Introducing our 2015 honorees!
In 2012, McHenry County Magazine began a tradition of honoring women who have given their time and talents to the community. They have created nonprofit organizations, commanded local advisory boards, volunteered at activities and businesses outside their own workplaces and, most of all, continue to lead by example.
Each spring, we solicit nominations from community leaders, local business professionals and our own readership. And through this process, we discover our communities full of inspiring women; teachers and nurses, entrepreneurs and advisors, artists and volunteers.
This month, we continue the tradition with the 2015 class of McHenry County Magazine’s Women of Distinction.
We introduce our honorees here, pay tribute to them at an annual event, and in each month that follows, we will tell the complete story of one of these outstanding local residents.
Lake in the Hills
Village of Lake in the Hills — Relationships Matter Now
Denise Barreto has shown dedication, whether serving the community as a member of the Village Board or through her career including the success of her own business, Relationships Matter Now. Her hard work has made a difference in her community and with the many businesses she has assisted. In just a few years, Barreto and her small firm have become a resource for businesses of all sizes. Her model for success in business and personal leadership is making an impact on corporate businesses and nonprofits. She has penned a book to further teach and provide essential tools for success.
Caldwell Consulting Group
Kathleen Caldwell has created programs, written a book and given endless hours of her time serving with local groups and organizations. She is the founder of the WHEE Institute, creating and delivering customized learning programs, and is the creator of Team Intelligence, which focuses on team building and leadership development. She has more than 20 years of experience in global business strategy and community leadership. Outside of work, she is involved with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the McHenry County Women in Management and she volunteers with Realty Store for Youth at Woodstock High School. She is a marathon runner and is a concert flutist who has performed throughout the United States and Europe.
McHenry County Economic Development Corp.
Pam Cumpata has built a career providing commercial business development and relationship management for financial institutions. She has a solid track record of increasing profitability and strengthening business relationships. In 2009, she became president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, which plays an important role in the county attracting and retaining businesses. Along with her work, she serves as a board member for the United Way of Greater McHenry County and she is congregation president at St. John Lutheran Church. She also serves as a board member for the Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake.
Dobbe Marketing & PR
Sue Dobbe is a successful entrepreneur, making a positive impact on Crystal Lake and McHenry County. After establishing her own business she earned a reputation for creating and promoting successful strategic brand identities. She’s worked on brand development for downtown Crystal Lake and Main Street as well as creating the local loyalty program. She’s handled rebranding and website reconstruction for the McHenry Chamber of Commerce and much more. Along with her work, she’s served as a member and leader in a number of professional organizations like the Rotary. Her concepts and leadership have produced programs to support those in need in the community.
Gavers Community Cancer Foundation
This mother-daughter duo is known for bringing energy and enthusiasm to their work in the community, especially when it comes to supporting the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation. At fundraisers they often are the first to arrive and the last to leave, setting up, coordinating along the way and cleaning up at the end. Two years ago, Dougherty joined the foundation’s board and took on a greater role.
In addition to their work with the foundation they work together at Studio 2015 Jewelry, their family owned business. Young also leads a spousal caregiver support group and worked many years at McHenry and Johnsburg high schools.
Alden-Hebron Elementary School
As the media specialist for Alden-Hebron Elementary School, Colleen Geils is dedicated to helping the students of the district. She is an avid supporter of her students’ community service learning projects and their ability to help the community. Outside of work, she gives her time teaching religious education, organizing the summer reading programs as part of the Hebron Library Board and she often can be found helping young people find books as she encourages reading through the summer months.
Dr. Jill Howe
Superior Health and Wellness
After opening her own clinic in Crystal Lake more than 17 years ago, Dr. Jill Howe has created a practice that goes beyond basic chiropractic care. Her clinic includes physician assistants, physical therapists, massage therapists and more, allowing her team to provide well-rounded health care and wellness education. Her dedication to keeping patients healthy extends beyond a simple appointment. She has authored books, developed and lead workshops and gives community lectures designed to help people understand ways to keep their health in check and learn about alternatives to manage health problems.
Susan F. Hutchinson
In her legal career, Susan F. Hutchinson has made a mark in the community. In 1981, she was the first woman judge appointed in the 19th judicial circuit, which at the time included Lake and McHenry counties. In 1994, she was the first woman elected as an appellate judge in the 2nd appellate district.
Through her appointments and elections, she has presided over numerous legal cases. She has also served on the education committee, directing legal education of all judges in state courts and teaching other judges for more than 20 years.
School District 155 Board
Rosemary Kurtz has spent the last 45 years helping citizens express their voices in government. She is a longtime member of the League of Women Voters and has worked tirelessly for open government and citizen participation. She has served on the state and local levels – as a state representative and on local boards and commissions including the Crystal Lake City Planning and Zoning Board, the McHenry County Community Block Grant Commission and the Crystal Lake Library Foundation. The former high school Spanish teacher is devoted to her community and serving others.
Karen M. Lavin
The Law Offices of KML Associates PC
After growing up in Wonder Lake, attorney Karen M. Lavin returned to her hometown to build a law practice. She has a passion for helping people and is committed to give to others in both her career and her personal life. As a family law attorney for more than 30 years, she helps her clients navigate legal issues. She has also lent her legal expertise to help local organizations such as the Friends in Service Here of McHenry and the Wonder Lake Neighbor’s Food Pantry. She is also active in professional law organizations as well as community groups, including the Rotary Club of McHenry and Family Alliance of McHenry County.
Fresh Look Interiors
Like many small business owners, work goes beyond the basics of day-to-day business. In addition to managing her own company, Fresh Look Interiors, Judy Pelinski has taken an active role in the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, serving on committees and activities throughout her membership.
She has taken a leadership role with the chamber’s community outreach and Community Harvest, a food bank that supports members of the community. She is noted for her care and compassion as well as the hard work it takes to support this program. Through her efforts with Community Harvest, countless individuals and families have been supported during difficult times. Pelinski’s work is tireless, seeking donations and ensuring the programs continues, even as the number of those seeking assistance continues to increase.
Cary-Grove High School
By title, Rebecca Saffert’s job is vice principal at Cary Grove High School, but her compassion and care extend well beyond that of a school administrator. In 2008, she laid the groundwork for Parent University, a program implemented district-wide that helps adults navigate the challenging teen and high school years. Now seven years later the program continues to grow and evolve, bringing in more experts and community leaders as well as provide more sessions for parents. Sessions have included topics on technology in the classroom and at home, financial aid for college-bound students, and coping with teens and anxiety to name a few. Saffert works behind the scenes of Parent University, arranging speakers, scheduling events and publicizing the program.
Lake in the Hills
Village of Lake in the Hills
For the last 12 years Denise Wasserman has served as village clerk. After years of volunteering on the Summer Sunset Festival Committee, she took the reins as chairwoman in 2013. Wasserman manages the community festival and under her leadership it has continued to grow and include more activities.
Her dedication and drive for excellence has benefited the community and she is a proven leader.