Each month we randomly select a WIL member to spotlight in our e-newsletter.
Here is a collection of those features so you can get to know our membership better!
Kristen Berchtold, CFRE
Director of Development at South Side Office of Concern (SSOC)
What was your first job? My first “professional” job (I’m not counting the restaurant and waitressing jobs I had throughout high school and college) was as a Marketing Manager for a company that manufactured electronic safety equipment for the construction industry. When that company was purchased by a competitor, I took a position with the Girl Scouts and my non-profit career began!
What led you to your profession? Back when I was in college, studying philanthropy and not-for-profit management wasn’t an option - and I probably wouldn’t have pursued it, even if it was! I majored in Marketing and Communications. I worked at the Girl Scouts for a few years and was asked to manage the annual Cookie Sale – which I did for 6 years. It was an amazing endeavor – we sold over $1 million of cookies each year through the efforts hundreds of dedicated volunteers. That was my first foray into not-for-profit fundraising and from then on I was hooked!
What do you like most about working for your company? The incredible impact we have! SSOC is dedicated to ending homelessness by taking people off the streets and placing them in permanent homes. We then provide whatever level of service or support that family or individual needs to maintain residential stability. Our success rate is phenomenal - 96% of the folks we place into housing do not return to homelessness! A stable home is the key to safety and security, health and well-being, financial stability, self-sufficiency and independence. There is no bigger impact you can have on someone’s life than helping them find a home!
What do you like most about WIL? I am passionate about women supporting other women – and WIL is all about that! I have met so many amazing women who I am now proud to call my friends. I love that we celebrate and invest in each other’s success! I am also passionate about professional development and believe we never stop learning and growing. Professional organizations, like Women in Leadership, provide opportunities to network and build knowledge and skills that strengthen our community by creating a stronger workforce.
Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by volunteers - those who share the blessings they've been given to make our community better. Working in not-for-profit management for 25 years, I am deeply aware of the value that volunteers bring to charity organizations. The fact is that most not-for-profit organizations could not survive without the time, talents, and expertise of caring, dedicated volunteers!
Other interesting tidbit about me: I am not so sure this is particularly interesting, but I have been married for 30 years and have two sons, 8 chickens, a part-time cat, and an incredibly goofy dog. I love to garden, read, travel, go to music festivals, and redecorate.
Allison Renae McDonald Vershaw
Independent Beauty Consultant at Mary Kay Inc.
What was your first job? Other than babysitting when I was 10, my first job was working at an orthodontists office as receptionist while in HS and before I graduated from Bradley University. My first "adult" job after graduating from Bradley University was working at Jumer's Hotel in Peoria as a Sales Manager.
What led you to your profession? You know, I have always had a passion for fashion and all things beauty. I've worked in retail and have been told on numerous occasions that I could pull off a brown bag and make it look cute! I haven't tried that - but I guess it's a Halloween costume someday! But what I have done is always believed that people want to feel loved, appreciated, valued and supported. When you don't have those in a career, why settle? So, when my father passed 3 years ago at the age of 68, I realized that my job wasn't going anywhere and that I had so much more to offer, I made the decision to leave a corporate position with a "guaranteed" salary to start my own business and make more money working less! Was it scary? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Most definitely. Is there really such thing as a "secured" position or "guaranteed" income? Not in today's society. Entrepreneurship has ups and downs - I have learned many lessons, overcome challenges and have a team of women all across the United States and in 40 other countries cheering, mentoring, and helping me achieve my goals. Couldn't you get excited about that? It has truly been the best $100 investment!!
What do you like most about working for your company? Our values: Faith, Family, Career - all in alignment. We truly keep God at the center of our business, the flexible schedule allows me to be the mom I want to be for my daughter that I don't have to ask for "time off", and with the career - I choose to be around amazing women all the time, can make as much or as little money as I want, work when I want, promote myself up the ladder of success, earn jewelry and prizes including free cars! But you know what...those are just some of the "perks". What I LOVE is being able to help someone else feel important. To help someone feel beautiful again. To be a listening ear and talk through a situation. It's not about the money or the prizes...it's about empowering women and changes lives one face at a time. And I suppose it's like my girlfriend fix...when you are missing your friends or when you know someone needs a "pick me up" - I invite them over and play with the products! It's a win-win!
What do you like most about WIL? What I have always loved about WIL is that we are all cheering for each other! We don't care how much money you make, where you buy your clothes, who you work for, etc. What we care about is YOU and your success and helping you achieve whatever it is you desire in life. It's a safe place where you can (and should) feel like family when you walk in for lunch each month. If you don't...sit at my table! LOL
Who or what inspires you? People who venture out and try something new. People who believe in themselves when nobody else does. People who jump and know that no matter where they land, it's further than where they started. It's confidence, it's grace, it's passion, it's humility. When you believe without conviction that you will achieve something - you will! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!
Other interesting tidbit about me: I was a Peoria Pirate Cheerleader in 1999-2000 - such a FUN time!! I have a beautiful 9 year old daughter, Kherington, who is truly the light of my life (and a little mini me - watch out world)!
Financial Advisor at Waddell & Reed
What was your first job? When I was 15, I started working as a grocery store clerk to earn extra money for clothes and spending money. I also de-tasseled corn in the summer. I will attest that was the hardest physical job that I’ve ever had! My first job after college was at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. I started as a secretary/receptionist and worked my way up to Chief Operating Officer/Financial Officer and Interim President three times.
What led you to your profession? It’s always been important for me to make a difference in others’ lives. Most of my career was with regional non-profits and affecting the greater good of the community. As a financial advisor, I am able to continue with that “greater good” mentality but with individuals and businesses. This gives me a more personal approach to helping others.
What do you like most about working for your company? I like owning my own business and delivering a personal service model for clients. I especially find it meaningful to work with women who have had significant changes in their life—like a job change, divorce, or losing a spouse. Helping them create a strategy for their financial security and financial enjoyment is what drives me.
What do you like most about WIL?I enjoy surrounding myself with strong, powerful women. It is inspiring.
Who or what inspires you? I am constantly inspired by others. We can constantly learn from each other. The traits that inspire me include integrity, compassion, strength, giving more than you get, and making the world a better place. I find a number of women at WIL have these qualities.
Other interesting tidbit about me: I love dogs. When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian.
Vice President at AAA Certified Confidential Security Corp.
What was your first job? Well, my very first job was babysitting. I was 14 and I babysat my cousins, age 2 and 5 months. That was an experience!! My first job on the books was working as a cashier at K-Mart. Other jobs I have had: bank teller, airline passenger service agent, waitress, office clerk and heavy weight handler. I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience many professions. I enjoyed every job I have had.
What led you to your profession? A friend who also was a head hunter led me to this position.
What do you like most about working for your company? Information destruction is a unique industry. It is still growing and changing. I enjoy developing relationships with customers and creating new products or solutions. I get to tap into my creativity, problem solving and analytics. CSC is a family owned business. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the owner, Tom Simpson. Again, I am blessed.
What do you like most about WILCI? I enjoy the relationships! WIL is a group of supportive professional women. I have made quite a few lasting friendships through WIL.
Who or what inspires you? I am inspired when individuals overcome hardships and setbacks and then continue the momentum to touch the lives of others. Elizabeth McCombs, a former WIL member, inspires me.
Other interesting tidbit about me: I love the outdoors; hiking, kayaking,biking, and gardening. However I don’t camp. When evening comes, I want a bug free bed and running water.