Cook County Commission on Women's Issues

Cook County Commission on Women's Issues The Commission studies the status of women and develops recommendations for eliminating discriminati

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Congratulations Donna Adam, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 17th District, represented by Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison.

Donna Adam is the founder of Clean Up - Give Back, a nonprofit that conducts trash cleanup campaigns in the Chicagoland area and operates a national "Flexible Service Program" that allows individuals to earn service hours for work, school or court while beautifying their community. She has a passion for building community while engaging volunteers. Donna was one of 22 recipients of the 2020 Governor's Volunteer Service Award, the highest award in Illinois for volunteerism. In 2021, Clean Up - Give Back conducted 82 small and large cleanups, where 1,379 volunteers were engaged, contributing 9.527 service hours to the community, filling 4,582 trash bags, and removing 41,814 pounds of trash from the environment.


Congratulations Dominice LaPorte Einig, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 15th District, represented by Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison.

Dominice has a passion for advocating for mental health – whether as a volunteer, as the Vice President of Human Resources at Northwest Community Healthcare, or as a board member of the Kenneth Young Center (KYC), a not-for-profit that provides mental health services, youth empowerment programs and care for older adults. She also serves on the Roosevelt University Workforce Advisory Board, was elected president of the local PTA, and was a Scout Leader.

During her more than 25 years in Human Resources, she’s created a sense of community and belonging, and supports 4000 employees and frontline caregivers. For Dominice, building a resilient and connected community means speaking up and making a difference for the most vulnerable, and she actively works to eradicate mental health stigma and pave the way for lasting change. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Jamie Kucera, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 16th District, represented by Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar.

Jamie Kucera has been the Executive Director/CEO at the Pav YMCA for the last 10 years and has served in the Y movement for over 22 years. Her mission is to provide others the opportunity to build a healthy spirit, mind and body through the most challenging times. Throughout the pandemic, The Y has provided resources for those with limited financial means, and has partnered with Alivio Medical Center to administer nearly 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines. Led by Jamie, the Y has created a distribution system to provide shelf stable food items and fresh produce twice a month to the community to fight food insecurity among seniors, distributing over 20,0000 bags of food. The Y also opened their doors to families in need of childcare and remote learning support when schools closed and has been host to over 20 blood drives in the last few years.


Congratulations Michelle Valiukenas Tisdahl, the @Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 14th District, represented by Commissioner Scott Britton.

Michelle Valiukenas is a mother who co-founded The Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation with her husband. The Foundation’s mission is to improve outcomes of pregnancy and childbirth and support families dealing with the loss of a child. Their flagship program financially assists families coping with high-risk and complicated pregnancies, NICU stays, and loss. To date, the organization has helped over 1,000 families in 42 states and given away almost $1 million in grants. In efforts to build awareness and advocate for change, Michelle actively shares her own story of loss and other families she has supported. She has also served on the Northfield Township’s Commission on Human Services. Michelle Valiukenas is the proud mom of three; Sweet Pea, who she lost to miscarriage, her daughter Colette Louise who she lost at nine days old; and her only living child Elliott Miguel, who is 18 months old.


Congratulations Willie Shaw, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 13th District, represented by Larry Suffredin.

Justice is at the core of Willie Shaw’s being. She is deeply engaged in social justice work and is committed to improving the lives of others. At Mt. Zion Church, she led generations of Girl Scouts, taught Sunday school, served as Superintendent and was Scholarship Fund President. Willie currently chairs the Political Action, Civic Engagement, Voter Registration and Social Committees of the NAACP Evanston Branch where she is a life member. She is a facilitator with Armor Down Girls, an after-school empowerment organization, and mentor with Focus Ministries, working with abused and homeless children. She helped pass Black History bill HB 4954 and is on the State of Illinois Inclusive History Committee. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Kathy Cavallone Turney, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 11th District, represented by John Daley.

Kathleen “Kathy” Cavallone Turney is the founder of Pat’s Pantry. When her 23-year-old son, Patrick, suddenly passed away, she organized a local book drive, in his honor, where over 600 books were donated to two local schools and libraries. Kathy aimed to highlight Patrick’s passion for helping others in the Mt. Greenwood community by creating Pat’s Pantry. Pat’s Pantry provides food assistance and fresh food through partnerships with local businesses and the surrounding community. Kathy’s passion for volunteering flourishes through Pat’s Pantry, which has become a wonderful tribute to her son Patrick’s memory and his love of the local community. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Lamekia Nicole, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 6th District, represented by Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller. #CCUnsungHeroine

Lamekia Nicole Davis is a Finance and Event expert with over 15 years of experience in the financial and nonprofit Industry. She has worked with I Love Them; a ministry of feeding the homeless on the South Side of Chicago and is a certified mentor with Lincoln’s Challenge Academy. Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Lamekia has always had a love and passion for youth and young adults. In 2013, The Heyy Girl Foundation was birthed; a non-profit organization with mentorship programs for at risk and homeless young ladies. Her goal is to one day open a transitional housing shelter for homeless and runaway teens.


Congratulations Virgil Jackson, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 5th District, represented by Commissioner Deborah Sims.

Virgil L. Jackson, affectionately known as “Vir," was born and raised on the near westside of Chicago, where she attended Victor Herbert and Lucy Flower schools. As the First Lady of Riverdale, she has assisted and sponsored many community events including the Annual Children’s Coat and Hat Drive. Additionally, she has sponsored and hosted the Annual Riverdale Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention luncheon. She volunteers with the Annual Children’s Ice Cream Social, Annual Back to School Party, Annual Seniors’ Thanksgiving Day Luncheon, and serves on the PTA at her daughter’s school. Virgil has worked at Tab Service Company for over 25 years; however, she believes her most important duties are those of mother, wife, and daughter. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Belle McClandon, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 4th District, represented by Commissioner Stanley Moore.

Belle K. McClandon is a retiree with over 30 years of service as an Administrative Assistant with Cook County Facilities Management Department and over a decade of successful service in materials management. Her greatest joy in life is spending time with her loving husband Charles, two wonderful sons, and adorable grandson.

Belle is one of the amazing community leaders within the 4th District. She developed and organized the first 8700 South Bishop Block Club, where she currently serves as treasurer. She is a 26-year member of the Memorial Missionary Baptist Church and currently serves on the missionary, deaconess, pastor support, Sunday school, and bible-study ministries.


Congratulations Crystal Gardner, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 1st District of Cook County represented by Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Crystal is a Union Organizer and Community Activist. As a Union Organizer for AFSCME Council 31, Crystal has led numerous collective bargaining victories. Spurred on by the unrest post-George Floyd’s murder and the pandemic, Crystal created Active Austin!, a thriving Facebook community dedicated to helping her neighbors connect. She also founded a “Protest to the Polls” campaign in 2020 focused on creating community change agents. Crystal currently serves on the board of The Justice Renewal Initiative and is a lead for the Austin Coming Together Quality of Life Plan. Most importantly, she wants everyone to know that she is only getting started. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Arielle Strauss the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 9th District, represented by Commissioner Peter Silvestri.

Arielle Strauss, at age 12, started the Good Breakfast Cereal Drive and Milk Fund as her Bat Mitzvah Service Project. The project turned into Arielle’s lifelong passion.The project became an annual fundraising campaign to fund the River Grove Food Pantry.In the last 12 years, over 6,800 boxes of cereal have been collected. Now every August the food drive letter campaign generates donations from local businesses, family, and friends which has raised over $17,000. Arielle, now 24 years old, the catalyst to a decade-long food drive, has witnessed the generosity of her northwest Cook County suburban community.


Congratulations Eva Panczyk, Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 10th District, represented by Bridget Gainer.

Eva Panczyk is committed to Catholic education. For 42 years she has served the Jefferson Park community as a teacher and as a principal of Saint Constance Elementary School. Growing up on the city’s northwest side, she attended Our Lady of Victory School and The Immaculata High School. Eva earned her Principal degree from Dominican University and has held that position for the last 24 years. By developing lasting relationships with Big Shoulders Fund, donors, and patrons, she has made it possible to offer significant financial scholarships to deserving families. Together with the faculty and staff, Eva works with determination to make sure Saint Constance continues to offer the very best in Catholic education to the families in the community for years to come.


Congratulations Maria Esparza, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 7th District, represented by Commissioner Alma E. Anaya.

María Esparza goes above and beyond to serve the most vulnerable in the Back of the Yards Neighborhood. Immigrating from Mexico over 30 years ago, she began as a volunteer at the San Miguel Church, where she taught adults how to read and write in Spanish and in English as a second language. She later became the Family Support Coordinator at the San Miguel School. Maria has championed many initiatives from flu and COVID vaccine health fairs to weekly peace circles. Maria is currently creating a recreational club for seniors. Her tireless devotion has changed the lives of many residents of Chicago’s southwest side community. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Rosario Villalobos, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 8th District, represented by Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr.

Rosario has a passion for giving back to youth and her community. She has worked in the communities of Belmont Cragin, Hermosa, Avondale, and many others to advocate for those who may not have a voice or may not know about resources available to them. Rosa currently serves as a case manager for ALSO, helping victims of violence and at-risk youth secure resources to enhance their living situations. She is also an ambassador with the NPI Ambassadors in the 25th Police District. Rosa notes that the greatest repayment is seeing the community move forward to live a better life. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Annette Nance-Holt, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 3rd District, represented by Commissioner Bill Lowry, Cook County - 3rd District.

Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt is a 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department (CFD). As the first woman to hold this rank in the history of the CFD, Annette has steadily progressed through the ranks of Firefighter, Lieutenant, Training Instructor, Captain, Battalion Chief, Deputy District Chief, 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner to her current position. Her passion has become the passing of common-sense gun legislation. She has supported parents who have lost a child to gun violence with the creation of the non-profit organization, Purpose Over Pain, which advocates and promotes safer communities in Chicago.


Congratulations Asiaha Butler, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine in the 2nd District, represented by Commissioner Dennis Deer.

Englewood resident Asiaha Butler is determined to uplift, inspire and change the perception of her neighborhood. She co-founded Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E) and serves as Executive Director. R.A.G.E. mobilizes people and resources to force a change in the community. She also served as the Action Champion/Chair of the Englewood Quality of Life Housing and Public Spaces Task Force, and led the Englewood Public Safety Task Force. Asiaha recently founded her own real estate development company to ensure that housing development in Englewood happens from the bottom up. #CCUnsungHeroine


Congratulations Carlisa N Thomas, founder of Purple Ribbon Chef, and the 2022 Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Unsung Heroine At-Large! The Purple Ribbon Chef was founded by Carlisa, a mother, chef, Lupus patient, domestic violence survivor and advocate. After being diagnosed with Lupus in eighth grade, Carlisa became a champion for others who suffered with this illness. In 2011, Carlisa started her own Lupus organization, Loop-Us. Its mission is to bring this chronic autoimmune disease to the forefront and provide support for women and girls to stay healthy and mentally positive. After leaving an abusive marriage, she combined her skills and passion to start her own catering company, Purple Ribbon Chef. A portion of her revenues are donated to charities. #CCUnsungHeroine

Congratulations Michelle Valiukenas! #CCUnsung

Congratulations Michelle Valiukenas! #CCUnsung

Congratulations to the 14th District Unsung Heroine awardee Michelle Valiukenas! Michelle co-founded the Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation with her husband, a non-profit that works to improve outcomes of pregnancy and childbirth and support families dealing with the loss of a child. To date, the organization has helped over 1,000 families in 42 states and given away almost $1 million in grants. Additionally, Michelle actively shares her
own story of loss and other families she has supported. Please join me in celebrating and congratulating Michelle for her dedication to the community!

Congratulations Lamekia Davis #CCUnsung

Congratulations Lamekia Davis #CCUnsung

Timeline photos

Timeline photos

The Cook County Unsung Heroine Awards is now in its 25th year! Tune in tomorrow to see all the amazing women leaders who have made such a difference in their communities.

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In recognition of Women’s History Month, on March 10th, 2022 at 10 am the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues will recognize 18 women as the County’s “Unsung Heroines.” The selection of these heroines is being made on a district basis to ensure that women from each area of Cook County will be recognized for their contributions to their communities. Nominees must be a resident of the Cook County Board district from which they are nominated. They should be women who, either in a professional or volunteer capacity, have made significant contributions to the well-being of their community for which they have not received widespread recognition. Recipients of the Unsung Heroine Award must be residents of the County Board district from which they are nominated. Elected officials are not eligible for consideration.

*Nominations are due by 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 27th 2022.

Nomination Link:🥳


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Way to make an impact and get closer to a cure, Ginger!