Amy Heilman, Program Director
Refugee and Immigrant Services and Elevate, Rock Valley College
Academy Expo A-Team
Bio and Professional Experience
I am a lifelong member of Winnebago County living in Loves Park, Rockford and now Winnebago, Illinois. As a single mother of two children Payton (16), and Reganne (12), I am interested in the programs and instruction that youth receive in middle and high school that will influence their decision for college and future career choices.
I enjoy many local events especially in the downtown Rockford area, I am a season ticket holder for the Rockford Ice Hogs and enjoy going to games with my friends and family. I also enjoy many benefits, ethnic celebrations, and festivals throughout the year. Currently, I am reading a book called Buddhist Boot Camp which I highly recommend. I enjoy learning about the culture and customs of other countries and truly enjoy the people that I meet every day through my work.
I started working for Rock Valley College in 1990 and have had various positions within the Refugee and Immigrant Services Program since 1992. Since 2007, I have worked as the Director of the Refugee Program. In 2013 I also became the Director of Elevate, a Workforce Investment Act program for low income youth. I hold a Bachelor's degree from NIU in Sociology and a Master's Certificate in Career Specialist Studies from University of Illinois Springfield. I am an Accredited Representative for the Board of Immigration Appeals and I am semi fluent in Spanish and Arabic.
When and why did you decide to get involved with Alignment Rockford?
My Director, Jeff Hefty asked me to be a part of Alignment Rockford last year. He is also a participant on a different team within Alignment. I attended several meetings with the Academy Expo team and saw a passion in community members who were instrumental in putting together activities for students in RPS 205. I have been attending and preparing for the Academy Expo with such a great group of people who have creative and innovative ideas about the processes of preparing youth to learn about future careers.
As a member of the Academy Expo Alignment Team, please describe how the Expo supports college and career readiness for Rockford Public School Freshman students.
The Academy Expo allows area freshman from RPS 205, Belvidere School District, Hononegah and Harlem to participate in hands-on sessions designed to allow them to gain knowledge about careers and career paths. RPS freshman must choose an Academy during their freshman year and the expo is designed to assist them with those choices.
What has your team learned from previous Expo participation and how will this year's event be different?
While the Academy Expo last year was deemed a great success as determined by our follow up survey of youth, businesses and volunteers, we have several ideas for making improvements to this year's Expo. In addition to welcoming Harlem and Hononegah High Schools to the Expo, we will also be using both floors of the BMO Harris Bank Center in order that we may invite more community businesses and organizations to attend and showcase different careers.
What is the personal, organizational, and/or community benefit to becoming involved with Alignment Rockford teams such as the Academy Expo Team?
"As I work with low income youth in the Elevate Program, I can see a great need for career education in our area. The Academy Expo team allows me to prepare and plan an event that helps incoming freshman to start this process. The information and choices that youth make affect our economy and our community. I find the experience very rewarding as an investment in our youth."