Security Bank and Springfield Business Journal are proud to sponsor the 15th annual Women of Influence. This program honors local women for their contributions to the Springfield area community. This year’s recipients are Dr. Clarice Ford, Rev. Margaret Ann Jessup, Aruna Mathur, Polly Poskin, and Angela Sowle.
Dr. Clarice Ford currently serves as the interim vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Illinois Springfield. She has served in various leadership roles in student affairs since 2008. Her nominator described her as “a passionate advocate for all students, but especially for students who are first in their family to attend college, low income students and students from underrepresented groups such as African American and Hispanic students. “ She has implemented many innovative initiatives at UIS to enhance retention and degree completion for at-risk students, including a successful program for first generation college students called Necessary Steps.
Rev. Margaret Ann Jessup is the associate pastor at Douglas Avenue Methodist Church and also the director of Wooden It Be Lovely, a social enterprise that she created to help single mothers. The women are provided with training and mentoring through a program where they refurbish and paint donated furniture that they then sell. This allows them to develop job skills that they can then use to provide for themselves and their children.
Aruna Mathur joined SIU School of Medicine as a researcher in 1975 and later retired from that organization. She and many of her friends were involved in supporting a variety of local charities and in 1991 she organized the Asian Indian Women’s Organization (AIWO) as a way of giving back to the community. Each year, the group selects a different local non-profit to benefit from fundraising efforts. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given to the Ronald McDonald House, NICU at St. John’s Hospital, St. John’s Breadline, and other groups. Mathur recently retired after 26 years as president of AIWO.
Polly Poskin is the executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, as well as a tireless community activist. She is president of Harvard Park Neighborhood Association and co-chair of Inner City Older Neighborhoods and has served on many committees over the years to help address issues that plague the urban core of the city. Poskin has also served on the Springfield Area Arts Council board and has helped co-chair the First Night event downtown. During the past 40 years, she has been a consistent advocate for women’s rights and an end to sexual violence.
Angela Sowle is the CEO of the YMCA of Springfield and also serves on the statewide YMCA board. Her career with the YMCA started in college when she worked as a camp program director for low-income children. After college, she took a job with the YMCA of Springfield, and other than stepping down for a short time while she battled breast cancer, she has been employed by the YMCA in various roles ever since. Her nominator describes her as “an advocate for the underserved community.”
The 15th annual Women of Influence program will be held on Tuesday, May 22 from 5-7 p.m. at the Inn at 835. To attend, please RSVP to 726-6600 x139 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The May issue of Springfield Business Journal will include a special section with complete profiles on each of this year’s selectees.