Highland News Leader

Assistant city manager named ‘Woman of Achievement’

Highland IFBW president Jennifer Libbra, left, presents the club’s Woman of Achievement award to Highland Assistant City Manager Lisa Peck.
Highland IFBW president Jennifer Libbra, left, presents the club’s Woman of Achievement award to Highland Assistant City Manager Lisa Peck.

Highland Assistant City Manager Lisa Peck has been named this year’s “Woman of Achievement” by the Highland chapter of the Illinois Federation of Business Women.

“In her nearly four years in Highland, Lisa has made a definite impact on her home town. She is very responsive to the needs of the community and has accomplished much. Her outstanding work ethic, dedication and ability to work with others for the betterment of the community is apparent in all that she does. Lisa Peck is definitely a ‘Woman of Achievement,’ ” Peck’s nomination read.

Each October, during Illinois Women in Business Week, the Highland IFBW club honors two outstanding working women of 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.

This year, Peck was honored alongside the Highland police officer Heather Kunz, who won the “Women Mean Business” award. Peck was presented with her award at the organization’s annual Award and Recognition Evening at Popeye’s Chophouse in St. Rose on Oct. 9.

“I am very honored to receive the award,” Peck said.

About Lisa Peck

Peck has two daughters, a granddaughter and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read and hopes to do some traveling in the future.

She was raised in Highland and graduated from Highland High School. After high school, she went on to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she received a bachelor of science in political science in 2008 and a master’s in public administration three years later.

After graduate school, Peck immediately began her career in community development with Madison County, first as an intern from 2009 to 2010, at which point she became lead grant writer and then the economic development and house planner until 2013.

Early in 2013, she joined staff at University City as manager of economic development. In this position, she led a variety of development initiatives and programs that supported vitality and growth of that community.

Peck brought her profession back to Highland at the start of 2014, where she worked as the economic development and marketing coordinator. She was given responsibility for implementing and coordinating the city’s economic development plans, along with developing and implementing marketing strategies for the city and Highland Communication Services.

In that first year, Peck received two promotions. First, Peck was promoted to the city’s community and economic development director within the Building and Zoning Department. In the department, she assists with programs that deal with land-use planning and zoning, generating and prompting development projects, building inspections, and related financial incentive agreements with developers. In October 2014, she was promoted to her current position, assistant city manager, where she serves as liaison with community leaders and residents, assists with the overall business welfare efforts of the city, and handles oversight for the day to day operations of the city in the city manager’s absence.

Peck has contributed and been responsible for a number of successful programs during her time with the city, including the Home Buyer Program, which helped families who could afford to make a monthly mortgage payment, but were unable to come up with the money required for a down-payment in order to become home-owners. Through the program, the city offered a five-year, forgivable loan of up to $3,000 to cover a down-payment on a home, which enabled the purchase a home in lieu of renting.

Via discussions with local manufacturers, workforce shortcomings were identified and the Highland Leadership Academy was developed through a partnership between the city and the Highland Chamber of Commerce, backed by SIUE, the international research, development and innovation hub IMEC and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. The academy is now in its third year, with 20 participating students. During the program, high school students strengthen their soft skills, such as communication, professionalism, networking, problem solving, critical thinking, work-ethic and etiquette to prepare them to enter the workforce. The program also helps with writing resumes and practicing interviewing with local business professionals.

The success of the first leadership academy led Peck to develop the Adult Leadership Academy, which recently completed its inaugural session with 12 students. This training helps individuals develop professional skills similar to those taught in the high school version, but includes a module on financial management. One of Peck’s interns, Sean Maher, said Peck’s passion can be seen through these programs.

“When Lisa talks about this initiative, you feel a sense of urgency and importance as she feels these programs are addressing a national problem at the local level,” Maher said.

Peck was also instrumental in bringing the Junior Code Academy to Highland, an organization that teaches youth computer coding classes. In addition to helping develop a number of soft skills, during the 17-week program, students in two-person teams created games using basic coding skills and presented their games to a panel of judges in a competition format at the end of the program. Students can continue their coding education through additional programming sessions such as “Introduction to Python,” which is being taught in Highland this fall. Another Introduction to Coding program will be offered again beginning in February.

Other projects Peck also helped with include Highland being named a “Gigabit City,” the Gigabit Challenge, planning the 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony and dedication of Veterans Honor Parkway.

Peck is also a strong supporter of SIUE’s intern program for young professionals seeking their master’s in public administration. Peck has brought on four interns during her time with the city.

“Lisa provides numerous learning opportunities to make sure the interns are earning invaluable experience while working for the city,” Maher said.

Some of Peck’s coworkers said that, besides her genuine caring for people, one of her greatest strengths is her ability to partner with people and entities to bring fresh, creative, community-improvement ideas to fruition while benefiting all involved.

Award Criteria

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.