Congratulations Molly Center

MollyCongratulations to EYPN’s Molly Center for winning the Marguerite Henry Award for Communication/Technology at the 33rd Annual YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon on Thursday, May 12. Molly is the third EYPN member to win the award (Krisilee Murphy, 2012 and Kari Christensen, 2015).

Here is the complete nomination narrative for Molly submitted by EYPN:

In 70 words or less provide important accomplishments that support your nominee being chosen as the 2016 award recipient in their category.

As Multimedia Specialist for the City of Elgin, Molly Center manages and has significantly developed the reach of the city’s extensive social media communications presence, which encompasses 50 different social accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. She also manages content for the city’s website (www.cityofelgin.org) and leads the creation of the city’s visual marketing, branding and messaging graphics for city events, initiatives and communications.

List the significant achievements of the nominee in the named category.

As the manager of the City of Elgin’s social media communications, Molly has a key role in both crafting and delivering a variety of important news from myriad city departments across multiple traditional and non-traditional communication platforms to this diverse municipality of over 110,000 people. She strategically orchestrates a comprehensive communications schedule for 27 different city Facebook accounts, 14 Twitter accounts and multiple e-mail lists. Under her leadership, the number of daily news postings, engaged followers and overall reach of these social accounts has nearly doubled! She also manages content for the city’s website thru their Salesforce database and contributes content to the city’s quarterly Neighbor newsletter and monthly Special Events eblast.

As part of the Elgin Area Chamber’s Enhancing Elgin committee, Molly helped organize a group of Elgin marketing and social media professionals in an effort to more effectively leverage all of the communications resources of the Elgin community. The #Elgin365 Committee, which includes participants from Gail Borden Library, the Elgin Area Chamber, Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Neighborhood Association and other Elgin groups, meets monthly to discuss ways to collaboratively share positive stories about Elgin, as well as, determine ways to strategically tie Elgin to local and national trending topics on social media. (For example, researching and sharing stories about important women in Elgin’s history for National Women’s History Month.) By integrating and cross promoting the group’s new #Elgin365 hashtag amongst these and other area communications outlets’ online postings, it is the hope of the committee to saturate Elgin’s social media landscape with all the good news Elgin has to offer and thus positively impact the narrative about our great community.

She has also been heavily involved in the rollout of the newest version of the city’s Elgin 311 app, including writing content for the Elgin Today section and analyzing and researching the Twitter presences of local businesses and restaurants for potential integration into a new “Business” section for the app – thus making the app more valuable not only to residents and visitors as a source for local information but to business owners and employees as a driver of economic development.

Molly also has completely revamped the city’s visual marketing and messaging by developing more streamlined, uniform and professional looking branding for print collateral, advertising, logos and online postings. In a way, Molly enjoys the unique role of shaping both the image and voice for the City of Elgin. Not bad for a young professional.

List past or present positions of leadership or responsibility.

Molly currently serves as the Staff Liaison to the City of Elgin’s Sustainability Commission where she runs monthly commission meetings, takes meeting minutes and provides vital communication between city staff and the commission as well as grant and sponsorship applicants. She also manages the commission’s Facebook page where she authors and promotes weekly “Waste Wednesday” tips which describe a variety of sustainable practices for residents, from recycling yard waste to proper disposal of household batteries. Under her leadership, the Sustainability Commission’s Facebook page has grown to nearly 700 likes with marked levels of social media engagement from the community.

She began her tenure with the City of Elgin as a Naturalist for Hawthorn Hills Nature Center, where she organized volunteer clean-up efforts and other events.

Describe qualities of leadership demonstrated by the nominee.

Molly’s leadership is demonstrated by her actions and her work ethic. Quite simply, she leads by doing. Shouldering the responsibility of being the “traffic cop” for getting out nearly all of the City of Elgin’s online communications is not something easily accomplished. It takes tremendous drive, diligence and patience to interface and follow-up with the major city departments on providing relevant and accurate content for their areas on a weekly basis. It then takes a great deal of time management savvy to develop said content and appropriate visual messaging for multiple social platforms in a timely and compliant fashion, and it takes supreme organization skills and a thorough understanding of the social media “tricks of the trade” to then strategically schedule all of those postings. It is these traits as well as her thoughtful listening skills, abundant creativity and willingness to go above and beyond in every facet of her work that make her an outstanding leader and an ideal candidate for this award.

Describe how this person has demonstrated a commitment to excellence.

Though already well-versed in social media communications, Molly felt it was important to further increase her skills through continuing education. Thus in February 2015, she worked with members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Elgin Area Chamber and Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, to secure funds for a group of local social media professionals to attend a Social Media Boot Camp produced by nationally acclaimed Ragan Communications. The two-day virtual training session provided the group a well-rounded education on newer social media and marketing trends. This continual search to broaden her knowledge base and experience makes Molly an invaluable resource to the city and demonstrates her commitment to excellence.

Explain how the nominee made an outstanding or innovative contribution in the category.

The City of Elgin recently launched a new website and communications initiative called “Investing in Elgin” (www.cityofelgin.org/construction) to keep Elgin residents informed on capital improvement projects, such as road construction, street resurfacing or sewer repairs. Molly was the lead on developing this new website for the city, which details timelines and costs for each project and integrates a social component to the initiative that pushes site content about each project to residents thru a weekly e-mail blast as well as Twitter, Facebook and the city’s Elgin 311 app for mobile devices. This new proactive, multi-channel approach to engagement with the community helps solidify Elgin as a trend-setting, innovative municipality.

To help reach a broader audience and better disseminate topics discussed by City Council, Molly also live tweets council meetings on Twitter, which serves to expand civic interest from the community on the inner-workings of their local government.

List any achievement which has made improvements in the specific profession, business, or service.

As recently as three years ago, the City of Elgin’s communications footprint was significantly less visible and their online branding identity was disjointed at best. Over the last two years, Molly has worked hard to increase the city’s reach to its citizens thru a diligent, more strategic approach to social media postings including a larger focus on content. By adding or updating over 30 new Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for city of Elgin committees, special events and other municipal branches and nearly quadrupling its social media reach, the city can now more effectively target its communications to a specific audience. Couple that with a more unified, cohesive messaging and advertising brand developed by Molly, the City of Elgin now has a robust, well-oiled communications machine to better engage with a much larger segment of the Elgin community, thanks in large part to the efforts and leadership exemplified by Molly Center.

EYPN’s Kari Christensen Wins YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon Award

DSC_0609EYPN member Kari Christensen was honored with the Marguerite Henry Award for Communications and Technology at the annual YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon on Thursday, May 7 at The Seville Banquets in Streamwood.

Kari was nominated by fellow EYPN member Jason Pawlowski for her leadership and communication savvy demonstrated with her roles with the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, Shared Harvest Food Co-Op, Elgin 360 Photography Club, Downtown Neighborhood Association and Elgin Young Professionals Network.

Kari is the second EYPN member to win the Marguerite Henry Award. EYPN Board Chair Krisilee Murphy was recognized with the same award in 2012.

Here are some excerpts of the nomination submitted for Kari Christensen:

11167687_10200553351751684_5462395648706800365_nList the significant achievements of the nominee in the named category.

Kari served as Chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s 15th Annual Window Wonderland event, where she essentially single-handedly organized, marketed and promoted the event – a task normally handled by multiple paid staff and an entire committee of volunteers. Her dedication and resourcefulness in orchestrating and promoting all aspects of this complex, multi-faceted event – including programming, publicity, and obtaining event sponsorships – all with minimal staff support is a testament to the spirit of the Illinois Main Street model of community development thru volunteerism as well as to Kari’s ingenuity and leadership qualities. Her efforts won her the Individual Volunteer Award at the 2014 Downtown Neighborhood Association Awards Gala.

Thru positive messaging and good old fashioned advocacy, Kari has also helped heighten the profile and awareness of the Elgin Shared Harvest Food Cooperative, a cooperatively owned grocery store that will soon link consumers to affordable, healthy, locally-produced food, foster sustainable agriculture, and contribute to the economic and cultural vibrancy of the Elgin community. As a volunteer board member, she has built a significant community following by leveraging innovative social media and e-mail marketing practices on behalf of the organization. Because of her extensive communication and messaging efforts, the food co-op is fast approaching its goals for shareholder membership.

Her Facebook page and timeline of photos, “check-ins”, “tags”, “mentions”, “shares” and conversations are quite literally a “who’s-who” of Elgin institutions, businesses, organizations and engaged citizens, business owners and local leaders. She is quite simply building a stronger community thru social interaction one communication at a time.

List past or present positions of leadership or responsibility.

After spending over a decade in the corporate realm of private equity as an Accounting Manager as well as a recent stint as a Mission Investment Specialist/Development Assistant for the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, promoting the positives of and better connecting the community to the organization, Kari has now ventured down an exciting new path of entrepreneurship. She recently started a new communications, design and grant writing consulting company this past year called Trillium Link LLC to support non-profit and for-profit businesses with creative consulting services.

Kari also serves as the Board Treasurer of the Shared Harvest Food Cooperative, where she not only maintains the books for this Elgin non-profit organization but also served as Co-Chair for the co-op’s annual Membership Drive.

She is also the Treasurer for the Elgin 360 Photography Club, a local group of community-oriented photography enthusiasts who meet once a month to discuss techniques and tips as well as to support the arts and local business.

She served as Chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s 2013 Window Wonderland event, where she basically single-handedly coordinated nearly all aspects of this cherished annual Downtown Elgin event including programming, marketing, publicity, and obtaining sponsorships.

She also served as a member of the Elgin Junior Service Board, a volunteer organization that works to enhance and support health, education, and well-being of women and children in Elgin and the surrounding communities.

Describe qualities of leadership demonstrated by the nominee.

At her core Kari is extremely selfless and very giving of both her time and of herself. When she first signed up as a member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association in 2013, she won an iPad as part of a membership drive raffle promotion we were conducting. Upon hearing this news, she immediately asked the organization to donate the iPad to the students at the YWCA Elgin.

She has proven to be extraordinarily entrepreneurial and resourceful, which are two absolute necessities in the non-profit world that she makes her living in and gives so generously of her time and efforts.

She is also not afraid to take risks. In 2013, after more than a decade in the corporate world, Kari elected to cast off the corporate shackles, without a net mind you, all in the hopes of pursuing her passion of helping the people and businesses of her community.

Her positivity, boundless energy and dedication to Elgin are traits we should all aspire to. Since returning to town, Kari has hit the ground running as a staunch supporter and promoter of all things Elgin. Despite the long commute to-and-from her former office in Chicago, there was nary a night of the week that Kari was not out supporting local businesses, partaking in local events, volunteering her time for local causes or building connections in the Elgin community. Now making her professional home in Elgin as well, she is able to dedicate even more time to enjoying, supporting and advocating for our great city.

Describe how this person has demonstrated a commitment to excellence.

Kari’s commitment to excellence is demonstrated by the sheer number of community commitments she undertakes. In addition to her work with the Boys and Girls Club, she has invested significant time volunteering for Elgin Junior Service Board, Cinderella’s Closet, Little Angels, Suicide Prevention Services, Have a Heart Community Dinner, Citizens for Debbie Miller, Side Street Studio Arts, Elgin Fringe Festival, Shared Harvest Food Cooperative, Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin, Elgin 4th of July Parade, Downtown Elgin Pub Crawl, Elgin International Festival, Art & Soul on the Fox, Art on the Eighth and City of Elgin Special Events.

She is also a tireless networking pro and continues to advocate for and communicate the positives of Elgin thru a variety of local groups including the Elgin Young Professionals Network and Elgin 360 Photography Club, as well as, at networking events thru the Elgin Technology Center, Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Elgin Area Chamber.

Explain how the nominee made an outstanding or innovative contribution in the category.

Kari’s savvy social media marketing and communication efforts have helped build a sizeable following for the Shared Harvest Food Co-Op, Boys & Girls Club of Elgin and other vital organizations. Furthermore her willingness to go above and beyond and actually “walk the walk”, by putting a smiling face to that positive messaging she so adeptly sends out online into Elgin’s business community offline, makes her an invaluable community development asset for this city.

Kari’s grant-writing prowess also lead to some notable financial support successes for the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin during her tenure.

April 2015 Meeting Minutes

cropped-eypn1.jpgEYPN April Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, April 28, 2016 6:00pm
Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago Street, Elgin

Board Members Present: Megan Ault, Aaron Cosentino, Marissa Garza, Jason Pawlowski

Members Present: Andrea Fugitt, Olivia Vlahos, Brooke Wardle, Molly Center, Emily Tyler, Andrew Block, Justin Budd, Angela Carlson

Introductions

Jason Pawlowski, Board Treasurer, facilitated the meeting and welcomed the group at 6:01pm.

Coffee with EYPN

The April Coffee with EYPN event at Domani Café was well attended. Domani has been a great host for the last two coffee events. The question was raised about whether we should consider rotating these events to offer other coffee shops in town the opportunity to host. Another question was raised about if the events could be rotated to another day besides Fridays. It was decided that our next Coffee with EYPN, tentatively scheduled for mid-July or August, should rotate to Blue Box Café in downtown Elgin and we will look at the feasibility of scheduling the event on a different day of the week.

EYPN May Volunteer Event

Our next volunteer event will be a Clean-Up Day at Hawthorne Hills in Elgin on Saturday, May 16 from 9am-12pm. A Facebook event will be created and cross promoted thru the EYPN website. Sign-up will be coordinated thru Elissa Kojzarek and Molly Center.

Regarding the ongoing monthly EYPN volunteer nights with Food for Greater Elgin, we will work with Sue Ericson and her staff to coordinate another volunteer night in June. We will then continue to promote and offer the ongoing monthly FFGE opportunities to anyone who is interested and look at setting a goal for the year for total FFGE volunteer hours as an organization.

2015 Mentor Program

Past Chair Becky Hardekopf was unable to attend the meeting so discussion on the specifics of the “kick-off” event for the 2015 Mentor Program was tabled.

Discussion did take place on potential mentor candidates. We will confirm which candidates Becky has already lined-up and then reach out to those other potential mentors discussed this evening.

Discussion also took place on current EYPN members serving as mentors not just for our membership but for college students as well. Several members expressed an interest in serving as mentors. Additional discussion on the logistics and integration into our existing mentor program is needed.

It was suggested that our members perhaps consider serving as presenters for more Professional Development Series this year with topics/presenters such as Learning Adobe InDesign (Jason Pawlowski), Social Media tips (Marissa Garza, Molly Center, Krisilee Murphy, others), etc.

Tweet Night at the Symphony

The EYPN Tweet Night at the ESO will be Saturday, May 2 beginning with a wine tasting at Solo restaurant & wine bar at 6pm followed by the concert at Hemmens at 7:30pm. We have a total of 11 EYPN members and their guests attending. EYPN will prepay the ESO by check on Wednesday, April 29 and collect remaining outstanding funds from attendees by Saturday night.

Mother’s Day Cash Mob

Our spring Cash Mob will be Saturday, May 9 from 9am-1pm at The Flower Wagon, 989 W. Spring Street in South Elgin. The Facebook event went live earlier this week and over 350 people have been invited from both EYPN and the owners of The Flower Wagon. For every “cash mobster” that spends $20, they are entered into a raffle for a planter of flowers valued at $50. Winners need not be present to win. Also, each mom in attendance that day will receive a single flower as a gift.

Upcoming Community Events/Volunteer Opportunities

Downtown Elgin Art Hop (5/1) is looking for volunteers to help with registration and check-in at nine different venues in downtown Elgin. Contact Paige Roeber at the DNA at proeber@downtownelgin.com or call 847-488-1456.

Strawberry Festival (5/2) takes place at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Elgin and benefits local non-profit organizations.

City of Elgin’s Public Works Open House (5/2) is a family-friendly event that takes place at the Public Works facility at 1900 Holmes Road.

EYPN member Kari Christensen has been nominated in the Communications category for this year’s YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon (5/7) at the Seville in Streamwood. Several EYPN members are attending to support Kari. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased at www.YWCAElgin.org.

City of Elgin’s Fox Trot is seeking volunteers for packet stuffing during the week leading up to the race (5/19-5/21). Shifts are from 9am-12pm, 12pm-3pm and 3pm-6pm. They are also in need of pre-registration volunteers (5/22) and race day volunteers (5/23) for check-in and other duties.

Bikes and Bites on the Fox (5/30) will be a bicycle-friendly event on Riverside Drive featuring food trucks, farmers market, kids activities and more. EYPN is organizing the bags activity for the event. We will post this as a volunteer opportunity for EYPN members and we need at least 2-3 people. We are also looking into prizes for a potential bags tournament at the event. Angela Carlson will promote Bikes and Bites on the Fox on her 7 for the Weekend segment on 95.9-FM The River.

Other Discussion

Marissa Garza has agreed to organize a new EYPN Book Club, where different members will pick a book each quarter that they like for other participating members to read. Then we will host informal quarterly meetings to discuss.

The group was definitely on board with doing another EYPN painting night. We will decide on an appropriate night for sometime this summer and work with Ola la Ijorere to schedule. Several members expressed interest in doing the Riverside Drive painting.

Brooke Wardle will be joining as a new EYPN member thru Judson University. Brooke will only be in the Elgin area until late summer. We will give the option to Judson to send another representative in her place after Brooke leaves.

Andrew Block has also expressed interest in joining and volunteering at some of our upcoming EYPN functions.

The group was in favor of conducting the next meeting at Prairie Rock Bar & Grill in downtown Elgin in their outdoor beer garden. We will confirm this with Christina Pearson just in case a May venue has already been confirmed.

Next Meeting: Thursday, May 21st at 6pm (location TBD)

Meeting Adjourned at 6:45pm

YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon Nominees Announced

YWCAElginThe YWCA Elgin announced the nominees for the thirty-second annual Leader Luncheon Awards and EYPN’s very own Kari Christensen was among them.

Kari was nominated for the Marguerite Henry Award for Communication/Technology for her volunteer service to many Elgin area organizations as well as her dedication to promoting the Elgin community thru thoughtful and thorough social media and marketing practices. Kari owns and operates Trillium Link LLC, a consulting company that provides writing services, creative assistance and social media services to particularly budget conscious organizations such as nonprofits and small businesses.

For a complete list of the 2015 Leader Luncheon nominees, click here!

The 2015 YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 7 at The Seville in Streamwood beginning at 11am. The event is attended by hundreds of community leaders, businesses, not for profit representatives and volunteers to acknowledge and honor women from Elgin and surrounding communities who have made significant contributions to the Arts, Business & Professions, Communications/Technology, Education, Public Service, Social Service, Volunteer/Community Service and Racial Justice.

Let’s all support Kari at this prestigious community event. Reservations for this year’s Leader Luncheon can be made online at YWCAElgin.org/LL2015 or call the YWCA Elgin at 847-742-7930.

Congratulations EYPN Leader Luncheon Nominees

EYPN YWCA Elgin

EYPN members: (Left to right) Katie Michel, Stacy Michel, Ann Leider, Becky Hardekopf, Krisilee Murphy, Laura Valdez, Kari Christensen, Jason Pawlowski

The YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon Awards annually recognize the best and brightest women in Elgin who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in leadership. This year’s extensive list of Leader Luncheon award nominees proudly boasted three Elgin Young Professionals Network members:

Becky Hardekopf – Business Category

Ann Leider – Education Category

Kari Christensen – Communications/Technology Category

Please join us in congratulating these three amazing women and all of this year’s deserving award winners and nominees. Thank you for all that you do for the Elgin community.