Morton’s Women of Influence

by Jennifer Daly, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council

When it comes to leadership and influence, does gender matter? In 2005, a year-long study conducted by Caliper, a Princeton, New Jersey-based management consulting firm, and Aurora, a London-based organization that advances women, identified a number of characteristics that distinguish women leaders from men when it comes to qualities of leadership:

  • Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders.
  • Women leaders are more empathetic and flexible, and stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts, enabling them to read situations accurately and take information in from all sides.
  • Women leaders are able to bring others around to their point of view because they genuinely care about where others are coming from so the people they are leading feel more understood, supported and valued.

In Morton, we are lucky to have an expansive group of women leaders who continue to be instrumental in the direction of our community and many of our local organizations. They possess the qualities of leadership unique to women and have used their skills to advance projects, programs and initiatives in Morton that continue to better the community. Here are just a few that have impressed me with their talents and vision:

Mary Jane Johnson
Past President, Morton Community Foundation Board of Directors
Mary Jane, a certified financial planner with Alltrust Financial Management in Morton, is the recent past president of the Morton Community Foundation. Under her leadership over the past year, the Foundation was able to distribute $37,000 to support local projects, the largest pool of funds they have ever granted. Her emphasis on reaching out to people throughout the community and inviting them to participate on foundation committees has strengthened the organization and broadened its reach.

Ginger Hermann
Trustee and Mayor Pro Tem, Village of Morton Board of Trustees
Ginger Hermann is well known in Morton for her attention to detail and her thorough preparation when considering community issues as a village trustee and mayor pro tem. Her leadership has resulted most recently in the construction of the new Morton fire station and a new energy partnership that will offer significant savings to local citizens. She serves on the Morton Economic Development Council’s Downtown Development Team and the Morton Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Team, and is a strong advocate for the community, county and region.

Jean Ann Honegger
Owner, Morton Community Bank
When I first met Jean Ann, she was eager to show me her beautiful photographs and share her passion for and knowledge about Morton and its history. You would never know by her humble demeanor and casual friendliness that this small powerhouse leads one of the fastest growing privately-held banks in the country. In addition to fostering a strong local economy through the aggressive growth of her business, she has supported many local community development efforts, including the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center, sports complex improvements and the creation of the Morton Economic Development Council. She has served on many community boards, including the Morton Chamber of Commerce, and continues to positively influence other community leaders.

Susan Pyles
Director of Tourism, Village of Morton
If an event is happening in Morton, Susan Pyles is the likely culprit. Her neverending energy in bringing groups of local volunteers together to host beloved events like Pumpkin Chuckin, Hollidazzle and Muscle on Main is legendary. Susan’s passion for Morton was recognized in 2009 with the coveted Morton Distinguished Service Award, presented by the Morton Chamber of Commerce. In addition to event planning, Susan serves on the Morton Rotary Board of Directors and the Morton Fine Arts Association.

Katie VandenBerg
Vice President, Morton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
It is a rare Mortonite that doesn’t stop by Eli’s Coffee Shop each morning for their eco-friendly caffeine and a warm smile from owner Katie VandenBerg. A young entrepreneur, Katie has transformed a downtown house into an engaging meeting place for people of all ages. Her promotion of fair trade and Earth-friendly products and practices have helped to educate and guide many of her customers. Katie is the current vice president of the Morton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Her leadership on that board has resulted in continued improvements in business support services and community enhancement projects.

Janice Sherman
Director, Morton Public Library
Janice Sherman accepted employment with the Morton Public Library over 30 years ago and continues to impress the public with her positive energy and dynamic leadership. Her implementation of state-of-the-art technology in the Morton library system, and her regional and state leadership in the Illinois Library Association and the Resource Sharing Alliance have been impactful. Janice currently serves locally on both the Morton Community Foundation and the Morton Chamber of Commerce boards of directors. She continues to play a pivotal role in many community development projects and initiatives.

These women collectively continue to guide the community of Morton and influence local decisions. We are lucky to have them serving our village and our region. iBi

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