Karen Utterback Award Winners:
- 2019 – Kari McLean
- 2018 – Susan D’Alexander
- 2017 – Gabrielle Loring
- 2016 – Susan Heitsch
- 2015 – Mary Hills, ABC, Six Sigma
- 2014 – Thomas C. Keefe, ABC
- 2013 – Margaret (Peg) Wander
- 2012 – Joanne Kitsos, ABC
This award, which began in 2012, recognizes a veteran IABC Chicago member who exemplifies communications excellence and stewardship. The 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.
The award memorializes two-term IABC Chicago chapter president, Karen Utterback, ABC, who unexpectedly passed away in 2009. Utterback had served as IABC Chicago’s president since June 2008 and as its director of finance from 2005-2008. She actively encouraged and mentored communicators to pursue the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation, since earning her own designation in 2005. In addition to her IABC work, Utterback was a board member of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation, a volunteer for the Taproot Foundation and the Chicago 2016 campaign. She raced sailboats, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008, and had run more than 19 marathons, including races in Antarctica and on the Great Wall of China.
Utterback worked as an editor with the Government Finance Officers Association from 1985 to 2009, which led her to earn an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1991. Earlier, Utterback was an assignment editor at ABC News and an assignment editor/producer at WXIA-TV, Atlanta. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in sociology, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
If you would like to nominate a long-time IABC member who has volunteered in the spirit of this award, complete the online nomination form. Nominations are accepted year round, with the executive committee deciding a winner each May.
IABC Chicago takes great pride in honoring outstanding volunteers, as they embody the heart and spirit of the organization.