In August 2020, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois (RMHCCI) Board of Directors announced Amber Kaylor as its new CEO after an extensive search. In this role, Kaylor oversees the nonprofit organization’s core programs, anchored by two Ronald McDonald Houses located in Springfield (since 1986) and Peoria, which opened in December 2019 after an extensive community fundraising campaign.
Born and raised in Decatur, Kaylor brought nearly a decade of nonprofit experience to RMHCCI, having served as CEO of Children’s Museum of Illinois, director of resource development for United Way of Decatur & Mid-Illinois, and coordinator of multicultural recruitment for Millikin University, where she earned her MBA in 2016. She currently lives in Decatur and commutes between Springfield and Peoria, splitting her time between the two Houses. Her husband, Bryan, is a police detective and the couple has a five-year-old son named Maddox, who “lights me up like nothing else in this world.”
Along with “anything related to self-care,” Kaylor loves pizza, cheeseburgers and ice cream (“I am a child at heart,” she notes). She harbors a secret ambition to be a motivational speaker and uses exercise to relax and de-stress after a day’s work. Her favorite aspect of living in central Illinois is “the sense of community, belonging and home. I have lived in big cities, but nothing compares to the feeling of this area,” she explains. “I would gladly give up the winters, though.”
- Words to live by: Two quotes from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them” and “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? This is a loaded question! I wish I were kinder to myself. I think we say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to someone else. I wish I were better at shutting down that inner critic.
- Greatest extravagance: Lately, I nearly had to take out a second mortgage on a new mattress. Talk about sticker shock! It was completely worth it, though.
- Favorite journey: Oddly enough, it has been the journey to embracing my curly hair. I hated it my entire life and have finally embraced it the last couple of years. Now I absolutely love it!
- What do you know now that you didn’t know at 30? Haha… everything! Don’t we always think we have it all figured out? Primarily, I didn’t know that I didn’t have to have it all figured out.
- What are your quirky habits? I am a total neat freak. I will move something a fraction of an inch so that it is “just right.” I don’t even realize I am doing it sometimes. My friends and family all make fun of me for it.
- What’s one thing you’d rather pay somebody to do than do yourself? Grocery shop (thank you, Instacart), cook (thank God my husband likes to cook), and get gas (bring back full-service).
- Would you rather be rich or famous? I would rather be rich. Being able to take care of the people I love and support organizations I believe in would be fantastic. Fame is overrated. I like to leave the house without makeup too much to be famous!
- What would you say to your 20-year-old self? Oh honey… life gets better and better. Enjoy every moment and don’t be so hard on yourself.
- What’s next? I’m just getting started in my new role/adventure. I never have a “five-year plan” or an endgame for my personal or professional growth. The goal is to be better than I was yesterday and to leave things better than I found them. PM