It's been 10 years since they appeared on the pages of InterBusiness Issues as newly inducted members of the 40 Leaders Under Forty Class of 1995. What have they been up to? Read on to catch up with five of the members of the Class of '95.
Frank Abdnour, founder and operator of The Spotted Cow, Inc. has expanded his original ice cream shop in Peoria Heights to include two additional locations at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center facilities. The Spotted Cow is now in the process of building at the corner of Glen and Sheridan roads in Peoria. According to Abdnour, "This will be our largest outlet and will feature not only ice cream, but our food items as well."
Having lived in Colorado and Texas as a young adult, Abdnour chooses central Illinois because "I enjoy the atmosphere of Peoria and believe the business climate is stable." Since 1995, Abdnour married and fathered two children, Sydney and Noah. "My wife has been involved with the business, and without her, our business would not have grown and flourished as it has. Sydney was born with a heart condition-which led me towards raising funds for the Children's Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. With the help of family and friends, I was recognized as a Champion for Kids. I take great pride in our family church and school and contribute both time and resources to them."
Community involvement has helped Abdnour network with others. Abdnour donates product and staffing to various non-profit organizations including The Boys and Girls Club, Christmas in April, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Friendship House, and Easter Seals.
The Spotted Cow has been recognized in a number of ways, having won several awards in the best dessert category at the Taste of Peoria and several People's Choice Awards for favorite ice cream in the annual Peoria Journal Star survey. The Spotted Cow was recently mentioned in a new book called Everybody Loves Ice Cream as one of the best ice cream stores to visit in the country.
Abdnour credits hard work and deep convictions as the reasons behind his success. "Believe in what you do. Don't just choose something for the money you might make, but find your passion and do it. If you love what you do, you will do it much better, and your life will be more fulfilled."
Things have changed for Raylana Anderson in the past decade, but her career in human resources-which she pursued at McGladrey & Pullen 10 years ago-still holds interest for her. Since January 2000, Anderson has been the director of human resources at Clark Engineers, Inc. She also maintains a human resources/employee benefits consulting business, which was created in October 1998. "Through that business, I offer expertise, primarily to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations," she said.
Community and professional involvement is still very important to Anderson. "Since 1995, I have chaired the National Compensation & Benefits Committee of the Society for Human Resource Management, actively participating through 2003. In the summer of 2003, I was one of six individuals from across the country invited to testify in Washington, D.C., before the ERISA advisory panel on health and health care. In our community, I participate in the Executive and Marketing committees of the Workforce Development Board. I'm the current president of the Women's Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, the public policy director for the local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and I participate on the board and the Personnel Committee for IPMR."
Recent recognitions include the 2004 YWCA Business & Industry Award.
Anderson credits good beginnings and developing the skills and abilities to take advantage of opportunities with her success. "I was raised with confidence, to fully believe that I could do anything I chose. Formal education also has been important. I returned to school and completed my MBA while working full time. Knowledge continues to offer me opportunities to tackle current-and future-business issues."
With all of her success, Anderson said she remains in Peoria simply because she likes it here. "I can work hard, enjoy my work and leisure time, develop a strong community of friends and colleagues, be as involved as I care to be, and be successful in Peoria."
Though she's hesitant to offer advice, Anderson encouraged future leaders to develop varied skills and abilities to build their base of knowledge. "We'll never know what direction opportunities will take us, and it's important to be prepared to learn what's necessary to continue to be successful."
Formerly the Tazewell County Development Director for the Economic development Council for the Peoria Area, Randy Belsley is currently director of marketing and business development for CORE Construction and Otto Baum Company, Inc. in Morton. "I made a career change five years ago when I came to work for my current employer. My job description and responsibilities have continued to evolve, resulting in a challenging yet rewarding experience," he said.
His leadership roles in the last 10 years include serving on the boards of the Heart of Illinois Port Authority, East Peoria Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Council for Central Illinois, and We Care, Inc. He also volunteers for a number of community and charity organizations.
Belsley's recent awards include the National Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Award and Classroom Consultant of the Year from Junior Achievement of Central Illinois.
He agreed with the old adage that a key to success is surrounding yourself with quality people. "Any success I might have experienced I owe, to a large extent, to relationships with others; a loving and supportive family; great friends that are second to none; and, last but not least, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."
As for future leaders, Belsley advised them to strike a balance. "Achieving balance in your personal and professional life is no easy task, but accomplishing balance tends to result in richer relationships and more enjoyment of the activities you're involved in. Another way of bringing balance to your life is focusing on what you presently have while simultaneously holding onto your pursuit of future goals."
Though he wanted to move away from central Illinois at one time, he learned that this is where he wanted to be as the years went on. "I came to more fully appreciate the values, quality of life, and opportunities this area afforded me and my family. I've become a hometown boy who stayed home, and I haven't regretted it."
Still happily enmeshed with the YWCA of Peoria-as CEO, promoted from executive director-Pam Schubach clearly enjoys her nearly decade-and-a-half career and her place in Peoria. "I'm from Indiana, and I feel comfortable in this type of environment. Peoria has so many amenities, and I know I can make a difference in this community. I enjoy the great riverfront and have so many friends here that I can't imagine living anywhere else," she said.
In the last 10 years, she's taken on leadership roles including chairing the Zoning Commission for the City of Peoria, the Heart of Illinois Agency Executives, and the Peoria Area Homeless Consortium. "I was the vice president of the Central Illinois and St. Louis YWCAs and co-chair of the Peer Support Committee for the Great Lakes Regional YWCA Association," she said. "I've also been on several committees and organizations."
Recent recognitions include the Athena Award from the Chamber of Commerce; Executive Director of the Year with the National Association of YWCA Executive Directors; and Woman to Woman Making a Difference Award, presented by the state treasurer.
Schubach said the success she's enjoyed stems from the wonderful mentors and friends who've supported her efforts in leading the YWCA in its mission. "The network of staff at the organization also has allowed us to strategically position ourselves to be a leader in services to women around our core services of health, home, and family. My family is also extremely supportive and provides me with the self-confidence to succeed."
The best advice she has for future leaders is to get involved in the variety of volunteer organizations available in the community. "Take an active role and develop key mentors and friends along the way. Keep your network strong, and surround yourself with hardworking, dedicated individuals. Don't be afraid to take risks, but remember you aren't alone. Be true to your vision, and always be honest in your efforts."
Michael Stessman has moved his career from real estate to entertainment as CEO of inPlay LLC. "In the last decade, I've slowed down and put more emphasis on maintaining balance, recognizing that life isn't just about work. I've also learned it's okay to say no sometimes and be more selective in my choices," he said.
He said most of the leadership roles he's taken on recently have been tied to developing the inPlay concept and the renovation of the Kirby Risk building in downtown Peoria. "I've also maintained a presence within community organizations, however. It's been an honor to be on the Citylink Board and see the completion of the new downtown transfer facility."
When deciding whether to remain in Peoria for his new business venture, Stessman said it wasn't a difficult choice. "The Peoria area is a good foundation to develop product and success. The area has wonderful character and the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships. It's a larger market with small-town hospitality and a great environment to raise a family."
He attributed his successful endeavors to surrounding himself with great people and allowing them to do work they were hired to perform. "Developing a strong team based on their strengths has been a challenge, yet very rewarding. Delegation, diplomacy, and professionalism are the keys."
Stessman's advice for similarly minded professionals comes from a friend's comment: You're either running from something or running to something. "This past year I finally figured out what he meant. It's easy to get wrapped up in your career and lose site of yourself and the important things, such as faith, family, and friends. Never forget your core values; success does come with a price-just don't let it be you. Always know where you're headed in life, and run to it-not away from it." IBI