Comfort Keepers Northwest Illinois is pleased to announce caregiver of the month for October and November 2016. Awarded for their outstanding service to seniors are Lucy Owens Comfort Keeper of the month for October, and Debbie Daniels, Comfort Keeper of the month for November, 2016.
“Caregiving is such an important job. Our office is exceptionally proud to have compassionate and committed caregivers who go the extra mile to make their clients feel special. Lucy and Deb are fine examples of the kind of passion we look for when hiring our caregivers,” said Comfort Keepers’ new owner Mark Podemski.
Comfort Keeper Chasna House was named Comfort Keeper of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2016. House has grown tremendously in both her skills and confidence since joining the team in 2013. She is always respectful and professional and we are proud to introduce her to our clients.
Even though she is a busy lady, House arrives for work ready to focus on her client and has prepared by reading the client’s information online in advance of the shift.
More than 40 Saint Anthony College of Nursing students who completed the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program participated in the traditional baccalaureate service recently at Holy Family Church in Rockford. The Most Reverend Bishop David Malloy officiated the service as students received their nursing pins.
In addition to the 43 BSN graduates, two Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and two Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students received their graduate hoods.
Those honored include: (Doctor of Nursing Practice) Christine Krause, Elizabeth Myers; (Master of Science in Nursing) Victoria Kulavic, Mary Lynn Williams; (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Kendal Anderson, Nicole Bounphithack, Emily Bronson, Kristina Kelly, Rebecca Carlson, Brett Crowley, Kristen D’Agnolo, Dolores Elias, Samantha Engelhardt, Ashley Engelkes, Patricia Fedie, Amanda Flores, Krystin Fuller, Oliver Hammonds Jr., Stacy Heitz, Amy Helms, Amber Homewood, Heather Homick, Hannah Sendele, Deanna Kitchen, Nicolas Kruckenberg, Rachel Kuykendall, Stacey LaRosa, Emily Larson, Mary Lesniewski, Janna Liston, Ashley McCullough, Jonathan Milton, Alexandra Paris, Maya Parsons, Miranda Peterson, Monika Petrosiute, Megan Schumann, Natalia Sepulveda, Ashley Stone, Amanda Subhan, Lindsey Swigert, Adam Thurman, Andrea Torres, Alexandria Vicencio, Amanda Whaples, Chelsea Wyss, Haylie Zolli.
Stephanie Podwell West, an American Family Insurance agent in Beloit, has been recognized for providing an outstanding customer experience under the American Star Excellence in Customer Experience Certification Program.
“Our vision is to be the most trusted and valued customer-driven insurance company, so we salute these agents who have earned the highest praise from customers, and received the American Star Excellence in Customer Experience Certification,” said Tim Constien, chief customer officer of American Family Insurance. “These agents are consistent providers of exceptional service and attention to our customers.”
The service excellence distinction was determined through an evaluation process conducted under guidelines established through the American Star Excellence in Customer Experience Certification Program. The process consists of a customer satisfaction survey which measures customers’ overall experience with their current American Family agent.
Podwell West has been an agent for American Family since 1994. Her office is located at 2820 Prairie Avenue.
After 35 years of service, Gary W. Anderson Architects (GWAA) is pleased to announce Jennifer Spencer as a new partner to the firm.
Spencer has experience in all phases of architectural design and construction, and holds a B.A. in Architecture from the University of Minnesota as well as a Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
For more than 10 years, she has played a key role in the expansion of the firm, providing project management for some of the firm’s most notable and recognizable projects, including the Edwards Apple Orchard reconstruction, the renovation and preservation of the Prairie Street Brewhouse, and the Nicholas Conservatory at Sinnissippi Gardens. Her expertise in historic preservation and adaptive reuse was invaluable during the redevelopment of buildings in the 300 and 400 blocks of State Street, and have been crucial to the current efforts to redevelop 304 North Main in downtown Rockford.
Spencer is also taking a lead role in the planning for a replacement for the Rockford Public Library’s main downtown building, including facilitating public meetings in coordination with the Library’s Board of Directors.
With each opportunity, Spencer demonstrates her unique ability to integrate all the necessary components of the project while orchestrating the needs of her clients and the building design process.
Spencer’s community involvement and leadership goes beyond her role at GWAA. She is deeply involved in efforts to educate and train the next generation of Rockford citizens, serving as an Academic Support Team member in the Rockford schools, organizing student design competitions, and mentoring youth through the Rockford Makers Network. She also serves as president of the AIA IL Prairie Chapter and serves on the Board of Directors at Northern Illinois Hospice.
FurstSearch is pleased to announce that Cheryl Church has recently earned the credential of Senior Human Resource Professional (SCP) after successfully completing the rigorous Exam developed and administered by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Church leads the Transitions division of FurstSearch, which includes our Outplacement Services, Career Coaching and Counseling, and our Business/HR Consulting Services.
For more than 40 years, FurstSearch/FurstTransitions has been leading Executive Search Firm and a partner in strategic change for organizations locally, nationally and abroad. Since acquiring the business in 2015, Keri Benhoff has been committed to expanding the business, while continuing to deliver the level of excellence that clients have come to expect.
Dr. Hannah Orem is celebrating three years of clinical work at Upper Cervical Care Center – Rockford, a division of 1st Step Chiropractic. Upon graduating from Palmer College of Chiropractic as valedictorian in 2013, Dr. Orem returned to serve in her hometown of Rockford.
Dr. Orem has a passion for helping people of all ages and a love for teaching. In the past three years she has given presentations to civic groups, students and other special interest groups. Orem also recently delivered an educational presentation to students at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, about patient care procedures including spinal correction, x-ray analysis, and structural evaluation.
Dr. Philip Schalow of Upper Cervical Care Center – Rockford, a division of 1st Step Chiropractic, recently spoke to ADMIT (Admissions and Discharge Planners Marketing Ideas Together) at P.A. Peterson about the multiple causes of neck pain and the procedures that can help restore a person’s quality of life.
Sandy Wolf is celebrating her six year work anniversary as office manager at Upper Cervical Care Center – Rockford, a division of 1st Step Chiropractic.
Rosecrance recently announced that David Gomel, Ph.D., has been named president of Rosecrance, Inc. Gomel began working for Rosecrance in 1993 as a couselor in adult substance abuse treatment. He has served in many roles since then, from supervisor at the former Alpine Campus to administrator of the Griffin Williamson Campus.
Gomel earned his doctorate degree in 2016 and has overseen the day-to-day services at Rosecrance’s many sites and expanding organization for several years. Outside of work, he is active in the community, coaching basketball, serving as chairman-elect of the YMCA of Rock River Valley Board of Directors and volunteering for Special Olympics. He is also chairman of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Board of Directors.
Gomel will be responsible for all programs and services offered by Rosecrance, Inc. and continue to report directly to Philip Eaton, who will remain president/CEO of Rosecrance Health Network. Eaton will oversee the areas of marketing, finance, human resources, and development/communications.
Rosecrance has hired a new director of nursing with experience in the states and abroad.
Allison Pale, who recently joined the staff, has been a registered nurse for 16 years, with 14 of those years spent as a family nurse practitioner. She comes to Rockford from her most recent role as director of nursing for Planned Parenthood of New York City and also spent time working in San Francisco and Vermont.
Pale earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of California San Francisco. After receiving her master’s degree, she went to Africa for several years to work with Doctors Without Borders.
“Allison comes to us with broad experience in nursing leadership,” said Dr. Thomas Wright, Rosecrance’s chief medical officer. “We look forward to her new ideas and perspective for this important position.”
Rosecrance relies on a medical leadership team of about two dozen people, including psychiatrists, primary care providers and nurses who manage the care for thousands of children, teens, adults and families going through addiction and mental health treatment each year. Pale oversees 54 nurses and other medical personnel who work with clients at Rosecrance’s four main campuses in Rockford, Rosecrance McHenry County, recovery homes and other affiliated sites.
“I’m honored to become a member of the Rosecrance team,” Pale said. “I recognize the enormous contribution that Rosecrance makes to Rockford and its surrounding communities, and I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to that work. The Rosecrance staff works so hard to make a difference in people’s lives; I am very impressed with the teamwork and the dedication that I have seen at all the facilities. I am excited for this opportunity.”
Rock Valley College is pleased to announce the hiring of Jim Ryan as the college’s new Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). As Chief Operating Officer, Ryan will provide vision and leadership in administering Information Technology, RVC Police Department, Events Management/Theater, Athletics, Print Services, Mail Services, Transportation, Facilities Management, Capital Construction, Emergency Management, and Food Service Contracts. Ryan has served as City Administrator for the City of Rockford under Mayor Larry Morrissey since 2005.
As COO for the third largest municipality in Illinois, he oversaw the operations of 10 city departments, over 1,000 employees, and an annual budget of $262 million. Among his accomplishments for the City of Rockford were creating the City’s first Information Technology Department, negotiating deals to bring the Lowe’s Midwest distribution center and the Chicago Blackhawks minor league franchise to Rockford, and guiding the City through record capital investments in the City’s infrastructure that have led to a renaissance in downtown Rockford.
“We are thrilled to bring in a person with such a diverse and extensive level of operations experience,” said RVC President Dr. Doug Jensen. “Under his watch, and due to his collaboration with Mayor Morrissey, the city of Rockford has transformed itself into a place people want to live and work. Just look at the great things that are happening downtown. We’re beyond excited to see what Mr. Ryan can do for Rock Valley College.”
Stephanie Meier, with over 17 years of experience in marketing, advertising, sales, community relations and employee engagement, has joined Blackhawk Bank as Vice President, Marketing. She has successfully led marketing teams within the financial, healthcare, retail, insurance and education industries. Meier’s emphasis will be on client and employee communication, market expansion and diversification, e-commerce and reinforcement of and support for the Blackhawk Bank brand.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Stephanie’s varied background and experience in marketing and business development join the Blackhawk leadership team,” said Rick Bastian, Blackhawk’s Chairman and CEO.
Meier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations from Rockford University where she also completed a number of graduate level courses in business, marketing and organizational behavior. She has been active in the community and with her church, Christ Lutheran. Her community involvement has included serving on the Charisma Luncheon Committee, YWCA Women of Distinction and Board Selection.
Dave Adkins, President & COO recently announced that Jim Reynolds has joined the Business Banking team at Blackhawk Bank. Reynolds has 22 years of experience including 16 years in retail and business banking and six years in financial advice related to planning, insurance, and investments. He specializes in working with business owners and entrepreneurs.
“Jim is well-known and respected for his work in the local financial services arena and professional organizations in Rockford and Belvidere. He has a passion for helping clients, and for mentoring our community’s youth. We welcome Jim’s financial expertise and his commitment to the betterment of the communities he lives and works in,” Adkins said.
Reynolds has been Youth Director at his church for 13 years and also serves on the Rockford University Alumni Association Board. He has been involved in the past with scouting for Belvidere High School Football, serving on the The Literacy Council Board of Directors, and coaching Belvidere Youth Baseball teams. Reynolds also held associate membership in the Rock River Valley Tooling & Machining Association.
Georgia Ruggles has joined Blackhawk Bank as a Personal Banker serving clients from its Belvidere, Illinois, office.
“We’re extremely pleased to have another well-known, skilled banker on our team. Georgia possesses superior banking expertise acquired through 38 years of managing a local bank branch and being a personal banker. She helps clients by sharing trustworthy advice and putting the right banking products to work for them,” said Donna Schultz, Vice President/Regional Banking Center Manager.
Ruggles’ office is located at 2141 N. State St., Belvidere. Clients and friends can reach her by calling 815-986-7167 or by emailing
A native of Belvidere, Ruggles is a 37-year board member and treasurer for the Boone County Crime Stoppers and is a board member of Parkside Manor of Belvidere. She was previously a member of the Benevolent Society of the Aged. Ruggles and her husband reside in Boone County.
Three of Blackhawk Bank’s mortgage loan originators have been recognized for outstanding closed loan volume during 2016. They are Margie Nowak, Kelly Pospischil and Mike Hughes.
“These individuals are mortgage experts who understand our marketplace, know the complexities of the industry, and have developed great relationships with local real estate professionals,” said Tammy Zurfluh, Mortgage Vice President at Blackhawk Bank. “They each experience a tremendous amount of new business through referrals by clients. They’ve built an extraordinary level of trust with their clients by sharing their expertise and counsel to ensure that the homeowner secures the mortgage financing that’s perfect for their lifestyle. Clients trust them fully, and whenever they’re in the market for a new or re-financed loan, they come back to Blackhawk Bank.”
The top mortgage originator was Margie Nowak with more than $28 million in sales, followed by Pospischil with $21 million, and Hughes with $18 million in sales.
Data Dimensions, a leader in the field of business process outsourcing for more than 30 years, is proud to announce the addition of Shawn Boman as a Senior Business Development Associate.
Boman, who will be based in Salt Lake City, Utah, brings more than 20 years’ experience with BPO management, consulting and sales to his new role at Data Dimensions. He has worked in the health care and finance/accounting industries, and is a Six Sigma black belt who has led dozens of process-improvement and cost-reduction initiatives
In his new role at Data Dimensions, Boman will be responsible for building and maintaining strong and mutually beneficial relations with Data Dimensions’ existing clients as well as attracting new business to the company.
First National Bank and Trust (FNBT) is pleased to announce that Kate Wiegartz has been promoted to Cash Management Specialist serving the bank’s Rockton, Roscoe, and Winnebago branches in Illinois, the Grand Avenue and Cranston Road offices in Beloit, as well as the Clinton, Wisconsin branch.
Wiegartz joined the bank in October 2014 as a retail administrative assistant, but quickly transitioned into the loan department as a consumer and home equity loan processor. In 2016, she moved into a support role with the cash management team. Now, as a cash management specialist, Wiegartz is responsible for analyzing commercial deposit relationships, sales and servicing of cash management relationships, and working with commercial clients.
Her five years of experience in commercial and cash management, combined with her previous work as a teller and as a loan operations specialist, uniquely positions her to provide Sound Advice for all her clients’ banking needs.
Wiegartz is a graduate of Belvidere High School. In her spare time, she can be found racing diesel trucks, a hobby she has participated in for a few years. Recently engaged, Wiegartz resides in Poplar Grove, Illinois, where she and her fiancé plan to purchase a small farm and raise beef cattle.
First National Bank and Trust Company is a family-owned, community bank headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin. Chartered in 1882, First National Bank and Trust Company now serves nearly 30,000 households in 13 communities and 16 locations in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois with assets of approximately $1.1 billion. Commitment to full service banking, investments, asset management, exceptional service, and Sound Advice has positioned First National Bank and Trust Company as a Stateline leader in the industry. For additional information, visit
Kristine Penewell has been hired as a data entry specialist at Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. Penewell came to Rockford Mutual as a previously licensed producer in property and casualty and four years of customer service experience with State Farm Insurance.
Aaron Powers has been hired as senior accountant at Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. With six years of accounting experience, Powers comes to Rockford Mutual from Amerisafe, Inc. where he was a senior accountant. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Arica Woolbright recently returned to Rockford Mutual Insurance Company as a claim representative. Woolbright was previously employed here as an underwriting specialist trainee. She has a bachelor of science degree in insurance from Illinois State University.
Rockford Mutual Insurance Company hired Aaron Webster as a claim representative. Webster brings with him over three years of claims handling experience with MetLife.
Dan Slouka, pricing analyst in the Research & Development Department, is celebrating 10 years of service with Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. Slouka began his employment with Rockford Mutual Insurance Company as assistant claims supervisor and also held the positions of property claim specialist and pricing analyst. He holds a B.S. degree in physics/math.
Kent Shantz, chief operations officer, is celebrating 5 years with Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. Shantz came to Rockford Mutual Insurance Company with over 30 years of industry experience ranging from Independent Agency, Marketing, Underwriting, Claims and Executive Management. He acquired a BBA at Davenport College of Business and he is also a certified insurance counselor. Shantz joined Rockford Mutual as vice president of operations.
Dan Yesbeck, director of information technology, is celebrating 15 years with Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. Yesbeck began his employment as programmer analyst II and also held the positions of assistant manager of information technology and manager of information technology.
Sue LaVine, senior customer care specialist, is celebrating 10 years with Rockford Mutual Insurance Company. Sue began her employment as accounting clerk II and also held the position of accounts receivable coordinator. LaVine has acquired both an AINS (Associate in General Insurance) designation and an AIS (Associate in Insurance Services) designation.
Dr. Peter Marks, cardiothoracic surgeon, has committed to another three-year contract with Beloit Health System and the new Hendricks Family Heart Hospital. Marks first joined Beloit Health System in 2007.
He has been a key member of the heart and vascular team and a key driver in the creation of the $13.8 million Hendricks Family Heart Hospital. He came to Beloit Health System after a long and distinguished career in Rockford.
“We are honored that Dr. Marks has chosen Beloit Health System. His expertise and compassion for his patients is a real asset to our community,” said Tim McKevett, President and CEO, Beloit Health System. “To maintain a staff with physicians of Dr. Mark’s caliber is truly the cornerstone of our heart and vascular program.”
Marcey Thomas recently was elected to serve as the Compliance Officer of Gateway Community Bank.
Thomas has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. She works from the Bank’s headquarters in Roscoe, Illinois.
“We expect that Marcey will continue to build and grow the excellent Compliance Program we have established at Gateway Community Bank.”, said the Bank’s President Allen J. Brewer. “The Bank takes extreme measures to safeguard our customer’s non-public, personal information and to comply with the appropriate state and federal banking regulations.”
Thomas joined Gateway Community Bank in 2013 as a Commercial Loan Processor.
Gateway Community Bank, celebrating their 15th Anniversary of serving the Great Stateline area, is a full-service community bank offering both personal and business banking services, with offices in Roscoe, Illinois and Beloit, Wisconsin, and operates a Loan Production office in Clinton, WI.
The Janesville law firm of Brennan Steil S.C. is pleased to announce that attorneys William F. Springer and Joshua P. Grube have become shareholders of the firm.
Springer concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate, business transactions, banking, and landlord-tenant law. He has been admitted to practice in all courts of the State of Illinois, all courts of the State of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Courts in the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.
Grube concentrates his practice in the areas of criminal law, labor law and civil litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Grube served as the Deputy District Attorney for Walworth County.