25 Most Interesting People Part 1

Meet 25 individuals who have left a mark on our region.

Everyday heroes are all around us. Parents, emergency responders and teachers come quickly to mind. But what about the small-business owners, conservationists, philanthropists and quiet leaders among us? It’s easy to take for granted, but it’s important to recognize the many ways these heroes inspire us to dream more, do more, be more. So, we’ve found 25 individuals who have left a mark on our region by inspiring others through acts of courage, vision and passion.

Ashley Osterberg

A Servant’s Heart

Growing up in Garden Prairie, Ill., instilled small-town values that shaped Ashley Osterberg’s life in many ways.

“If someone needs something, you do it. You don’t think about it, you just do it.” says Osterberg.

In her many roles in life, Osterberg strives to ease others’ burdens.

She works as a charge nurse in OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center’s emergency room and as a floor nurse in the hospital’s cardiac ICU. That community-minded mentality, coupled with interests in math and science, led her to a career in healthcare. She says her two very different nursing roles and her passion for helping people mesh well in an environment where tense situations and incredibly sick patients are the norm.

When she’s not at the hospital, Osterberg fosters dogs from Safe Haven Dog Rescue in Elburn, Ill. “When I started, I wanted to keep every single dog,” she says. “Then I realized that if I kept them, I couldn’t save the next one.”

She’s fostered everything from tiny puppies to special-needs dogs. This winter, Osterberg – who also has her own 8-year old beagle, Taylor – has been caring for another beagle named Maya, who’d been hit by a car.
Occasionally, when off duty, she’ll bring Taylor or a foster dog to the hospital so co-workers can come outside on their breaks for a quick puppy pick-me-up.

“Some people probably don’t like that I talk about the dogs, but I’m sure most people love that I do,” she says. “When I’m taking care of patients, if they say something about their animals, we start talking about animals and that distracts them a bit from what they have going on.”

At the start of the pandemic, Osterberg volunteered to help out at a shorthanded suburban Chicago hospital. “When I heard about that opportunity, I thought, ‘I’ve got to go. I’ve got to help.’” The experience gave her a new appreciation for her peers. “The true definition of nursing is working as a team. Even though no one had met me, they welcomed me with open arms. They took me in and I got right to work.”

She recommends fostering dogs, even to those with schedules as busy as her own.

“Playing with puppies is probably the best after-work therapy you can get,” she says. “It really melts away anything you’ve been thinking about, whether they’re bouncing around or taking a nap. The adult dogs offer the same thing. They don’t know how long you’ve been at work. They’re just happy to see you and have unconditional love for you.” – PH

Dean Lowry

Hometown Hero

Growing up, Rockford native Dean Lowry was like many young people who dream of becoming a professional athlete. But the chances of reaching the pros are remote. In fact, the chances of getting struck by lightning are about the same.

And yet lightning did strike, so to speak, when Lowry defied the odds and was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft. It was a dream come true for Lowry, 26, who counted himself an avid Bears fan before the draft.

“I have always had respect for the Packers organization,” he says. “Throughout history, they’ve had great players like Brett Favre and Reggie White. To be a part of it for five years now has been truly special.”

Lowry first gained attention at Boylan High School, where he grew to become an imposing 6-foot-5 lineman and helped the Titans win back-to-back state football titles. Lowry had multiple offers to play Division I football before choosing Northwestern University. “My goal was always to play in the Big Ten,” he says.

He had a solid college career, but many draft experts predicted Lowry to be a late draft choice or even an undrafted free agent. Lowry has always possessed a dogged determination, and it paid off when he was named a starting defensive lineman for the Packers during his rookie year. But with two years left on his contract, Lowry knows nothing is guaranteed.

“There’s a lot of pressure to succeed in the NFL,” he says. “All you can do is take it one year at a time.”

Lowry is part of a recent surge of Rockford athletes who’ve reached the pinnacle in the NFL, including his teammate at Boylan, Dan Arnold (Arizona), and Rockford Lutheran’s James Robinson (Jacksonville).

Perhaps the best-known Rockford athlete is Fred VanVleet, a former guard from Auburn High School who has won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors. When they were younger, Lowry and VanVleet were teammates on a Rockford junior tackle football team.

“Fred could have been an NFL safety, but, obviously, he chose the right path for himself,” Lowry says.
During the offseason, Lowry, who is single, returns to Rockford to visit family and friends.

No matter where his football career takes him, he will always have a fondness for his hometown.

“I appreciate Rockford and enjoyed growing up here,” Lowry says. “There are so many people – former coaches, teammates, classmates – who helped me get to where I am today.” – PAA

Charmaine Logwood

Beacon of Hope

Charmaine Logwood was born to help others.

Throughout her career, she has extended a hand to those shattered by domestic violence, addiction and mental health issues.

In 1998, the Chicago native moved to Rockford to accept a social service job. Logwood didn’t plan on staying long, but she quickly developed a love for the community and discovered her talents were needed.
“I have a love for people – people who are marginalized, disenfranchised and underprivileged,” she says. “I like to see people prosper.”

Today, Logwood works as an advocate for Shelter Care Ministries’ Jubilee Center, a drop-in program for adults who suffer from a chronic mental illness and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It is Logwood’s role to secure food, clothing and medical care for the center’s guests. The goal, she says, is to make sure everyone is housed and remains safe.

“Every day is different,” she says. “It’s a tough job. The lifespan of many of our clients isn’t long. It’s disheartening to witness them die due to their lifestyles, illnesses and addictions. A job like this takes a lot of self-care and self-discipline.”

Logwood earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Judson University. She serves on the boards of Jeremiah Development and Zion Lutheran Church and on the cabinet of Rockford Area Lutheran Ministries.

She is also president of The Coronado Haskell Neighborhood Association (CHNA), located near Rockford’s downtown, where she also happens to live. A longtime renter, Logwood purchased her first home a few years ago, thanks to a program sponsored by Jeremiah Development and Homestart. “It was a dream come true to finally buy my own home,” says Logwood, who has a daughter and grandson living in Houston.

CHNA has made strides tackling problems that have plagued the historic area. The group has partnered with Jeremiah Development to install 72 solar motion-detection lights. The neighborhood group also hosted “Neighbor Day,” an event that features food, social service booths, bike giveaways and music.

The association is creating a Coronado Haskell Peace Space that will include custom-made signage, outdoor lighting, a peace pole, flower beds and park benches. The neighborhood has come a long way in recent years, as residents work to clear out crime.

“It feels good to see the neighbors take pride in their homes,” says Logwood. – PAA

Tim Connors

A Class Act

Tim Connors never planned on being a teacher. Instead, the Freeport native had his sights set on a radio career.

He earned a communications/education degree from Northern Illinois University and decided to apply for teaching jobs before heading to grad school. He interviewed at Freeport High School and accepted an English teacher/drama assistant position, only intending to stay for a little while.

For 31 years now, Connors has found himself very much at home in the Freeport school.

“I love it here,” says Connors, 53, who is director of theater and speech and announces Pretzels football and basketball games. He also serves as the advisor for the Pretzel Pride Network, a YouTube channel that pushes out school news to the community. His wife, Becky, also teaches at the school.

“At a young age, I was given the opportunity to direct a show,” he adds. “Then I was asked to run the theater program and then coach the speech team. I’ve always been given new challenges.”

But Connors’ creative juices extend beyond the classroom. Last year, while stuck at home due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Connors looked in a mirror and noticed an uncanny resemblance to Ben Franklin.

“It was my long hair and double chin,” he says, laughing. It was no coincidence for Connors, who actually played the Founding Father 20 years ago at a Highland Community College function. That spurred an idea.

He asked a friend to take photographs of Connors dressed up as Franklin for Halloween. He posted the photos on Facebook and within minutes got requests from a local senior center, the Kiwanis, even a beer fest, all asking to book the Franklin look-alike for upcoming events.

“Ben Franklin is a guy I’d like to party with,” Connors says. “I’ve always admired his ideas on life. He was involved in so many issues and he loved his nation. I see a lot of myself in Ben.”

Connors has no plans on quitting his day job. There’s nothing he’d rather do than help shape young minds – unless it’s soaking up the sun at Wrigley Field and rooting on his favorite baseball team. In fact, when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, Connors made good on a 10-year promise to a former student, another Cubs die-hard. The pair agreed to get Cubs tattoos if the boys in blue ever won the pennant. Connors now sports a red “C” logo on his calf.

“I like to have fun,” he says. “I’m always looking for the next challenge in life. When I find it, I want to enjoy it.” – PAA

Joel Ross

Hitting the Right Notes

Joel Ross could have moved to Chicago, New York or any large market to perform and teach music. But Ross always wanted to make his hometown of Rockford a better place through his talents.

Ross is a professional pianist, vocalist and composer. His skills vary from performing with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra to coordinating the Joel Ross Jazz Trio. This passion stems from his humble beginnings.

“We were a family of music lovers and music makers,” says Ross, who, along with his two siblings had formal music lessons. “We went without a lot of things, but we always had music in our home.”

For 26 years, Ross served as the music director of Kantorei, the Singing Boys of Rockford, who ranged in age from 6 to 18.

“These are the formative years of any young person,” says Ross, who received a Mayor’s Art Award in 2004 for his contribution to music education. “My greatest satisfaction was to help them realize their potential.”

Ross has co-owned Randee’s Music since the early 1990s. The store is the perfect vehicle, he says, where he can help drive people’s passion to learn, whether it’s on the piano or a stringed instrument.

He quickly recalls some of the people he’s helped to connect with music. A young couple whose children couldn’t contain their excitement as they waited eagerly for the arrival of a grand piano. There was the man who purchased a piano as a source of hope for his arthritic mother, who lived in a retirement village at the time. And then there was the war veteran who played piano as part of his mental and physical recovery from combat.

“Music is integral to life,” Ross says. “Who am I to say someone is too old or too arthritic to play piano? And it’s really cool to see young people starting on their musical journey. How do you put a price tag on that?”

Today, Ross lives in his boyhood home. He restored the 1892 house on Rockford’s southeast side and has since become a landlord, purchasing and rehabbing other homes on his block. “My tenants are wonderful neighbors,” he says. “We are transforming Rockford one block at a time.”

Even at this stage of his life, Ross says he never stops learning – musically or otherwise.

“Music is a gift from above,” he says. “My gratitude is to my Creator, my parents and all those who have touched my life.” – PAA

Therese Oldenburg

A Series of Intersections

Despite a childhood spent playing in the woods and having toads, frogs, mice and rabbits as pets, Therese Oldenburg never thought she’d wind up in a career surrounded by nature.

But today she divides her time between directing South Beloit’s Nature at the Confluence and running her own marketing firm, Firepoint Media, which works with nonprofits and nature-based organizations.

How she ended up at Nature at the Confluence was a true twist of fate.

“The Beloit 200 group asked me to be on a committee for a new urban environmental center. They knew of my interests in nature and my skills in marketing,” Oldenburg says. “When this beautiful $2 million restoration was finished, it was like, ‘Well, Therese. Go figure out how to do something with this place.’ That’s what I’ve done. I put my background as a naturalist and my background in marketing to work and have been able to bring a lot of people to the restored land to enjoy programs and to volunteer, building excitement in the community about being part of the restoration. It’s my happy place.”

She makes it sound easy.

For decades, Nature at the Confluence – located where Turtle River, Rock River and Kelly Creek meet – was a site where foundries dumped their discarded sand. Today, it’s a 5-acre nature preserve that’s in the midst of a restoration.

“A lot of other debris, glass and garbage have been dumped here over the years, too. It’s not pristine land by any means, but it really is beautiful,” Oldenburg says.

Thanks to a recent grant, dedicated volunteers are continuing to clean up partially hidden Kelly Creek.
“It’s buried beneath the city of South Beloit and it emerges on our property. It used to meander its way through the city, but as the city grew it was more convenient to bury it in a culvert and build roads on top,” she says.

“Tires and other debris have been dumped along it, but we’re restoring it and bringing it back to life.”

Also an armchair genealogist, Oldenburg discovered that not only did her own ancestors know her husband’s ancestors, but around 1900 some of them helped establish the very foundry that once operated near Nature at the Confluence.

“It was one of the organizations that produced the discarded foundry sand that was used as fill on our land,” she says. “I was floored. We had no idea that my husband’s great-grandfather and my great-great uncle founded it together. Having that deep-rooted connection to the land feels like destiny.” – PH

Einar Forsman

The Problem Solver

Being a problem-solver has always come easily to Einar Forsman, yet his approach to tackling big issues has continually evolved. He laughs as he recalls the lessons of his early career, when he was fresh out of school and analyzing the City of Rockford budget.

“As that pasty-faced bureaucrat, the answers seemed so logical to me, but they weren’t logical at all to the city council members,” he says. “What I learned early in my career is that the community has a big role to play in how government thinks and acts. It’s not just textbook answers.”

Forsman learned from those experiences and rose through the ranks of city government, eventually serving as city administrator under Mayors Charles Box and Doug Scott. He spent a few years in workforce development at Rock Valley College and assumed leadership at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in 2007.

On the side, he supported and served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, an experience that helped him to better understand all facets of the community as well as the intersections between government, small business and ordinary citizens.

“It’s given me another arrow in my quiver, if you will, to have a full intuition about the area and about Rockford,” he says.

Forsman finds he’s fond of Rockford’s small-town feel and the fact that local leaders are so accessible to ordinary citizens.

Accordingly, he’s quick to help others.

“Many times during the course of a week or day I do get called on to try to understand an issue that is confounding a business or person and try to help them get past it,” he says. “Usually, I have the connections or the knowledge to help them get through that particular experience, and I think those are what I would call my true successes.”

This spring, Forsman is stepping into a new role as head of the Greater Rockford Growth Partnership, a partnership organization that includes the Chamber and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.
His goal is to connect key players and lay the foundations for Rockford’s future, providing solutions to help grow, retain and attract businesses.

“I think, more and more, the business community has gotten engaged and they’re not sitting on the sidelines,” he says. “I think they understand now, more than ever, the need for talent, and that it’s not just money, and it’s not just a good work environment. It’s about community, and what we can offer to get people to want to live here, work here and play here.”– CL

Dr. Tasha Davis

Don’t Take No for an Answer

Tasha Davis has been denied opportunities in her career, but that just adds fuel to her fire.

Davis, who was raised by a single mother in the Cabrini-Green housing project on the West Side of Chicago, says she faced bouts of racial discrimination during her career.

“It always seemed like an easy path for most,” she says. “You graduate college, you come into a job, you start at the bottom and you work your way up. But, it never happened like that for me because I always suffered from some racial discrimination in the hiring process and it became very frustrating.”

Davis went through college as a single mother herself, even graduating from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with two young sons. “I had one son in my arms and one was barely walking,” says Davis, now a mother of four. “I did it, and it showed me I can do many things while faced with adversity.”

She later earned a doctorate degree in leadership and education from Governors State University, in University Park, Ill., and a master’s degree in finance from Colorado Technical University.

“Education has always been my passion,” she says. “I’ve always loved to learn, but then I’ve always taken what I’ve learned and shared it with those who are less fortunate.”

As the executive director of Rockford Promise, a location-based scholarship program, Davis and her team work hard to ensure local students don’t have to hear “no.” That’s because this program provides full-tuition scholarships to graduates of Rockford Public Schools who attend one of three partner institutions: Rock Valley College, Rockford University and Northern Illinois University.

“I’ve used my personal and career experiences to give our young people a vision and a route to success for educational attainment and job readiness,” says Davis, who joined Rockford Promise last August.

Rockford Promise has offered 30 full-time scholarships in the past year. “Our goal is to continue that momentum,” she says.

Davis has also co-written a book about her experiences called “The Professional Black Woman.” She penned the chapter “My Sister’s Keeper,” which encourages women of color to mentor each other and stick together through various career paths.

“I’m still told no today,” she says. “Those experiences made me work on my weaknesses so now, when I hear a no, that burden doesn’t fall on me. Even though I faced so much adversity, it didn’t stop me. Even if you face hard things like racial discrimination, you can still persevere and make it.” – JP

Josh Mathews

Dreaming of Dinosaurs

While other kids merely played with toy dinosaurs, Josh Mathews idolized paleontologist Jack Horner, whom he’d seen on TV.

“He was my kind of hero as a kid,” says Mathews. At the time, Museum of the Rockies, where Horner worked, was leading dinosaur digs. Young Mathews wrote the museum and received a massive package of information about joining the digs. “And we couldn’t afford it,” he says. But the dream never died.

At the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Mathews got his first taste of paleontology researching invertebrate fossils. He pursued a master’s degree at Northern Illinois University, and although he wasn’t studying paleontology, he took a course on vertebrate paleontology in 2004. It brought him back to his roots.

“I really enjoyed that class. I applied to the Field Museum in Chicago to be a volunteer fossil preparator, but they never got back to me.” Mathews asked his professor for advice. “He said, ‘You should try Burpee Museum in Rockford.’” Another student in the class volunteered there and connected him with the museum’s then-director of paleontology, Scott Williams.

“I started volunteering 3 hours, one day a week. It was the first time I had a chance to see and touch dinosaur bones in person – and try to get one out of a rock. It was intimidating to begin with because it’s 65 million years old, and I didn’t want to damage it.”

The following summer, Mathews finally went on his first dig. “That’s actually the dig where we found Homer, our sub-adult triceratops. We took out what bones we could get, buried the rest, and left the site.”

In 2006, Burpee received grants allowing it to excavate the site, prepare the bones for exhibit and hire Mathews as a fossil preparer. That summer he was among the group that began unearthing Homer, a process took four summers to complete.

It also inspired his master’s thesis, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2009.
Once the grant ran out, Mathews worked as a fossil preparer and research assistant at Augustana College – even taking part in a Cryolophosaurus dig in Antarctica – but eventually he returned to NIU to pursue a doctorate. He resumed volunteering at Burpee, and when Williams accepted a position in Montana in 2017, Mathews was asked to take his place as director of paleontology for the museum.

“I started off volunteering 3 hours, one day a week,” he says, “and here I am, over 15 years later, the director of paleontology. That’s kind of cool.”– PH

Zabrina Ramirez

Volunteer for Life

Zabrina Ramirez loved volunteering and ministry in her youth, but she wasn’t sure how that could translate into a career.

“In the back of my mind, I just wanted to volunteer for the rest of my life,” says Ramirez. 

She realized it was possible when she took a class on urban sociology at Rock Valley College. Ramirez then earned a sociology degree at Calvin College and joined AmeriCorps, a volunteer service organization that took her to Boston for a year. 

The Rockford native returned home and found an opening at Stateline Youth for Christ in 2019. The nonprofit organization pairs adult mentors with disadvantaged teens, all with the goal of connecting socially, emotionally and spiritually. Now, Ramirez and her colleagues develop close relationships with young people through ministries like City Life (for middle and high schoolers), Campus Life (for middle and high schoolers of a specific school) and Juvenile Justice (justice system-involved youth).

Ramirez also serves as community engagement coordinator, so she shares many stories of those whose lives are changed by Stateline Youth for Christ.

She’s a regular at Nextsteps meetings for the Juvenile Justice Ministry. There, she and the other mentors have meaningful conversations with youth on topics like purpose and identity.

The personal relationships she develops through these activities keep Ramirez motivated, even when things get tough. She often meets teens who have experienced trauma in their lives and are searching for answers.

“As time goes on, you start to notice different things about people and get to know more of their story,” says Ramirez.

She recalls the story of a girl who had a parent in jail. At first, Ramirez found it challenging to draw the girl into a deep conversation. She stuck closely to her friends. Ramirez kept developing a friendship with the girl and in time found out more about her history. The student eventually opened up about her evolving spiritual development and battle with depression. The teen is now a regular at Nextsteps meetings for Juvenile Justice Ministry and is improving her relationship with her family.

Stories like this continue to inspire Ramirez and drive her passion. In the future, she hopes to have even more impactful experiences with the community, beyond her work.

“My ultimate goal is to be more out in the community,” says Ramirez. “That’s something I care about. How can we partner with certain places? Because our whole goal is to better service the community.” – SM

Willy Goellner

Standing the Test of Time

Author Catherine Pulsifer once wrote, “Life isn’t about your age. Life is about living.”

She may as well have been thinking about Willy Goellner when she penned those words.

Goellner is many things. He’s a company executive and author and, at the age of 90, he still climbs mountains. And the Rockford resident says he still has plenty left in the tank. “I don’t ever want to retire,” Goellner says.

“Work keeps me alive.”

Goellner was born in Poland. His youth was marred by one tragic event after another. His father died in a work camp in Siberia and the rest of his family was sent to a concentration camp. His mother and sister later died. Only Goellner and another sister survived.

Fast forward to 1958. Goellner, who was in his late 20s at the time and working as an engineer, decided to move to the United States, at the urging of a college classmate who had just returned from the U.S.

Goellner’s first stop was Chicago, where he started out making $2 an hour as a hardware salesman. He found a better-paying job as a machinist at Ingersoll in Rockford.

That was just the start. In 1966, Goellner founded Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME) Co., where he founded the design and manufacture of the first carbide production saw. Two years later, the company relocated from Loves Park, Ill., to a larger facility in Rockford, where it continues to be a manufacturing force in the metalworking industry.

Today, Goellner is the chairman of the board of the parent company, Goellner Inc. His three sons and daughter run the day-to-day operations. Seven of his grandchildren also work for the family business.

When he’s not in the office, Goellner can be found working on his property. If splitting wood isn’t enough, Goellner still manages to mountain climb when he visits Austria. “I used to go 10,000 steps,” he says. “Now, it’s probably 2,000 steps. I guess I’m slowing down.”

It only made sense that Goellner write a book about his life. At the encouragement of his late wife, Irmgard, and daughter, Marika, Goellner wrote “Against All Odds: From There to Here,” a story about his turbulent youth and family loss on his way to becoming a self-made man. The book was published in 2017 and received positive reviews.

“I figured no one would be interested in reading a book about my life,” he says.

That might be one of the few times Goellner has been wrong in his life. – PAA

April Munson

Diamonds in the Rough

April Munson always planned to become a teacher and live a simple life. But she put that aside after she married her high school sweetheart and became pregnant with her first child. She focused instead on raising a family and found time to keep up a side hobby – which eventually became a job unto itself.

“I started working on furniture when I was in middle school,” she says. “I started hauling old furniture and fixing it up when I was in high school and college. I did a lot of refinishing and fell in love with it.” 

Eventually, she and her family moved from Platteville, Wis., to Pecatonica, Ill., and she continued to refinish furniture while raising four children.

Naturally, Munson spent a lot of time in her small town’s only hardware store, Pecatonica Hardware, located downtown. She got to know owner Ted Kramer and his family, and they developed a strong friendship.

When Kramer’s wife, Sally, became sick and could no longer run the store’s gift shop, the Kramer family invited Munson to sell her furniture in the hardware store’s back room.

“Not too long after that, Sally passed,” says Munson. A month later, the family invited Munson to become a part-time associate and she was quickly named an assistant manager.

Munson’s arrival and the birth of The Workshoppe, a new space at the hardware store, brought a new kind of transformation. The tattered carpet was torn out and the original hardwood floors were refinished. An old drop ceiling came down, revealing the original tin overhead.

Inside this refreshed space, Munson began selling not only her own refinished furniture pieces but also the works of other local artists.

“Almost all of the vendors are women and most have ‘real jobs,’” says Munson. “They do this on the side. Giving them the opportunity to have a place where they sell their products and make a bit of money from it is great.”

Recently, Munson has taken up new projects to help revitalize her hometown. She became an assistant coordinator at Rosie’s Coffee Company, a coffee shop coming later this year to downtown Pecatonica.

She says it’s important to support others in their dreams, because it’s support from others that got her where she is today.

“Watch for the people around you who are dedicated to helping you out,” says Munson. “You need to have a group of people who are committed to helping you be successful. Above all else, stay humble.” – SM

Nikki Ticknor

A Voice for Others

Nikki Ticknor believes that if people know better, they’ll do better. The Deputy Court Administrator of the Winnebago County Domestic Violence Coordinated Courts takes every opportunity to help the neglected, abused or left behind understand that they deserve better.

She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in women’s studies, eventually earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health while working as a victim advocate.

“I will never forget their stories. I worked in the shelter. I helped them get restraining orders when they came in battered and bruised,” she says. “People who are vulnerable can’t always be an advocate for themselves, so I’ll be your voice until you get your voice back.”

When an opening in Winnebago County’s probation department came up, she applied and was hired as a probation officer for the domestic violence unit.

“That really immersed me in the legal system,” she says. “I became familiar with the criminal justice system and got the experience of being on the other side of the aisle, working with offenders. It gave me this really holistic perspective on all of the pieces that come together to make up this issue.”

After five years, Ticknor left the probation department to work at a private counseling practice.
When 815 Yoga Studio hosted an informational session about becoming a certified yoga instructor, Ticknor – an avid runner who cross-trains with yoga – was intrigued.

“I ended up getting my yoga teacher certification in 2018,” she says. “I taught for a time at 815 Yoga and started incorporating yoga into my clinical practice.”

In December 2018, realizing private practice didn’t suit her, Ticknor returned to the County, this time in managerial capacity.

Knowing that learned attitudes and behaviors are a root cause of domestic violence, Ticknor takes her role as a mom to 4-year-old Abel and 7-year-old Maverick seriously. “Being a mom has really opened my eyes to how big a responsibility being a parent is,” she says. “We’re shaping people. And being the mom of boys is a great responsibility.”

She counts her husband, Ross, as her guiding light and a partner in teaching their boys how to treat women and process their feelings. “He’s listened to me talk about these things for years, and now I hear him educating people. People view domestic violence as a woman’s issue, but that’s not really true. Men have to hold other men accountable.” – PH