Kerstin Rust
United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties

Kerstin serves as the Executive Director at United Way of Kankakee & Iroquois Counties, where she leads efforts to mobilize the caring power of our community to help families thrive. She also serves on the board of directors for the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley and United Way of Illinois. 


Kerstin holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science from Butler University and a master’s degree in Public Service with a specialization in Sustainable Community Development from DePaul University.  

A lifelong learner and explorer – Kerstin loves traveling, watching documentaries, reading, listening to podcasts, and experimenting with new foods. She has visited over 35 countries, including extended stays in The Republic of Georgia and Kenya.  


Born and raised on a farm near the Kankakee River in Indiana, Kerstin’s journey ultimately led her to set roots near that same river in Illinois. She lives with her husband Officer Travis Garcia in Bourbonnais. Together, they recently welcomed their first daughter Mabel in April 2022.