Calling it a “tremendous honor and a humbling day,” State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) joined five other incredible women in receiving the Illinois Valley Living magazine and the Bureau County Republican, Putnam County Record and the Tonica News 2015 Women of Distinction Award Oct. 15.
“When I was first told I was being recognized for this honor, my jaw hit the floor. It was the first time in my life I was speechless. Literally, speechless. You wouldn’t think that from someone in public office – being speechless,” Rezin said with a laugh. “To not only be recognized in this way, but to also stand alongside five other tremendous women who also received this honor, it’s a moment I will never forget.”
Sen. Rezin established the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance in 2013, which has brought communities, local governments, and emergency personnel together from the region to help prepare for extreme weather events, especially floods, through education, communication, education, and the purchasing of flood-prevention materials. This Alliance is actively seeking grant funding now and has since become a statewide and national model.
“There is a real interest in what Senator Rezin is doing, organizing people at the local level and building a collaborative effort to reduce flood losses,” said Mike Sutfin, the Building and Zoning Official from the City of Ottawa. “As a direct result of Senator Rezin’s involvement, there are now 24 new Certified Floodplain Managers in her district. This will have a very positive impact moving forward.”
She also established the Grundy County summer internship program several years ago. Teaming up with the Grundy Area Vocational Center, the Grundy Economic Development Council, and several local employers, Sen. Rezin has helped dozens of students obtain high quality internships. She said it’s her goal to take this model to other counties in her district.
Sen. Rezin and several local employers also teamed up with Joliet Junior College to establish the Operations Engineering and Technician technical program at JJC, which launched this fall.
For years, Sen. Rezin’s district office in Peru has been helping constituents apply for a concealed-carry license, a program she is helping implement in other legislative district offices around the state.
“Sen. Rezin works so hard at her job, tirelessly driving from community to community, sometimes putting hundreds of miles on her car a day, because she wants to meet people and help them,” said Jen Riva, Sen. Rezin’s Chief of Staff. “On numerous occasions, I’ve seen how she personally reaches out to people or meets with them individually to do whatever she can to help them with their problem or advance their cause at the Statehouse. Sen. Rezin puts people first.”
“Simply put, I love my job,” Sen. Rezin said. “I couldn’t do my job, however, without great communities, great people who work in those communities, and most importantly, the wonderful people who call the 38th Senate District home. It is such a joy to live and work in this region and help people on a daily basis. I want to thank everyone who is making our communities better places to work, live, and raise a family. It’s truly a team effort.”
Joining Sen. Rezin in receiving the 2015 Women of Distinction Award this year are:
- Dr. Linda C. Gustafson of Princeton
- Kathy Jo Lindner of LaSalle
- Betty Jean Pappas of LaSalle
- Denise Etscheid Sabotta of LaSalle
- Janice Wamhoff of Princeton
The 2015 Women of Distinction winners were honored at a luncheon Oct. 15 in Princeton with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as the keynote speaker.
“I want to also thank Illinois Valley Living for honoring women, as women are the backbone of our society and the backbone of families,” Rezin said. “When visiting our schools and talking to young women today throughout the district, the talent, knowledge, and work ethic I see in each of them makes me very excited for our future.”
As in the previous two years of this award, winners were selected by former Women of Distinction Award winners. Illinois Valley Living received nearly 40 nominations this year.
Women of Distinction Winners. Back row from left to right: Sen. Rezin, Janice Wamhoff. Bottom row from left to right: Betty Jean Pappas, Denise Etscheid Sabott, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Kathy Jo Linder, Dr. Linda Gustafson.
Left to right: Donna Henningsen (Sen. Rezin’s Mom), Agatha Brennen (Sen. Rezin District Staff), Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Sen. Rezin, Jen Riva (Sen. Rezin District Staff), OJ Stoutner (Sen. Rezin District Staff).