City: Every week, my mission takes me out into Princeton, Peru, Ottawa, Streator, and Pontiac. I get to spend all of my time living, working, playing, learning, and growing these communities, so while my home is in LaSalle, my life is lived throughout Starved Rock Country.
Where did you grow up? In the very rural outskirts near Monterey, Illinois.
Family: My parents were married for 48 years before we lost my mother to cancer. She was a brilliant and beautiful business-minded woman. My father is a master gardener, master naturalist and musician who retired after 30-plus years of working with computing, CNC machining, and robotics at Caterpillar. I have two sisters: one a civil engineer living in Maine and the other a home-school teacher living in East Peoria. I also have three treasured nephews.
Pets: I adopted a senior deaf cocker spaniel last year. Reuben is the light of my life. There is nothing more heartwarming than listening to the gentle snore of a former shelter dog who knows he sleeps in safety. Clyde, an aged but spry ragdoll cat, was inherited a few months ago. Clyde brings the eccentricities of a 1920’s southern gentleman; comfortable sitting in an armchair reading the WSJ, while dressed in a freshly pressed seersucker suit, a bow tie, and socks held up with garters. The two of them together are a sight.
Occupation: I am honored and elated to be the new Executive Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance.
Hobbies: I’m a creative technologist, writer, and designer who’s been focused on a singular project for the past six years. Outside of the actual writing and development, there are many real-world assets I’ve created around the story-line like paintings and drawings, and assemblages like costuming and jewelry. It’s an iterative project that, at some point, I will expose to the world. For now, it remains a story that someday will be brought to life.
What kind of music do you enjoy? I think Sunday mornings were made for arias. The other days of the week you can count on some Damian Rice, Mike Jones, Shaggy, Mary Lambert, Pink, Sublime, and Macklemore.
What is the last book you read? Books are my favorite things! The last book I read was “Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.” My favorite book though is “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky. It shines a full focus, not on having great ideas, but on the actions and mindset and community you need to bring those ideas to fruition. My favorite fiction book is “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. She was a first-time author whose brilliant work achieved every goal I have set for my work.
What TV shows do you like? I love series dramas. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Amazon’s “The Patriot” are favorites.
What are some of your favorite movies? I loved “The Usual Suspects” because I did not see the ending coming. I was very inspired by “A Monster Calls” through its deep storytelling and visual beauty.
What are some of your favorite foods? Right now? Red peppers, watermelon, asparagus and corn on the grill. My dad has me hooked on farmer’s markets and my mother raised a good cook. I love investing quality Sunday time in the kitchen.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one thing, what would it be? My thoroughly spoiled dog.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? That’s an unfair question for someone who’s only been here a month. There are so many delightful local restaurants to choose from! Ask me in a year or two, perhaps. I can tell you without hesitation that Flour House Bakery & Coffee in Princeton offers my entry for favorite local restaurant bathroom.
If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it? I’d invest in one or two start-ups and launch an empire.
What’s something that’s on your bucket list? I think Greece and Sweden is on my bucket list. I would like to immerse myself in my heritage and meet my extended family.
People would be surprised to know that you? Are a certified NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) instructor who loves to dance. I’ve always been a bigger size than practically everyone around me. Some health issues keep me from a svelte figure, but I never stopped loving my body and moving toward joy.
What is your favorite thing about the city you live in? That everywhere I go I’m surrounded by the lush green of this region. Every weekend, it’s easy to find great cultural activities and is a breeze to get to them.
If you could change one thing about the Illinois Valley, what would it be? To see everyone adopt a deep, intrinsic dedication to investing locally. Every dollar that leaves your hand invests into the infrastructure that organization supports. Whether local farms, local art, local restaurants, local retail, local hardware stores, or local entrepreneurs and business start-ups; dollars spent on the locally-owned economy make the entirety of Starved Rock Country stronger.
What do you love about the Illinois Valley? Outside of that sumptuous green, it’s a delight to meet such dedicated, friendly, creative, and caring people in this region. Everywhere I look, I see people taking the opportunity to care for one another and bring wonderful things to this region. I can’t wait to see what we can grow!