Five outstanding women were honored at the 24th Annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, a national initiative recognizing the professional and personal achievements of women. More than 400 people attended the banquet in the Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center Brown Ballroom on May 23. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and the Deputy Director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women in Foreign Policy Program was the keynote speaker. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the diverse program offerings at YWCA.
Women receiving this year’s awards were selected from nominations submitted in six categories: business, creative arts and entertainment, education, professions, social services, and volunteer service. A panel of judges, including local community leaders and volunteers from two other YWCAs, reviewed 16 nominations and selected one woman for each category. There were no nominees for the business category.
The 2013 Women of Distinction for outstanding contributions in their fields are:
Creative Arts & Entertainment Winner
Elaine Cousins, Bloomington, Illinois Symphony Orchestra & Sister Cities Volunteer
Elaine Cousins, Bloomington, is a volunteer for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Sister Cities. She attended Bennington College in Vermont for three years before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. She continued her studies at Eastern Michigan University, earning a Master of Arts degree in Music Literature. Elaine had a varied career journey. She began working with a high school exchange program and later worked at the University of Michigan for 20 years. Elaine is a passionate and inspired visionary for change and service in her community, serving as the Board President of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild, member of the Board of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and a board member of the Vladimir-Canterbury Sister City Association. In 2009, she was elected to join the national Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras. In addition, Elaine volunteers for the McLean County Museum of History, where she helps with the archives and Cemetery Walk. As a Girl Scout Troup Leader, Elaine is currently helping her girls earn their Silver Award with a pet adoption program in conjunction with the Humane Society of Central Illinois.
Arlene Hosea, Normal, Assistant to the Vice President & Director of Campus Dining Services at Illinois State University
Arlene Hosea, Normal, has more than 22 years of committed service to students and staff at Illinois State University (ISU) and has obtained a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Home Economics from ISU. As the Director of Campus Dining Services, Arlene oversees more than 180 civil service staff, 1,100 student employees and an operational budget of $24 million. She has been responsible for strategic planning, annual fee review and the successful renovation of three dining centers. Simultaneously serving as the Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs for Diverse Education, Arlene provides leadership for diversity through the division’s Diversity Task Force. Her educational contributions include serving as a faculty member for the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and facilitating and speaking at numerous conferences and workshops. Arlene has been a mentor to countless women on ISU’s campus. She has served on numerous committees and boards, including YWCA’s Board of Directors, Illinois Special Olympics, Baby Fold, Town of Normal Human Relations Commission and the Multicultural Leadership Program of McLean County. Arlene’s awards include the ISU Administrative Professional Distinguished Service Award and the Neil R. Gamsky Quality of Student Life Award. In 2012, Arlene was inducted into the ISU College of Applied Science and Technology.
Ronda Glenn, Stanford, Attorney at Ronda Glenn Law Offices
Ronda Glenn, Stanford, is the Principal and Owner of Ronda Glenn Law Offices and practices in McLean, Livingston, DeWitt, Tazewell, Woodford and Logan Counties. Ronda serves as an example to all women on how to provide professional leadership and service in our community. She holds an Associate’s degree from Illinois Central College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University and her Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Ronda enjoys being involved in the community and has provided leadership for many different organizations, including YWCA McLean County as Board Chair, Marcfirst, Central Illinois Paralegal Association and Legal Secretaries of McLean County. She is a volunteer attorney for the Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. Ronda is also involved in the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, the McLean County Bar Association, the McLean County Family Bar and the McLean County Recovery Court Advisory Board. In addition, Rhonda has served with the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bloomington Association, Mclean County Arts Center, Phi Beta Kappa and Professional Women of McLean County. In 2005, she was named Volunteer of the Year by United Way of McLean County. When she is not busy trying to help others, Ronda enjoys traveling and spending time with her dog Winnie.
Social Services Winner
Andrea Raycraft, Bloomington, Executive Director at Kiwanis Illinois-Eastern Iowa District
Andrea Raycraft, Bloomington, serves as the Executive Director of the Kiwanis Illinois-Eastern Iowa District. A graduate of Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, Andrea began her career at Salem Children’s Home in Flanagan and has continued her career path with ties to the Salvation Army and the Children’s Foundation. She has been able to make a difference through successful fundraising campaigns, grant writing, program management and development and continues her successful journey with Kiwanis International. Andrea frequently goes above and beyond the call of duty by taking on leadership roles of the club. Andrea is a tireless volunteer who finds time to sing at her church, help with theatrical productions at Tri-Valley High School and devote time to the Leadership McLean County program. Andrea is a George F. Hixson Fellow, designated by Kiwanis International, and has also received acknowledgements such as the Ruby K. Award, awarded by Kiwanis International, the Alumni Achievement Award by the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Distinguished Member, and the Elizabeth Armstrong Award for family support group volunteerism by the Army National Guard. In March 2013, Andrea received the Walter Zeller Award from the Kiwanis I-I District and is currently the Chair of the Children’s Miracle Network.
Harriett F. Rust Volunteer Service Winner
Madonna Courtright, Bloomington, Partner & Creative Consultant at ACME Solutions, LLC
Madonna Courtright, Bloomington, is Partner/Vice President of Creative Services for ACME Solutions, LLC. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Publications from Southern Illinois University and completed several graduate level classes at Illinois State University. Her professional career includes work at an agency in Dallas, TX; CS&A Advertising, Bloomington; and ISU Conference Services, Normal. Her entrance into the social services environment began when she became Director of Public Relations and Development for YWCA McLean County. She was an integral part of starting YWCA’s Circle of Women fundraising event, for which she continues to serve as a table leader over ten years later. Madonna created Flying Pigz Designz to assist not-for-profits with design work. In 2009, she helped create a marketing firm called ACME Solutions. Madonna has been involved in numerous organizations, such as WGLT, Heartland Theater Company, Association for Women in Communications, McLean County League of Women Voters, Central Illinois Planned Giving Council and Association of Fundraising Professionals, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Illinois Special Olympics, McLean County AIDS Task Force, Mid Central Community Action, Faith in Action, Mental Health America-McLean County, American Diabetes Association, RSVP and S.O.A.R. programs of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department. She received special recognition from the American Diabetes Association, Association for Women in Communications as well as received Master Communicator Awards.
Each award winner received a framed certificate and a sterling silver pin specifically designed for the Women of Distinction program by Theobald’s Gold & Silver Design, Inc. and handcrafted by Larry Hustedt of Hustedt Jewelers, Gibson City. Individual photographs of the award recipients will join previous winners on the “Wall of Fame” at YWCA, 1201 North Hershey Road, Bloomington.
In addition, five women were honored as recipients of the WINGS award which provides professional mentoring and financial support to those desiring to further their education. WINGS is funded by past Women of Distinction award recipients. Those receiving the award this year: Christy Komnick (Bloomington), Alicia Lenard (Bloomington), Nancy Esarey Ouedraogo (Normal), Janine M. Peacher (Bloomington) and Colleen Steinberg (Bloomington).