Message from the Founder
It all began in a trailer ...
In 1967, on the day I turned 18, I jumped into the work world with both feet. My first job was copywriting for a local radio station. Next, I interviewed for a state position and was hired by the Illinois Institute for Social Policy. But, when a new governor was sworn in, our entire department was thrown out. Illinois politics: alive and well.
With access to state-funded retraining money and encouraged by my then boyfriend (now husband for over 35 years) I began to consider attending the local community college. This brand new school, in Springfield, IL, Lincoln Land Community College, was just a collection of classrooms in trailers parked on an asphalt lot. The prospect of enrolling in college was daunting, as I loitered outside the door to registration. Then, a man from the parking lot, opened the door, and motioned me forward. That man was the first president of LLCC, Dr. Robert Poorman, and, my life was forever changed.
"I owe a tremendous debt to my community college..."
As a returning student, and ‘a bit’ strong-willed, I struggled to understand the process of higher education. But, when I was discouraged or wanted to quit, there always was a faculty member or advisor who encouraged me to give it "just one more semester." I owe a tremendous debt to my community college; one which it has been my privilege to repay in a small way.
After earning an Associate in Arts degree at LLCC, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management, and a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Illinois, I returned to LLCC as a tenure-track faculty member. I regularly saw myself in the wary eyes of my "first semester" students. As I gained more experience, I noticed the many and varied students, all with their own stories, working hard to build a future for themselves and their families.
Eventually, I decided to pursue a dream and try my entrepreneurial wings. My first office, an 8 foot by 10 foot room, held all my dreams at a monthly rent of $65. Not certain if I'd be able to "make rent", I returned to LLCC as an adjunct faculty member to cover expenses. Once again, LLCC helped me to realize my dreams. When asked to serve on the presidential search committee for LLCC, and being a partner in Cona/Pauly Consultants, a financial industry executive search firm, I looked on it simply as a public service opportunity. Little did I realize the experience would so profoundly alter my professional path.
Through serving on the search committee, I met Liz Rocklin, ACCT Director of Board Services. When my partner, Joe Cona suddenly died, and with the help of Liz and that of countless others, I organized Pauly Group, Inc, into a national community and technical college search consulting organization. And my first client? LLCC. That was in 1990.
Today, Pauly Group, Inc. is a strong and respected organization, working hard to assist community and technical colleges to identify, recruit, interview, reference, and hire strong, diversified academic leaders for their schools. We're making a difference in a way I never dreamed was possible.
“And the pivotal point in my life? The day I stepped onto the LLCC campus.”
It has been my pleasure and privilege to have assisted in the changing of the guard of the nation's community and technical colleges. I marvel at all the changes in the community college movement. Brick and mortar have replaced the trailers; iPods have replaced textbooks; and distance learning has brought the world to our students. And, Pauly Group, Inc., has changed and grown, as well. Under our president’s leadership, our recruiting efforts reach literally thousands of potential applicants and nominators, video-conferencing, introduced by Pauly Group, Inc, in the 1990’s, is now the norm. Candidate referencing, a PGI hallmark, is now the best in the nation.
But, the one thing that has not changed is the caring and commitment to each and every student who steps or logs onto a local community college campus. College faculty and administrators still reach out to the individual student who is thinking about taking that first, life-altering step. The Pauly Group, Inc. leaders, too, still care passionately about advancing the administration of the nation’s community colleges through diversity and gender equity. All remain dedicated and committed to advancing the lives and dreams of the students they serve.
“It’s never easy to relinquish the work of one’s lifetime.”
It’s never easy to relinquish the work of one’s lifetime; to trust that the values and principles upon which a company was founded will be respected and maintained. But, Angela Provart, now-president, with her steady heart and rock solid leadership skills, saw us through our own changing of the guard. Time and again I would pass on a responsibility to Angela, only to grab it back. I second-guessed her every decision. However, Ang’s patience, strong focus, and love saw us safely through the transition. Now, as I watch Angela move the company forward, I feel incredible pride, love, and gratitude for this wonderful young woman. She is as she appears: authentic, smart, open, and focused. I leave the organization in wonderfully capable hands.
"...the future looks very bright, indeed..."
It has been an incredible journey to have worked with the nation’s community colleges. As our colleges change and evolve to meet the needs of the next generation of community college students, the future looks very bright, indeed. It has been my profound privilege to have worked with this wonderful community of smart, energetic, and entrepreneurial people who have a heart for the student and a strong vision of the future.
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