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 “Halfway Thru” Year in Review

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We’re barely midway into 2015 and already Elgin Young Professionals Network has accomplished great things for ourselves, our network and for the Elgin community this calendar year.

Here are some of the highlights:

Membership Has Its Privileges

DSC_0211To help strengthen our network, provide value to our stakeholders and take our programming to the next level, EYPN instituted a paid membership program for 2015. We launched our member drive in grand style at our EYPN Game Night at Chooch’s Pizza in January. In addition to enjoying free food and sweet treats from the Elgin High School Clumsy Chefs, Game Night attendees divided into teams and enjoyed a knock down, drag out, game show-like competition emceed by EYPN board member Jason Pawlowski. More than 20 new members joined as a result of our membership drive.

New Leadership

10930528_663790847064529_1244879242878038856_nBecause one of our mantras is leadership development, we were happy to see Krisilee Murphy (Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Director of Marketing) elevated to the position of Board Chair and Christina Pearson (United Way of Elgin Office Manager) to the position of Vice Chair of the Elgin Young Professionals Network.

We also welcomed two new board members to the organization in 2015 - Megan Ault and Marissa Garza.

 

 

Something Old…Something New…

We continued to offer valuable professional development and community service opportunities to our members while rolling out progressive new programs and events as well.

11204978_711766162266997_6293313723201230155_nOur May Cash Mob brought more than a dozen motivated Mother’s Day mob shoppers to The Flower Wagon in South Elgin accounting for a record day of sales for this area small business. Also our first Professional Development session in March 2015 at Judson University covered Personal Finance for Young Professionals and was led by Keith Rauschenberger of Rauschenberger Financial Advisors.

13781_695489747227972_5848559768241270615_nWe also unveiled some new, more social opportunities for EYPN members including our Coffee with EYPN events in January and April at Domani Café; our EYPN Brown Bag Summer Lunch Series, which premiered in June at Blue Box Café; EYPN Night at the Movies at Marcus Elgin Cinema in June; and our exclusive EYPN Tweet Night at the Symphony, featuring a wine tasting at Solo Restaurant & Wine Bar followed by an elegant evening of Beethoven paired with social media, all courtesy of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

At Your Service

1907569_677156172394663_1399499874258519008_nEYPN also continues to connect our members to volunteer opportunities with non-profit organizations. This year alone our members have already volunteered their time with City of Elgin Special Events’ Elgin Valley Fox Trot, Downtown Neighborhood Association‘s 4th of July Parade, Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau‘s Bikes & Bites on the Fox, City of Elgin and Gail Borden Public Library‘s VolunteerPalooza, and at Food for Greater Elgin.

Image is Everything

ImageAwardsIn March 2015, Elgin Young Professionals Network was honored with an award from the Elgin Image Advisory Commission at the 23rd Annual City of Elgin Image Awards Ceremony. EYPN won recognition in the Organizations/Business category for its community service and professional development efforts in 2014.

Member Kari Christensen was also honored by the YWCA Elgin with a Leader Luncheon Award in the Communications & Technology Category this past May.

And we’re far from done with making our mark in 2015. Among the programs and events we still have to look forward to include:

So, how are we doing?

Here’s to finishing strong in the second half of 2015. Go EYPN!

EYPN 2014 Year in Review

EYPN1 (4)2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Elgin Young Professionals Network but before we look ahead, let’s look back upon what was a very positive and productive year of programming and progress for our young professionals:

- EYPN launched its official website, www.ElginYoungProfessionals.com, on January 10. The site features EYPN news, event listings, article links, and job and volunteer opportunities for area young professionals. The site averages 253 visitors and 511 views per month. Our network’s reach is also amplified to over 400 followers and subscribers thru the EYPN Facebook, Twitter and e-mail blast. Kudos to board members Krisilee Murphy and Jason Pawlowski for so diligently managing EYPN’s marketing and communications.

DSC_0577- In the spirit of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, our New Member Mix-and-Meet: Let the Games Begin event in January at Nick’s Pizza & Pub brought in over 20 new and current EYPN members to compete in a series of fun and engaging Minute-to-Win-It style games, such as Stapler Luge and Speed Tweeting, to see who would bring home the Gold. Congratulations to Krisilee Murphy, Aaron Cosentino and Christina Pearson for taking the gold, silver and bronze respectively and shout out to Andersen’s Trophies for providing our EYPN Let the Games Begin medals.

- This past year EYPN launched a new series of professional development seminars to help young professionals build skills and experience. The first seminar titled “Marketing Yourself Thru LinkedIn” was lead by Sam Madan, Director of Special Events and External Relations for Pillars. Held at Judson University in March and attended by almost 20 individuals, the seminar focused on tips for building a strong LinkedIn profile and creating and cultivating a new professional network to aid in job search and career development. At the seminar, local photographer James Harvey also provided free headshots for attendees to use as their new LinkedIn profile picture.

HulaforMoola- Our Hula for Moola Scholarship Fundraiser in April at Chooch’s Pizza in downtown Elgin helped raise more than $1,500 for EYPN’s scholarship program supporting Elgin High School’s Clumsy Chefs culinary students entering Elgin Community College’s culinary arts program. The Clumsy Chefs program is spearheaded by U-46 teacher and EYPN member Ann Leider. EYPN members also supported the Clumsy Chefs at their annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at Elgin High School.

EYPN YWCA Elgin- In May, EYPN Board President Becky Hardekopf was awarded the Young Professional Friend of Tourism Award by the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at their annual Mayor’s Luncheon. EYPN member Kari Christensen was awarded the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin‘s Volunteer of the Year Award at their annual Awards Gala in October. Hardekopf, Christensen and EYPN member Ann Leider were also nominated by their peers for YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon Awards. Board Vice President Krisilee Murphy was honored by her alma mater Western Illinois University as a distinguished alumni. She was also nominated for an Elgin Image Award earlier this year.

10357754_548910101885938_462718589515232118_o- In June, EYPN conducted its second professional development series entitled “The Benefits of Being Part of a Board” at Al’s Café. The seminar featured a panel discussion and Q&A with Kimberly Bless, CEO/President – Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Karin Jones, Board President – Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin, and Sharon Bush, Elgin Program Director and Senior Program Officer – Grand Victoria Foundation, and concluded with a dynamic presentation about developing board leadership and chemistry by Denise Baretto – Managing Partner of Relationships Matter Now.

- For the third straight year, EYPN organized a series of Cash Mobs to support Elgin area businesses and promote buying local. Much like a Flash Mob, a Cash Mob is where shoppers are invited to show up all at once to “mob” a local business on a set date and time to shop, socialize and spend a minimum of $20 per person. Participants are also encouraged beforehand to spread the word to their spheres of influence thru their social media channels and word-of-mouth to effectively deliver one huge day of sales to these local businesses. This year more than 60 cash mobsters shopped Herb’s Bakery in June and the Tinsel Holiday Pop-Up Shop in downtown Elgin in December.

- As part of EYPN’s community service mantra, several EYPN members worked with the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin to serve as volunteer judges at events such as the City of Elgin 4th of July Parade and Downtown Elgin Window Wonderland.

10313124_571038499673098_5272885607440949448_n- In July, EYPN painted the town “RAW” with rhythms, art and wine at our first ever RAW Night at Ola la Ijorere. More than 20 EYPN members came out to enjoy an evening of painting, networking and good times while supporting a burgeoning local arts business in downtown Elgin.

10606132_621654237944857_2109299508190327828_n- In November, EYPN members participated in and served as an event sponsor of the Annual Elgin Youth Scholarship Challenge at The Centre of Elgin. After a competitive series of physical and mental challenges and events Team EYPN took Second Place overall. Thanks to participants Kari Christensen, Mary Kay Frankel, Becky Hardekopf, Barb Keselica, Elissa Kojzarek, Elaina McCalmont, Chad Meyers, Krisilee Murphy, Mike Murphy, Jason Pawlowski, Christina Pearson and Shalina Wozny.

1483441_822133597806813_9077784208465731995_n- For the second straight year, EYPN members helped organize the Elgin Home for the Holidays program. This year’s initiative united 23 Elgin area not-for-profit organizations in collaborative promotion of nearly 50 of our non-profit community’s holiday events to help brand Elgin as a destination for holiday tourism. The Home for the Holidays Kick-Off event at Gail Borden Public Library on November 8 drew more than 2,300 people and featured horse-drawn carriage rides, non-profit expo, bi-lingual reading activity with Mrs. Claus sponsored by United Way of Elgin, holiday photo booth manned by the Elgin 360 Photography Club, and musical performances by Elgin Children’s Chorus, Elgin Master Chorale, Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra and Heartland Voices. A huge thank you goes out to our Elgin Home for the Holidays co-chairs, Elaina McCalmont and Brittany Mitchell, as well as our Kick-Off Chair and board member liaison Stacy Michel for all of their efforts in pulling together this year’s program.

How can we top 2014? Join EYPN in 2015 to find out.

Elgin Area Leadership Academy Now Accepting Applications

EALACalling all young professionals. If you are interested in getting more involved in the Elgin Area, the Elgin Area Leadership Academy (EALA) is now accepting applications for the 2014/15 class.

[Click here to download the application]

The program begins at the end of September and finishes up on May 9. Classes are typically one Saturday per month from 8 a.m. until noon. The class on September 27 is a little longer (ends at 3 p.m.) and there are 2 classes in November and February.

The Academy is led by community volunteers Dan Fox, Don Waters and Ruth Munson who have extensive leadership involvement in Elgin.. Through their guidance, participants receive skills and knowledge necessary to become an effective leader through a curriculum built around community issues, including city government, economic development, ethics, health care resources, education and much, much more.

EALA is a rewarding experience designed to meet our community’s needs for active and future leaders.

Professional Development Series: The Benefits of Being Part of a Board

cropped-eypn1.jpgThis June, Elgin Young Professionals Network continues its Professional Development Series for young professionals and community members with its newest seminar entitled, “The Benefits of Being Part of a Board.”

The session takes place on Tuesday, June 10 from 6:00-7:00pm at Al’s Cafe, 43 DuPage Court in Elgin. The event is free and open to the public. (Feel free to dine or grab a drink during the session!)

Our guest speakers are Kimberly Bless, President/CEO – Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Denise Barreto, Managing Partner – Relationships Matter Now, who will explain the skills necessary to be a successful board member and the benefits and responsibilities of such roles. Active board members are critical to the organizations they serve and the skills they develop can further their own careers.

Please RSVP via our Facebook event page.

EYPN’s quarterly Professional Development Series will enable our members, and the public, to learn about important topics relevant to young professionals or learn valuable skill sets from a wide array of seasoned pros. Future sessions will take place in September and November of 2014.

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About Kimberly Bless, President/CEO – Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau:

Chair of ICCVB for 5 years, currently Legislative Chair and co-chair for the 2015 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism, Kimberly Bless chaired the Chicago and Beyond Regional Tourism Development Office for three years. Current Board Member for the Northwest Executives Club of Chicago. Member of the Illinois Delegation for the 2016 Olympic Bid Committee. Past Board Member for the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce. Past Executive Committee and Community Advisory Board for Roosevelt University. Executive Committee and Board of Directors for 2020 Northwest. Board of Directors for the Greater Woodfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. Board of Directors for the Northern Kane County Workforce Development Board. Board of Directors and Secretary for Northern Illinois Business PAC. Contributing Writer for The Business Ledger newspaper. recipient of the Today’s Young Professional Award and recipient of the Professional Women in Business Award.

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About Denise Barreto, Managing Partner – Relationships Matter Now!

Denise W. Barreto is a dynamic marketing leader who has spent all her career building relationships with consumers on behalf of brands such as US Soccer Federation, AT&T, Miller Brewing Company, the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team, United Airlines, Pella Windows and Doors and Sears Holdings Corporation. Her over 19 years experience analyzing consumer data and using it to build actionable marketing campaigns to mobilize and engage consumers and internal corporate audiences alike, make her uniquely qualified to lead Relationships Matter Now.

Denise is an expert in the art of influence. As a life-long marketer and political junkie, she has studied consumer and human behavior and specializes in ways to motivate towards goals while simultaneously adding value to their lives. With her down-to-earth personality and laid-back style, she quickly connects with audiences to help them absorb her messages.

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.

Professional Connections Mentoring Program Year-End Meeting

EYPN1 (4)On Thursday, February 20 at 6pm at Chooch’s Pizza (upstairs), 64 S. Grove Avenue in downtown Elgin, the Elgin Young Professionals Network invites the public to join them for an informational meeting about the network’s Professional Connections Mentoring Program.

The informational event will summarize the 2013 mentoring program’s success stories as well as provide details about the 2014 program and how Elgin area young professionals can participate.

The Professional Connections Mentoring Program matches EYPN members with local civic, business and non-profit leaders with the goals of enhancing our members’ overall leadership skills and building vital community connections.

Please RSVP via EYPN’s Facebook event page.