Community Foundation Seats New Directors

The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley welcomes new board members Lulu Blacksmith, Ed.D., and Joyce Hemphill, Ph.D. They were officially recognized recently at a board meeting held at the Santori Aurora Public Library.

Blacksmith joins the board with an impressive background in community relations. She took on her role as Waubonsee’s director of government and community engagement in 2008; this July, she was appointed dean for student and community engagement. Prior to her work at the college, Blacksmith served as the director of community relations for the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the manager of community outreach for Presence Mercy Medical Center. She is also the founder of Compañeros en Salud/Partners in Health, NFP, a coalition that helps connect Hispanic community members with needed social services and healthcare.

One of nine children, Blacksmith came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 16. Despite a strong desire to succeed, she struggled to engage in her community. Her husband, a Batavia native, was often recognized in public by friends and neighbors, but Blacksmith didn’t enjoy that same connection.

Community Foundation Chairman of the Board John Diederich said he is “thrilled” to have Blacksmith on the Board.

“I have known Lulu for many years and have enjoyed watching her engage in the community,” Diederich said. “She has become someone who is sought after in our community for her dedication to empowering individuals to better themselves and the communities they serve.”

Hemphill is a self-described “play advocate” who took action when her sons’ school district eliminated recess in 2001. Her passion for play and its role in child development shows in her extensive volunteering experience, as well as the contribution to various blogs and magazines. In 2014, she co-authored a book, The Power of Playful Learning: The Green Edition, that includes games and activities along with their developmental benefits. She recently retired as a faculty associate in The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s educational psychology department, and now serves as the co-founder and “play consultant” of Shinyhill.

Diederich believes Hemphill’s extensive knowledge and passion will only continue to strengthen the Community Foundation.

“It’s been great to have Joyce serve on our Distribution Committee, and now take the next step of joining our Board,” Diederich said. Her enthusiasm and sheer love of philanthropy will be a great addition to our Board.”

During her time as a professor, Hemphill emphasized service learning and hands-on learning, no matter the schedules or resources of her students.

“I always told my students, ‘Even if you don’t think you have much, you are so incredibly blessed,’” Hemphill said. “Maybe you have kids at home, and that doesn’t give you much time to give back. I suggest inviting the child’s friends over and creating a ‘Reading Buddies’ group, which builds friendships and social skills. You can always serve in some capacity.”

It’s this “giving back” mindset that Joyce learned from her parents as a child and hopes to carry into her role as a Board member.

“I grew up in a family that encouraged volunteering,” Hemphill said. “I’m so blessed, so fortunate. . .why wouldn’t I give back?”

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