Leadership Team

Meet the Founders of Morning Star Village

Dennis and Susan Leahy

Originally from Freeport, IL the high school sweethearts have been together since 1965, and after marrying in 1982 they settled down in Rockford. Dennis studied law and became an attorney and Susan became an educator. They eventually welcomed a daughter, named Regan, to their family. The Leahys had invested in several acres along Mulford Road and recognized a need for an assisted living facility in Rockford. It wasn’t long before their vision of Morning Star Village, a senior assisted living center, became a reality. Today, Morning Star Village proudly represents the values of joy, laughter, love, and respect that the Leahy family grew up with, in honor of the seniors in their extended families.

Megan Benzel - Executive Director

I’m Megan Benzel and I have been the Executive Director of Morning Star Village since September 2008. I’ve worked in geriatric healthcare since graduating with my Masters in Gerontology in 2001 and am proud to have been with the same company, Presence Life Connections, since 2001. My job duties include oversight of the entire Morning Star Village operation, including the residents and staff, and my favorite part of my job is my daily interactions with our residents. I truly feel MSV has something special here, in that we develop extremely close bonds with our residents, families, and employees. One colleague recently described MSV as “the happiest place in town”, which I feel sums our community up perfectly!

I currently live in Poplar Grove with my husband, Justin, and our daughter, Avery, as well as our two pets, Morrison and Santo. We’re avid Cubs fans and enjoying spending a great deal of time with our family.

Jane Stivers - Business Office Manager

My name is Jane Stivers and I have been the Business Office Manager at Morning Star Village since December 20, 2011. My primary responsibilities include invoicing the residents, collections, payroll, processing Accounts Payable, managing cash, month end close and preparing/distributing the yearly budget and monthly financial statements. My position at Morning Star Village is very rewarding because I am part of a great leadership team and the staff is very compassionate and caring. Spending time with the residents is a huge bonus too! My family grew the day I started working at Morning Star Village!

I am originally from Pecatonica, IL and currently reside in Winnebago, IL with my husband, Kevin, and our 2 sons – Evan and Riley. My hobbies include spending time with my human and canine family and I have been actively involved in animal rescue since 2003.


Michael Cal - Facilities Director

I am Michael Cal, Facilities Director, and I have been a member of the Morning Star Village team since our doors opened in 2009. My duties at Morning Star are varied, however; all of them related to keeping the building operations running. I oversee Housekeeping, maintenance, laundry, and grounds. 

I was born and raised in Rockford; I have a wife and 2 wonderful children. My wife Charon works for the Rockford school district as an assistant principal for Flinn Middle School, and my children attend Washington Gifted Academy. I currently serve on the PTO as the assistant treasurer, and volunteer for the school district on a regular basis. I enjoy getting involved in my children’s activities and spending time with my family. My personal interests include drawing and painting, movies, and the never-ending home remodeling projects.

Latonya Thomas - Director of Recreation

My name is Latonya Thomas. I am the Recreation Director at Morning Star Village and have worked here since 2009 when Morning Star opened our doors. I started at Morning Star as a Resident Assistant in the Nursing Department up until I was promoted to Recreation Director. I enjoy working at Morning Star because we are one big family and I love the residents that we have.

I was born in Chicago and then moved to Rockford when I was 17. I graduated from Guilford High School in 1996 and then attended Highland College where I received my CNA certificate. I enjoy listening to music, dancing, reading, and surrounding myself with friends and family.

Luciette Bevineau - Dining Services Manager

My name is Luciette Bevineau and I have been at Morning Star Village since 6/8/2009.

I am a Rockford native and have spent my life in Rockford. My hobbies are blanket Making, crocheting, and I am into movies. I have a collection of Chihuahuas, their names are Pinky, Izzy, Perry, and Chubella.
 Welcoming new residents to facility, my responsibilities at work are as follows,  menu writing, balance of nutritional needs, cooking, supplying recipes, scheduling, and maintaining the sanitation of the kitchen.

MSV is a family oriented community. It is a very pleasant atmosphere for Residents and Their Children. Our MSV management is filled with many skills.