Executive Club of Champaign County

A professional club for executive women

History and past presidents

History as told by June Van Vorst and Sandy Lyon

The Executive Club of Champaign County was established in 1982 to build a network of contacts for business and personal use, offer programs for professional development, and give visibility and exposure to local female executives.

The origin of the Executive Club of Champaign County (ECCC) had an informal and spontaneous beginning. It arose out of a luncheon conversation between June Scannell (now Van Vorst) and Sandy Lyon in the spring of 1982. Lunch was scheduled at the Greater Downtown Food and Beverage Co. (now called The Great Impasta). June and Sandy had known each other for a long time, but had not seen each other in recent years. June was an Investment Broker with A.G. Edwards at the time; Sandy was Marketing Director with Bank of Illinois.

During the lunch conversation, discussion turned to the fact that there were few “business” clubs for executive women in C-U where professional contacts could be made and personal friendships built. In 1982 the idea of women joining traditional male clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and Jaycees, was just being talked about. In fact, the Supreme Court heard a case in 1984 where the Jaycees were challenged for not allowing women as members.

Pictured are Lucille Brewer, June Scannell, Sandy Lyon, Jane Henneman, Mary Evenson, Donna Chronister, Geni Roark, Margie Jobe, Carolyn Phebus, Barbara Hundley, and Andrea Schmidt Pictured are Lucille Brewer, June Scannell, Sandy Lyon, Jane Henneman, Mary Evenson, Donna Chronister, Geni Roark, Margie Jobe, Carolyn Phebus, Barbara Hundley, and Andrea Schmidt.

Why was it necessary?

For perspective, it is helpful to remember that women were just beginning to make significant inroads into many professional fields in the early 80s. Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed the first Supreme Court Justice in 1981. Sally Ride was the first American woman to be sent into space in 1983. Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for Vice-President in 1984.

Women were becoming a major force in the workplace, but not having an easy time of it. Worth mentioning is that the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in 1982 when the ratification deadline passed with only 35 of the required 38 state legislatures having approved the legislation. Executive women truly needed the business contacts and the professional support and camaraderie of other women in similar roles.

  • Women were excluded from other business and professional organizations.
  • No forum existed for meeting other professional women and sharing career related information.
  • Programs and events tailored for women in executive and professional positions were almost nonexistent.

Initial development

It was within this context that June and Sandy decided to take steps toward establishing a professional organization for women in executive positions. June spoke to a local Rotary Club to inform them of such a movement and to solicit their input and support. Sandy began to line up financial and administrative support. Roland Kelley, at Bank of Illinois, proved to be one of our initial backers.

Contact was also made with an existing Executive Club in Danville. Many of our initial bylaws, club policies and procedures, as well as the name, were modeled after the Danville Club. Using the names of other executive women personally known by June and Sandy, a steering committee was formed and five months were set aside for planning.

  • Contacted an existing club in Danville.
  • Modeled many of our initial processes after theirs.
  • Used the name Executive Club…but identified it with Champaign County.

The Executive Club of Champaign County would like to thank the founding officers and directors for their immeasurable contribution and vision that has guided Executive Club through about 25 years of existence. Each new board strives to maintain and build on the standard of excellence set by them.

Membership qualifications

“A member must be a practicing professional in an administrative managerial role, i.e., any full time employee or owner/partner whose full time occupation includes setting broad policies, exercising overall responsibilities for execution of these policies, direction of individual departments or special functions of a firm’s operations including responsibility for supervision, budgeting, hiring and termination and comparable executive responsibilities; and whose occupation requires a college education or experience to provide a comparable background.”

Programs for 1982–1983

In October 1982, the first meeting of the ECCC was held. It was held at Bank of Illinois in conjunction with a bank seminar featuring “Heloise” as guest speaker. Sandy was President of the Club during its inaugural year; June followed as President the next year.

  • Opening Night –“Heloise”
  • Geni Roark – “TV Bloopers”
  • Jim Heins – “Reaganomics”
  • Mary Evenson – “Tax Saving Ideas for 1982”
  • Wine and Cheese Party
  • Linda Sheets – “ Garcia’s Advertising”
  • Judy Myers – “Women on the Way Up – Strategies for Success”
  • Linda Rolfing – “Color and Style Analysis”
  • Barbara Hundley – “Communicating Your Career Development – Moving Up or Out”
  • Sandra Schwartz – “How Nutrition Affects Your Health”
  • Judge Harry Clem – “Small Claims Court”
  • Dr. Suzanne Trupin – “Premenstrual Syndrome and Other Aspects of Competing With Men”
  • Violet Malone – “Using Your Leadership Qualities”

Interest Groups

  • Small Business
  • Working Mothers
  • Financial Planning and Investments
  • Cultural Events
  • Management Techniques
  • Current Issues
  • Sports
  • Purposeless

Why has it survived?

  • A commitment to the goal of women supporting other women.
  • And by doing so…enriching each other both personally and professionally.

A review of board meetings, monthly programs, interest groups, and other information collected in the ECCC archives gives those interested a sense of the evolution of ECCC over a 20-year period. Based on all that has transpired, both within and outside the ECCC organization, evidence of the value of this organization to the women of Champaign County is apparent. Its original purpose has been validated and its future success appears certain.

Past presidents

Year President
1982-83 Sandra L. Lyon
1983-84 June Scannell Van Vorst
1984-85 Donna Chronister Hari
1985-86 Linda L. Hamilton
1986-87 Mary McGrath
1987-88 Jan Kiley
1988-89 Shirley K. Anderson
1989-90 Mary Strack
1990-91 Traci E. Nally
1991-92 Medsie Bolin
1992-93 Sheila Hickman
1993-94 Diana Williams
1994-95 Lyn Jones
1995-96 Joan Zernich
1996-97 Becky Goddard
1997-98 Jane Henneman
1998-99 Janet Bial
1999-2000 Kelly Ford
2000-2001 Mary Ann Royse
2001-2002 Donna Greene
2002-2003 Elizabeth Cook
2003-2004 Cherise Lewis
2004-2005 Amy Randolph
2005-2006 Bianca Green
2006 Tammy Lemke
2006-2007 Jane Adams
2007-2008 Jayne DeLuce
2008-2009 Hope Wheeler
2009-2010 Jeannette Beck
2010-2011 Deb Reardanz

Ellen Schmidt

2012-2013 Jennifer Vallowe
2013-2014 Rhiannon Clifton
2014-2015 Wendy Johnson
2015-2016 Beth Katsinas
 2016-2017 Angela Carr
 2017-2018 Peyton Zerrusen 
 2018-2019 Karen Blatzer

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