Women Leadership Awards presented

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Women whose actions through the years have touched many in central Illinois were honored Wednesday with Women to Women Leadership Luncheon Awards from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois and the Women’s Fund.


A high school senior with much leadership potential joined them when the awards were announced at the Women Leadership Luncheon in Peoria.


Dr. Mary Draeger Schultz was presented the Business/Professions Award; Janet Lange received the Education/Arts Award; Polly Barton was presented the Community Service Award, and Katherine Heth received the Young Woman’s Service Award.


The Women to Women Leadership Luncheon awards recognize local women who best exemplify excellence in their chosen professions and a commitment to the success of other women. 


“We are proud and honored to recognize these impressive award recipients, as well as all the remarkable nominees – this is such an elite group, that to simply be nominated is also a great honor. We plan to continue this excellent program that recognizes outstanding local women,” said Mark Roberts, CEP of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.


“We believe that the high visibility of the Women to Women Leader Luncheon will help grow the recognition of the Women’s Fund and the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, allowing us to make a bigger difference in our communities. Indeed, it is one more way that we ‘Connect People Who Care, With Causes That Matter,’ ” he said.


Chris Shay, chairman of the Women’s Fund Advisory Board, said, “The Women’s Fund is thrilled to celebrate our new 2014 Women to Women Leader Luncheon award recipients. In addition, we want to thank all the nominators and all the 24 nominees. This was a notable day and the start of a new outreach for the Women’s Fund. Over the last 18 years, we have made grants totaling $216,000 to local charities to support programs that empower and help women and girls. Now through the Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards, in addition to lifting women up, we will now recognize them when they arrive at the top.“


The 2014 Business / Professions Award was presented to Dr. Mary Draeger Schultz, a member of the faculty of the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine at Peoria since  1991. Schultz is a devoted and exemplary pediatrician and mentor for physicians. Since 2005, she has served as the Patient Safety Officer for Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.


Schultz has received numerous recognitions and in addition to her professional distinctions, is active in the community, serves on multiple boards and committees, and has raised three children and made time over the years to be involved in their student activities.


She is regarded with great respect by students, residents and colleagues alike. One of her supporters stated, “She has touched the lives of her patients and her colleagues in ways that few others do.”


The 2014 Education / Arts Award was presented to Janet Lange, the executive director of Continuing Education at Bradley University, where she has worked for nearly 25 years.


Lange leads a team that is responsible for connecting the University to the community through educational programs and services that serve more than 10,000 youth, professionals and mature learners each year. She is perhaps best known for her continued guidance and leadership of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or OLLI, a program for older adults who want to continue challenging their minds, engaging with their peers and learning new things well into retirement.


Lange is also currently leading Bradley's Office of Summer and Interim Sessions, is the executive secretary of the North American Association of Summer Sessions, has served on dozens of university committees, and is a member of the University's Technology Task Force.


Outside of work, Lange is an elder and clerk for her church and has served on the boards of Pekin Hospital, the Tazewell County Children’s Advocacy Center, Pekin Union Mission, the Pekin PEO and the Pekin Community High School Band Boosters. According to a supporter, “Janet’s leadership style is characterized by professionalism, organizational skill, dedication, creativity, hard work, good humor and humility.”


The 2014 Community Service Award was presented to Polly Barton. A former teacher at Peoria High School and tennis coach at Peoria Notre Dame, Barton has a long and impressive history of giving back to the community. Her volunteer service began in 1974 when she became a member of the Junior League of Peoria. It was in the Junior League she received fund-raising training that she has put to use for the benefit of numerous organizations throughout the years.


Barton was instrumental in the formation of WomenStrength and was an active volunteer with Lakeview Museum, the March of Dimes and United Way campaigns. Polly chaired the WTVP capital campaign with her husband, Glen, and was a member of their board. In 2003, she agreed to co-chair the Peoria Zoo's Africa! Capital Campaign with Carlotta Bielfeldt, raising over $27 million to build the new Africa exhibit.


In 2011, Polly again stepped up to co-chair The Power of Play campaign for the continued expansion of Peoria Zoo and the transformation of the historic Glen Oak Pavilion into the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum. She leads the Power of Play Leadership Council and meets with potential donors to raise funds and share the campaign’s message. According to a supporter, “The number of volunteer hours Polly has given our community is countless.”


The 2014 Young Woman’s Service Award was presented to Katherine Heth, a senior at Illinois Valley Central High School. She will receive a $500 scholarship from Essential Wellness Pharmacy. Heth has a proven record of success both in and out of the classroom. She is actively involved in numerous extracurricular activities including Chorale, school plays, soccer, student council, and Madrigals. Katherine is also a talented artist. Her artwork was recognized as one of the top ten pieces of artwork in the district in this year’s Congressional Art Show.


Heth has been involved with the student organization IMPACT, the goal of which is to provide the student body with healthy activities and options to develop ownership in the school. Heth served as a student leader for IMPACT’s Leadership Retreats her sophomore and junior year. This year Heth was a leader for IVC’s four-day senior retreat, held at Eagle Crest Camp in Washburn. She also works with children at South Primary School every Tuesday after school.


The retreat faculty director sings her praise: “Katherine was fantastic. Whether it was leading a small group, giving a talk, working one-on-one with another student, or keeping the schedule in line, she was amazing. What stood out was her compassion for her fellow classmates. She is such a caring young lady. Her impact on classmates cannot be measured.”


A central Illinois tradition, the Leader Luncheon Awards, began in 1978. Over the past 36 years, more than 210 women have been recognized through its awards programs. This will be the 35th year, because there was no awards program in 2013 after the YWCA ceased operations.