YWCA Rock County announces recipients of 47th Annual Women of Distinction awards

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YWCA Rock County announces recipients of 47th Annual Women of Distinction awards

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Janesville, Wisconsin – Role model, leader, community-focused, giving. These are all words that describe the 2022 class of YWCA Rock County’s Women of Distinction. The women of distinction recipients were nominated by friends and co-workers and chosen by the selection committee. The selection committee is made up of community members, YWCA Rock County board members and YWCA Rock County staff.

The 2022 Women of Distinction honorees are:
• Katarina Dries: 2022 Young Women of Distinction, Junior at Joseph A. Craig High School
• Kerri Harold, Millennium
• Dorothy Harrell
• Julie Hermanson, Community Action, Inc. of Rock & Walworth Counties
• Kimberly Litsheim, County of Rock - Rock County Sheriff's Office
• Cheryl Sennett, School District of Beloit

Katarina Dries: Katarina is a Bosnian-American student passionate about community service, swimming and STEM. She attends Craig High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

She has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her achievements—receiving Craig High School Academic Excellence Awards and College Board’s AP Scholar with Distinction Award. Her Scholastic Art Gold Key Award-winning drawing is currently exhibited at Milwaukee Art Museum. In 2021, she was selected for an internship with the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center. Moreover, she received a U.S. Department of State scholarship to study Russian, her fourth language.

When she is not studying, Katarina serves as treasurer of the Key Club, board member of the Russian Club, co-captain of the Engineering Club, and viola section leader for Symphonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Furthermore, Katarina has competed regionally on her high school varsity swim team, Academic Decathlon and HOSA. Furthermore, she is an active member of the National Art Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, and National Chinese Honor Society.

While personal academic development is important to her, she strives to be a positive role model and empower others through various volunteering activities. Katarina has been sharing the knowledge she has gained through the Russian language program with the Russian Club at Craig High School. During the pandemic, she has performed music outdoors for area senior citizens, neighbors, friends, and local businesses to spread joy to others. As an artist, Katarina empowers other female artists by creating artwork for the YWCA’s fundraiser event and the Memory Project. She has served as a student ambassador to international students through International Club and as a host family for exchange students.

Katarina’s long-term goal is to study Biomedical Engineering and use science to improve the world.

Kerri Harold: Kerri Harold grew up in Florida with parents that were active in all of her and her three siblings’ extracurricular activities. She has lived in seven different states and within a few weeks of her arrival in Janesville in 2008, she was contributing to the PTA and FRC programs at Washington Elementary. She volunteered weekly to read with students at Roosevelt Elementary. She went back to school to complete a previously started degree and received her BBA from the University of Whitewater. She was inspired by her professor, Mark Fuller, to participate in the Homeless Intervention Taskforce’s Rock County Homeless Count, and this led to giving her time to other nonprofits in Janesville.

Kerri works as a Marketing Event Specialist at Millennium in Delavan and has used those skills when volunteering at KANDU’s annual event, Grapes & Hops, where her team has won the People’s Choice and fundraising awards multiple times since 2015.

Currently, Kerri serves on the Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC) board. She was a past ambassador for Forward Janesville. She is a member of the Janesville League of Women Voters and has served on its Publicity Committee. Kerri served on the YWCA’s Communications Advisory Committee and has participated in their Walk A Mile event. She has participated in the National MS Society’s Best Dam Bike Ride for 5 years on Team CCC. She has volunteered with JPAC, Community Action, HealthNet, ECHO, YWCA, KANDU, IDS, Rotary Gardens, GIFTS, GNO Rock County, and wherever anyone needs a hand!

As a proud parent to Cecilia and Jack, Kerri wanted volunteering in the community to be the norm in their household. Her children have volunteered with her many times. Her daughter now volunteers weekly at Ronald McDonald House while at college, and her son has raised money for the YWCA Walk a Mile and loves participating in the MS Bike Ride. Kerri credits the many generous people in Janesville who have inspired her to volunteer.

Dorothy Harrell: A native of Beloit, Dorothy began her activism as a student at Beloit Memorial. She earned a degree in psychology from Northwestern University where she was a charter member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and participated in one of the first student takeovers of a university as a founder of For Members Only (FMO). This resulted in the creation of a Black studies program and a diversity hiring initiative for faculty at the college. After earning a master’s degree in urban education and a Montessori certification from Antioch College’s Philadelphia campus, she returned to teach in Beloit for 20 years.

Earning her law degree from UW in 1990, Dorothy began working for the National Education Association retiring in 2015 as Executive Director of Constituent Relations. While there she was invited to participate in the National Educational Leadership Initiative and completed certifications in Organizational Development and Interest Based Negotiations at Harvard U. Returning to Beloit, she became President of the local NAACP, a member of the Grow Your Own initiative for BPS and Excellence for All for JPS to continue her dedication to students and education. For over five years she helped sponsor the Academic Pathways community tutoring program at New Zion Baptist Church. She continues her work as a mentor/trainer for new staff with the Illinois Education Association. An active member of Justice Overcoming Borders (JOB) and the League of Women Voters, she is a devoted wife to Craig F. Davis.

Julie Hermanson: Knowing that a child’s hunger did not magically disappear with one meal and toys at Christmas, Julie reached out to community leaders and together they created the grassroots program, AWARE in Evansville. As the only staff member, Julie organized volunteers and secured resources to provide support to families throughout the year. The community responded with generosity and programs were developed to fight poverty and help children reach their full potential.

AWARE began providing assistance to low-income families in 1998 and later became a program of Community Action, Inc. In addition to holiday programs, AWARE provides Snackpackers (a weekly distribution of nutritious foods to students), emergency assistance to prevent homelessness, Koats for Kids, school supplies, free swim passes and lessons, mentoring programs, drivers' education scholarships and more. She created Refuse 2 Bruise and partnered with the YWCA to create campaigns to fight teen dating violence. She established the Evansville Youth Center, helped to relocate, and expand the Evansville Ecumenical Care Closet, organized Salvation Army kettle campaigns, introduced Safe Families and worked to bring awareness of human trafficking.

AWARE thrives today because of the kindness and generosity of its donors and volunteers. It is a program for the community and the community is proud to take care of its own.

Julie has served on numerous boards and committees for the school and city, as well as the United Way of North Rock County. She currently serves on the advisory council for the new Parents Supporting Parents program and the planning committee for Courageous Conversations.

Over the years, Julie has served on the parish council for St. Paul Catholic Church, was a Religious Education Coordinator, teacher, and retreat planner. She is active in St. Paul CCW and plans parish events.
Julie is blessed with three children, Chad (Alexandria), Kari and Jackson (Julia). She has one grandson, Tyler, and he is the joy of her life.

Kimberly Litsheim: Captain Kimberly Litsheim has been an accomplished member of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office for the past 19 years. Throughout her career, she continued her education and obtained a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management and she completed the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. Her continued dedication to the profession has resulted in numerous promotions at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. Kimberly has worked her way through the ranks starting her career as a Correctional Officer. She spent time as a Deputy Sheriff, Sergeant with the jail and patrol divisions, and was promoted in December 2019 to Captain and is now the Assistant jail Administrator.

Kimberly has been recognized for her commitment to the community receiving several awards to include three Sheriff’s Office Lifesaving awards, two commendations, and most recently she was awarded the 2021 Retired Sheriff’s Leadership Award.

Kimberly was inspired from a young age to join a law enforcement team that served not only as the protective force of the community, but also helped the community through teamwork and service. Kimberly leads the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver Team and she is a member of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Police Explorers Program. Her contributions to the community through these programs have also made a positive impact on the lives of many children, the elderly and their families. She hopes to continue being able to serve the community through diligence and trustworthiness.

Cheryl Sennett: Cheryl Sennett has taught for the School District of Beloit for 32 years. She is currently a third-grade teacher at Converse Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s Degree in reading from UW Whitewater. She has received the Outstanding Educator Award and Rotary Teacher of the Month.

Cheryl was born and raised in Beloit. She has always been surrounded by family and friends that are involved in the community and enjoys helping others. She has given back to her community in various ways including Relay for Life, Hands of Faith, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and helped with many of her children’s band, drama and sports activities. She is an active member of Messiah Lutheran Church, where she is the Sunday school superintendent and is on the church council. She has organized and been involved in many community outreach programs sponsored by Messiah such as Trunk or Treats, Easter Extravaganzas, Vacation Bible schools, and the church’s food pantry. She enjoys giving her time, talents and treasures, and feels she gets back as much as she gives.

Throughout her career she has been involved in many committees and organizations including Leadership team, BEA building representative, safety committee, textbook adoption committees, coached elementary sports, PTO member, Just Say No, Destination Imagination Coach, and been a mentor to many teachers.

Cheryl feels her greatest accomplishment is her own children. She made sure her children were also present and involved in her volunteer and community activities, instilling in them that helping others is one of the most important things you can do to show love to others. One of her proudest moments was when her daughter received the Mercy Foundation Day of Difference Award, which is given to a student committed to making a difference in her community and a passion for helping those less fortunate.

Cheryl strives to make a difference in kids' lives. She believes if you encourage kindness and teach empathy to a child, they will feel better not only about the world they live in but also about themselves.

YWCA Rock County’s Board of Directors is thrilled to announce they have selected Blackhawk Technical College as the 2022 Corporate Award of Merit recipient. The award recognizes businesses and organizations in Rock County that work to improve the quality of life in the community. Recipients of this award also serve as role models and support policies, practices and attitudes in the advancement of women.

“I am privileged to assist the YWCA Rock County in highlighting this year’s remarkable recipients. These women have demonstrated passion and commitment in their professional fields and building a better community for the residents of Rock County. They are all incredibly humble about their vast accomplishments; they are so deserving of this honor” said Adrian Graham, Co-Chair of the Women of Distinction Planning Committee.

The recipients will be honored at the annual Women of Distinction event on May 11th, 2022 at the Celtic House at Glen Erin Golf Club. The event raises funds for YWCA Rock County’s Transitions program.

Transitions not only provides domestic violence survivors housing and resources to re-gain independence, it also provides economic resources for community members meant to empower women. Through Transitions’ Economic Empowerment Center, YWCA Rock County provides skills training, resume writing services and transportation assistance.

Tickets are $60 each or $480 for a table of 8 and are available to purchase by visiting: https://ywcarockcounty.networkforgood.com/events/39575-47th-annual-women-of-distinction-event

YWCA Rock County is also excited to announce that Leigh Mills will be the 2022 Emcee. Leigh anchors the 4pm and 6pm newscasts on NBC15, where she has worked since 2003. Leigh has won numerous awards for her work, including a National Edward R. Murrow Award and two Emmy Awards.

Leigh has a long history of working with area non-profits. Leigh has been married to her best friend since 2012. She is a mom to two boys, ages 7 and almost 5, and a stepmom to a 16 and 14-year-old. She says they have a busy house, and she loves every minute of it! Leigh also teaches a weekly turbokick class and just completed her first full marathon in September of 2021.

For questions, or to arrange interviews, please contact Kari Dray at (608) 752-5445 ext. 206 or kdray@ywcarockco.com.

Janesville, Wisconsin – Role model, leader, community-focused, giving. These are all words that describe the 2022 class of YWCA Rock County’s Women of Distinction. The women of distinction recipients were nominated by friends and co-workers and chosen by the selection committee. The selection committee is made up of community members, YWCA Rock County board members and YWCA Rock County staff.

The 2022 Women of Distinction honorees are:
• Katarina Dries: 2022 Young Women of Distinction, Junior at Joseph A. Craig High School
• Kerri Harold, Millennium
• Dorothy Harrell
• Julie Hermanson, Community Action, Inc. of Rock & Walworth Counties
• Kimberly Litsheim, County of Rock – Rock County Sheriff’s Office
• Cheryl Sennett, School District of Beloit

Katarina Dries: Katarina is a Bosnian-American student passionate about community service, swimming and STEM. She attends Craig High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

She has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her achievements—receiving Craig High School Academic Excellence Awards and College Board’s AP Scholar with Distinction Award. Her Scholastic Art Gold Key Award-winning drawing is currently exhibited at Milwaukee Art Museum. In 2021, she was selected for an internship with the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center. Moreover, she received a U.S. Department of State scholarship to study Russian, her fourth language.

When she is not studying, Katarina serves as treasurer of the Key Club, board member of the Russian Club, co-captain of the Engineering Club, and viola section leader for Symphonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Furthermore, Katarina has competed regionally on her high school varsity swim team, Academic Decathlon and HOSA. Furthermore, she is an active member of the National Art Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, and National Chinese Honor Society.

While personal academic development is important to her, she strives to be a positive role model and empower others through various volunteering activities. Katarina has been sharing the knowledge she has gained through the Russian language program with the Russian Club at Craig High School. During the pandemic, she has performed music outdoors for area senior citizens, neighbors, friends, and local businesses to spread joy to others. As an artist, Katarina empowers other female artists by creating artwork for the YWCA’s fundraiser event and the Memory Project. She has served as a student ambassador to international students through International Club and as a host family for exchange students.

Katarina’s long-term goal is to study Biomedical Engineering and use science to improve the world.

Kerri Harold: Kerri Harold grew up in Florida with parents that were active in all of her and her three siblings’ extracurricular activities. She has lived in seven different states and within a few weeks of her arrival in Janesville in 2008, she was contributing to the PTA and FRC programs at Washington Elementary. She volunteered weekly to read with students at Roosevelt Elementary. She went back to school to complete a previously started degree and received her BBA from the University of Whitewater. She was inspired by her professor, Mark Fuller, to participate in the Homeless Intervention Taskforce’s Rock County Homeless Count, and this led to giving her time to other nonprofits in Janesville.

Kerri works as a Marketing Event Specialist at Millennium in Delavan and has used those skills when volunteering at KANDU’s annual event, Grapes & Hops, where her team has won the People’s Choice and fundraising awards multiple times since 2015.

Currently, Kerri serves on the Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC) board. She was a past ambassador for Forward Janesville. She is a member of the Janesville League of Women Voters and has served on its Publicity Committee. Kerri served on the YWCA’s Communications Advisory Committee and has participated in their Walk A Mile event. She has participated in the National MS Society’s Best Dam Bike Ride for 5 years on Team CCC. She has volunteered with JPAC, Community Action, HealthNet, ECHO, YWCA, KANDU, IDS, Rotary Gardens, GIFTS, GNO Rock County, and wherever anyone needs a hand!

As a proud parent to Cecilia and Jack, Kerri wanted volunteering in the community to be the norm in their household. Her children have volunteered with her many times. Her daughter now volunteers weekly at Ronald McDonald House while at college, and her son has raised money for the YWCA Walk a Mile and loves participating in the MS Bike Ride. Kerri credits the many generous people in Janesville who have inspired her to volunteer.

Dorothy Harrell: A native of Beloit, Dorothy began her activism as a student at Beloit Memorial. She earned a degree in psychology from Northwestern University where she was a charter member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and participated in one of the first student takeovers of a university as a founder of For Members Only (FMO). This resulted in the creation of a Black studies program and a diversity hiring initiative for faculty at the college. After earning a master’s degree in urban education and a Montessori certification from Antioch College’s Philadelphia campus, she returned to teach in Beloit for 20 years.

Earning her law degree from UW in 1990, Dorothy began working for the National Education Association retiring in 2015 as Executive Director of Constituent Relations. While there she was invited to participate in the National Educational Leadership Initiative and completed certifications in Organizational Development and Interest Based Negotiations at Harvard U. Returning to Beloit, she became President of the local NAACP, a member of the Grow Your Own initiative for BPS and Excellence for All for JPS to continue her dedication to students and education. For over five years she helped sponsor the Academic Pathways community tutoring program at New Zion Baptist Church. She continues her work as a mentor/trainer for new staff with the Illinois Education Association. An active member of Justice Overcoming Borders (JOB) and the League of Women Voters, she is a devoted wife to Craig F. Davis.

Julie Hermanson: Knowing that a child’s hunger did not magically disappear with one meal and toys at Christmas, Julie reached out to community leaders and together they created the grassroots program, AWARE in Evansville. As the only staff member, Julie organized volunteers and secured resources to provide support to families throughout the year. The community responded with generosity and programs were developed to fight poverty and help children reach their full potential.

AWARE began providing assistance to low-income families in 1998 and later became a program of Community Action, Inc. In addition to holiday programs, AWARE provides Snackpackers (a weekly distribution of nutritious foods to students), emergency assistance to prevent homelessness, Koats for Kids, school supplies, free swim passes and lessons, mentoring programs, drivers’ education scholarships and more. She created Refuse 2 Bruise and partnered with the YWCA to create campaigns to fight teen dating violence. She established the Evansville Youth Center, helped to relocate, and expand the Evansville Ecumenical Care Closet, organized Salvation Army kettle campaigns, introduced Safe Families and worked to bring awareness of human trafficking.

AWARE thrives today because of the kindness and generosity of its donors and volunteers. It is a program for the community and the community is proud to take care of its own.

Julie has served on numerous boards and committees for the school and city, as well as the United Way of North Rock County. She currently serves on the advisory council for the new Parents Supporting Parents program and the planning committee for Courageous Conversations.

Over the years, Julie has served on the parish council for St. Paul Catholic Church, was a Religious Education Coordinator, teacher, and retreat planner. She is active in St. Paul CCW and plans parish events.
Julie is blessed with three children, Chad (Alexandria), Kari and Jackson (Julia). She has one grandson, Tyler, and he is the joy of her life.

Kimberly Litsheim: Captain Kimberly Litsheim has been an accomplished member of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office for the past 19 years. Throughout her career, she continued her education and obtained a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management and she completed the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. Her continued dedication to the profession has resulted in numerous promotions at the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. Kimberly has worked her way through the ranks starting her career as a Correctional Officer. She spent time as a Deputy Sheriff, Sergeant with the jail and patrol divisions, and was promoted in December 2019 to Captain and is now the Assistant jail Administrator.

Kimberly has been recognized for her commitment to the community receiving several awards to include three Sheriff’s Office Lifesaving awards, two commendations, and most recently she was awarded the 2021 Retired Sheriff’s Leadership Award.

Kimberly was inspired from a young age to join a law enforcement team that served not only as the protective force of the community, but also helped the community through teamwork and service. Kimberly leads the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver Team and she is a member of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Police Explorers Program. Her contributions to the community through these programs have also made a positive impact on the lives of many children, the elderly and their families. She hopes to continue being able to serve the community through diligence and trustworthiness.

Cheryl Sennett: Cheryl Sennett has taught for the School District of Beloit for 32 years. She is currently a third-grade teacher at Converse Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s Degree in reading from UW Whitewater. She has received the Outstanding Educator Award and Rotary Teacher of the Month.

Cheryl was born and raised in Beloit. She has always been surrounded by family and friends that are involved in the community and enjoys helping others. She has given back to her community in various ways including Relay for Life, Hands of Faith, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and helped with many of her children’s band, drama and sports activities. She is an active member of Messiah Lutheran Church, where she is the Sunday school superintendent and is on the church council. She has organized and been involved in many community outreach programs sponsored by Messiah such as Trunk or Treats, Easter Extravaganzas, Vacation Bible schools, and the church’s food pantry. She enjoys giving her time, talents and treasures, and feels she gets back as much as she gives.

Throughout her career she has been involved in many committees and organizations including Leadership team, BEA building representative, safety committee, textbook adoption committees, coached elementary sports, PTO member, Just Say No, Destination Imagination Coach, and been a mentor to many teachers.

Cheryl feels her greatest accomplishment is her own children. She made sure her children were also present and involved in her volunteer and community activities, instilling in them that helping others is one of the most important things you can do to show love to others. One of her proudest moments was when her daughter received the Mercy Foundation Day of Difference Award, which is given to a student committed to making a difference in her community and a passion for helping those less fortunate.

Cheryl strives to make a difference in kids’ lives. She believes if you encourage kindness and teach empathy to a child, they will feel better not only about the world they live in but also about themselves.

YWCA Rock County’s Board of Directors is thrilled to announce they have selected Blackhawk Technical College as the 2022 Corporate Award of Merit recipient. The award recognizes businesses and organizations in Rock County that work to improve the quality of life in the community. Recipients of this award also serve as role models and support policies, practices and attitudes in the advancement of women.

“I am privileged to assist the YWCA Rock County in highlighting this year’s remarkable recipients. These women have demonstrated passion and commitment in their professional fields and building a better community for the residents of Rock County. They are all incredibly humble about their vast accomplishments; they are so deserving of this honor” said Adrian Graham, Co-Chair of the Women of Distinction Planning Committee.

The recipients will be honored at the annual Women of Distinction event on May 11th, 2022 at the Celtic House at Glen Erin Golf Club. The event raises funds for YWCA Rock County’s Transitions program.

Transitions not only provides domestic violence survivors housing and resources to re-gain independence, it also provides economic resources for community members meant to empower women. Through Transitions’ Economic Empowerment Center, YWCA Rock County provides skills training, resume writing services and transportation assistance.

Tickets are $60 each or $480 for a table of 8 and are available to purchase by visiting: https://ywcarockcounty.networkforgood.com/events/39575-47th-annual-women-of-distinction-event

YWCA Rock County is also excited to announce that Leigh Mills will be the 2022 Emcee. Leigh anchors the 4pm and 6pm newscasts on NBC15, where she has worked since 2003. Leigh has won numerous awards for her work, including a National Edward R. Murrow Award and two Emmy Awards.

Leigh has a long history of working with area non-profits. Leigh has been married to her best friend since 2012. She is a mom to two boys, ages 7 and almost 5, and a stepmom to a 16 and 14-year-old. She says they have a busy house, and she loves every minute of it! Leigh also teaches a weekly turbokick class and just completed her first full marathon in September of 2021.

For questions, or to arrange interviews, please contact Kari Dray at (608) 752-5445 ext. 206 or kdray@ywcarockco.com.