Proviso’s Women of Excellence

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Every March, in recognition of Women’s History Month, we’re reintroduced to influential women in our history and contemporary society who have left indelible marks on our lives and communities.  These women exemplified excellence. Their courage surpassed their fear and they held steadfast in their fight for justice, equality, opportunity and enterprise.

Yet, while we’re constantly reminded of Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Ida B. Wells, Hilary Clinton and the like, there are many other leaders that often go unrecognized.  The paths of these unsung hero’s are just as difficult and their fights just as courageous.

So, in the spirit of Women’s History Month, the West Suburban Journal will recognize local women who are making a difference in the community.  Some you may be familiar with by name, but unaware of their stories. Others you will be introduced to for the first time. These women paved the way for other women, from all walks of life, by playing a pivotal role in their local communities and the lives of others. We salute them!

This March in Women’s History Month we bring to readers in a 4-part series;

Proviso’s Women of Excellence:
Debra Vines, The Answer, Inc., Founder & CEO
Featured March 9

Teresa McKelvy, Proviso District High School, District 209, President,
Board of Education
Featured March 16

Utopia Hill, Aerospace Engineer, Director, Invenergy
Featured March 23

Kimberly A. Lightford, Senator ,4th District, Senate Majority Leader
Featured March 30

By L. Nicole Trottie

Teresa McKelvy has blazed trails in the business, human resources, civic, and education arena.  Her body of work, in the Proviso community and beyond, makes her not only a visionary but a leader for women and girls to aspire.

McKelvy is the President of District 209 Proviso Township High School Board of Education, a role in which she is “humbled” to serve. “I am most honored to serve alongside my fellow board members who chose me to lead the District,” McKelvy said of her position.  She began her role as board president in May 2016, after a majority board vote elected her to the top rank.  Prior to her election to the board of education, McKelvy spent more than a decade in the human resources, recruiting and business development field.  “Helping people” she said enticed her into a career in human resources.  “Nothing is more rewarding than telling a [employment] candidate that an offer has been extended,” McKelvy said. She added, “It’s gratifying to tell a candidate ‘you got the job’ to help provide for their family.”

McKelvy holds a degree in business administration from Lewis University.  She is currently pursuing her EMBA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  In addition, the busy mother of two, and wife of 18 years, lends her gifts and talents to the Emerging Leaders for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.  McKelvy became active in the Commerce in 2016 as a member of the Leadership Committee.  What attracted her most to the organization was the “opportunity to network with like-minded business professionals.”  The Chamber serves primarily emerging leaders by building relationships, cultivating talent, and creating an inclusive community for the next generation of leaders.

“Our pillars are formed around philanthropy, civic leadership and networking” McKelvy said.  “We believe in giving back to the community and helping young adults advance in careers through mentoring, professional, and personal development,” she added.  Added to her full schedule, McKelvy is Managing Partner of Sherman Strategic Solutions, a staffing agency for business and industry.

Future endeavors for McKelvy include, decreasing the dropout rate across Proviso District 209 schools.  “I want to see an increase in our test scores and provide a curriculum that will prepare students for college, career, and life”.  She added, “I believe if we can keep our children within our four walls, that we can help them obtain a high school diploma and decrease the dropout rate.”

McKelvy says of life’s rigorous demands, that God and family are top priority.  Her husband, children, siblings and extended church family lend balance to her purpose-driven life.  A 15-year member of Rock of Ages Baptist Church located in Maywood, McKelvy, alongside her family, recently celebrated Pastor Marvin E. Wiley, The Rock’s (affectionately), 26th Anniversary as pastor of the mega-church and largest congregation in Maywood.  She said of her faith and her family, “My husband and children are my biggest supporters.  He [my husband] always encourages me with inspiring and uplifting words.  He always has my back.”  Let her tell it, daily prayer and meditation is living water for the soul.  “Prayer, Yoga and Vitamin D3,” she laughed, “I never begin my day without these three things.  They provide me the energy and mental clarity to endure long and arduous days.”

Tragedy struck McKelvy Thanksgiving week 2011 when she received the call about her brother.  Struck by a vehicle driven by a teenager texting while driving, McKelvy’s youngest brother was killed in a car accident.  She said “forgiveness” helped her cope through the difficult ordeal.  “I had to recognize that it was an accident and she [teen driver] didn’t intentionally to take my brother’s life.”  She added, “Once I forgave her, that’s when I began to heal.  I always speak to young people about not texting or checking social media while driving.  I advise them of the importance of pulling over to send a text if it’s important or ignore your phone while driving.” As a result of her brother’s death, McKelvy apires to travel the country as an ambassador, speaking to young people, from all walks of life, about the permanent and dire consequences of texting while driving.  “Texting and driving is very dangerous, especially to an inexperienced driver.  I want to spread the word and keep people safe so another family don’t have to receive the chilling words from a State Trooper that I’ll never forget; “get here now, it doesn’t look good for him,” she said.

McKelvy’s message to young women; “Put God first above all things make Him the center of your life.  He’ll fight your battles and give you a peace that passeth all understanding.”

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