News & Events

Communities of Excellence Recognizes First Class of Participants

Waubonsee Communities of Excellence participants and administrators gather for a group portrait following a recognition ceremony honoring the first ten students to complete the program.

Waubonsee Community College recently recognized the first group of participants to complete training in its award winning Communities of Excellence program. The 10 participants – all local municipal employees -represented five communities. Over the last two years, they have completed 96 hours of specialized training covering 24 topics.

Communities of Excellence responds to the professional development needs of local government employees by offering a series of classes on a range of topics about contemporary issues in the municipal workplace, including conflict resolution, budgeting and reporting, succession planning, time management, strategic planning, ethics, working with difficult people, customer excellence and more.

Jennifer Milewski, senior accountant for the Village of Sugar Grove, said that as she drove to the ceremony last week, she thought about how much impact the lessons had made on her personally and professionally.

“It has helped me to figure out how to approach personal and professional problems, and how to be empathetic in my approach,” she said. “It has really just been such a positive experience that it’s hard to sum up.”

Lesa Norris, Waubonsee Dean of Workforce Development, said Communities of Excellence was created to address challenges, create opportunities and allow municipal employees to work with their peers. She noted that although participants had a range of responsibilities in their respective local governments, they learned that the root issues are similar, and that working together instead of in silos can increase efficiencies. 

"This program was designed to provide access to public sector employees for professional development, because a well trained and educated workforce is vital to any organization’s success,” said Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek. “I hope you are all proud because you are our first class of participants. This program empowers you to meet the current and future demands of taxpayers and your employers.”

In September, the Communities of Excellence initiative won a National Exemplary Program Award in the Continuing Professional Education category from the National Council for Continuing Education and Training.

Established in April 2014, the program launched its first series that spring. Since then, 81 municipal employees have participated, representing eight local governments and 12 separate government departments. Those recognized in the ceremony were: Timo Bello (Elgin), David DeGroot (Geneva), Linda Ebinger (Oswego), Lori Grocke (Elgin), Greg Hulke (Elgin), Denise Ii (Sandwich), Matt Mattingly (Elgin), Jennifer Milewski (Sugar Grove), Aaron Neal (Elgin) and Dustin Schultze (Geneva).