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 will be held on Thursday, October 10, at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and the adjacent Normal Theater.








Join us to honor these outstanding members of our community!

Tickets to the Leaders of Distinction Awards are $50 each and include a cocktail reception at the Marriott Hotel and a reserved seat at the Normal Theater for the awards ceremony.




About the Awards

The ATHENA Leadership Award  is a prestigious international recognizes individuals defined as role models who inspire and encourage the empowerment of women leaders. The award is given to a woman or man who has achieved professional excellence, gives time and energy to community service and actively assists others, especially women, in realizing their full leadership potential. The three top nominated finalists will be profiled at the event and the winner will be announced at the Leaders of Distinction Awards Reception. 


The Pantagraph's Twenty Under Forty recognizes young professionals who excel in their career, are passionate about the community and are making a mark in Central Illinois. They will be profiled in the October issue of the Limited magazine and honored at the awards ceremony.


In 2017, the Chamber added a new annual award, the 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 2019 Twenty Under Forty class who exemplifies similar characteristics to Liz; they are passionate about McLean County and 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.  



Sponsorship packages include branding and tickets to the Leaders of Distinction Reception. To learn more, please contact Andi Elliott at 309-829-1183 or andi@mcleancochamber.org



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,

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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

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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
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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

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