Three area residents recognized for service; Frerichs named Man of the Year

Three individuals with area connections were honored by Central Illinois Business magazine for their contributions. They were among 40 people younger than age 40 who have made a difference.

One of them, State Sen. Mike Frerichs, a Gifford native, was named Man of the Year.

Also honored were Cory Hatfield and Marcus Beach.

They were formally honored at a reception at Hilton Garden Inn, Champaign, and were selected for their leadership and service to their community.  

Following is information about the three that appeared in the magazine.

Marcus Beach, 36, detective sergeant, Rantoul Police Department

Community involvement: Mentor for three fourth-grade boys at Northview Elementary School through the TALKS Mentoring Program; active in First United Methodist Church of Rantoul and Administrative Council chair; Crisis Nursery board member; ran the Illinois Marathon for four years with Team Law and Order to benefit the Crisis Nursery; participates in the Special Olympics Illinois Polar Plunge; Champaign County Children’s Advocacy Center board member.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I enjoy magic (particularly card tricks) and am always buying new books to learn more.

Three people I’d want on my team are: Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Powell.

Most important lesson I’ve learned in my professional career: Accept responsibility for your actions and be honest. While it may not get you out of trouble, it protects your integrity, which is much harder to repair.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Easygoing and sometimes sarcastic.

I’m definitely a people person who enjoys being around others.

A word from the nominator: “Marc is able to balance the demands of law enforcement and the challenge it presents while remaining compassionate for those in need.” — Sean Arie, sergeant, Rantoul Police Department.

Cory Hatfield, 31 sports and sales director for the Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Community involvement: United Way of Champaign County board member for its Emerging Community Leader Program and 2007 graduate of the program. Member of the village of Rantoul’s Police and Fire Commission. Served as a Champaign County Chamber of Commerce ambassador.

Proudest professional accomplishment: In 2011, I was the organizer of the State Farm Shootout at the Hall. The week before the event, the NCAA informed the CVB that due to new regulations, we would not be able to host the event at the Assembly Hall, forcing us to cancel or relocate. We relocated the event to Parkland College in less than a week. The Shootout and its challenges were very rewarding and a valuable learning experience. More importantly, we saw five great basketball games and thousands of smiling faces and energized fans.

I attribute my success to: Always wanting to make my parents and family proud.

My mentor is: Sue Grey, United Way of Champaign County

A word from the nominator: “Cory’s community spirit is contagious. You simply cannot be apathetic when you are around him. His enthusiasm extends to everything he is involved in.” — Kathi Keyes, marketing manager at IPAT Inc. and mother-in-law of the nominee (one of two nominators).

Man of The Year Michael Frerichs

“His dedication to his constituents is very clear. I have always found Mike to be responsive to my concerns and thoughtful in his responses. It is comforting to know we all have an ally in Springfield.”
— nominator Stacy Bennett, independent consultant (one of two nominators)

Michael Frerichs credits the legacy of his grandfather as a motivating factor in his commitment to public service. Werner Roessler was civic-minded, active in his church and his community. He helped found the volunteer fire department in Gifford, and a park in the town is named for him.

Frerichs shares his grandfather’s name — his middle name is Werner.

“I grew up with stories about him. Even though I never met him, I felt a tie through our shared name,” said Frerichs, who followed in the footsteps of his grandfather by serving as a volunteer firefighter in Gifford.

After college, Frerichs spent time in St. Louis on a fellowship with a nonprofit leadership training organization. Friends and acquaintances encouraged him to run for office, saying they wanted someone to look out for their interests. He thought it would be something he would do much later in life. But after serving as a Champaign County Board member and county auditor, the Democrat won a seat in the Illinois Senate in 2007 to become the youngest member of the Senate.

Once he got to Springfield, Frerichs found “the political process is different than what you learn in civics class. And there are many things to be successful you must know that are not in the rules book.”

“I’ve always been a big studier, and I thought I could prepare just by reading up,” he said. “But I found relationships with colleagues are very important, and there are unwritten rules you get to know.”

Former Rep. Bill Black helped Frerichs by sharing his knowledge and making suggestions on how to go about getting things done that were good for their districts.

Working with Frerichs was also valuable to Black.

“He knew his way around the capital,” Frerichs said. “With me being in the majority, I felt I had a special key to unlock doors. Bill, being in the minority, didn’t have the same key, but he knew what was behind the doors.”

Frerich’s work as a legislator has helped him learn patience, he said. “Many people ask me, ‘Don’t you get frustrated serving in Springfield?’ For the outside observer, it can look very frustrating. I guess I learned to change my attitude,” he said. “If you look for solutions and things you have control over to improve, it can be a very rewarding job. If you realize sometimes the bigger problems take a while to solve, take putting together coalitions, if you keep working at it, you can solve them.”

Frerichs is chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee in the Senate, co-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Extensions committee and vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee.

His nominators for the Forty Under 40 Award noted Frerichs was a strong supporter of a $30 billion capital improvements plan that funded projects in Champaign and Vermilion counties; has been an advocate for education and for the Crisis Nursery; and works cooperatively with legislators of both parties to benefit Central Illinois.

Frerichs said one problem he hoped to do more to solve is education funding reform.

But he acknowledged that will be more difficult, with the recession and the financial woes of the state. Frerichs advised young people “to find what your passion is, and throw yourself into something you are passionate about.”

His path doesn’t look like a clear one to legislative office. He noted he has studied German and Chinese, been a paralegal and a school teacher, and worked for a startup engineering company before running for office. Those vocations seem to be unrelated, with no common thread.

But, Frerichs said, “What they all share in common is they are all challenges that were of interest to me, that I threw myself into and learned from.

“It’s not a great recipe for a career,” he said, “but it’s good training for a legislator who is dealing with dozens of different issues and must quickly deduce what’s important.”

Community Involvement: Through my office I work with many community organizations. I have previously worked as a volunteer firefighter, served on the boards of

Country Health Nursing Home and the Rantoul Theatre Group and was a member of Exchange Club and Rotary.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Maintaining a healthy balance between my career and my responsibilities as a father. It is something that I have to work on every day.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Plan your work, then work your plan.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I was the second-shortest member of my basketball team in high school.

My mentor is: U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin.

Categories (2):News, People


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