Q&A with New Youth Outreach Director Taryn Fears

Holly:  We’re so excited to have you as part of our Sunshine Team, leading the Youth Outreach Programs!  Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you grew up, family, etc):

Taryn:  I am the youngest of 5 with 4 older brothers. My parents raised us in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood and later the south suburb of Dolton. My father has been a full time evangelist all my life and a pastor of a church in Joliet, IL since 1992. My mother is in ministry as well but worked as a LPN and Health Service Director for Head Start before retiring. 

Taryn with her parents, siblings, and nieces/nephews

Holly:  Tell us what intrigued you about the Youth Outreach Director position at Sunshine. 

Taryn:  Being very much involved in youth ministry at my local church and having worked in youth programming professionally at the YMCA, the YO Director position was the perfect marriage between my career path and ministerial assignment.  

Holly:  Your experience working at the YMCA lends well to this new role.  What aspects from your former role are important in this new position? 

Taryn:  First and foremost the ability to develop relationships across the spectrum from the children we serve to their parents, the team of dedicated volunteers and staff, administrators and donors excites me. Being able to lead from a position of trust and accountability is so important.  That is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Holly:  You also have a background in Communications and Marketing.  Tell us how that experience and lens will influence your new role.  

Taryn:  My focus was print journalism and in that medium you learn the skill of identifying and speaking to your audience at the same time delivering your message so that it’s universally understood. On the marketing side it encourages your ability to highlight an entity’s worth, impactfulness and/or need. In this journey to lead the YO Team in expanding the reach and effectiveness of our programs both of these will come into play. 

One of Taryn's favorite bible verses

Holly:  Yes, I love that you bring a broad set of skills and experiences to the table!  How will your faith influence your new role at Sunshine? 

Taryn:  Faith is the foundation of SGM as a whole and therefore guides all decisions, vision and movement in this role. I’m excited to be able to fully incorporate my own faith into my work.

"Faith is the foundation of SGM as a whole and therefore guides all decisions, vision and movement in this role."

Holly:  Do you have a favorite age group of children?  

Taryn:  I’ve worked with newborns to college grads. I enjoy them all!

Elementary Age: Their openness and ability to love grab me the most. They soak up knowledge and just love to see you coming. They brighten my day for sure! 

Middle School: The ingenuity and determination of this age group always inspires me. They’re learning more about themselves and as an influencer in their lives, it challenges you to be the example and well of wisdom they need.

High School – Young Adult: This is where you can really be a cheerleader. I love watching this age group set goals and go after their dreams. They are exceptionally inspiring.

One of Taryn's hobbies is playing the guitar!

Rapid-fire questions:


  1. Artist: Musically? The Winans  Painting? Claude Monet 
  2. Book: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  3. Food: Pizza 
  4. Place to travel: Virginia Beach, VA
  5. Neighborhood in Chicago: Beverly (Love the architecture of the older houses) 
  6. Sports team: Chicago Bulls 
  7. Childhood memory: My first roller coaster ride; Shockwave at Great America 
  8. Hobby: Reading/Playing Guitar
  9. TV show: Of all time? The Cosby Show/ Currently? The Blacklist
  10. Movie: 1942’s Random Harvest with Ronald Coleman & Greer Garson