The 2015 Women of Distinction honorees:
Business or Professional:
Elizabeth Sotiropoulos - Champaign
Elizabeth Sotiropoulos is the owner of Illini Tutoring, a business she co-founded with her husband shortly after she graduated with distinction in May 2010 from the University of Illinois in molecular and cellular biology. She opted not to attend medical school to instead make even more of a difference within the community in which she grew up. As a former Girl Scout, she has made a difference in helping her tutees realize their potential, providing a two-day micro-biology lab experience for sixth-grade girls, sponsoring the Not Your Average Joe 5K race that benefits local charities, and volunteering at her church. She is also fluent in Russian, having spent a summer in the Ukraine and Russia as a camp counselor and teaching English to children. She is currently hard at work learning Greek.
Jennifer Shelby - Champaign
Jennifer Shelby is the former president and dealer principal of Shelby Motors before selling the company in 2013. She most recently got back in the car business by acquiring two dealerships in Hoopeston. In between and throughout her community involvement never waned, from serving as a board member with the Champaign-Urbana Schools Foundation and Crisis Nursery of Champaign County as well as a trustee with Blackburn College, to committee member with Champaign County Humane Society Fur Ball and Cunningham Children’s Home Kendall Gill Golf Outing. She is also past president of Champaign Sunrise Rotary and current president of Courtsiders, a support group for the University of Illinois women’s basketball team. She is a graduate of fellow Big Ten Indiana University.
Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell - Champaign
Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell is an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois. She earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri (2006), and an M.S. in environmental and water resources engineering (2010), M.P.Aff in public affairs (2010), and Ph.D. in civil engineering (2013) from The University of Texas at Austin. Her previous work experience includes consulting engineering at Burns & McDonnell (2006-2007) and policy research at the Congressional Research Service (2009). Dr. Stillwell received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the American Water Works Association’s 2011 Academic Achievement Award for 2nd Place Master’s Thesis, and is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient and lifetime member. Her research interests include the water impacts of thermoelectric power plants and the energy-water nexus pertaining to urban metabolism and public policy. She was among the Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students for fall 2014.
Shevone Myrick - Rantoul
Shevone Myrick is an associate managing editor in the publication department at Human Kinetics, a physical activity and health publisher based in Champaign, where she first began her career just over a year ago as a circulation/customer service associate. Prior to joining HK she returned to college while caring for her young children, completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University through Parkland College. This achievement led to her becoming a GED instructor at Parkland, helping the department exceed the student passing goal by as much as 40 percent each year through individual instruction and counseling of students in challenging subject areas. At HK she also serves on the company’s diversity council to help promote an environment where people are valued as individuals and team members and treated with respect, dignity and fairness.
Creative Arts and Entertainment:
Kelly White, Champaign
Kelly White is the executive director of 40 North l 88 West, the Champaign County Arts Council, where she helps artists succeed and thrive in the community through programs like the Friday Night Live music series, Sky Gallery and Boneyard Arts Festival to name just a few. She also helped launch a program called the Eric Show, through which high school students have the chance to display their work in a professional gallery. Additionally, she is an art history instructor at Parkland College, where she relishes the opportunity to teach young people about the power of art. For her own art she paints in oils, usually figurative work of allegories and portraits. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois in graphic design and art history and has an MFA and MA in art history from Savannah College of Art and Design.