S everal years ago, Kane 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 of their own workplaces and, most of all, continue to lead by example.
Each year, we will 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 consultants, entrepreneurs and advisors, artists and volunteers.
This month, we continue the tradition with the 2015 class of Kane 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.
Valley Sheltered Workshop
S usan Lusted has made a difference on so many levels. She has used her time, skills and interests to help connect others, support the organizations where she volunteers her time and truly make a difference in the lives of so many in the community.
Along with her work in local philanthropic organizations she is a supervisor at Valley Sheltered Workshop, a non-profit organization that provides employment opportunities to adults with disabilities. There, Lusted’s business skills are an asset as she uses her network of contacts to connect the organization with local companies. Her compassion, dedication, positive outlook and can-do attitude energizes the people around her.
Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office
J ody Gleason has dedicated her career to protecting the rights of crime victims. She serves as the first assistant state’s attorney for Kane County, and previously served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.
In the courtroom, Gleason is known for her vast knowledge, her fairness and her dedication to justice. She is an advocate for the rule of the law and a tenacious trial lawyer.
Outside of the courtroom Gleason enjoys running and has completed marathons and helped to raise funds for Equine Dreams, a nonprofit group providing free therapeutic horseback rides for children and adults with disabilities.
I n her career, Danae Sibert drives others to care for themselves, physically and financially. She is an inspiration helping people to see their strengths and improve their lives.
Sibert takes her skills and life experiences to teach others, sharing her stories for the common good. She has a special interest in children and finds joy in helping the next generation discover their entrepreneurial spirit.
She also makes a point of supporting children in need, through programs like Vitamin Angels, which provides nutrients to children around the world. She is involved in counseling foster children for Royal Family Kids in the Fox Valley area.
Dynamic Professional Women’s Network
C hristie Ruffino is skilled at bringing leaders together and creates professional partnerships so it was a perfect fit when she created her own networking chapter. She is the president and founder of Dynamic Professional Women’s Network. Today there are multiple chapters of DPWN, and at each chapter, members meet bi-weekly to network while highlighting a business or two during concise forums.
Ruffino serves as a leader and inspiration to members, time and again bringing together veteran business owners and those newer to their industries for mentorship that strengthens businesses and the community.
A mber Walker is helping pets and their owners become true companions, aiding owners who care for foster pets and helping families learn the basics of training a young pup. Through her business, Animal Intuitions, LLC, she works to help pets and owners have positive, harmonious relationships.
Her students range from dogs and cats to more exotic animals. She volunteers her time at an aquarium and wildlife centers, enriching the lives of exotic animals while also educating the public about conservation efforts.
A parent herself, she spends time teaching pet and family safety, presenting information through local television appearances as well as written articles.
F or Vicky Waterman, exercise is more than a way to stay healthy and in shape.
Waterman is the owner of VFusion Studio in Geneva, offering a variety of exercise classes including Xtend barre, Zumba and Pilates. Waterman was a professional dancer when she was diagnosed with the BRAC1 gene, a hereditary marker for breast and ovarian cancer. After much consideration she opted for surgeries, in an effort to prevent the cancer. Following the surgery she found a long road to recovery and paved a new path for her life. Today Waterman shares her story with the intent that knowledge is power and through physical strength one can find emotional strength.
Batavia Public Schools
L isa Hatfield brings out the music and the best in her students as the band instructor for Batavia School District 101. She has taught at various levels, leading her students to top awards. In addition to her work during the school year she has helped launch Encore!, a summer music camp for middle school students. She is an enthusiastic teacher who pushes her students to be their best. Along with teaching her students she has taken the time to assist her fellow teachers, serve on school committees and programs and she is an adjunct professor for VanderCook College of Music.
Kuhn Counseling Center
M aria Kuhn successful owns and manages two businesses in Batavia. Benefit Performance Associates is a health care case management company that assists employees with multiple chronic conditions. Kuhn works with the Integrated Health Advocacy Program as a psychosocial advocate, training and educating professionals on how to work together to address a person’s needs. She also is the president of Kuhn Counseling Center, bringing her more than 30 years of experience to work with individuals, families, couples and children. She has also lent her time to working with school programs, served as a consultant to schools and courts and taken the time to write and publish articles.
I t is hard to describe Monika Miller-Newmaier in a few words. Whether she was teaching students in a remote village in Central America or back in St. Charles, she shared a love to learn and explore.
Her own interest in exercise and wellness lead her to her second career as an aquatic exercise teacher at Delnor as well as her work with Power Wellness as a fitness trainer. She is an avid daily runner, participating in marathons such as the Fox Valley Marathon as well as traveling to places such as Honolulu for a marathon.
She and her family also share a passion for caring for animals, serving as a foster home for rescue dogs.
Procaccio Paint and Drywall
I f you think painting and drywall is handyman’s work then you don’t know Doris Procaccio. She is the owner of Procaccio Painting and Drywall and maintains certification as a Woman’s Business Enterprise. But her work goes beyond the walls of her latest client’s project. She volunteers her time to serve in the industry’s organizations and boards including the Finishing Contractors Association and the Northern Illinois Painting and Drywall Institute Board of Directors. Through her active participation she is able to share her experience and expertise with her peers. She is a proven leader who has devoted herself to her work and making a difference in her community.
A s executive director for Batavia Main Street, Jamie Saam is helping to spread the word about the great events and destinations in her hometown of Batavia. The graduate of Batavia High School has served on several committees through the years including work as an alderman for the Batavia 4th ward. Earlier this year she accepted the position with Batavia Main Street and hit the ground running with summer events and organizing for the fall and winter events including the annual festivals of Bat Fest and the Holiday Market. In addition to her day job she assists her husband with the family business, Bulldog Plumbing, a name she suggested with homage to her hometown as well.
F or the past 11 years, Debbie Leoni has inspired and taught others through her business, Fearless Living with Debbie. She is a professional speaker, executive coach and author, inspiring others how to live fearlessly in their professional and personal lives. Her work includes personal coaching, group workshops and retreats. Her aim is to teach others how to be leaders in their own lives, working through development and transformations. Along with her professional work she enjoys teaching yoga and meditation. She is also involved with her church, Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva where she serves as vice president of the church board.
Dr. Clare Ollayos
Clare Ollayos Chiropractics
A s a chiropractic physician for the past 28 years, Dr. Clare Ollayos is a health professional seeking the best practices and care for her patients. But managing her practice and caring for patients is just a part of the story. Dr. Ollayos is an avid supporter of the arts. She served as chairwoman to the Hemmens Task Force, which made recommendations for the future of the Hemmens Cultural Center. She has lead fundraising for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and she has served as a member of the Elgin Cultural Arts commission. Through the years she has served on several local commissions, committees as well as boards, dedicating her time to ensure an enhanced community for the future.