Women of Influence and Impact

Seasoned leaders have impacts that extend far beyond our county.

by David Zimmerman, Tazewell County Board

Throughout the course of our lives, we encounter countless numbers of individuals. Many of those people will have little to no impact on our lives and those around us, but there are a handful of people who will have a tremendous influence in our lives. Parents, spouses, teachers, pastors, work colleagues, mentors and good friends are only a few examples of people who have influenced me. Some were in my life for only a brief season, but I am incredibly grateful for their presence.

I count it a privilege to have several “women of influence” in my life. In addition to my wife and daughters, there are numerous women within Tazewell County government who are outstanding in their fields and have impacts far beyond our county. Today, I would like to highlight a couple of these women and their role in the community.

Leadership in Challenging Times
For the last six years, Wendy Ferrill has served as Tazewell County administrator. This position has enormous responsibility and can be politically perilous if not managed correctly. Administrator Ferrill has done an outstanding job in helping lead our county through these challenging times. Her education, experience and professionalism are a few of the qualities that initially impressed the board. Now, her ability to prioritize her work, delegate responsibility, and maintain solid working relationships and trust with the board and elected officials have only increased our confidence in her. 

After finishing a busy 2021 with budgets, insurance renewals, hiring replacement staff in different departments and managing the Covid crisis, Wendy now moves on to negotiating the five collective bargaining agreements that are up in 2022. This is in addition to her everyday responsibility of managing her departments. Board members were recently asked to give feedback on Administrator Ferrill’s performance as required in her contract, and every respondent had high praise for her work. She also has a family and was selected several years ago as a “40 Leaders Under Forty.” Her influence is felt well beyond the board to all of Tazewell County. Additionally, the one support staff member in the board office, Sue Beeney, holds things together with her high degree of competence and a great sense of humor.

Professionalism and Expertise
Another influencer with Tazewell County government has been our health department director, Amy Fox. In normal times, a health department has enormous responsibilities including childhood vaccinations, food safety, environmental health and the WIC program, to name only a few. Now add a worldwide pandemic in which local health departments are asked to coordinate the response, and you quickly see why Amy and her staff have such an influence throughout the county. 

Because of the professionalism and expertise that Amy and staff bring to the health department, their department received national accreditation in 2015 by the Public Health Accreditation Board—an honor received by only a handful of counties nationwide.

It is hazardous to start naming all the women in Tazewell County government who demonstrate their influence each day because you risk missing someone. Our community development director, emergency management coordinator, animal control director, jail superintendent, GIS coordinator and HR director are only a few of those outstanding individuals. Finally, there are four women of influence on the board: Nancy Proehl, Mindy Darcy, Monica Connett and Tammy Rich-Stimson, along with the other members, provide diverse perspectives and leadership in all they do. The citizens of Tazewell County are well served by the women of influence who serve them every day. Thank you! PM

Peoria Magazine: December 2021
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