Suzan Nash of Macomb Inducted into Illinois Community Action Hall of Fame

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For over 40 years, Suzan Nash of Macomb was an employee of WIRC-Community Action Agency (WIRC), a nonprofit organization that helps people and communities in multiple western Illinois counties. During her time at WIRC, Suzan worked in several departments within the agency and quickly rose to the top position serving as the Executive Director. She created many innovative programs, and led her team to implement programs that improved the lives of people with lower income. Her excellent work and service was noticed. At a recent conference hosted in Springfield, Illinois, Nash was recognized for her outstanding efforts by her peers and inducted into the Illinois Community Action Hall of Fame.

The award was given to Nash by the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA) at a reception attended by Community Action representatives from across Illinois. There are over 30 agencies in Illinois, and over 1,000 across the United States. No matter where they are located, all community action agencies share a mission to help people and change lives by working to end poverty.

“Suzan built unique partnerships and demonstrated the power of blending individual services to help households with community improvements to change neighborhoods,” said Dalitso Sulamoyo, IACAA Chairperson, during the awards presentation. “From comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault services, to housing rehab, to public water projects, Suzan provided leadership to improve lives in western Illinois.”

Nash started her career at WIRC in the Community Development Department as an Intern in 1978, was hired as a Principal Planner in 1979, and later became Community Services Manager in 1981. She became Acting Executive Director of WIRC in 1981 when she was only in her late twenties, and was soon appointed as the Executive Director.

Nash created many programs and formed partnerships along the way. She coordinated millions of dollars in community grant funding projects; established WIRC as a Community Action Agency in 1982; created the Victim Services program in 1986 to provide counseling and advocacy services to survivors of abuse; started a holiday gift program called Project Santa in partnership with employee Teresa Cadle; and accomplished many other projects over the years.

In 2017, Nash retired from WIRC, but she briefly returned in 2020 to serve as Interim Executive Director during the pandemic, and then led the Victim Services department for part of 2021, both during employment transitions. Now, Nash is fully enjoying her retirement with her husband, Tim Howe, but the definition of retirement is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes.

Not one to stay sitting still for long, Nash remains very active in the community, and is a member of the Morning Rotary, a board member of the Good Food Collaborative, and member of the Macomb Women’s Club, among other service-minded organizations. She frequently volunteers her time for various community service endeavors, and is a familiar face to many in the Macomb area and those at WIRC.

Nash has left a lasting, positive legacy with both current and former employees and colleagues.

“Suzan is a trailblazer, and I am thankful I had the opportunity to work with her,” said Jamie Roth, Community Services & Public Relations Director at WIRC. “She was, and is, a great leader who can have a vision of something and then make it happen. She made a great impact on many of us as employees and in the community.”

Roger Pavey, IACAA President and CEO, and former WIRC Executive Director, nominated Nash for the Illinois Community Action Hall of Fame. Pavey said, “Suzan has affected the lives of every citizen in western Illinois. Her work on public works and community projects extends to everyone. She also focused attention on those most in need, making the area more equitable and just.” 

Rose Elam worked for Nash at WIRC for over 40 years. “I was proud to be a WIRC employee, and much of that is due to Suzan’s leadership style,” said Elam. “She was fair, firm, patient, intelligent, understanding, gave staff opportunities to grow, a good listener and teacher of skills, had a good sense of humor, kept confidences, and led by example. She was the best employer I ever worked for.”

Elam continued by saying Nash lifted up her staff rather than promoting herself. “She has always given credit to her staff for agency achievements.  Suzan is most deserving of this recognition,” said Elam.   

WIRC-Community Action Agency (WIRC) is a nonprofit that helps people and communities in multiple western Illinois counties through their social service programs and community development services. The Agency is one of over 1,000 community action agencies across the United States working to end poverty. To learn more, call WIRC’s Macomb office at 309-837-2997 or Galesburg office at 309-837-5115, find them on social media, or visit the website wirpc.org. WIRC is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Caption: Suzan Nash of Macomb was recently inducted into the Illinois Community Action Hall of Fame for her exceptional contributions towards solving community action issues during her time at WIRC-Community Action Agency. [Photo courtesy of IACAA].

***Courtesy of the WIRC-Community Action Agency***

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