Highland police officer Hearther Kunz is this year’s winner of the Women Mean Business from the Highland Illinois Federation of Business Women Club Inc.
“It takes a special person to become a police officer. They take the oath to ‘protect and serve’ not knowing what each day on the job will bring, and Heather was ready for the challenge,” Kunz’s award nomination read.
Each October, during Illinois Women in Business Week, the Highland IFBW honors outstanding working women in the community.
“As women helping women, we believe in recognizing our own members for their achievements, and recognizing outstanding local business women for their achievements, and who support our mission and provide community leadership,” said Highland IFBW president Jennifer Libbra.
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This year, Kunz was honored alongside the Highland Assistant City Manager Lisa Peck, who was recognized with the Woman of Achievement award.
Kunz was presented her award at the Highland City Council meeting on Oct.16.
“I have received awards throughout my career, but this is one that I will hold dear, because this is an amazing group of successful women whom I respect deeply,” Kunz said. “I have frequented their businesses, worked alongside them at Relay for Life or other charitable events, watched them uplift women in our community, and for me to even be on their radar, so to speak, let alone for them to consider me for this was not only an honor, but humbling.”
About Officer Kunz
After receiving her police training at the Southwestern Illinois College Police Academy in Belleville, Kunz joined the Highland Police Department in March 2001. In her 16 years with HPD, she has served the community in many ways. In addition to her responsibilities of a patrolman, she serves as a field training officer, evidence officer and juvenile officer for the department.
“We are proud of Officer Kunz’s award by the Highland Business Women and agree that she is well-deserved of the recognition,” said Highland Police Chief Terry Bell.
As a field training officer, Kunz is responsible for training new hires, and as evidence officer, she organizes and oversees the department’s evidence room.
As juvenile officer, Kunz works a great deal with the youth of the community. If a child is arrested and the parent does not want to be involved, the juvenile officer can act as parent for the child. She is also one of the department’s certified car seat installers.
Kunz also spends a lot of her time out in the community. Around Halloween time, she presents programs to students at the schools about trick-or-treat safety, and in the spring, she teaches programs on bicycle safety and street crossing safety. Kunz, along with Sgt. Scott Athmer, also teaches self-defense and awareness training for women.
“She is always willing to step up and help anyone that is in need, often going beyond her duties to organize collection points for families that have been struck by tragedy and collecting donations for the Christmas drive at HACSM,” said Athmer, who joined the department at the same time as Kunz. “This award is well deserved, and I am honored to have been able to work with Heather for the last 16 years.”
Kunz’s other fellow police officers said one of her greatest strengths is her empathy. They said she can walk into any situation and can see things from any perspective. They also said this ability serves her well in deescalating and solving problems and is a definite asset to the department.
Outside of work, Kunz is actively involved at her church, Highland Community Church. There, she serves as the director of the nursery and also leads the Operation Christmas Child Program, in which individuals fill shoe boxes with supplies that are distributed to children less fortunate. In addition, she coordinates the church’s Adopt-A-Family during the holidays with HACSM, and is currently the point contact for collections to assist a local family.
Kunz is also a supporter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and participates annually with a team in Highland’s race.
Kunz’s husband, Todd, is a Collinsville police officer. Together, they have five children — two are adults and away from home; one attends Lindenwood College, where he plays football; and the two younger boys, Tyson and Ben, are still at home. In her spare time, Kunz follows her kids’ sports activities, and likes traveling to Florida with family, as they are big Disney World fans.
“As you can see, officer Heather Kunz is no ordinary police officer,” a statement from the Highland IFBW said. “Her dedication to her family, job and community is apparent in everything she does. She has and continues to serve her community well — as a woman who means business.”
Outstanding achievement in her career, assistance to other women in their career advancement, outstanding guidance to youth and young career women, service in volunteer efforts in the community, leadership in church, local, state or national programs, and leadership to encourage women to enter politics.