IABC Chicago bestows its highest award on Susan Heitsch, MBA: the 2016 Karen Utterback Volunteer Award. IABC Chicago takes great pride in honoring outstanding volunteers, as they embody the heart and spirit of the organization. “Susan’s passion for the organization reminds me of Karen Utterback’s passion for IABC Chicago!” said Gabrielle Loring, IABC Chicago past president and volunteer director.
An IABC member for 34 years, Susan commented, “Clearly, you get as much out of IABC as you put in. I encourage every communicator to get involved in IABC, in person. LinkedIn and Facebook are nice…but IABC connections are the ones that matter.”
On receiving this award, she said, “I knew Karen Utterback, so it means a LOT to be honored with an award that bears her name. Karen gave so much of herself to IABC — ideas, leadership, time, energy. She was so much fun to work with on projects that you just couldn’t say no. She made you want to do more and to BE more.”
What is the best thing about being a communicator to Susan? “The opportunity to shape ideas into action. When a communicator takes on a project, the project owner or team often has a good idea what they want to do. However, building a good communications plan requires a communicator to delve far deeper to find out what’s really driving the project beyond the stated purpose. By asking all the right questions and offering creative suggestions, you can truly help shape what the final product is,” she said.
Susan has been a long-time volunteer of both IABC Chicago and IABC. She’s served on the board as director of seminars, director of educational programs, co-director of educational relations, co-director of volunteers, and planned a Midwest Regional Conference for IABC. She’s been a long-time student mentor and has served as a judge for Bronze, Silver and Gold Quill Awards.
For International, she served two years on the committee to choose World Conference Speakers and just this last year co-chaired the U.S. Blue Ribbon Panel for the Gold Quill Awards. She also helped launch the first student chapter of IABC at DePaul University. She’s a great friend of IABC Chicago—always lending advice, speaker leads and being an IABC cheerleader with those she meets.
About the Karen Utterback Volunteer Award
This award, which began in 2012, recognizes a veteran IABC Chicago member who exemplifies communications excellence and stewardship The award memorializes two-term IABC Chicago chapter president, Karen Utterback, ABC, who unexpectedly passed away in 2009.
Recipients demonstrate unyielding dedication to the betterment of the communications excellence, serve as mentors to professionals and embody the essence of IABC Chicago. They truly represent the best of our organization.
Susan embraces the heart and spirit of IABC Chicago in being a great cheerleader of IABC Chicago. She’s welcoming to all at events. She often shares her IABC story with others on the deep impact it has made to her professionally and personally and has even shared that story on our website. IABC Chicago President Julia Dunlop summed it up best, “We chose Susan because she is an unsung hero.”