The YWCA Rock County has selected seven women to receive its 2019 Women of Distinction Awards.
The awards recognize women in the community and businesses or organizations that are outstanding role models for Rock County residents.
Honorees are chosen for their achievements in their professions, personal lives or community work that advances women’s causes.
The 2019 Women of Distinction are Shari Faber, Sandy Johnson, Linda Lyke, Marlene Roessler and Kelley Willoughby.
The Young Women of Distinction are Claire Mikkelson and Taylor Salmon, both of Craig High School.
Earning the YWCA’s Corporate Award of Merit are the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Janesville, and the Women’s Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation, Beloit.
The women and businesses will be honored at the YWCA’s 44th annual Women of Distinction dinner and awards at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at the Pontiac Convention Center in Janesville. The event also raises money for domestic violence victims and programs that empower women.
These are the Women of Distinction Award recipients:
Faber is the project coordinator at Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change, where she is applying for a federal grant to prevent opioid misuse in young women.
The grant application was based on Faber’s idea of creating a more trauma-informed community to address adverse childhood experiences and the systems of care for children who experience trauma.
Faber is chairwoman of the Rock County Children’s Systems of Care Advisory Committee and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Committee of the Rock County Heroin Task Force.
She also volunteers at her church, GIFTS Men’s Shelter, Bags of Hope and Kids Against Hunger, and she is an instructor of youth mental health first aid.
Johnson is the program director at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Rock County, or CASA, where she started as volunteer advocate in 2014. She says she is continually inspired by her staff and pushes to grow and expand the program to help Rock County children and families.
Johnson works to improve CASA and its outreach through community involvement. She has served the Rock County Trauma Task Force, Safe and Stable Families and the Family Treatment Court Committee—groups that try to make government services better for families.
She previously worked as an account manager in the medical mobility industry.
Lyke is the volunteer coordinator at Cedar Crest Retirement Community, where she started a volunteer program nine years ago.
She has encouraged people of many ages and cultures to voluteer, including Chinese students from the nearby UW-Whitewater at Rock County campus. Her program is the first in the area to offer an intercultural and intergenerational component for Cedar Crest’s older residents.
Lyke has a love for nonprofit work and has volunteered for the United Way of North Rock County and SpotLight On Kids.
Her volunteer efforts also extend to her church, The Connecting Church-Milton Seventh Day Baptist, where she serves as outreach coordinator, and Friends of Milton Public Library, which she founded.
Lyke has served as a career mentor for young women through UW-Whitewater, her alma mater. She also leads spiritual conversation groups where women discuss their beliefs and build understanding and respect for each other.
Roessler is a retired nursery school teacher who is dedicated to children’s education. She began teaching kindergarten in 1965 at Lincoln Elementary School and later taught at Lynnwood Nursery School—now Goelzer’s First Step Preschool—until she retired in 2010.
Since retiring, Roessler has become the program coordinator for Story and Stroll at Rotary Botanical Gardens, which promotes children’s literacy and awareness of the natural world. She also volunteers as a teacher for grade school trips to the Frances Willard one-room schoolhouse at the Rock County Historical Society.
Roessler is also active at Trinity Episcopal Church, leading Sunday school classes, participating in services and bringing birthday gifts to St. Elizabeth Nursing Home residents.
She recently joined the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and volunteers for Agrace Thrift Store, GIFTS Men’s Shelter and Meals on Wheels.
Willoughby is a senior account executive at Gordon Flesch Company and supports the company’s efforts to give back to the community.
Willoughby is active in the community as an ambassador for Forward Janesville and the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce, where she is also a member of the board of directors.
She likes to connect with people by volunteering for KANDU Industries, the Janesville and Milton chambers, Community Action and local charity ECHO.
She believes people can help anyone—child or adult—by making them smile or connecting them to the resources they need.
The YWCA will present its Young Women of Distinction Award to Claire Mikkelson and Taylor Salmon.
Mikkelson, a Craig High School senior, is captain of the Janesville Girls Lacrosse Club, vice president of the National Honor Society and president of the student council.
As president, Mikkelson helped organize fundraisers for Isaac Johnson, a 4-year-old Janesville boy suffering from a type of cancer called neuroblastoma.
She organized a penny war, winter dance, raffles and T-shirt sales to help raise almost $20,000 for the Johnson family.
She is also active in International Club, National Art Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and Letterwomen’s Club.
Mikkelson plans to major in biomedical engineering at UW-Madison or the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, with the goal of someday developing tools to improve the lives of cancer patients.
Salmon, also a Craig senior, is active in National Honor Society and is vice president of Spanish National Honor Society, president of the Letterwomen’s Club and enjoys playing volleyball and softball.
Salmon also is the student council vice president and, with Mikkelson helped organize fundraising events to support Isaac Johnson and his family.
Salmon plans to attend Edgewood College in Madison and earn a degree in nursing.
She hopes to help pediatric cancer patients, so she plans to join the Love Your Melon Campus Crew, a college group that works to improve the lives of young patients.