Role Models In Our Midst 5

SW Lake Presents Women of Distinction

Sam Oliver


Non-Profit Consulting

Describe what you do.

I work to bring people together to solve problems and enrich lives. For thirty-one years, I was Staff Director of Citizens for Conservation, “Saving Living Space for Living Things.”

Share a few of your career achievements.

These have been in the non-profit world, including receiving the Daily Point of Light Award and several gratifying leadership awards. Recently, I received the first “Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award” from the Barrington Area Development Council, and last summer I was inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame, an award from the Illinois Conservation Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Tell us about your passion for people and our planet.

My passion is to help us all understand and appreciate that, in the words of Wendell Berry, “…our lives are woven together here, one with another and with the place and all the living things.”

What charities do you support, and why?

The primary organizations that I currently support are JourneyCare, the Harper College Educational Foundation and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.  JourneyCare, where I was one of the founders in 1984, touches the lives of many people of all ages at such a critical stage of their life journey. The Educational Foundation is instrumental in providing promising futures for so many students and their families, and Good Shepherd Hospital impacts the health of our community in many ways.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?

My paternal grandmother, as I was watching to see how other people choose to lead their lives.

If not here, where would you most love to be?

At Lookout Point, our cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota.

Janet Agnoletti

Executive Director

Barrington Area Council of Governments

Describe what you do.

My work at BACOG is largely about building collaboration across governments.  BACOG has had a regional land use plan since 1975, and as a city and regional planner I support the villages and townships on their new development issues.

Our biggest environmental program is a multi-faceted water resources initiative I started in 2001 to analyze and map the shallow aquifer system–the source of 99% of our water in BACOG–and the areas of aquifer recharge. We test residents’ private well water, monitor water levels in the shallow aquifer system, map water levels and natural water quality, and provide much public education. The initiative keeps the drinking water sustainable for future generations of BACOG residents.

What are you passionate about?

The environment. I believe we’re obligated to safeguard this planet that supports us, and I don’t think everything should be for sale.

Your proudest career achievement?

I view the Water Resources Initiative as my most significant, long-term contribution to this community. The science and maps we developed help our governments and conservation organizations prioritize areas to be acquired or protected. The monitoring programs serve as radar to identify any emerging water supply or quality problems, and provide the factual basis for taking remedial action in the future if needed.  We’ve raised public awareness about groundwater through our programs and also in Barrington schools with our BACOG groundwater video and Skyping Scientist project.

Your biggest personal influence?

That’s easy: my family.  I was lucky to grow up in a close extended family in a small central Illinois community. Mine was the first generation in that family to go to college, and we took on the aspirations and values of our hard-working parents, and our grandparents who were Italian immigrant coalminers.  I also took away a deep sense of responsibility, which has guided my work ethic and professional goals.

Laurie Wilhoit

President, Caring Women’s Connection

Marketing/Communications, Historic Long Grove Business Association

Owner, Call Me Social Butterfly

Describe what you do.

I’m a bit of a juggler career-wise: I’m the president of Caring Women’s Connection, an all-volunteer 501c3 that raises funds for Lake County women and children in need while having fun and meeting new people; I do marketing and communications for the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association; and I have my own business, Call Me Social Butterfly, which helps small businesses with social media, websites and marketing.

Which charities do you support?

My main focus is Caring Women’s Connection. I was a member for 8 years when I worked by O’Hare; I couldn’t attend, but followed their newsletters and respected the work they did.  When I began working in the area, Cheryl Haas (then President) asked me to join the board. I love helping more people and businesses get involved. Visiting the shelters, hearing the stories, giving children shoes and coats needed for the winter months, that makes a difference. “Alone we help some, together we make a difference” is our tagline and is very true.

Tell us about your passion for kindness.

Kindness is giving back without being asked or expecting a thank you. Kindness in the everyday, making a small difference in someone’s world, business and/or personal life, gives me the greatest joy.

Who had the biggest impact on your life?

My dad, Joseph Lis. He was the middle-school Science teacher everyone loved and respected, a wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor. When the school dedicated the science lab to him after being retired for many years, over 200 students came to congratulate him. He received so many messages on how he touched/changed/helped the lives of his family, friends and community.

Renee Clark

Residential Real Estate Broker

President, Renee Clark Real Estate Group (affiliated with @properties)

Describe what you do.

I help people move on to the next chapter of their lives by helping them buy and sell their homes.

Career achievements you’re proud of?

I am the five-year recipient of the FIVE STAR award for excellence, an award driven by nominations and recommendations by customers. Every time I help someone buy or sell their home, I feel like I’ve made at least a small contribution to someone’s quality of life.

Charities you support?

I support American Cancer Society, and previously the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. My mother died of breast cancer at age 53. I also love our furry four-legged friends and do what I can to support the groups that rescue them. They are innocent, and bring so much love to the world. They melt my heart and keep me open and centered.

Tell us about your passion for dogs.

I just love them. They are great companions, workout partners, comforters, playmates. They provide unconditional love. It breaks my heart to know that so many are homeless without someone to love them back. Pet adoption is a gift to each recipient, as well as to the dog or cat who joins the family.

Who has had the biggest impact on your life?

Family and good friends are my biggest influencers–especially my dad, Bill Jamison, now 93, who taught me to do what I say I’ll do, be a good listener, be kind, and be fair. Tom and I have been married 36 years; we live in Long Grove with our two dogs, Costanza and Elaine. Son Lee and his wife Lea live in Algonquin (with dogs Chloe and Indy); our son Chris lives in Beijing, China.