Our People


Michael Arkes, President & Founder 
Mike founded Helping Hand Partners (previously named Helping Hand Rewards) in January of 2007 and serves as its President. For 42 years, he worked for his family’s business, Hinda Incentives, serving as the company leader for 26 of those years. In October 2012, Hinda Incentives was sold, and Michael devotes his energies to developing new business opportunities for Helping Hand Partners

DenaDena Hirschberg, Executive Vice President
At HHP, Dena leads all divisions of the organization. In addition to implementing HHP’s overall strategic plan, she manages team members in all aspects of the business including business development and sales; marketing and brand management, including that of our two social enterprise brands, 1eleven™ and Helping Hand Artisans™; operations; and, new product development for all of HHP’s channels of distribution. She is co-founder of an award-winning specialty market toy company and owner of a consulting firm specializing in strategic innovation and new product development. Her entrepreneurial experience creates solutions. Her loving husband and daughter, along with an occasional improv set, keep her sane!
Stephanie Piccirilli, Co-founder, 1eleven & HHP, Managing Director
As co-founder of 1eleven, Stephanie is responsible for business strategy, workforce development efforts and product development. In addition, Stephanie leads daily operations of the social enterprise facility in Pilsen. In her role as managing director for HHP, Stephanie oversees new product development and social enterprise partnerships Before joining HHP, Stephanie co-founded Bright Endeavors, a social enterprise in Chicago helping homeless and at-risk young mothers. At Bright Endeavors, she led branding efforts, product and program development, business strategy, and sales/marketing objectives. Previously, she was the VP of programs and social enterprise at The Cara Program and traveled nationally to consult on public policy and job development initiatives. Most importantly, Stephanie is a mom, artist, and fiercely believes transformation can happen at any time.
Diana Epstein, National Sales Manager – Retail Division
Diana has a diverse background in sales and marketing. Working for decades in all sides of the wholesale and retail world, Diana has gained a unique 360 perspective when it comes to retail. She has worked with some of the leading consumer goods manufacturers, owned a retail boutique and helped start a local coalition of independent retailers. Diana understands merchandising, buying, and retail marketing, all skills that help to further the altruistic causes of HHP and help to provide a path out of poverty for the artisans that HHP promotes.
LucyLucy Kron, Incentive Sales
Lucy brings more than 30 years’ experience in the Incentive industry to Helping Hand Partners. Her primary focus is building relationships with US and Canadian based incentive companies and placing HHP product in their respective awards assortments. A long-time resident of Chicago, Lucy’s interests are broad and varying and include learning through travel, Pilates, and dabbling in healthy cooking, holiday cookies not withstanding!
PeggyPeggy Eisenstein, Customer Service
Peggy has made a career of helping others, including serving as a board member for a child welfare agency since she was barely out of her teens. She has a work history that includes education, and finance, and she’s able to draw on her Spanish—and even her personal experience making jewelry—in her work with our partners and customers.
Allyson Zelinski, Graphics & Marketing Specialist
Allyson graduated in 2012 from the University of Michigan with a degree in Fine Arts, and loves creating original artwork and designs for HHP’s marketing materials. In her spare time she enjoys playing softball, making jewelry, and reading.
JimJim Wersching,Sales & Trade Show Coordinator
Jim has over 20 years’ sales experience working both in retail and as a rep/buyer and is a recent addition to the HHP family. While taking time off to raise his family, Jim was involved in volunteering and raising money for the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools.
AliciaAlicia Barlow, Warehouse Coordinator
Alicia is a former participant of New Moms and Bright Endeavors. Being a part of a social enterprise has helped her overcome many obstacles, gain job skills, and build confidence. Alicia was offered a job at HHP a week before her internship ended at Bright Endeavors and is very proud to be one of the newest employees of HHP.  Her passion has always been to help others, and working with such a passionate and dedicated group of people has helped her stay focused and positive. A better life and future for her family is one of her biggest goals.
JessieJessie Jury, Marketing Director
Jessie has experience working with Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike, as well as professional associations and non-profit organizations. Her strength in communications strategy enables her to work promote a positive image and develop community support and engagement for HHP and our partners. She has a love of all things green and tech.
Our Partners

Helping Hand Partners is proud to introduce our partners, the social enterprises in the United States and fair trade organizations around the world that manufacture our fabulous products. Meet our partners.