Highland News Leader

Business women’s club in Highland honors three community leaders

Highland IFBW Award Winners: From left are Anne Hickey, assistant principal of Highland Primary School, winner of Boss of the Year; Angela Kim, director of Latzer Library, winner of the Women Mean Business Award; and Suzette Schniers, human resources director at CLEAN The Uniform, who was named the Woman of Achievement.
Highland IFBW Award Winners: From left are Anne Hickey, assistant principal of Highland Primary School, winner of Boss of the Year; Angela Kim, director of Latzer Library, winner of the Women Mean Business Award; and Suzette Schniers, human resources director at CLEAN The Uniform, who was named the Woman of Achievement. Courtesy photo

An educator, a librarian and a human resources executive were honored last week by Highland’s business women’s club for their professional successes, service to their community, and helping other women advance along their chosen career paths.

Highland IFBW, an affiliate of Illinois Federation of Business Women, honored Anne Hickey, Suzette Schniers and Angela Kim during its annual Award and Recognition Evening, which was held on Oct. 10 at Popeye’s Chop House in St. Rose.

Hickey, assistant principal of Highland Primary School, was named Boss of the Year. Schniers, human resources director at CLEAN The Uniform in Highland, was named the Woman of Achievement, and Kim, director of Louis Latzer Memorial Library in Highland, was given the Women Mean Business Award.

“As women helping women, we believe in recognizing our own members for their achievements, recognizing local female business women for their achievements, and recognizing bosses who support our mission and provide community leadership,” said Susie Dewaele, Highland IFBW president, prior to announcing the awards.

Nominations are made and judged based on pre-determined criteria:

▪ Woman of Achievement: Outstanding achievement in her career, assistance to other women in their career advancement, outstanding guidance to youth and young career women, significant contribution to the IFBW Federation objectives, service in volunteer efforts in the community, leadership in church, local, state or national programs, and leadership effort to encourage women to enter politics.

▪ Boss of the Year: Supports the IFBW organization and its objectives, attitude toward employees, outstanding achievement in his/her career, assistance to women employees for further advancement, outstanding guidance to youth in the community, service in volunteer efforts in the community, and leadership effort in church and local organizations.

▪ Women Mean 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.

Award Winners

Boss of the Year: Anne Hickey

After graduating from Illinois State University, Anne Hickey was immediately hired at Highland Primary School. She went on to receive her master’s from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville during her first years of her teaching.

Her career would evolve from being a second-grade teacher for several years to being a stay-at-home mom, taking a few years off to raise her girls, before returning to Highland Community Schools as a reading teacher for the Center Schools.

Upon returning, she pursued an administrative degree. She did an internship at Highland Elementary before returning to Highland Primary to become the assistant principal, a job she has held for a decade.

“(She) has devoted her career to educating children with a passion, far more than just a job,” Donna Plocher, a Highland IFBW member and Highland Primary reading teacher, wrote in her nomination of Hickey.

As assistant principal, Hickey wears many different hats including, administrator, teacher, secretary, nurse, crossing guard, safety officer, human resources consultant, state of Illinois legal analyst, and parent advocate on any given day.

“Her leadership in the changing times of education requires her to stay grounded in best practices, while remaining current on what is expected from the state of Illinois and federal government, making certain that all aspects are intertwined in appropriate ways to benefit children,” Plocher said.

Hickey works with staff of 60 women and two men serving as teachers and assistants, 563 students and their parents and guardians, as well as support staff and other district administrators.

“With this many people around her, Anne encounters a variety of situations,” Plocher said. “She examines each new situation that arises, working towards treating each person in a fair and honest way. It is a gift she carries in her heart to see the different perspectives of all of these different individuals who are wearing all of these different shoes she is required to service, and be a visionary of how to arrive at the best possible outcome in a timely manner.”

Hickey said she considers herself more as “the leader of a group of professionals” rather than “a boss.”

“I try to allow collaboration of ideas, support the education of children, and facilitate learning,” Hickey said. “This happens through a variety of avenues not only in the classroom or in a meeting, but during lunchtime, at recess, and before and after school. I moved from teaching into administration to have a greater impact on more children. Working with more adults in a different capacity has just been an added bonus! My job is never routine. There is a new and different opportunity each day to impact someone’s life.”

During her 10 years as assistant principal, six women benefited from this leadership as each pursued advancement in their chosen career, according to Plocher.

“Opportunities such as these are rare finds in our world today. Each one of these women used their knowledge for the betterment of others,” Plocher said.

“In my role, I work closely with a group of reading teachers and assistants. We have been fortunate enough to have highly qualified teachers in the role of assistant. I’ve tried to support each one of these individuals to pursue their goal as classroom teacher,” said Hickey, who was “flattered” to be considered as a nominee for her award. “While not all of these individuals have stayed in our district, they have stayed in the teaching profession.”

Plocher said Hickey is a role model whose devotion to others extends beyond the school walls.

“Anne and the entire Hickey family show leadership in every aspect within the walls of their church. Any committee, any board, any task, any need, any class, any one in need means the Hickey family is present and actively leading others by example, not ever worrying about their own needs,” Plocher said. “Anne lives her life with faith, dignity, courage, and respect of others in and out of church, all around her community, and anywhere she is led.”

Woman of Achievement: Suzette Schniers

Suzette Schniers, human resources director at CLEAN The Uniform in Highland, was nominated to be the 2016 Woman of Achievement by her co-wokers.

Schniers has worked at the industrial laundry company since 1983.

“We have had the privilege of witnessing many outstanding character traits, achievements, volunteering, and everyday coaching she demonstrates. Suzette has exemplified a lifetime of commitment for charity fundraising, coaching, and selfless help for several causes,” her co-workers wrote.

Schniers’ volunteer work has included helping and organizing events for many causes: Relay for Life, heart awareness, breast cancer awareness, the United Way, and her company charity, Clean Cares.

“Suzette is also a big advocate for good health habits such as, exercising and healthy eating choices. Suzette always makes time to coach healthy lifestyle choices for everyone she is around on a daily basis.

We have worked with Suzette for many years, and she never ceases to impress us.”

Her colleagues said Schniers is compassionate — “the kind of person that goes out of her way to help people every day.”

“We have personally witnessed her strength and determination while she was dealing with her own life battle of breast cancer. Suzette was more concerned with the way that her family and friends would deal with this difficult time. Suzette showed tremendous strength during this time in her life. We witnessed her going through surgery, treatments, and numerous doctor visits all while balancing her workload and family obligations. She was upbeat and determined to beat this cancer and maintain her same lifestyle. She is truly a champion for the cause, and an example of great strength and character,” they said in their nomination.

“Suzette has been a positive influence on everyone she comes across. Each person in her life could share stories on how she has touched them.”

Women Mean Business: Angela Kim

Angela Kim has served as director of the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library in Highland since 2002.

A central Illinois native, Kim grew up in Tallula and graduated from Petersburg Porta High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education from the University of Illinois Springfield and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“As director of the library, she has embarked on a long-term building update plan that has included a new roof, tuck-pointing, remodeling the Children’s Library, parking lot and sidewalk replacement and addition, remodeling four public restrooms to make them ADA compliant, replacing single pane windows and doors that were inefficient and leaking water, adding auto-opening do or, ADA water fountains and construction of a new community room that is accessible to the public after hours,” said Highland IFBW member Janet Nicolaides, who nominated Kim.

Technology has recently been upgraded to include six new public access computers, new wi-fi system, e-books, e-magazines, downloadable audio books and more.

“As a library director, I work to make Latzer Library, a better place. At the library, that means balancing needs and prioritizing to provide the best service. This requires keeping up with technological advancements, providing top quality programs, providing continuing education classes, personnel, fundraising, as well as balancing the print and digital collections in the library. Keeping a historic building up with ADA code and technology while maintaining the classic beauty of the building is also a priority,” Kim said.

Kim has also been a Highland Rotary member since 2006 and has volunteered with many other organizations as well.

“Volunteering for other organizations is something that I find to be extremely rewarding. I especially enjoy being involved with Rotary (president-elect and program chair), Street Art Festival, the Chamber of Commerce, cheerleading, band and chorus parents, and my church, Hope Lutheran Church,” said Kim, who is married to Dr. Peter Kim and has four children, Justin, Logan, Landon and Heather.

In her free time, she enjoys flower gardening, theater, music, reading, cooking and traveling.

“It is a wonderful recognition to have been selected to receive the Women Means Business Award,” she said.

Highland Club will celebrate “Illinois Women in Business Week”

The Highland organization of the Illinois Federation of Business Women will celebrate “Illinois Women in Business Week” Oct. 16-22. Women in Business Week is a week set aside each year to salute all working women – to celebrate the achievements of all business and professional women as they contribute daily to our economic, civic and cultural purposes.

Members of Highland IFBW attended the Oct. 17 Highland City Council meeting, where Mayor Joe Michaelis read and signed the “Illinois Women in Business Week” proclamation. In addition to the Proclamation signing, the group has several other events planned for the week, and all working women are invited to join in.

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, area women are invited to join club members for breakfast at 9th Street Café, 900 Laurel St. in Highland, at 8 a.m.

To finish out the week, the group will gather at 6:30 p.m. in the Highland Chamber of Commerce conference room for some “scrapbooking” fun.

Highland IFBW is an organization of “women helping women” that meets the second Monday of each month at various venues. The next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 14. Networking begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 6:30, followed by a program and business meeting. The cost of dinner is $13. All working women are welcome and invited to attend/join.

For more information, contact club president Susie Dewaele at (618) 520-7039 or Kathy Clark-Eller, membership chair at (618) 920-0660 or any member of the organization.

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