Our Founder and President

Suzy Yehl Marta, a divorced mother of three boys, gave up the security of her three jobs to do something she knew in her heart had to be done for children grieving over the loss of a parent through death, divorce, separation or a painful transition. She established RAINBOWS, a not-for-profit organization for single-parent and step-family children.

While growing up, Suzy dreamed of being a good wife and mother. She never considered the possibility of divorce, and was devastated when her marriage ended. Suzy hurt so much, she was relieved when friends told her there was no need to worry about her kids. "They're resilient. They'll bounce back," she was told.

But soon, Suzy realized her sons were hurting as much as she was. She tried to locate a support group for them -- similar to the adult group she had joined -- but found nothing. Working with other concerned single parents, Suzy began organizing weekend retreats for children in single-parent and step-family homes. In three years, more than 800 youth benefited from the retreats. Suzy knew more had to be done. She began working on a formal curriculum -- the foundation of RAINBOWS -- for children who had experienced family loss. The curriculum was designed to provide grieving children of elementary school age with an understanding of their new family unit, to help build a sense of self esteem and to aid them in accepting the changes in their families.

In 1983, three Chicago area private schools piloted the Rainbows curriculum. Since then, RAINBOWS has served nearly one million youth throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and other foreign countries. Now the nation's largest not-for-profit organization dedicated solely to helping families cope with loss, RAINBOWS offers specialized curricula for children (Rainbows), adolescents (Spectrum), single and stepparents (Prism) and young adults (Kaleidoscope). Recently RAINBOWS also launched the Corporate Service Program for businesses seeking to help employees and their families impacted by loss.

Today, remarried and a stepmother, Suzy continues her work on behalf of grieving children and adults. Through television and radio, newspaper articles and public appearances across the country, she speaks to parents, educators and organizations about grief and the experiences of family members during crisis, offering guidance, insight and hope. For her efforts, Suzy has been honored by the media and distinguished national service organizations.

VITAE

MEMBERSHIPS

  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • The Children and Divorce Resource Network
  • Association for Death Education and Counseling
  • Family Resource Coalition
  • Step Family Association
  • Illinois Association For Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Illinois State Attorney's Task Force For Single Parent Children
  • National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM)
  • National Association Women Business owners (NAWBO)

    PUBLICATIONS AUTHORED

  • Healing The Hurt, Restoring The Hope, Rodale Press, 2003
  • From the Ashes, A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America, Experience, Strength, and Hope From Spiritual Leaders and Extraordinary Citizens, Rodale Press - contributor
  • RAINBOWS Curricula: Rainbows, Spectrum, Kaleidoscope, Prism
  • The Single Symphony: A Guidebook for Single Parents
  • "Recognizing and Dealing With Divorce" - Early Childhood News March/April 1998
  • "When Death or Divorce Occur: Helping Children Cope With Loss" - ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education 1998
  • "Help Your Child Bounce Back" - Reader's Digest October 1993
  • "Rainbows For All God's Children" - Guidepost July 1993
  • "In Divorce Matters, Children Matter Most" - Chicago Tribune March 1996
  • "Focus On The Children" - Mediation Curriculum for Cook County IL (Co-author)

    WORKSHOPS and PRESENTATIONS

  • U.S. Commission on Child & Family Welfare
  • National Council For Children's Rights, Washington, D.C.
  • Parents Without Partners, Inc. International Board
  • National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)
  • Association of Family Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
  • University of Illinois Juvenile Institute of Research
  • Chicago Bar Association's Sub-Committee on Alternative Dispute Negotiations
  • National Council of Catholic Women Convention (NCCW)
  • Loyola University Chicago Families & Self-Esteem Conference
  • St. Mary of the Lake University, Mundelein, IL
  • South Winnipeg Family Information Centre, Manitoba, Canada
  • Trinity College/Toronto, Canada
  • Zurich American Corp. Wellness Program

    ORGANIZATIONAL AWARDS

  • Mercedes Benz Mentor Award, 2002
  • NBC 5 Jefferson Award, 2001
  • Ben Gingiss Award - Illinois Humane Society, 1998
  • Points of Light Foundation, 1998
  • Listener of the Year Award/International Listening Association, 1996
  • Franciscan International Award, 1995
  • Distinguished Service to Families Award/Illinois Assn. for Marriage & Family Therapy, 1995
  • Third Justice Berger "Healer" Award/National Council for Children's Rights, 1994
  • American Cardinals Encouragement Award/Catholic University of America, 1992
  • Recognition Award/National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, 1992
  • Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award, Des Plaines IL, 1990
  • Modern Samaritan Award/Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Elk Grove Village IL, 1987

    MEDIA HONORS

  • "Women Who Make a Difference" Family Circle Magazine August 1995
  • "Chicago's Top 100 Women" Today's Chicago Woman Summer 1995
  • "People Who Make A Difference...in the USA" USA Today December 1987
  • "Outstanding Woman Award" Women's Day Magazine October 1987
  • "A New American Hero" Newsweek Magazine Summer 1986

    TELEVISION/RADIO INTERVIEWS and GUEST APPEARANCES

  • The Oprah Winfrey Show
  • The Joan Rivers Radio Show - New York
  • Keeping Kids Healthy, WMET - PPS
  • Joe Namath's "Heroes: Made in the U.S.A."
  • Talk of the Town, Boston MA
  • "For Kids Sake" WGN-TV Chicago IL
  • "The Sunday Chronicles" WGN-TV Chicago IL
  • "Fox News" WFLD-TV Chicago IL
  • "The Ed and Ty Show" WJJD-AM Chicago IL
  • "The Dick Staub Show", Chicago IL
  • "Today Show", NBC, New York, NY
  • "Today Show", Sydney, Australia
  • "Chicago Tonight" with John Callaway WTTW:PBS
  • "51 Percent" WAMC National Productions

    REFERENCED BY

  • Who's Who In America
  • Encyclopedia of Experts, Speakers and Authorities

    MEDIA COVERAGE

    Suzy Yehl Marta and RAINBOWS have been featured in articles in numerous magazines and newspapers including: Ladies Home Journal, Catholic Digest, Chicago Parent Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Newark Star Ledger, Atlanta Journal/Constitution and Chicago Sun Times. Copies of the articles are available upon request.

    Revised January 2003

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