Illinois Valley Living Magazine honors the women of the Illinois Valley
It’s no secret the women of the Illinois Valley are an amazing group of ladies. Just ask anyone to name a woman who has made a difference in the Illinois Valley, and there’s no shortage of answers. Whether they are an entrepreneur, a mother, a soldier, a visionary, an idealist, a grandmother, they all have a story, and we are always honored to be able to recognize these women and share their often amazing stories with you, our readers.
In 2013, Illinois Valley Living magazine decided to take that recognition one step further by creating the Women of Distinction Awards.
To honor those who have made it their passion to better the Illinois Valley, Illinois Valley Living magazine has chosen six women to receive the 2017 Women of Distinction Awards.
These awards will be given to women who have made a difference in the Illinois Valley and who are role models and leaders in their fields and communities. The featured women were nominated by a member of the community and selected by a special committee of previous Women of Distinction winners.
In the following pages, you will meet each of our winners. It is our hope you become inspired by these women and find your own way to make the Illinois Valley a better place to live, work and play.
To further honor these exceptional women, Illinois Valley Living magazine will host an awards luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens in rural Princeton.
We are very excited about our keynote speaker, WQAD News 8 anchor Denise Hnytka. Hnytka, who is truly a Woman of Distinction in her own right, will engage the audience not only with her knowledge of the area media/stories that make the Illinois Valley a great place to live work and play, but also her role as the friendly face we see every evening on the nightly news. We believe everyone will find something inspiring in Hnytka’s words.
The community is invited to join Illinois Valley Living magazine in celebrating the achievements of our six Women of Distinction as well as those of all women in the Illinois Valley, while enjoying a wonderful catered luncheon, plenty of freebies and prizes, and lots of fun. For tickets, see the reservation form in this edition of Illinois Valley Living or call Illinois Valley Living magazine at 815-875-4461, ext. 6320.
City of residence: Princeton.
Organization/company: Flowers by Julia, owner/head designer.
Born and raised in the LaMoille area, Julia Cain has spent the majority of her adult life in Princeton. Graduating from LaMoille High School, Cain continued her education at Danville Junior College in Danville, where she earned a degree in horticulture. She then returned to the Illinois Valley and opened her first small flower shop in a tearoom in Dover in 1978. From there, she has built a thriving business, Flowers by Julia, on Princeton's East Peru Street.
Working with families as well as on the corporate level, Cain's artistry brings to life beauty in many venues. She has been known to donate much of her time, talent and even products to local and community events without acknowledgement.
Aside from her work in the family's flower shop, Cain also serves on the Zearing Child Enrichment Center Board of Directors; she is a Paul Harris Fellow of the Princeton Rotary, where she serves on a variety of committees; a member of the Princeton Public School Foundation Scholarship Committee and the Don Moffitt Scholarship Committee. Her awards have been many, including being named as the grand marshal of the Homestead Festival Parade; named as Princeton Chamber Business of the Year; honored by the Illinois Arts Council for her support of Festival 56. She also worked with her husband, Keith, for the betterment of Princeton during his 16 years as Princeton mayor.
Cain's nominator said, "I have known Julia for 40 years, and as a friend, have witnessed her dedication and service to her community. Tireless and steadfast, Julia has worked to make a difference in the lives of both her valued customers and her beloved community."
City of residence: Princeton.
Organization/company: Princeton Chamber of Commerce/Princeton Tourism.
As executive director of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce/Princeton Tourism, one of Kim Frey's strengths and greatest professional achievements is helping to grow the membership of the Princeton Chamber to more than 370 since she became executive director in 2010. Frey has been instrumental in helping to develop a thriving Main Street, including a host of events held throughout the year.
Frey has also been a catalyst in helping to promote Princeton and all it has to offer, including the filming of commercials currently being aired on WQAD News 8 in Moline, and she has been responsible for bringing "The Score Pre-Game Pep Rally on Good Morning Quad Cities" to Princeton High School.
Other events which she has helped or created are Women in Business, the Business Leads Team, the annual Agricultural Breakfast, Morning Mingle, Lunch in the Park, Business After Hours and Casino Night — all events sponsored (at least in part) by the Princeton Chamber.
Frey is also a member of the Princeton Rotary Club and the Industrial Development Commission.
Her nominators said, "Kim is very passionate about her hometown and gives it her all. We can't imagine what our town would be like without her energy and commitment to improving the quality of life for those who live here, as well as those who visit Princeton. She devotes countless hours beyond a normal 9 to 5 job, and she does so while juggling being a mom to her three sons."
City of residence: Princeton.
Organization/company: Perry Memorial Hospital, education and community training center coordinator.
Marcia Hartwig has been an asset to Perry Memorial Hospital and the Princeton area for almost 28 years. Since 2000, she has been the hospital's education and CTC coordinator where she has been able to positively influence the quality of patient care in the community through careful and detailed orientation of new nurses and other hospital staff. Part of her role also includes making sure staff are kept up to date on the ever-changing health care environment by administering the hospital's Learning Management System and coordinating multiple learning events through the year.
Hartwig's list of professional accomplishments is a long one, including a host of events like Perry Wellness 365, annual community health fairs, wellness program coordinator for the Bureau County Senior Center, diabetes education and vendor fair, breast cancer awareness style show and much more.
Hartwig is a register nurse and has a bachelor of science in nursing.
Additional community involvement includes Catholic Church Women, Bureau County Homestead Festival, Perry Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Manlius Ladies Night Out, American Heart Association and more.
Her nominator said, "Marcia is creative in her approach to education and information ... As a member of the Perry Memorial staff, she devotes countless hours to our community serving on multiple task teams and committees."
City of residence: Spring Valley.
Organization/company: City of Spring Valley, economic development director.
As Spring Valley Economic Director, Debb Ladgenski has been a part of many major accomplishments in the city, like creating and managing the facade grant program, and working with business owners and developers to help them go through the steps they need to go through to locate in Spring Valley. She also helps manage the city's website and advertising, and helps organize events and activities that promote the community such as the farmer's market.
Ladgenski is also on the board for the Spring Valley Historic Association and has been a major part in acquiring and renovating the museum located in downtown Spring Valley. As a board member of the Richard A. Mautino Memorial Library, Ladgenski was a major component in the expansion project of the veteran's wing in 2004, and she worked directly with the architect, personnel of the Illinois State Library and Spring Valley veterans. In 2013, she was named the Small Business Center Advocate of the Year.
Throughout the years, Ladgenski has taught school. She also was a former freelance reporter for the Bureau County Republican.
She is a member of the Spring Valley Booster Club; a classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement; on the board of directors for the Upper Valley River Valley Development Authority; a Boy Scout merit badge counselor and more.
She is the Vice-Chair of the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway and a founding member and secretary of the North Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation.
She has also been involved in a variety of events like the Christmas in the Valley, the Lighted Santa Parade, Shop Small Business Weekend, the Outdoor Expo, the farmer's market and summer concerts.
Her nominator said, "Debb's compassion for her community can be seen in her involvement and dedication to her job and the many organizations. She has given hours of her time to improve and help the community to move forward. She is very deserving of this award."
City of residence: Ladd.
Organization/business: Hall Township Project Success/Echo Bluff Park, director.
While the list is a long one, perhaps one of Jan Martin's greatest achievements began in June 2011, when she took over as director of the Hall Township Project Success, more commonly known as the Spring Valley Food Pantry. Martin's attitude of genuine concern and respect is a hallmark of what the food pantry stands for, as well as how it operates in helping clients. That attitude is also instrumental in the 70-plus volunteers who work alongside Martin at the pantry. Those efforts have clearly paid off.
Twice the Hall Township Food Pantry has been named the Best Food Pantry in the 22 counties served by the River Bend Food Bank.
Martin is also the director of Echo Bluff — the Hall Township family oriented park off of Highway 29. During her time there, she has added a number of successful summer camps and programs like Easter egg hunts, family skate days and more. Martin also oversaw a revamp of the camp's website and has helped to increase the number of people who are actually using the park.
Other places you'll no doubt run into Martin is at the Ladd Village Board meetings, where she serves as a councilwoman, a Pampered Chef dealer, a Cursillo team member and an active part of a large, extended family.
Jan's nominator said, "By reading the above, you have most of the ingredients in the mix that is the delightful, dedicated Jan Martin. If you haven't yet met her, drop into the Hall Township Project Success for a wonderful treat."
City of residence: Princeton.
Organization/business: Zearing Child Enrichment Center, business manager.
Lisa Vincent has served as the business manager for the Zearing Child Enrichment Center for 20 years. During her tenure there, she has successfully navigated both transitions and leadership that have occurred during that time. Her role at the center transcends well beyond that of accounts manager. She always greets parents and children with her warm and endearing smile, and at the end of the day, she never fails to offer a friendly goodbye.
One of Vincent's most exceptional characteristics is her ability to understand and comprehend the vast program compliance requirements the state of Illinois demands of early childhood educational centers, such as enrollment procedures, subsidy and reimbursement programs, food ordering programs and general billing. Her ability and willingness to learn and implement updates at the center is second to none.
Vincent also helps with the Zearing Child Enrichment Center Z Tour Bike Ride. Vincent's ability to turn a paper and pencil project into an online version has been instrumental in this fundraising success.
Her nominator said: "If you were to ask (a current or former) administrator what one of the center's strongest assets is, you would receive one consistent response — Lisa Vincent is at the heart and soul of the center and strives daily to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. She is one of the most honest, compassionate, trustworthy and caring people I have had the privilege to know."