IdaLynn Wenhold is known for her Superwoman-like contributions to the community. And the American Association of University Women Naperville chapter was happy to confirm that status by naming her the 2014 Woman of the Year.
Many agree it’s a fitting award for the KidsMatter executive director’s decades of service.
“IdaLynn Wenhold is one of the hardest working women as well as one of the most positive women I know,” said Becky Glimco, co-president of the American Association of University Women Naperville chapter. “The board feels that IdaLynn has been a champion for all people in her endeavors with her professional and personal life as she strives to provide opportunities and positive experiences for those often overlooked.”
Glimco said the organization presents the award annually to a woman who has demonstrated “an exceptional level of commitment to the community, supported the advancement of equity for women and girls, and is recognized by the community for her leadership and accomplishments.”
Wenhold meets the criteria and then some.
“As executive director of KidsMatter, she has worked hours beyond her paid hours to ensure that Naperville-area families and kids become competent and caring adults,” Glimco said.
“IdaLynn truly looks for potential in every person she meets, and others are drawn to her by her optimistic outlook on life.”
Wenhold first began as a KidsMatter volunteer, and when it became an official nonprofit organization in 2001, she was named its first executive director. Today, the 60-year-old is still at the helm of the organization that empowers youth and families “with tools to effectively manage the stressors of everyday life through programming, education and collaboration.”
When she is not at KidsMatter, she can be found volunteering at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Naperville where her husband, Greg, is the senior pastor.
“A real highlight of my week is when I teach around 17 kindergarten students each Sunday at our church about God’s love for them,” Wenhold said. “These children model an unconditional love for each other, which we as adults struggle to maintain.”
A Naperville resident for 17 years, she and Greg are parents to three grown children and proud owners of a 13-year-old dachshund.
She answered five questions for The Sun:
1. Do you have a favorite place in Naperville?
“I absolutely love the DuPage Forest Preserve where my husband and I do a combination of walking and running. What a great place to soak in the beauty of God’s creation, pray and dream about the future. It’s actually where some of my ideas for KidsMatter — including ParentsMatterToo — were given life.”
2. What is a good piece of advice you received as a teen and who was it from?
“My dad was my hero on earth, and he constantly encouraged me in my scholastic and athletic endeavors. His mantra was, ‘With God, all things are possible.’ That’s still my inspiration today, 31 years after he passed away.”
3. What is the latest good book you read and would recommend?
“Leadership books inspire me. I am a fan of Jim Collins’ book, ‘Good to Great.’ It has provided direction and inspiration to me in my role as the executive director of KidsMatter. I often share the concepts in this book with my staff since the author constantly points to what components are necessary to create sustainability in an organization.”
4. What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
“I was the MVP for my college’s women’s tennis team for three consecutive years.”
5. What are three words that describe you?
“Compassionate, focused, joyful.”