Countryman, Hayden join Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees

The Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees seated new members Geri-Dee Hayden (left) and Kathy Countryman (right) during the May meeting.

Kishwaukee College welcomed two new Trustees to the Board during the May 4 meeting. Kathy Countryman and Geri-Dee Hayden were both elected to the Board in April to fill the seats of retiring Trustees Ken Doubler and Dr. Roberta “Bobbi” Burke — both of whom did not seek re-election.

Countryman, a Sycamore resident, comes from years of experience in education. She recently retired as superintendent of Sycamore Community School District #427, where she worked as an administrator for more than 20 years. In her most recent role, Countryman said she worked with Kish to develop courses and create dual credit opportunities for Sycamore High School students. She credits this past partnership as an incentive for her candidacy.

“I was interested in running for the Board due to my positive experiences with Kishwaukee College as a school administrator and seeing the important role the College plays in the lives of students both traditional and non-traditional,” Countryman said. “I also believe that Kishwaukee College has created innovative targeted programs, and through continued work with partners, serves a critical role in workforce development and training for our communities.”

Along with her work as a school administrator, Countryman has served with many local community organizations, such as the Kishwaukee YMCA, the Rotary Club of Sycamore, DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce. Among her goals with the Board, Countryman said she would like to help increase enrollment, maintain fiscal responsibility, and create more business partners to aid in workforce development for the community.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Borowicz and the Board of Trustees to continue to show the community the importance of the community college system for traditional and non-traditional students,” Countryman said.

Hayden, a Rochelle resident, also brings familiarity with higher education into her new role. For more than a decade, she has served on the Kishwaukee College Foundation Board of Directors, most recently acting as Treasurer. Her professional background is in finance, having worked in commercial banking before recently taking a role with AC Johnston Holdings in Rockford. Hayden said she has seen firsthand how community colleges can provide a positive impact in the region they serve, and she wanted to continue to give Rochelle a voice on Kish’s Board.

“I think it is important to have representation from the wide geography Kish serves,” Hayden said. “I also have a vested interest in the College and the role they serve in providing opportunities for our communities.”

Hayden is familiar with the community college experience, having started her higher education journey at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon. Along with her long tenure on the Foundation Board of Directors, she has also served as a member of the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees Audit Committee. Hayden said her small-town upbringing, paired with her extensive background in finance, will lend a unique perspective to the Board of Trustees, where she hopes to continue to help Kish offer students a variety of educational and career possibilities.

“I want to see the College continue to develop different pathways for our students. Not everyone seeks out a four-year degree,” Hayden said. “Kish has done a great job developing these pathways to create more opportunities within the community.”

Along with the two new Trustees, Sophomore Ahmed Elfaki will continue to hold the role of Student Trustee for another year following his re-election. Elfaki has been serving as Student Trustee after being appointed to fill a vacant seat in December. The 2019 Sycamore High School graduate is originally from Sudan, and his family moved to the United States in 2016 to seek refuge. At Kish, Elfaki has been a member of the Black Student Union, the Student Government Association, the Diversity Committee, the LatinX Organization, and the men’s soccer team.

With the new Trustees seated, the Board elected its leadership positions with Bob Johnson serving as Chair, Dr. Robert Hammon acting as Vice-Chair and Kathleen Spears serving as Secretary.

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