Three Local Women Honored for Excellence in Communication

In May, our chapter awarded our annual academic scholarship and recognized two other individuals with the Chapter Star and Professional Communicator Awards.

This year’s scholarship recipient was Mackenzie Lyons of Sherman. Mackenzie received an Associate in Arts degree from Lincoln Land Community College and is attending Western Illinois University this fall to study broadcasting.

The Chapter Star Award was presented to Dawn Pennington for outstanding involvement and participation in AWC. Dawn served as the chapter’s webmaster from 2014 to 2016 and is now serving as chapter president. While serving as webmaster, she transitioned the chapter website,, to a content management system and also worked to launch an online payment method for members and non-members to register for monthly programs hosted by the chapter.

“Our chapter has benefited from Dawn’s knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, new technology,” said Kara Kienzler, AWC Springfield’s 2015-16 president. “Her work has helped to improve how we make information and resources available to our members, and streamline our registration process.”

The Professional Communicator Award was presented to Kyla Kruse. This award recognizes any Springfield area communications professional who has made a significant contribution or impact to a nonprofit, for-profit or media. Kyla serves as communications director at the Energy Education Council. She was selected because of the successful guidance she has provided the national non-for-profit organization’s multi-faceted communications program since 2011. In her role, she oversees public outreach efforts on electrical safety, efficiency, and renewable energy and is responsible for two nationwide safety campaigns every year, which received national honors in 2015.

“The caliber and importance of her work speak to her personal commitment and dedication to creating a safer, smarter world,” her nomination said. “Kyla has played an instrumental role in getting the word out to the public about serious issues.”

Congratulations to our honorees!

Strengthen Our Profession’s Future – Today!

The AWC scholarship symbolizes the commitment of our chapter to education and maintaining high professional standards for the communications industry, and it wouldn’t be possible without our members. A scholarship fund allows us to preserve the scholarship for future communicators, ensuring that there can always be an annual AWC scholarship. It’s easy to donate through our endowment fund with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln (CFLL). Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to The Association for Women in Communications, Springfield Chapter, Communications Scholarship Fund.

  • Visit – Choose “Giving/Make a Donation” and “Donate Now” to donate online.
  • Mail your contribution to:
    Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln
    205 S. Fifth St., Suite 930
    Springfield, IL 62701
    Be sure to indicate if your contribution is for The Association for Women in Communications, Springfield Chapter, Communications Scholarship Fund.

To learn more about our scholarship program, visit

Job Alerts!

As a member benefit, the AWC jobs board is constantly being updated with new communications positions in central Illinois. Recently posted positions include the following:

  • Communications Specialist
  • Communications Coordinator
  • Senior Marketing Coordinator
  • Digital Media Analyst
  • Special Events Manager
  • Creative Director
  • Graphic Pre-Production Coordinator

Know of a job opening? Are you or your employer looking to fill any communications-related positions? Contact the AWC Jobs Chair to help fill a position and have your position opening listed on the AWC website. Email information to

AWC Springfield Member Spotlight: Kelly Thompson

KellyThompsonKelly Thompson serves as executive director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois. She has been a board member of AWC Springfield since 2014, serving as co-VP of Membership, VP of Finance and currently as Scholarship Chair.

How long have you been in your current role at RMHCCI? Almost six years.

What role does communication play in your day-to-day and overall strategic responsibilities? Communication is critical in my role every day. Whether it is interacting with donors, families we serve, volunteers, colleagues or board members, I believe clear, open and genuine communication conveys appreciation and respect for your organization and for others.

Why did you join AWC? Having a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication, it is a field that has always felt both challenging and comfortable to me. Joining AWC seemed like a natural way to continue to build upon my education and network in a field that is continually evolving. It’s also an excellent way to meet others with similar interests and develop long-lasting friendships.  

How long have you been an AWC member? I first joined AWC immediately after college (initially at a chapter in Chicago) and began by volunteering on the communications committee. Since then I’ve been a member on and off for about 20 years, with the bulk of that time spent with AWC Springfield!  

How has being a member of AWC benefited you professionally? AWC is an amazing network of colleagues and friends to call upon for assistance or a laugh! I’ve learned so much from others in the group, and the women who belong to our chapter are very welcoming and helpful to one another. 

What is your favorite AWC memory? I was very honored and grateful to be nominated and selected for the Professional Communicator Award in 2015. 

Tell us a little about your nonprofessional life: I’m married to Paul Thompson, and have two children, Sage Gerald and Brooke Amabel, who both attend Springfield High School. My favorite hobbies besides spending time with my family are reading and traveling!

Avoid Headaches – Doodle It!

Ever tried to schedule a meeting or take a vote from a group using email? It can be a confusing mess of email threads that needs untangling to review, especially when participants in the conversation bring up other subjects in their replies. Fortunately, you can avoid those headaches and streamline your communication with Doodle.

Doodle Home Screen
Doodle Home Screen

Here’s how it works:

1)  Sign up for an account at using your Google or Facebook account or email address.

A basic individual account is free, and professional and business plans are ridiculously affordable – Just $39 for a professional license and $69 for a business license.

2)  Under the section “Create new poll” choose to either schedule an event or make a choice.

Doodle Create New Poll
Doodle Create New Poll

3) To schedule an event, enter the event details.

Doodle Event Details
Doodle Event Details

    4)  Enter the available times you want to offer participants.

Doodle Time Slots

5)  Send your poll to participants directly from Doodle or through an email link.

Share Your Poll

6) Watch the results come in!  Doodle will track responses and put a star next to the time slot that has the most votes.

Doodle Poll Results
Doodle Poll Results
Doodle Make a Choice
Doodle Make a Choice

You can also use Doodle to take a vote. Instead of inserting date and time options, insert a list of choices. The process is the same.  Use the Make a Choice option to insert a list of choices and send to your participants.

Doodle choice 3
Doodle Your Options

Doodle poll automates your meeting planning and voting processes to free you up for doing your other important work. I use it often to schedule AWC Board meetings and take quick voting polls. Give it a try and see if it works for you!

–  Dawn Pennington, Marketing Specialist, Illinois REALTORS®


We Want to Hear from You

Whether you are a current or past member, or just thinking about getting involved with AWC, we want to hear from you!

SurveyAs we begin a new program year, we would like to learn more about how AWC Springfield can provide the most value to our members and what we can do to continue to grow our membership.

We’ve developed a survey that takes just a few minutes to complete and will provide invaluable information as we get to work. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully answer these survey questions. Your feedback will inform our planning for the year and help shape the future of our AWC chapter.

Take the survey

Chapter Awards & Scholarship

Congratulations to the 2016 Professional Communicator,  Chapter Star and Scholarship recipients! Springfield AWC President Kara Kienzler awarded Kyla Kruse the Professional Communicator Award  and Dawn Pennington the Chapter Star Award at the Scholarship and Awards program May 18, 2016 at Indigo in Springfield. Mackenzie Lyons, of Sherman, Illinois was the recipient of the 2016 AWC Springfield Chapter Scholarship. Mackenzie will attend Western Illinois University this fall.

Top Photo: AWC Chapter President Kara Kienzler and Professional Communicator Award Recipient, Kyla Kruse.

Bottom Photo:  AWC Chapter President Kara Kienzler and Chapter Star Award Recipient,  Dawn Pennington.


The AWC Springfield Chapter offers two chapter awards to recognize outstanding individuals within AWC Springfield and the greater Springfield area community:  the Professional Communicator Award and the Chapter Star Award.

Nominations are open until May 1, 2017 for the next AWC Springfield Chapter Awards.  



The Professional Image: May program

Join us Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at Indigo for our Chapter Awards and Scholarship Reception and a great presentation on what your professional image says about you and how you can make it better. For communicators, image and reputation are critical because our names are our brand. Look at how many news stories describe the rise, and sometimes the fall, of community leaders. Those stories dissect that leader’s steps to greatness or downfall. Don’t miss this discussion of what you can do immediately to improve your image!

PoteauMaggie Poteau, news anchor at WICS-TV, Springfield, studies the professional image and will walk us through the details.

About the Speaker:  Maggie Poteau anchors the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts for ABC Newschannel 20. She joined the station in November 2013. Maggie began her television career as a general assignment reporter in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Before moving to Springfield, Illinois, she worked at ABC 3340 in Birmingham, Alabama and at WATE 6 News and FOX 43 in Tennesee. Her passion for storytelling has allowed her to cover stories of people from all different walks of life, from people we like to people we do not like. Some of the prominent stories she has covered include the criminal trial of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy (the first executive tried under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act), the disappearance of Natalie Holloway, and the deadly tornadoes that ripped through Alabama in 2011. To date, career-wise, she is most proud of her invitation from The White House to serve as moderator for “The Urban Economic Forum,” Birmingham 2012.

Born on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, she is proud of her Haitian and Cuban heritage. Maggie grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Mass Communications. She is also a proud alumna of the UCONN Women’s Soccer program and still loves to play whenever possible. Maggie would tell you her proudest accomplishment is her adult daughter Brittanny, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and her master’s degree from Arizona State University. Brittanny now works in higher education in the greater Boston area.

Directions/Location for Social Media…What’s Your Strategy?

If you are attending, “Social Media…What’s Your Strategy on April 20 at UIS, please see the location, directions and parking information below.  We look forward to seeing you at this event!

Social Media…What’s Your Strategy
April 20 | 8:30 a.m. to noon
University of Illinois Springfield
Public Affairs Center, Room Room PAC F

Driving Directions:
Parking Map:

The conference will be held in room PAC F, located on the lower concourse of the Public Affairs Center at One University Plaza, Springfield. Please park in Lot D or C.

SPECIAL NEEDS: The five parking spaces in the circular drive of the Public Affairs Center are not limited to two hours. There are also several spaces in the Sangamon Auditorium Loading Lot on the south side of the building.

Thank you for supporting the AWC Springfield Chapter’s scholarship fund with your registration.

Spring Membership Drive

We want you to join our Chapter! The Springfield AWC Chapter is thriving and growing, with informative programs and outstanding networking opportunities. This is a great time to begin enjoying the many benefits of membership!

Join during the Spring Membership Drive (between March 15 and May 15, 2016) and save $50.

Have a question? Contact Laura Evers, VP of Membership of the Springfield Chapter at

How to Join AWC Springfield:

Step 1 ) Apply to the  AWC National Organization by downloading, printing and mailing the AWC National Application form (NOTE – If you are joining during the membership drive, use the membership drive application).  Be sure to include the Springfield, Illinois local chapter in the check-out process.

Step 2) Email the Springfield, Illinois chapter at Include your contact information and the date you submitted the national application and we will get you on the Springfield Chapter membership list asap!

We also have a membership scholarship available.  See details.

Stay at the top of your game with opportunities for learning, committee involvement and incredible networking opportunities you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Attend the monthly programs offering both educational speakers and networking with peers.
  • Attend the Annual AWC Professional Development Conference, with networking opportunities, national speakers, and awards ceremonies recognizing national communications excellence.
  • Receive the chapter newsletter with news and happenings of the organization and the latest communications topics.

Get involved in a local AWC chapter for learning opportunities in your community.

  • Build connections in our community and across the nation.
  • Make valuable connections at the AWC Professional Conference, and local and national activities.
  • Make lifetime friendships and mentoring relationships with colleagues.

Advance your career by being prepared for the next opportunity.

  • Access opportunities across the nation through the our local jobs board and the national AWC jobs bank.
  • Find access to members across central Illinois with our chapter member directory, and across the nation through the online AWC National Directory.
  • Build your network with vibrant communicators across central Illinois and from across the nation.
  • AWC Matrix Foundation’s Professional Communications Certification program offers you the opportunity to become a Certified Communications Professional (CCP).

Gain leadership experience and give back to other communicators in the field.

  • Serve in a leadership capacity and help determine the direction of programs most important to our industry.
  • Make a difference at the national level by joining the national board or serving on a taskforce to advance the mission of AWC.
  • Sponsor local student chapters at area colleges and universities, as well as our local scholarship.

Enjoy professional discounts.

  • Receive national discounts on such services as credit cards, car rentals, conference calls, shipping, and office products.

Be a part of an organization for women that is making history.

  • The Association for Women in Communications was founded in 1909 on the campus of the University of Washington.
  • In 2009, the organization celebrated its centennial at the National Professional Conference in Seattle, WA.

Celebrate your achievements with local and national recognition from your peers.

  • Nominate your peers for recognition as outstanding communicators in the field with our chapter awards.
  • Receive discounts on the prestigious Clarion Awards competition and the annual Matrix Awards ceremony.


Social Media Program: Register by April 8

Discover your best social media strategy
at our April 20, 2016 program!

Social media ... what's your stratgey?

The Association for Women in Communications’ Springfield chapter is holding a half-day conference about social media. We’ll talk about trends and best practices and explore emerging technology. This event will raise money for the chapter’s scholarship fund.

Wednesday, April 20
8:30 a.m. – Noon
University of Illinois Springfield

$39 AWC member | $49 non-member | $18 students

Registration deadline is April 8.

Register Now 

Online registration only for this event.  No payments accepted at the door. A service fee applies to online registrations.  You may also donate to the AWC Scholarship Fund.

Learn more about this program by clicking here!

This program is sponsored by:


repro logo

Systemax Solutions


Nominations for Chapter Awards Due May 1, 2016

The AWC Springfield Chapter offers two awards to recognize outstanding individuals within AWC Springfield and the greater Springfield area community:  the Professional Communicator Award and the Chapter Star Award.

Submit your nominations by May 1, 2016. 

Don’t Miss our Great March and April Programs!

March 9, 2016 – Communicating with Generations

Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation
228 West Miller St., Room 2B, Springfield, IL 62702
  • 11:00 am – Tour of Memorial’s new learning facility prior to the lunch program
  • 11:30 am – Networking
  • 12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch and Program
Register online or email to pay at the door.
Small service fee applies to online registrations.

On a daily basis there are potentially five different generations working side-by-side in the current workforce.  Combining this multi-generational work environment with varying communication styles can potentially create a high-stress and high-emotions atmosphere for all involved.  Communicating with Generations takes a strategic look into generationally preferred communication styles of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation 2020; and how to maximize preferred styles as a means for better understanding, energizing and developing others.

Slaughterback, Josh

Communicating with Generations is presented by Josh Slaughterback, Consultant in Leadership & Team Development at Memorial Health System. Josh is a Registered Organization Development Professional (RODP), and an American Society of Training and Development certified trainer and coach.


April 20, 2016 – Save the date to discover your best social media strategy.

Social media ... what's your stratgey?

The Association for Women in Communications’ Springfield chapter is holding a half-day conference about social media. We’ll talk about trends and best practices and explore emerging technology. This event will raise money for the chapter’s scholarship fund.

Wednesday, April 20
8:30 a.m. – Noon
University of Illinois Springfield

$39 AWC member | $49 non-member | $18 students

Register Now 

Online registration only for this event.  No payments accepted at the door. A service fee applies to online registrations.  You may also donate to the AWC Scholarship Fund. Registration deadline is April 8.

Learn more about the presenters and sessions. 

Cyber Security

February 10 program: Cyber Security


Sangamo Club, 227 E. Adams, Springfield
11:30 a.m.: Networking

12-1 p.m.: Lunch and program

Join us Wednesday, February 10 at the Sangamo Club for an fascinating presentation on the many security risks of social media. This is especially important for people who have several social media profiles. Jeff Thompson, Certified Ethical Hacker, will present a hacker’s perspective to social networking.

You will learn to help secure your confidential data and even how to protect your personal information. Leave with many tips on how to keep yourself and your workplace safer.

You will not want to miss this unique presentation, which takes a “scared straight” approach to information security using humor, facts, lock picking and even juggling.

About the Speaker:
Jeff Thompson (Certified Expert Penetration Tester) has over 10 years of experience in performing vulnerability assessments, incident response and computer forensics. He is on the Cyber Security Team, responsible for assessing the cyber security of more than 20 Illinois state agencies. He has worn many hats including security admin, server admin, white hat, and even a jester hat.

RSVP online by clicking “Register” below.

Two ways to pay:

1) Pay at the door (cash or check accepted)

AWC Member – $17
Guest/Non-member – $22
Student – $11
2) Pay online (credit and debit cards accepted, $2 service charge applies)
AWC Member – $19
Guest/Non-member – $24
Student – $13
Register by Friday, November 6

If you RSVP and are unable to attend, please notify AWC at least 24 hours before the event or you will be charged.

If you have special dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, or specific food allergies) please email  before February 5, 2016.