District Sales Coordinator at Aflac
What was your first job? My first job, I was 15 working at Sunset Lanes in Pekin as a Daycare assistant during Bowling leagues. I continued working there throughout High School taking on more shifts and more duties behind the counter and in the snack bar.
What led you to your profession? Having a part-time sales job along with my full-time career has always been a staple in my life. With motivation from family and friends, they helped me to see that sales is my calling. I started with selling cars for two years at Peoria Toyota. Due to some changes in my personnel life, I had to search for a position that was flexible in my schedule and no weekends. I was nominated by a close friend to join the Aflac team. After two months of studying, classes and passing my exams, I became licensed in the state of Illinois for Life and Health Insurance.
What do you like most about working for your company? Aflac is an amazing company to be affiliated with. They provide a work environment which values its associates and employees. There are opportunities for career advancement as well as personal growth and management is very engaged and seeks to maintain a challenging but rewarding work experience. Making this career change a year ago was the best decision I have ever made.
What do you like most about WILCI? Every woman in WILCI is an inspiration to me. To be surrounded by successful, driven women is extremely motivational. I have only been a member for a few months but the overwhelming acceptance and compassion to get us new members involved is wonderful! Looking forward to making life long friends.
Who or what inspires you? I am blessed to have many fascinating people that have inspired me in different ways throughout my life. My number one is my children, they drive me to be better and more successful everyday. Being a role model to your children is scary and awesome at the same time. You don't want to mess up but when you do the way you handle it and bounce back is vital. Also, my sister has always pushed me to truly believe that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. I would not be where I am today without her in my life. There are six women that I have the pleasure of calling my best friends and I can't leave out Jimmy, my significant other. Together they are my rock, my motivation, my laughter, a shoulder to cry on and a voice of reason.
What was your first job? Neighborhood Video Store
What led you to your profession? I was a Real Estate Broker for over 12 years. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, I “retired” and devoted my time to him and his therapies. Now that he is doing well in High School, this opportunity became available and I jumped at the chance to get back in the work force.
What do you like most about working for your company? The people at Hecht Stout have been incredibly welcoming and helpful.. I love the flexibility of being an independent contractor, this way I am still available to pick my children up from school and be active in their schools. I also love all the people that I meet when I am doing Worksite Life enrollments.
What do you like most about WIL? I have really enjoyed connecting with other women and I have enjoyed the various speakers
Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by seeing other women succeeding in their careers and life. Being around other women that are making things happen makes me want to try even harder.
Other interesting tidbit about me: I had an art studio at the Studios on Sheridan for the last 6 years, where I did mixed media and textile art. I just recently moved my art studio to my house so that it is more convenient for me to create.
Branch Manager, CEFCU
What was your first job? Dance Instructor
What led you to your profession? While in college, I did an internship working for the Cashier of Illinois Central College on their Accounting floor. I loved the bookkeeping aspect and working on the spreadsheets while I was there. It led me to apply at CEFCU once I graduated with my Associates degree.
What do you like most about working for your company? I love that CEFCU lives up to their reputation in caring for their community. I am proud to say I work for CEFCU.
What do you like most about WIL? I enjoy the opportunity to meet new members and guests and the networking that WIL offers. I also enjoy the presentations we have and have used the information in my current position.
Who or what inspires you? My WIL family. Being able to hear the messages that we share while together is powerful and encouraging.
Other interesting tidbit about me: Surprise, I’m a HUGE Disney fan!
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.