Leaders of Distinction Awards

The Leaders of Distinction Awards, featuring the McLean County Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Leadership Award and the Pantagraph's Twenty Under Forty took place on Wednesday, October 10 at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and the adjacent Normal Theater.



About The Awards


The ATHENA Leadership Award recognizes outstanding individuals in our community defined as role models for others to emulate who inspire and encourage the empowerment of women leaders. Presented to a woman or man, this award is presented to someone who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.   The recipient of this award will be announced at the Leaders of Distinction Awards Reception.  


The Twenty Under Forty recognizes young professionals who excel in their career, are passionate about the community and are making a mark in Central Illinois. Honorees are required to be 39 years of age or younger as of September 1, 2018, and live and work in McLean County.  


New in 2017, the Chamber added a new annual award, Liz Larson Rising Leader Award, in honor of a Chamber friend who passed away in 2017.  This award will be given to someone from the Twenty Under Forty classes who exemplifies similar characteristics to Liz; passionate about McLean County, active in community service and advocacy, all while excelling in their career.  The recipient of this award will be announced at the Leaders of Distinction Awards Reception.  

If you have any questions regarding the event or sponsorships opportunities, please contact Traci Andracke at 309-829-1183 or traci@mcleancochamber.org


Meet this year's ATHENA Leadership Award Finalists 

Learn more about each finalist by clicking here 




Congratulations to Pantagraph's 2018 Class of Twenty under Forty!


Honoree's Name Workplace
Anna Ziegler McLean County Farm Bureau
Corin Chapman State Farm
Dana Altenburger, MD Advocate BroMenn Medical Center & Advocate Eureka Hospital 
Daniel Martin State Farm
Harriett Steinbach Illinois State University
Kyle Myers Hampton Inn & Suites
Larissa Armstrong Ecology Action Center
Leni Kuntz Marcfirst
Liz German YWCA McLean County
Logan Frederick Adovcate BroMenn Medical Center & Illinois State University 
Melissa Jewet Fort Jesse Imaging and Gale Keeran Center for Women
Melissa Larson CPG Printing & Graphics
Morgan Lurkins Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center
Nicole Kirstein McLean County Health Department
Sara Crowley Heartland Bank & Trust
Seth Bauersfeld Palace Events
Tessa Gehrer Bloomington-Normal YMCA
Trever Kuipers Edward Jones
Tristan N. Bullington Meyer Capel, P.C.
Zach Dietmeier Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council




Photo Album from 2018 Leaders of Distinction Awards

Click Here 



Thank you to our Sponsors! 




Previous ATHENA Leadership Award Recipients

2018:  Deborah Halperin

2017: Dr. Paige Holt

2016: Linda Healy

2015: Doan Winkel

2014: Cathy Woods

2013: Vicki Tilton

2012: Judy Buchanan

2011: Barb Nathan

2010: Leanna K. Bordner

2009: Pamela Westerdahl

2008: Janet Hood

2007: Gigi Fansler

2006: Kira Hudson-Banks

2005: Diane Lerman

2004: Julie Dobski

2003: Patricia Kaisner

2002: Evelyn Young

2001: Deanna Frautschi

2000: Paula Walsh

1999: Mary Ann Webb

1998: Sonja Reece

1997: Patricia Ann Grogg


Previous Liz Larson Rising Leader Award Recipients

2018:  Sarah Crowley

2017: Lauren Hardy

20U40 Class Photos

Class of 2018

Names are listed in order of appearance from left to right;


Tessa Gehrer, Bloomington-Normal YMCA

Larissa Armstrong, Ecology Action Center

Seth Bauersfeld, Palace Events

Sarah Crowley, Heartland Bank & Trust

Morgan Lurkins, Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center

Tristan N. Bullington,

Read More
Class of 2017

Names are listed in alphabetical order and not in order of appearance:


Angela Bargmann

Music Teacher / Director

Chemberly Cummings

State Farm, Town of Normal

Dr. Jessica Bruin

Eastland Lifestyle Center

Class of 2016

Names are listed in alphabetical order by last name and not by order of appearance:

Bianca Abalos – Underwriting Service Assistant for State Farm Insurance

Tim Bassett – Director of Facilities in the Central Illinois Region at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center

Amelia Buragas – Attorney at Kelly

Read More
Class of 2015

Names are listed in alphabetical order by first name and not by order of appearance:

Chris Downing Executive Director of the Heartland Community College Foundation Emily Vigneri Coordinator of Orientation and Transition Services, ISU Erin Williams General
Read More
Class of 2014



Names are listed in alphabetical order by first name and not in order of appearence:

Grant Anderson

Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal

Phani Aytam

State Farm Insurance Companies

Sarah Franzen

Habitat for

Read More