Who We Are

Meet the Team

John Martin - CAAEL Founder

John, who passed away in May of 2017, founded CAAEL in 1976. For over forty years he grew it into the well oiled machine that it is today. Licensed as a teacher, principal, and administrator, John dedicated his life to kids.
In addition to this powerful organization, John left behind his two daughters, Sarah & Katie and five wonderful grandchildren. We are humbled and honored to be able to carry on his legacy.

Sarah (Martin) Lorenzi - President and CEO

Sarah taught third grade for 13 years in Oak Park before resigning in 2014 to help carry on her dad’s legacy. She is extremely passionate about CAAEL and loves working alongside so many incredible teachers, administrators, and students.
She is very excited for the future of CAAEL as she focuses lots of her time on networking and fundraising so that the organization can find additional funding sources and serve even more students in the Chicagoland area and beyond. She is a proud mom of three.

Marty Knuth - Director of Programming

While a graduate student in the mid 70’s, Marty met John, instantly arranged for the school he was teaching at to join CAAEL, and has been a mainstay of the organization ever since. Marty brings his 40+ years of teaching Special Education experience to assist Sarah in maintaining CAAEL’s quality programming, devising and implementing additional program offerings, and in the expansion of CAAEL member schools.
As John was fond of pointing out, Marty holds the distinction of officiating more CAAEL football, basketball, volleyball, and softball games than anyone in the league. Marty is thrilled to be working with CAAEL from the other side of the field now, and looks forward to many years of service to CAAEL and the wonderful people who dedicate their lives in service to these students.

Katie (Martin) Trendel - Program Coordinator / Administrative Assistant

Katie has a Master’s Degree in Human Services-Exercise Science and was the Sports and Teen Director at the PAV YMCA for 10 years. She resigned this position in September, 2018 to help carry on her father’s legacy.  Katie began her work as a CAAEL volunteer as an eight year old working in the  Annual Basketball Tournament’s concession stand . And for the last 15 years she has been managing all functions of the tournament’s registration process.
As Program Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, Katie is committed to serving and expanding the CAAEL network along with her sister Sarah and dear friend, Marty. She has two daughters, ages 9 and 10, who look forward each year to working in the concession stand and carrying on the family tradition.

Brian O'Connell - Director of Development

Brian O’Connell joined CAAEL as Director of Development and a Board member in January 2018. Prior to joining CAAEL, he served for four years as President of Roscoe Village Neighbors (RVN), from 2010-2014. Brian also served on RVN’s Board of Directors from 2006-2010, performing various functions, including roles on the Education Committee, Zoning Committee, and Community Development Committee.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Arizona. Brian began his professional career at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and founded his own commodities floor trading operation in 1995. He ran his trading operation through 2010. Currently, he co-owns and manages a real estate development and investment company in the Chicagoland area. Brian’s background provides the CAAEL Board with broad expertise in political and community relations as well as financial and risk/reward analysis.

Heather Banks - Information Technology Specialist

Heather has been working with CAAEL since 2014. She owns technology consulting firm Novare Consulting which provides business consulting and technology services to commercial, not for profit, and government organziations. Originally working with John Martin, she is excited to be continuing the relationship with Sarah and the rest of the CAAEL team and is proud to be a part of this innovative and meaningful organization.
Heather holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Dominican University and a Master’s degree in Business Information Technology from DePaul University. She also has numerous technology certifications as well as women owned business certifications.

CAAEL Leadership

Board of Directors

Advisory Board

Tournament Committee

Fundraising Committee

Laura Albrecht- Maranon Capital
Brandon Karpeles- Wintrust Financial
Marty Knuth- CAAEL
Jim LoGiurato- Joseph Academy
Sarah Lorenzi- CAAEL
Brian O’Connell- CAAEL
Rob Zapinski- Navistar

Mark Connelly
William Leavy
Gerry Lorenzi
Andrea Martin
Michael Schack

Juli Amidei
Sherman Austin
Marty Knuth
Jim LoGiurato
Gerry Lorenzi
Sarah Lorenzi
Brian Sonders
Katie Trendel

Victoria Gearen
Tiziana Lambert
Sarah Lorenzi
Brian O’Connell
Anh Pham
Thuy Pham
Katie Trendel
Julie Walsh

CAAEL is so much more than a one man show...

The most integral piece of the CAAEL team is the compassionate, dedicated, hard-working teachers, students, coaches, administrators and families who use CAAEL every day.

It is also the thousands of volunteers who offer their spirit, energy, and time to make CAAEL the success story that it is.

CAAEL truly is fueled by thousands of hearts rather than millions of dollars.