Montgomery Village President Named Waubonsee “Fab 40” Alumna
Sugar Grove — Marilyn Michelini has an uncommon relationship with Waubonsee Community College. She served on the committee that led to the college’s formation 40 years ago, she took advantage of the new institution as a student here, and she watched two of her children attend and become Waubonsee graduates. As president of the Village of Montgomery, Michelini has continued her support of the college, serving most recently in 2003 as honorary co-chair of the “Friends of Waubonsee” group that assisted the college in the successful passage of referenda. Waubonsee is proud to honor her as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
Waubonsee Community College has named Marilyn Michelini, Village of Montgomery President, seen here in her office, as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.
An active mother, Michelini served on the Parent Teacher Associations of her children’s schools throughout the 1960s. Although she had not had the opportunity to attend college herself because of finances and the demands of raising five children, she was chosen to represent the East Aurora School District in studying the feasibility and demand for a community college in the area. Her work on the committee, and the work of many others, led to Waubonsee opening in the fall of 1967. Michelini and several others from the committee who did not have higher education degrees decided to take advantage of the new college and the opportunities it provided.
“I had small children and in order to get an education, we needed a community college in our area,” she said. “We were all so appreciative and hoping to have the opportunity to go to school.”
Waubonsee’s first students took classes at a variety of locations throughout the district. Michelini remembers taking classes in an old Jewel grocery store and at Yorkville Elementary School. She later took classes at the college’s permanent Sugar Grove Campus.
“I think the students got a kick out of having [adult students] in class,” she said. “The teachers were very supportive of adult students. It’s like we were sponges soaking up all the information we could get.”
Michelini’s husband, Richard, who is deceased, worked for a pharmaceutical company at the time so she often took her children with her when she needed to study at the library. This helped foster a strong commitment to education in her children, who all went to college and earned at least a bachelor’s degree.
“I’m most proud of getting my degree while balancing a family life,” she said. “I think I had a better relationship with my kids in school because I knew what they were going through, and they felt like we have a common bond — all of us studying, doing homework.”
After graduating with her associate degree from Waubonsee, Michelini went on to have a successful career working in non-profits and government. She worked for nearly a decade at the YWCA of Aurora as outreach director and spent another decade in marketing at the Heartland Blood Center in Aurora. She serves on the boards of the Fox Valley United Way and the Aurora YWCA. She has also worked as a volunteer counselor for domestic violence and rape victims through Mutual Ground, which provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in southern Kane and Kendall counties.
Michelini had her first taste of public service in 1982 when she was appointed to serve the remaining two and a half years of the term of a Kane County Board Member.
“I wanted to see if it was something I enjoyed, and I certainly did,” she said.
Realizing a calling, Michelini successfully ran for the position of trustee with the Village of Montgomery, where she has lived for 47 years. She served three terms in that role before being elected Village President in 2001. In the middle of her second term, Michelini has presided over a period of extraordinary growth for Montgomery.
“We have tremendous growth, phenomenal growth,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to provide more and better services, more police. We are committed to making growth pay for itself. We’re committed to smart growth.”
With plans for a new city government building set to open in 2008, Michelini spends much of her time planning for the city’s future. She sits on a number of planning committees and organizations including the Chicago Metropolitan Area Planning group, the DuKane Valley Council, the Metro West Council of Government, the Kane County Council of Mayors and a host of others.
“We’re looking at 2030 and the impact of growth on the area,” she said. “There’s going to be a million more people and we have to examine issues of land use, our water resources, and transportation.”
Michelini connects her success to the foundation she gained at Waubonsee.
“Waubonsee has been a very big influence on my life. It impacted my life so much and opened up so many difference avenues,” she said. “I enjoyed every minute of my Waubonsee education.”