Category Archives: Networking

AWC Springfield Member Spotlight: Kelli Jessup

KelliJessupMeet Kelli Jessup, Business Services Coordinator for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, AWC-Springfield member since 2014 and currently Jobs Board Chair on AWC’s board of directors.

What role does communication play in your current work role? I’m responsible for the marketing and promotion of chamber educational events and publications. This includes email marketing, social media, some graphic design, event coordination and writing articles for our print quarterly magazine.

Why did you join AWC? I joined AWC as I was finishing my undergraduate degree. This was a great way for me to network with communication professionals in the Springfield community. We have some awesome professional communicators in this area, so as a new graduate in communications, I wanted to connect and learn as much as I can from AWC members and programs as I started my career.

How has AWC benefited you? Joining AWC has benefited me greatly as a younger professional. I have learned so much from the programs AWC holds each month. Not only that, AWC has some of the best communicators in the industry that I have connected with and learned from. They bring great ideas to the table and really are mentors for us as the younger generation to look up to and learn from. I have made some great connections that I could always reach out to for any help, questions or to bounce ideas off of for suggestions.

Favorite AWC memory? So far I think it would be serving on the committee that held the Social Media Conference in April 2016. We had an amazing turnout and fantastic speakers. It was great to work with everyone in the committee to make such a great event happen.

AWC Springfield Member Spotlight: Kara Kienzler

KaraKienzlerKara Kienzler serves as director of production services for the Illinois Association of School Boards. She has been a member of AWC-Springfield since 2005, serving in several board roles, including Scholarship Chair, VP Finance, VP Programs, co-VP Membership, President-Elect, President and currently as Immediate Past President.

What role does communication play in your day-to-day and overall strategic responsibilities at work? My role at the Illinois Association of School Boards is to oversee the association’s visual image, aid in marketing the association and its products/services and ensure that all materials are produced in a timely manner. We produce a wide variety of print and electronic materials for distribution to use by our members. While my responsibilities lie mostly in the design and production of these materials, I work with staff on projects from concept to final product, using my knowledge of writing and communications best practices to offer recommendations on message, format and distribution.

Why did you join AWC? To network and keep up with the latest communications trends and technologies

How has being a member of AWC benefited you professionally? I have a great network of peers I can reach out to if I’m looking for suggestions/recommendations on a product/service/vendor for my organization. I am able to offer support and knowledge to my coworkers. I have sought references from AWC members for my own career advancement and referred others.

Favorite AWC memory? In 2013, our chapter hosted the national conference and several of our chapter members, including myself, received Clarion awards. Seeing the photo of our group holding out our awards always brings a smile to my face.

Personal details? Married to Brian Kienzler with two beautiful kids, Katelyn (7) and Max (4)

Join an AWC Committee Today!

Would you like to build your professional skills? Are you looking to strengthen your professional network? Are you interested in helping the AWC Springfield Chapter grow? Please consider lending your time, energy and talents to an AWC committee. Committees generally meet a few times during the year and correspond regularly via email. If you are interested in serving on a committee to support one of the chapter leaders, please contact our president or a board member.

Currently, the Communications Committee is seeking volunteer graphic designers to assist with various graphics needs throughout the year to support our communication and promotion efforts. Other committees with volunteer needs include Programs and Membership. Reach out today if you’d like to support our team!

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!

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.