Past Recipients- IFCA Administrative Professional of the Year

In 2008, IFCA President Chief Joseph C. Holomy, with the approval of the Executive Board of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA), first established the status of IFCA Administrative Professional of the Year as an honorary title for Administrative Professionals within the Illinois Fire Service. This award is reserved for those individuals serving as Administrative Assistants, Executive Secretaries, Secretaries or Support Staff employed by  a  Fire  Department  or  Fire  Protection  District  in  the  state  of  Illinois  who  have  made  outstanding contributions to the fire service.

Below are past recipients of the IFCA Administrative Professional of the Year Award.

Laura Haiden
Glenside Fire Protection District

2016 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

Known to be the “go to” person for information on not only Human Resources but also everything under the sun.  She gladly assists anyone who has a question, and if she does not know the answer, she finds it.  She is the organizer of the fire department’s activities to include picnics, retirements, promotions, and group outings.

Joining the department in 2007 as a part-time secretary, Ms. Laura Haiden’s talent was quickly noticed and she was hired full-time as an Administrative Assistant six months later.  She is well respected by all the Officers and Firefighters of the Fire District and viewed as a knowledgeable and dependable resource that genuinely cares for her co-workers and the community.  Her expertise is regularly called upon to address numerous daily questions, concerns, and problems ranging from payroll and insurance to computer software.

Ms. Haiden is credited with being instrumental in the start-up of a department based sharps disposal program for citizens of the district.  Since its inception in 2015, the program has collected over 1,000 pounds of sharps that would have otherwise gone in to landfills or been disposed of in other ways.  This was the first program of its kind in the state and helped the fire district earn a county supported “Earth Flag” for conservation.

Ms. Haiden has become actively involved in the Chicagoland Fallen Firefighters Golf Outing since its inception in 2015  The event is known to be the highest earning golf outing nationally for the Fallen Firefighters Foundation and strives to exceed the previous year’s success each year having raised over $225,000.00 in two years for the cause. 

Within the community, Ms. Haiden is equally very active serving as a Board Member for her homeowners association.  She has provided a fresh outlook, creativity, and tireless efforts that have helped make the association a more valuable asset to area residents.  She has taken complete ownership of her position, dealing with the law firms, realtors, and title companies, and takes it all in stride.  She is involved in the Village Christmas Sharing program where underprivileged families receive gifts and support at Christmas.  In 2015, over 110 families representing over 400 people were assisted in celebrating a better holiday.  She then continues to deliver meals on wheels to senior citizens on the weekends.  Each year, she spends her days off participating in the department’s Muscular Dystrophy “Fill the Boot” drives with the firefighters.

Within the IFSAP organization, Ms. Haiden exemplifies the mission of the organization in that she is dedicated to the professional growth through education and information sharing of current issues and emerging trends in order to elevate the value of administrative services to fire service leaders.

I want to share a few remarks in letters received in Laura Haiden’s nomination: “One of the most amazing aspects of her skill set is her gift for doing it all with a smile, along with a friendly, positive, and enthusiastic attitude”. “Her own pride is evident not only in the work she does but also in her dedication to being an active advocate for the fire service as a whole”.  And finally, “Her knowledge, experience, dedication and never ending desire to reach out to others and share of herself clearly describes her as an Administrative Professional”.

On behalf of the entire IFCA Administrative Professional of the Year Committee and the IFCA Executive Board, it is our honor to name Laura Haiden of the Glenside Fire Protection District the 2016 Administrative Professional of the Year.

Jacque McLaughlin
Channahon Fire Protection District

2015 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

As stated by her Fire Chief John Petrakis, "Jacque is the individual I will often look to as a counterpart in some of my decisions because of her vast amount of experience and perspective. She is an integral part of our team. If it is as simple as a small snafu in the office or a major issue that requires immediate attention, Ms. McLaughlin's attitude is simply, "We will work through this together and make it right." She understands and is motivated by the knowledge that her reliability as an Executive Manager for the Channahon FPD is a critical component in our ability to provide a great service to the community."

Joan Buzzard
Effingham FD

2014 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

As stated by Chief Joseph Holomy:

Mrs. Buzzard's work ethic and dedication is one that every Fire Chief hopes to have in "their sixth bugle" during their career. Joan is the individual who is dependable, an attitude with a professional twist, and the respect of her peers who she values. Regardless if the challenge is related to the Fire Department, Emergency Management, MABAS, IFSAP, or the result of a special project, Joan has always given beyond what could be expected, spending many after hours of her own time to meet the expectations. She is always willing to assist many of the neighboring Fire Chiefs, all of which are volunteer, with various documents or reports that they may need or have limited time to complete.

Janice Gumprecht
Bartlett FPD

2013 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

Chief Mike Falese of the Bartlett FPD stated it best when he described Janice Gumprecht:

"When performance excellence is measured, Janice's work could be used as the example. She pays attention to detail, forecasts effectively and communicates tremendously with all the different groups and individuals in the organization. She communicates equally as effective with outside agencies, including everyone from the different committees of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, the Illinois Fire District Association, and the Northern Alliance of Fire Protection Districts. Her work for me, both in the fire district as well as with fire departments across the state, has been exemplary. She has worked effectively with dozens of chiefs, elected officials, and organizational leaders. She represents the work and integrity of the Bartlett Fire District in a most stellar manner."

Lisa Alfaro
Oak Forest FD

2012 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

Whether it's on a local or state level, Administrative Assistant Lisa Alfaro is known for keeping everyone on the right track. Described as a truly dedicated professional in everything she does – Ms. Alfaro has exhibited the true spirit of what an fire service administrative professional should be. Besides her duties at the Oak Forest Fire Department, Lisa serves as the Administrative Assistant for MABAS Division 24 and has been instrumental in redeveloping its' training academy, photo unit, and has contributed to the establishment of the Division's Chaplains Corps, Safety Officers, and Incident Support Services.

Ms. Alfaro has also served her community in various capacities within other organizations that include: the Oak Forest Firefighters Pension Fund, the Oak Forest Fire and Police Commission, the Oak Forest Firefighters Union Local 3039, the Southwest United Fire Districts Training Academy, the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA), the Illinois Fire Service Administrative Professionals (IFSAP), and the Interrelated Cooperative Education and Part-Time Program.

Diane Michalec
Romeoville FD

2011 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

Known for her meticulous organizational skills, professionalism, and work ethic that goes over and above, she is highly respected by not only Fire Department staff but also every Department Head in the Village and the entire Village Board and Mayor.

In one letter, the words Dedicated, Involved, Attitude, Notable, and Excellence described the qualities that contribute personally and professionally to her success. Ironically, those words spell the name Diane. No matter what the task, large or small, personal or business, family or friends, she is known to give 100 percent of herself.

(Top L to R) Chief Joe Holomy, Chief Don Markowski, Chief Tim Sashko (Bottom L to R) Chief Pat Kenny (RET), IFCA President Chief Ralph Webster, Chief Mike Falese

Sue Huiner
Homer Township FPD

2010 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

"Described as having a special talent for public relations and recognized by many not-for-profit organizations, charities, and fire service organizations for taking on new challenges with high energy and enthusiasm, she has become a person of inspiration among her peers."

Kathy Adams, IFCA President Chief Tim Sashko

Kathy Adams
Lisle-Woodridge FPD

2009 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

"Letters from every President in the last ten years of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Secretaries Association, now the Illinois Fire Service Administrative Professionals (IFSAP), serve as testimony to the respect and recognition she has garnered during her career."

Chief Dan Hermes, Kathleen Haage, Chief Joe Holomy
Kathleen Haage
Deerfield Bannockburn FPD

2008 Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
Administrative Professional of the Year

On December 1, at the “first” Annual Awards Luncheon held in Oak Brook, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA) President Chief Joseph C. Holomy and IFCA Past President Chief Dan Hermes presented the “first” IFCA Administrative Professional of the Year Award to Kathleen J. Haage, Administrative Manager of the Deerfield Bannockburn FPD.

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