For 30 years now, COD has been recognizing someone for the Woman of Distinction award to help celebrate Women’s History month in March.
The award is also is in memory of Adade Wheeler, history faculty member at the college who initiated women’s studies courses, founded the COD Women’s Resource Center and authored two books about women in Illinois history.
The award is presented to a female who has made outstanding contributions to the professional and/or personal advancement of women. 2012’s winner was community member, Colleen Heflin.
Heflin has a vast background of accomplishments such as being a chair for the Take Back the Night DuPage (an organization that serves to create safe communities and respectful relationships), mentoring youth by volunteering for Youth Outlook, and being a member of Public Affairs through the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
“To have won this award last year was a true honor. I have had the privilege of knowing a few of the women who have won this award in the past and they are true mentors to me in life and are part of the reason why I am in the field that I am in and have such passion for it,” said Heflin.
All staff, faculty, and administration is able to nominate a woman they feel deserves this kind of recognition. Co-chairs Julie Durrer and Shaheen Chowdhury, both sociology professors, have been running the event the past few years.
“This event recognizes contributions women have made in the lives of other women,” commented Durrer.
Durrer and Chowdhury look for women who are active and making strides in their community while inspiring other women to do the same.
There are about 20 people on the Women’s Studies Committee here at the college who all help plan the event every year and decide winners.
This year’s winner is art professor, Jennifer Hereth. She has been working at the college for 18 years.
Hereth is committed to making sure that alumni and former student, Jackie Withers, is able to take her organization, the Bessie Coleman Fly Girls, to the White House this April to be honored by the president and his family.
This organization’s mission is to make it possible for Black and Hispanic teenage girls at risk to learn to fly and get scholarships for college.
“What women bring to the workplace is special, but we are not represented enough at the top of organizations,” commented Hereth when asked why women equality and empowerment is so important to her. She is determined to encourage young women to make a difference.
Hereth has also had a lifelong concern for the intellectual and emotional development of teenage boys and girls.
She invented the Teenage Archetype card deck for therapists, creative writing teachers, and high school counselors to use for helping teenagers express their feelings through vocabulary. 100% of the profits go to support teen causes. Hereth is also passionate about bringing out the artists in young people.
Her current series in the painting studio is a series of ten paintings of Syrian people in protest who have decorated their faces with nationalistic colors for protest.
From participating in Domestic Violence fairs to coordinating book drives the list of Hereth’s achievements goes on and on.
She and the nominees will be recognized at the Annual Woman of Distinction award ceremony on Wed., March 20 at 7 PM in SRC 2000G. The keynote speaker of this event will be UIC’s Associate
Professor of Political Science and Latin American and Latin Studies, Amalia Pallares, who has published a book that analyzes social movements in Ecuador, edited and developed manuscripts that deal with immigration movements, and many other accomplishments. Anyone is welcome to attend the ceremony.