BATAVIA – Two Batavians who “wanted to get involved” in 1991 when they moved to Batavia were named the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year today.
The Batavia Chamber of Commerce will honor Steven and Britta McKenna on Jan. 26 at the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner.
In a press release, Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke described the pair as a “dynamic team, one that has always been supportive of whatever the town is working on."
According to Batavia Park District Executive Director Allison Niemela, she is especially thankful for the integral role Britta and Steve played for over two decades onthe Batavia Riverwalk.
“They have an incredible work ethic and I’m honored to work alongside them,” Niemela said in the release. “What they work on turns to gold and I’m grateful their Midas touch has benefitted the Park District.”
The McKenna family arrived in Batavia in 1991 due to a job transfer for Steve and a desire by the two of them to get back to their Midwestern roots. As a stay-at-home mom with two small boys, Britta McKenna was the first to reach out to the community. Fortuitously, Batavia was trying to get a river walk project underway and was looking for organizational help.
A lover of the outdoors, Britta not only embraced the project, she jumped in with both feet. She became a volunteer board member of the Batavia Riverwalk Committee and served as its marketing director. A couple of years later, Steve McKenna joined the Riverwalk Committee as a board member and its treasurer.
In 2000, the pair also served as founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk.
In the meantime, because he was a scout as a boy, Steve McKenna wanted to get the couple’s sons, Kyle and Owen, involved in Boy Scouts of America. The family’s church home, Holy Cross Catholic Church, sponsored Boy Scout Troup 21, but did not have a Cub Scout pack.
Along with several others, Steve McKenna served as one of the founders of Holy Cross Cub Scout Pack 121 in 1992. He continually served in a leadership role in Scouts through 2011, culminating with his service as the finance chair for Three Fires District Council.
Owen McKenna followed his father’s example and earned his Eagle Scout. Fittingly, his final project involved the Riverwalk.
“I see my role with the Boy Scouts as the most rewarding,” Steve McKenna said, citing the ability to not only participate in an activity with his sons, but also as a way to positively influence the lives of young people.
A couple of years after Steve McKenna started the Cub Scout pack, Britta McKenna joined in the scouting activities and a pattern began emerging. As she pointed out, one spouse’s interest initiates their involvement in a cause, with the other joining later.
“Passion – for one or the other of us – would lead, and the other eventually follows along,” she explained. “When one would get tired, the other would pick them up and carry on. As a couple, if we want to work together and be together, the other joins in.”
Besides the Scouts and the Riverwalk, you’ll see the couple involved in activities ranging from Holy Cross Church to the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Parks Foundation. The Batavia Chamber of Commerce, BataviaMainStreet, Art in Your Eye and most recently, Breast Cancer MyStory, are all organizations that have benefitted from their devoted efforts.
“They gladly share the love and passion God has given them with the community,” said Monsignor Daniel Deutsch, of Holy Cross Catholic Church. “They are guided by their faith and bring excitement and joy about life to everything they do. They are great friends and parishioners and it is wonderful to know them.”
Steve McKenna works as Vice President of Pricing at SIRVA Moving Company. Britta McKenna founded the nonprofit organization Breast Cancer MyStory in 2012. She also works as the marketing and communications director for KluberArchitects + Engineers in Batavia.
Roger Breisch, Executive Director of Batavia Chamber of Commerce is more than pleased with this year’s Citizen of the Year selection.
“Honoring Britta and Steve means so much to me personally," Breisch said. “It would be impossible to count the number of times I have been witness to their kindness, generosity and creativity. “I feel blessed to have been touched in their love of the enclave we call Batavia.”
The Batavia Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous recipients of the award and is based on nominations from thecommunity. The award is given for extraordinary contributions to the communityover the course of the recipient’s lifetime.
Batavia’s Citizen of the Year is honored at the annual awards dinner for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event will be held on January 26 at Lincoln Inn Banquets, 1345 S. Batavia Avenue in Batavia. For ticket information, register online at www.bataviachamber.org or contact the Chamber at 630-879-7134.