McHenry County Women's Power Luncheon panel shares wisdom of success

CRYSTAL LAKE – Women aspiring to be community leaders can find many role models in McHenry County.

McHenry County Magazine’s Women’s Power Luncheon brought a group of those role models together Wednesday at the Crystal Lake Country Club, where a panel of executive directors from area chambers shared their stories about covering unique corners of the county and their journeys toward professional and personal development.

Here’s a look at some of the wisdom the panel of seven woman leaders had to share:

Mary Margaret Maule, Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, on change:

“At the end of the day, we all face crisis, we all face challenging times, we all face change. ... Adapt to a never-ending, always-evolving, ever-changing landscape.”

Katrina McGuire, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce, on seizing opportunities:

“Every time I see an opportunity, I just want to grab it. I’ve had several opportunities, some failures – if you want to call it that – more learning experiences, but [through] every single one of those I’ve met amazing people.”

Sunday Graham, Huntley Chamber of Commerce, on the best advice she can give:

“My best advice would be stay true to yourself; recognize what your strengths are. Focus on those, and leverage and maximize those opportunities, but also recognize where your opportunity to grow is. Find that mentor to help you to develop those skills to be a coach and to be coached. When you’re young, you sort of have this, ‘I’m going to go out and change the world’ [mentality], and that’s great, but eventually you need to recognize where your development is. I think every woman that’s had a great professional career has had that mentor.”

Kay Bates, McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce, on being fearless and pursuing a goal:

“Even though you may not have a natural gift in a particular area, you are called upon to represent your organization, your business. ... You need to pursue that. Just do it, is my two cents. You may just develop a latent talent.”

Lynn Caccavallo, Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce, on perseverance:

“Life was white-picket-fence perfect. All that changed with a phone call in August of 2008. In an instant, my entire life changed. Six months later, our lives were shattered in a million pieces when my 41-year-old husband, Randy, lost his short battle with cancer, leaving me behind to raise our four children, ages 10 through 18. I was faced with a future of complete uncertainty, which seemed hopeless and dark. Who was I? No longer a wife, no longer someone’s partner, no longer a stay-at-home mom, how would I survive? How would I be able to raise these children? Would our lives ever be normal or happy again? With both fear and fearlessness, I forged my way forward through the darkness, because truly the only way out is to go through. I am the woman I am today because of my journey. ... Everything in my life today is because of the hard work and the perseverance that I had to put in to navigating the new life for both myself and my children.”

Sally South, Richmond-Spring Grove Chamber of Commerce, on her biggest “hurrah” as a chamber director:

“I started working with this chamber back in April, and the board of directors thought that I could get the membership up from 158 to 200 by the end of the year, and I really thought that was an unrealistic goal not coming from a chamber background, not really knowing what it was going to take. My very first sales call, it was sort of a warm call. I was told this company wanted to join my chamber. So I scheduled an appointment and I went there. The business owner really did not want to join the chamber. He was spitting and swearing and pointing at me. There was spit coming in my face. He was so mad. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is a great job.’ After about 45 minutes, I smoothed things over, and I left with a check. When I heard the check being ripped out of the checkbook, I literally started to cry. I thought, ‘This is what I am supposed to do, this is what I am going to do.’ ”

Danielle Gulli, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, on the changing face of retail:

“Local retailers are not going away. [They] needs to change. We need to change and keep up with the changing economy.”

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