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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
|1982-83||Sandra L. Lyon|
|1983-84||June Scannell Van Vorst|
|1984-85||Donna Chronister Hari|
|1985-86||Linda L. Hamilton|
|1988-89||Shirley K. Anderson|
|1990-91||Traci E. Nally|
|2000-2001||Mary Ann Royse|