Illinois Region Spotlight
Greetings from the Illinois Region!
My name is Liz Trantowski, and I graduated in ’96. In July 2019 I began my term as Regional Director, and I’m honored to represent the fantastic 16 clubs of the Illinois Region. Our name is a bit misleading as some of the clubs include portions of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Prior to my election to the NDAA Board, I served on the Board of Directors of the ND Club of Chicago and was President of the Club. For more than two decades I’ve been a proud resident of the magnificent Windy City, and I never tire of exploring Chicago and sharing its beauty and history with others.
I am fortunate to collaborate with an all-alumnae Regional Director Network - aka the “Dream Team” – that includes Mary Ann Topping ’79 (NDSA), Laura Puente ’94, ’98 MBA (Diversity Council), Sheila Delaney ’99, ’09 MBA (ND Women Connect), and Cristin Pacifico ’15 (Young ND).
Like everyone else, the primary challenge of the past year has been to keep club leaders and members engaged. About half of the clubs in the Illinois Region have held any type of events since the pandemic began, and I want to share with you some of the wonderful things they have done.
With the larger clubs such as Chicago and Lake County taking the lead, the clubs have held some unique virtual events, whether it’s a cooking class, a trivia night, speed networking, or a yoga session. The McHenry County Club held a seminar about probate in their county, and the Aurora/Fox Valley Club even hosted a virtual tailgate before the ACC Championship game. To honor the Class of 2020, the Northwest Indiana Club created a special virtual Senior Night with tributes from well-known ND luminaries and meal donations to local hospitals.
Many of the clubs continue to serve their local communities with programs such a backpack drive for disadvantaged children (Chicago and Lake County), donating breakfast items to a local homeless shelter (Rockford), raising money for a local mobile food pantry (Joliet), and donating and wrapping hundreds of Christmas gifts (Quad Cities and Aurora/Fox Valley).
Four of the clubs have held regular book clubs via Zoom, whether it’s club-wide or targeted to affinity groups. The alumnae have remained especially connected via their monthly book clubs, especially in the Greater DuPage and Lake County clubs.
While traditionally they may be the least tech-savvy, the Senior Alumni of four clubs have embraced Zoom as a way to continue their monthly gatherings. They’ve even invited special guests from campus to join them.
We closed out 2020 with a multi-region holiday-themed virtual event in December with our neighbors in the Midwest and Ohio Valley Regions.
As vaccines become widely available and the weather improves, the clubs in the region are eager to resume in-person activities and they have begun planning summer events.
The Chicago Club and the Aurora/Fox Valley Club plan to host their signature events in July. Both the Rockne Gala (Chicago) and Ziggy Czarboski Golf Outing (Aurora/Fox Valley) have taken place annually for more than fifty years to raise scholarship funds for local students.
The Lake County Club has created a new ND Adventure Club dedicated to exploring the exquisite natural beauty of our region. Upcoming events include geocaching in a local forest preserve, a bike ride on the Des Plaines River Trail, and a hike in the stunning Starved Rock State Park.
Filling up the summer calendar, the Joliet Club will host Covid-safe activities including an open house in May, a club mass in June, and family picnic in August. The McHenry County Club has saved a date for their student sendoff in July.
With our proximity to Notre Dame, we are excited at the prospect of attending games on campus this fall. And, we look forward to hosting Irish fans in Chicago when Notre Dame takes on Wisconsin on September 25 in the historic Soldier Field on the shores of Lake Michigan.