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MICA Star Award

The Star Award is presented annually to a member for his or her outstanding involvement and participation in this organization.

As a volunteer, membership-based organization, it’s up to our dedicated members to make MICA a vital, well-respected and informative organization in Springfield and the surrounding communities.


A selection committee determines the award recipient based on the nomination form and verifiable data.


Nominations may be submitted by any current or past member of AWC Springfield.

The nominee must be a current MICA member, and must have been a member of MICA for the last 24 consecutive calendar months.

Past Recipients

Mary Schaefer; Brandy Renfro, Illinois State Senate Democratic Caucus, 2022

Mary and Brandy have served as membership co-chairs for the Springfield chapter for two years, doing amazing work helping with its considerable growth. Having served as membership chair in the past, I am aware how much work is involved in this position in talking with people interested in membership, tracking records, problem solving details with the national AWC office and on and on. These two colleagues have always found the solutions and made things happen. They are wonderful ambassadors to new members joining the chapter as well as regular members who fall behind on renewing their dues. They sometimes are detectives, tracking down folks that we have “lost” for whatever reason. They even took on the arduous task of rebuilding our database when we weren’t sure we could count on the resources we were getting from elsewhere. We have so lucky to have their service to this chapter and we couldn’t have seen our chapter growth without them.

Nancy Zimmers, SIU School of Medicine (retired), 2021

The nomination said: Even though she probably got the first ever chapter star award and she has received the national award — this should not stop us from recognizing Nancy for her tremendous efforts this year. She has been the heart and soul of our chapter — ensuring that our chapter moved forward, survived and even thrived during the pandemic. She supports each and every position on the board, has our chapter and every member’s best interests at heart, and always nudges us forward to tackle important topics—such as diversity and inclusion and the importance of local journalism, to stay relevant in the communications field, and to make others feel welcome. Nancy was the brainchild behind one of our most important programs, The Hill We Climb. She shared the idea, came up with the creative approach, lined up panelists, and wrote the program description and even the panelists’ questions — she recognized how important it was for our chapter to host this conversation during the year’s challenging times. She constantly suggests ways to improve our efforts — such as sharing ways to network during Zoom calls (of all things), to survey and engage our members, and to reach out to each other to connect in between. She is tireless at inviting other professionals to join our group, and greets new members with open arms and an open mind. Before the pandemic, she was quick to offer up her home to the chapter whenever needed, and she continues to provide a home for our chapter through her work with our local archives. This year more than ever, we offer Nancy our gratitude for her work on our behalf!

Stephanie Sievers, Illinois REALTORS, 2019

Stephanie served for two years as the chapter’s webmaster prior to board secretary. In that role, she administered the chapter’s website and also was responsible for monthly administrative duties to ensure the organization’s lunch programs ran smoothly. Stephanie agreed to stay on as board secretary in an effort to continue involvement in a less-demanding role but an unsung hero job. Documenting the chapter’s actions – for those not there and for historical reference – is a vital part of having a well-governed organization. She always fulfilled this responsibility, attending and taking minutes. She went beyond her board responsibilities to help during an important transition, always showing initiative and giving valuable service.

Kelli Jessup, Illinois REALTORS, 2018

The nomination said: While a relatively young member of the Springfield chapter, Kelli has not been shy about getting involved and taking on job responsibilities within the group. She served a year as Co-VP of Programs and is completing a two-year term as Jobs Chair. Kelli also took on a challenging committee assignment this spring, working on the bylaws review which meant a lot of time spent reviewing specific language in current and recommended bylaws documents. Kelli also attended the most recent AWC national meeting, expanding her knowledge of the organization and bringing home new tools to help the Springfield chapter grow and prosper.

Dawn Pennington, Illinois REALTORS, 2016

Pennington has served as the webmaster for the AWC Springfield, IL Chapter for the past two years. While serving, Pennington transitioned the chapter website,, to a content management system. She 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, IL president. “Her work has helped to improve how we make information and resources available to our members, and streamline our registration process.” The award is presented annually to an AWC Springfield member or members for outstanding involvement and participation in AWC. A selection committee determines the award recipient or recipients based on nominations and verifiable data.

Kristin Fyans, Springfield Clinic and June Stricker, Hanson Professional Services, 2015

Kristin Fyans and June Stricker were nominated for their work as Co-Vice President of Communications for the chapter. They were responsible for the chapter’s communications strategy, maintaining email distribution lists, preparing and sending program as well as preparing membership email communications. The nomination said that Kristin and June made a great team, creating a very cohesive communications plan. Their communications were accurate, well written and delivered with the most modern methods possible including email, social media and web postings. The chapter benefitted from their passions – sharing their skills in organization, new media and photography, to name a few.

Karen Mollett, Illinois College (retired), 2014

Karen Mollett served two terms as the Student Liaison for the Springfield chapter and was nominated for her efforts to establish connections at local colleges and universities, particularly Benedictine University. Karen helped guide Benedictine students through the process of starting a student chapter, keeping Springfield’s AWC board informed. On several occasions she brought students as her guests to programs. In 2014, Karen’s efforts paid off with Benedictine starting their own student AWC chapter. This probably would not have happened if it weren’t for the relationships Karen built as student liaison. As students represent the profession’s future, her hard work was appreciated.

Jessie Decker, Orthopedic Center of Illinois, 2013

Jessie Decker was recognized for her key leadership in the chapter, serving as Co-Vice President of Programs. She was responsible for recruiting a range of top-notch speakers for monthly programs. Jessie worked to continually raise the level of programming – from guest speakers to the topics and the event location. Chapter members were queried about their programming interests and programs were then guided by the feedback, especially from senior communicators. Jessie helped raised awareness of the local AWC chapter and membership as well as attendance at chapter events with her professional approach to all efforts. She also served as chapter President (2013).

Lisa Rigoni, Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, 2012

Lisa Rigoni was honored for her outstanding service to the chapter, especially having served three consecutive terms as the Springfield chapter President (2008-10). Working with active board members, she did much to facilitate the considerable growth in membership the chapter experienced. Her nominator said she was the champion and cheerleader for many improvements by the chapter, including a new website and the reinvigoration of the awards program. Projects such as these, ignited under her leadership, were a great asset to all the Springfield members.

Christy Broccardo, Springfield Clinic, 2011

Christy Broccardo was Webmaster and Jobs Chair when she was honored. One nominator said “She led her team to create new text, new photos and a completely fresh layout for our Web site. Her willingness to take on tasks and wear multiple hats helped the chapter fill in gaps.” From another – “She…received acclaim for her local presentation on email marketing which led to AWC asking her to make the presentation nationally. She has a gift to take any issue or problem and turn it upside down and sideways to see the good and find a positive outcome.” Christy had served as chapter President (1994).

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