Violet and Meera, and dog Frank! Emily is an instructional designer at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she plays a behind-the-scenes role in instilling the values of SIUE – citizenship, excellence, inclusion, integrity, and wisdom – in thousands of students each year. Emily loves spending time outside, playing with her daughters, squeezing in a short story here and there, and exploring the hidden gems around Alton.

Monica Semnacher

Design Committee Vice Chair

Monica is a champion for community beautification in her role as Director of Pride Incorporated. She also works to develop the Hunterstown neighborhood that is adjacent to Downtown in her role as Director of the Greater Alton Community Development Association. She lives in the historic Middletown neighborhood with her husband Jess, daughter Odette and furry friends Paisley and Sterling.

Sally Kirbach

Promotions Committee Chair

Sally moved to Alton in 1993 at the age of 7 from Jacksonville IL. Post high school she studied at Lewis and Clark Community College and has worked in child care, health care, and in the retail and food industries. In 2013, she started her own Independent small business; Kind Vibe Creations.

She sells handmade accessories, apparel and many of her own designs. In 2015, she joined Alton Main Street Design committee and in 2016 was co-chair of The Night Market. She is a proud wife and mother of two and enjoys gardening, hiking, and learning new skills and crafts.

Elissa Sexton

Promotions Committee Vice-Chair

Originally hailing from Greene County, Ellissa Sexton moved to Alton in 2017 following graduating from Monmouth College, in which she holds a B.A. in both Communication Studies and Physical Education.

Ellissa began her career in local media advertising, which is currently on hiatus as she has recently given birth to her second child. Having been born and raised in a small town, she recognizes local businesses as the backbone to building  strong and vibrant communities. Her involvement with Alton Main Street has allowed her the opportunity to be a part of partnering with others that share both creative and forward thinking ideas in an effort to make Alton a great and affordable place to work, live, and raise a family.

She is the proud mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time with her friends and family, traveling, antiquing, the outdoors, Chicago Cubs baseball, DIY’ing, and attending live music performances.

John Gajewski

Economic Vitality Committee Chair

I believe that Alton Main Street is making a very positive difference and that’s something I am proud to be part of. I have a passion and professional expertise in historic preservation and regeneration, as well as commercial building consultancy and project management. I am a big admirer of the Main Street approach and love to see the great progress that has been made in Alton’s commercial districts in the twenty years that I have known Alton, and especially in recent years. I am relatively new to the area having moved with my family from London (my wife is from Jerseyville originally), and having spent my career advising commercial and global clients I am delighted to be able to use my skills to benefit the community and help revitalize the region that I now call home for my children.

By profession I am a Chartered Building Surveyor (MRICS), specially qualified in Historic Preservation. I am a strong advocate that historic buildings are a largely untapped asset for regeneration, and their creative re-use brings real benefits for people, placemaking, our planet and the economy. I have recently established my own consulting company, working locally and across the Midwest. I also lecture at Washington University STL on the subject of Historic Preservation A Transatlantic Perspective, and was a past lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, on the subject of Historic Preservation in the Commercial Property Market.

I enjoy cycling (the bluffs along the rivers are tremendous), travel, photography, art, architecture, football (English style!), skiing, and keeping tabs on my two young children.

Antione Williams

Economic Vitality Committee Vice-Chair

Hi, I’m Antione! Father to 3 wonderful children, Jonathan, Amiah, & Nathaniel. I graduated with the Class of ’92 from Alton Senior High and attended Lewis & Clark Community College. I’ve volunteered for Parent & Staff projects within the Alton School District and lend a helping hand to many community & church organizations. I’ve worked in our community at local companies for the past 16 years – Argosy’s Alton Belle Casino for 12 years and with Olin Brass for four. I’ve been a licensed real estate broker for the past 6 plus years, and I’m currently working as a full-time broker with my managing broker’s license. I continually strive for excellence and to achieve all set goals. I’m friendly, positive and very motivated. I’m always open and up for a challenge. I enjoy sports, fishing and other outdoor activities. I’m also member of Alton-Godfrey Rotary Club.

By joining Alton Main Street, I’m excited about playing a role in the revitalization of downtown Alton. From seeing vacant and abandoned buildings utilized as creative commercial spaces to more affordable town homes, lofts, bed-n-breakfasts or some type of rental where out of town guests can stay within walking distance of local markets. I believe the best way to know what’s going on, is to be a part of the going on!

Kitty Edelen

Team Building Committee Chair

Kitty was born in Japan and has lived in several different places, including Calhoun County, before sertling in Alton and calling it her home. She started working for Crown Vision Center in 1978 where she was well known as the manager of the Broadway location (in the downtown district). Currently she is Crown’s Riverbend Outreach Coordinator. Crown Vision Center has been a long time supporter of Alton Main Street, partnering with them since day one, which was her first exposure to the organization. She has witnessed many changes in the Downtown area, starting with long-time merchants leaving the area, or just going out of business, due to economic deterioration. Now downtown is blossoming and thriving due to the hard work of volunteers and members of Alton Main Street. Kitty understands that there is still a lot of work ahead and hopes her small role will someday influence others. Kitty has one son and is the proud grandmother of five, all of whom keep her quite busy.

Vickie Hopkins

Team Building Committee Vice-Chair

Vickie is a resident of Hartford and has lived in the Riverbend area all of her life. In 2015, she took her knowledge from the corporate world where she has done administrative work, circuit design & sales, and opened a retail store called “Party On Broadway”. There she offers Wine & Canvas, and Pinterest-Inspired parties for adults & children (either at her location, or the location of the customers choice). Vickie also sells supplemental benefits with Aflac. All of her past volunteer work has also played a part in her growth as a small business owner. She loves playing in the community and giving back; therefore, choosing to be involved with Alton Main Street when she opened her business made sense. She chose Alton for her location because she likes the feel of Downtown, and felt that she could provide a service that was missing. Vickie is looking forward to serving the board and using her networking skills to build strong teams. She knows that the more interested volunteers she recruits for Main Street, the stronger our community will become – because great things happen when people choose to work together!

Sara McGibany

Executive Director

Sara McGibany has been the Executive Director of Alton Main Street since December of 2006. She graduated from Marquette Catholic High school and holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Psychology. Besides working on various events and projects that promote and improve downtown Alton, Sara also enjoys serving on the Board of Directors for the Mustard Seed Peace Project and Senior Services Plus, as well as the Steering Committees of the Upper Alton Association and Rock Spring 2020. She enjoys volunteering for environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Community Cultivators, and is an avid community gardener. Sara has been active in Alton’s Community Policing strategy. In 2018 she was elected to a seat on the Democratic Precinct Committee. Her spare time is spent playing guitar with her band Typsy Gypsy, as well as creating clothing, jewelry and paintings.

Advisors

Brian Campbell – 1st Ward Alderman

Michael Velloff – 3rd Ward Alderman

Deanna Barnes – Deputy Director of Development & Housing, City of Alton

Jamie Ruyle – Upper Alton Association

Zeke Jabusch – North Alton-Godfrey Business Council