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 Game Night at Chooch’s Pizza

EYPN_Game_NightHave you got game? EYPN does.

On Thursday, May 19 beginning at 6pm, the Elgin Young Professionals Network invites you to join us at Chooch’s Pizza, 64 S. Grove Avenue in downtown Elgin, for EYPN Game Night – our totally tricked-out take on Trivia Night with both a Hollywood Game Night and Minute to Win It-style twist.

Come early for dinner and drinks (at your own expense) and mingling. Then at 6:30pm, we’ll divide up into teams of 3-4 people for a knock-down, drag-out battle of wits, wisdom and wackiness. We will announce the complete list of games and scoring system before the event date so stay tuned!

The overall winning team will receive a prize package of local Elgin goodies.

The event is free and open to anyone of any age who wants to learn more about all that EYPN does for the Elgin community. Bring yourself – or your team - and an appetite for hot pizza and even hotter competition.

Last year’s event was a blast so come out and play. Play for pride! Play to win! Play because…well, it’s a night of play with the cool kids from EYPN!

Let the games begin!

October EYPN Meeting at Dog’s Paw Brewing

cropped-eypn1.jpgOur next Elgin Young Professionals Network meeting is Tuesday, October 27 at Dog’s Paw Brewing, 74 S. Grove Avenue in downtown Elgin, at 6pm.

Topics to be covered include: Recaps of Coffee with EYPN, Professional Development Series and Tweet Night with ESO, sign-up for our new Salvation Army Angel Tree holiday giving campaign, brainstorming ideas for next year and more!

This event is also open to anyone interested in joining or learning more about the leadership building and community service opportunities available with EYPN.

Help EYPN Support Salvation Army Angel Tree Program

angel-tree-6This year EYPN is partnering with the Elgin Salvation Army on the organization’s annual Angel Tree program to help spread joy and cheer to the less fortunate during the holidays.

At our next EYPN meeting on Tuesday, October 27 at Dog’s Paw Brewing, 74 S. Grove Avenue in downtown Elgin, you can pick up an Angel Tag, which represents the holiday wish of an area youth. If you are unable to make the 10/27 meeting, you can also contact Elissa Kojzarek at ekojzarek@uwelgin.org to have an Angel Tag sent to you.

Participants should then purchase the item listed on the tag and bring it to the November EYPN meeting on Thursday, November 19.

Let’s make 2015 a warm and joyous holiday experience!

EYPN Professional Development Series – Inside InDesign

Adobe_InDesign_iconWant to create professional looking posters, publications and other collateral materials? Ready to step up from more basic desktop publishing suites like Word or Publisher to the industry standard Adobe InDesign but don’t know how?

On Tuesday, October 13 at 6:30pm at United Way of Elgin, 1750 Grandstand Place, #5 in Elgin, Daniel Escamilla, Graphic Designer at the Gail Borden Library, will take us inside the basics of InDesign.

Through hands-on demonstration he will help you navigate the user interface, provide an overview of tools and workflow, review keyboard shortcuts, and walk the group through beginning a project.

Please RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Coffee with EYPN at Domani Cafe

13781_695489747227972_5848559768241270615_nWe would like to invite everyone to stop into Domani Café, 109 E. Highland Avenue in downtown Elgin, and have a cup (or two) of coffee with us on Friday, October 2 from 7:30-9:30 am. This event is open to young professionals and established professionals. Come learn who the Elgin Young Professionals Network is and what we do!

This is a great opportunity to come together and support one of the wonderful coffee shops we have in downtown Elgin. Stop in on your way to work! You buy your coffee and we’ll provide the conversation and company.

September EYPN Meeting at Rookies

cropped-eypn1.jpgOur next Elgin Young Professionals Network meeting is Thursday, September 17 at Rookies, 2486 Bushwood Drive in Elgin, at 6pm.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Fall and Holiday Cash Mobs
  • Coffee with EYPN
  • Professional Development Seminar
  • ESO Tweet Night
  • EYPN Volunteer Nights
  • And more!

This event is also open to anyone interested in joining or learning more about the leadership building and community service opportunities available with EYPN.

August EYPN Meeting at Emmett’s in West Dundee

cropped-eypn1.jpgOur next Elgin Young Professionals Network meeting is Wednesday, August 26 at Emmett’s, 128 W. Main Street in West Dundee, starting at 6pm.

We will be joined by members of the Dundee Township Young Professionals. This will be a great opportunity to network with area young professionals as well as get to know what other young professional groups are doing in nearby communities.

This event is also open to anyone interested in joining or learning more about the leadership building and community service opportunities available with EYPN.

EYPN Book Club

EYPN_BookClubIn an effort to learn from each other, EYPN is starting a book club! This club will focus on professional development books and meet once every three months.

The first book we will be reading is the classic Who Moved My Cheese.

EYPN is grateful to Books at Sunset, 1100 South Street in Elgin, has agreed to host our book club and we in turn would like to support them. Thus Books at Sunset has agreed to order copies of this book for us and offer it for purchase at a discount.

We need to let them know how many books to order in advance so please RSVP on Facebook by Wednesday, July 15. Books will be ordered for every person who responds that they will be attending. We will then let you know when books will be available for purchase.

EYPN’s “Halfway Thru” Year in Review

cropped-eypn1.jpg

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!