Women of Wheaton

Meet some of the women who have made or continue to make Wheaton an incredible place to live. The Community Relations Commission invites you to post on social media using #WomenofWheaton about a female (past or present) whom you'd like to celebrate and recognize during Women’s History Month.


Margaret Hamilton

Marget D. Hamilton was the first woman elected to Wheaton’s City Council in 1961 and eight years later, she became Wheaton’s first female mayor. She served for two years as mayor before serving 20+ yrs as Director for College of DuPage’s Older Adult Institute.  She retired at age 93.

She was once quoted “If you are afraid, you will never accomplish anything”; her accomplishments are a testament to her fearless drive: Founding the Wheaton Chapter of the League of Women Voters, pushing to change Wheaton’s form of government to a council-manager form, preserving the old Chicago, Aurora & Elgin railroad right of way for future use as the Illinois Prairie Path, first comprehensive housing ordinance barring racial discrimination in home purchases making Wheaton the first community in Illinois to approve such a law, forming the DuPage County’s first chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She passed away at the age of 104.

Credit: Chicago Tribune 11/26/19 Marget Hamilton Obituary, Daily Herald 7/12/10 Margy Hamilton Shares Stories from Her Active Career in Politics


Amy Lafido

Amy is a District 200 graduate and teacher, community member, and parent who is committed to supporting young children reach their greatest potential.  Currently, she is a reading specialist at Hubble Middle School, but has previously worked at Lowell Elementary and at Pleasant Hill Elementary.

Her commitment to the district and students extends beyond the classroom. Last spring, she organized a program, Army of Angels, which was originally developed to support some of Hubble’s neediest families during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but continues to provide its families with food, Christmas Sharing, and other necessary items, such as appliances, car repairs, etc. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Turning Wheels Foundation which supports children with early intervention therapy. She is very thankful for these moments of connecting with those whom she can support most and share her life passions.

Amy resides in Wheaton with her husband, Mike, and their three children, Anthony, Vince and Gianna.   


Glennette Turner

Glennette is an author, historian and educator.  The Underground Railroad has been the focus of her historical research, particularly in Illinois.  Upon the recommendation of IL Senator Paul Simon, she served on the nine-member Underground Railroad Advisory Committee of the National Park Service where she testified before the U.S. Senate and House and the Illinois Senate in support of UGRR legislation. Although best known for her Underground Railroad work, she has also written several children’s books.  

She’s received numerous awards throughout her career including: Wilbur H. Siebert Award for “Outstanding Contributions to the Field of the Underground Railroad”,Studs Terkel from the City of Wheaton, The Alice Browning Award of the International Black Writers Conference, Excellence in Education Award by the NAACP Youth Committee, Outstanding Woman Educator of DuPage County by the YWCA and received a commendation from the Illinois State Legislature upon retirement. 


Elle Whithall

Elle is the Executive Director of the Downtown Wheaton Association, which oversees 120+ businesses in the central business district and works to make downtown Wheaton a vibrant destination.

Having been in the position for only two months when COVID-19 hit, Withall and her team worked quickly to pivot the downtown business community by creating the Wheaton To Go Facebook group which now has 6800+ followers, developing and overseeing the Hale Street tents and, as of recent, the newly added Nights of Lights in Adams Park.

She is currently completing her CECD certification, the highest designation in Economic Development, from Oklahoma University. Recently she was featured in the Daily Herald for her business recruitment efforts of four new retail spots in the downtown, Neighborhood Tourist Magazine for her creative efforts of the Hale Street tents and was nominated for the Daily Herald Annual Awards for Business Excellence. 


Morgan Bainbridge

Morgan Bainbridge is the Marketing & Events Manager at the Downtown Wheaton Association (DWA), which oversees 120+ businesses in the central business district and works to make downtown Wheaton a vibrant destination.

Since joining the DWA in 2017, she has held increasing responsibility for overseeing the office and staff, planning and executing member and community events, marketing communications including social media management, developing relationships and assisting with researching and securing tools to make the office more effective.
She previously held positions in marketing management with public companies where she executed marketing strategy and campaigns, communications, events and sponsorships, branding and advertising.

Morgan is a member of the Main Street America organization. 


Suzanne Luchs

In June of 2018, Suzanne Luchs read an article about families being separated at the border. She posted an anguished message on The Wheaton Moms’ Facebook page, convinced that together, those 6000+ women could surely do something to help. The overwhelming response prompted her to create the grassroots FB group “6000 Moms.”

The group provides comprehensive, holistic care to immigrant families seeking asylum. Members work in teams to offer housing, food, transportation, clothing, legal help, and most importantly, community and friendship.

Suzanne has lived in Wheaton for 40 years. She is the mom of two beautiful daughters adopted from China, and a former school teacher who now works in the medical field. Next to managing the daily operations of 6000 Moms, she is devoted to her three adopted sibling kitties.

The group is on the brink of becoming a 501(c)(3). Find them on Facebook by searching for “6000Moms.”


Anjali Bharadwa

Anjali was born and raised in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs with her parents who immigrated from India.  She works as a Project Manager for a small consulting company but has been involved in the community in big and small ways.  She has volunteered for class parties and multicultural days, and has served on the PTA .  She also runs a local non-profit group, Kids for Peace, and is  Co-President for the Women in Technology Chicago Chapter.  Most recently she created the group Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council for CUSD 200 (DEI200) to ensure every child has a sense of belonging.  Since the group’s launch, she has created a community presence with over 500 followers on social media and has worked to have a DEI200 liaison for each PTA across the district.  The group is credited with the creation of the successful “Talking About Race” series. 

Anjali lives in Wheaton with her husband and 3 children. 


Judge Wheaton

Judge Bonnie M. Wheaton is the senior judge in the 18th Circuit.  She graduated magna cum laude and first in her class of ~230 students from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1978.  She then went on to practice at Wylie & Mulherin in Wheaton handling general litigation matters before her associate judge appointment in 1988.   She sought a position on the bench because of her courtroom experience and was assigned to the chancery division in 1991. 

Although Judge Wheaton is the senior judge in the 18th Circuit, she has no present plans to retire.  She enjoys the intellectual challenge of hearing new and complex cases every day, and believes that her extensive experience is an asset in addressing novel legal issues.  

Until his death in 1994, she was married to Ralph L. Wheaton III, great-great grandson of Jesse Wheaton, founder of the City of Wheaton.  She has two adult children and three teen-age grandchildren.


Margaret Dunton

Margaret was an educator and historian best remembered as the first Curator/Director of the DuPage County Historical Museum. She was born in Wheaton in 1897 and attended Whittier Elementary and Wheaton High School. Margaret got her college education at Wheaton College and Eastern Michigan University.  

 Margaret’s interest in history stemmed from growing up hearing stories from her grandmother Sophia Lambe, who was an early settler of Warrenville. In 1962, she became the president of the DuPage County Historical Society and led the Society to secure funding to purchase the Adams Memorial Library building in 1965 to use as a Museum. Under Margaret’s direction, the Society collected artifacts, developed exhibits, and renovated the building, and the DuPage County Historical Museum opened in 1967. She served as the Curator/Director of the Museum until 1979 and died in 1990 at the age of 92.
- Source: DuPage County Historical Museum 


Mary Lubko

As the first senior citizen director at the Wheaton Park District, Mary Ann Lubko worked to keep the western suburb's senior citizens active. Under Lubko's leadership, the district created many activities aimed at senior citizens, including special sports programs. She was the first woman admitted to membership in the Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, which honored her in 1985 with the group's first Citizen of the Year Award.  Mary Lubko also was awarded a Human Services Award from the Marian Park housing community in Wheaton in 1983.

Her motto was, 'Wheaton has been a great place to grow up, let's make it a better place to retire,'" Even after retiring from the park district in 1992, Lubko remained active visiting older folks in nursing homes or those who were in their homes alone.   Mary Lubko passed away at the age of 87.
- Source: Chicago Tribune 12/15/15 Mary Ann Lubko Obituary


Tanya Engler

Tanya Egler is a talented vocalist who was born in Cleveland, OH but has worked at Wheaton College for over 30 yrs.  Having two singing parents, her earliest memories are traveling and singing with her family.  She shared her passion for music with her family as she and her late husband raised 3 children while speaking and singing locally and abroad.  All 3 children also use their gifts in the music industry today.  The Eglers have enjoyed combining their musical talents over the last 30 yrs. They have shared their expertise as workshop facilitators, and toured both nationally and internationally.  Her experience includes the titles of Soloist, Vocal Coach, Music Workshop Clinician, and Director of the Wheaton College Gospel Choir.  She has had the opportunity to make appearances on television and sing, produce, and write music on several recordings. Her greatest joy in life is to sing and inspire others through music.  


Sergeant Smith-01Sergeant Angela Smith has served the Wheaton community for 22 years. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Loyola University of Chicago, where she graduated magna cum laude. She has never regretted her decision to enter policing where she believes she has made a positive impact.

In 2018, she became the second woman to achieve the rank of sergeant in Wheaton Police Department history. She is a state and nationally certified reconstructionist. Currently, she is the Commander for the Metropolitan Emergency Response and Investigations Team (MERIT) Major Crash Reconstruction Team, where she oversees the investigations of fatal crashes throughout DuPage County. 

She has a special interest in helping persons with mental illness. In 2008, she had an article published in The Police Journal, “The Challenge of Responding to People with Mental Illness:  Police Officer Training and Special Programmes.” She continues to seek ways to help those in crisis.


Sergeant Smith-01

Margaret was an author best remembered for her novel Anna and the King of Siam (1944).  Her account of Anna Leonowens, the English teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860’s, has been translated into 37+ languages and inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I and three motion pictures. 

Landon’s parents moved to Wheaton in 1923. After her graduation from Wheaton College in 1925, she and her husband spent 10 years as missionaries in Thailand which is where she learned about the British governess Anna Leonowens.  She returned to Wheaton in 1937 and began research for her book. Now living in Washington, D.C., Margaret finished her book in July 1943, only hours before her youngest was born.  Anna and the King of Siam was published in 1944 and became a best-seller.  As a result, the Western world gained a better understanding of Eastern culture and society.  

Source: 32 Wheaton Notables, their stories and where they lived by Mary Anne Phemister; Encyclopedia.com - Landon, Margaret Dorothea Mortenson


Sergeant Smith-01An Ha is a 19 year old first generation Vietnamese American woman who has always felt compelled to speak out against racial inequities. During her time at Wheaton North she helped form a student led equity panel. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students gathered to speak on behalf of their experiences with racism and homophobia at North. Teachers and Faculty gathered to listen and learn about their stories. Once graduating high school, she spoke at two Black Lives Matter protests in Wheaton and led one of the marches. She is also one of the youngest members of the District 200 Equity task force. Now she is working on co-writing a chapter titled “ What Color is My Voice “ for a textbook.  In the future she hopes to teach first or second grade. Working towards equity in education will always be her lifetime goal.  


Shelby Hoppis-01

Shelby was on the honor roll/ high honor roll her entire high school career.  She was chosen by a local American Legion post to attend Girl’s State at Eastern Illinois University, and also chosen to attend a leadership academy.  She was very involved in her high school: managed the high school volleyball team for four years, was a member of the student council and class president for three years, participated in the academic bowl, and went to state for a math competition,graduated with honors and as a member of the National honor society.  She was honored by the Illinois Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is currently a US Navy Recruit stationed in Pensacola, Florida to study information systems for the Naval Reserves.  Her ultimate goal is to attend college, become a Pharmacist and continue her Military service.


Jennifer Mercke

Jennifer has lived in Wheaton since attending Wheaton College in 1985. She serves as Parish Administrator and Pastor for Children at All Souls Anglican Church and serves as the Board Chair for Exodus World Service, a local organization that mobilizes the Christian community to welcome and befriend refugees.   

 She was previously involved in Hawthorne Elementary School PTA, the Franklin Middle School PTA, and eventually the Falcon WiNGS (Wheaton North's Booster Club). Now she contributes to CUSD200 as the Student Excellence Foundation President. She is proud and humbled to be part of the team that created the Essential Needs Fund during the pandemic which provides mobile food pantries to food insecurity needs and supports students and families who are struggling financially through winter weather gear and learning enrichment materials. The Foundation offers teacher grants and a crowd-funding platform for District 200 educators, as well as the District's annual Distinguished Educator Awards. 


Harriet Steele

Harriet was known for her tireless work for more than twenty-five years as a public servant of Dupage County. Her career began in 1967 when she was hired as the secretary for the then-fledgling Public Works Department. Her never-ending knowledge of the county made her essential, and she was eventually promoted to become the secretary of County Board Chairman, Gerald R. Weeks. Mrs. Harriett Steele continued to serve as head secretary for the County Board Chairman spanning over three different chairmen. She began having an invocation at their County Board Meetings, which continues to this day.  Upon her death in 2017, the County Board passed a resolution honoring her life, and it stated that over her 25-year-employment, she “touched the lives of so many co-workers, Department Heads, County Board members, and three County Board Chairmen,” before she retired in January of 1993.


Barbara Intihar

Barbara has lived in Wheaton for 40 years and has been an active leader in education across the CUSD200 community: as a PTA member, an advocate for special needs students at both ends of the learning spectrum, a CUSD200 board member for 16 yrs, a Student Excellence Foundation Board Member, and most recently as a Co-Chair of the Jefferson Early Childhood Center Referendum and a member of the Fundraising Committee in partnership with the Jefferson PTA to build the ADA compatible outdoor learning and therapeutic playground at the Jefferson Early Childhood Center. 

She loves living in Wheaton because of the wholesome, rich environment it provides. She is married to Ken, and her son, Mark, is a 2005 graduate of Wheaton Warrenville South High School.  She is currently retired and continues to be passionate about providing a high-quality public education to children in our community. 


Dr. OziemkowskiJulie was raised in Wheaton and attended Washington, Hawthorne, and Franklin before graduating from Wheaton North. She taught at Longfellow and Madison, but has served as the Director of School Improvement for the past fourteen years. Strong women run in the family. In addition to her mother, retired District 200 teacher Barbara Dausey, Julie also drew career inspiration from her grandmother, Mildred Carman, who studied accounting at Wheaton College in the 1930s, when it was uncommon for a woman to do so. Julie’s work focuses on collaborating with staff to design data analysis tools that help identify how we can better support our students, which has been critical in the past year as the district responds to the pandemic. Additionally, her analysis helped identify plans to support home meal delivery programs when schools shifted to remote learning in the Spring of 2020. Julie loves living in Wheaton because of the great schools, safe environment, ample green space, and most importantly, the people.


Betsy AdamowskiBetsy Adamowski is the Executive Director of the Wheaton Public Library and has been serving in this role since 2013. Betsy is a leader and mentor in the Illinois Library industry and has held numerous leadership positions in the Illinois State Library, Illinois Library Association and Regional Library Systems. She served as the 2016 President of the Illinois Library Association and was the Illinois Librarian of the Year in 2018. She was the 2016 Rotarian of the Year and accepted the Best Large Business Award for the Wheaton Public Library in both 2016 and 2018. Betsy has also received several awards from the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, including the President Award, Director Award and Visionary Award. She currently serves as President of the Wheaton Rotary Noon Club and Secretary of the Wheaton Lions Club. Betsy is passionate about all libraries and truly believes building strong libraries will build strong communities.


Erika Brey-Parker

Erica graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Social Science Education and a minor in Psychology.  She moved to Wheaton with her husband in 1996 and raised her two sons through the Wheaton North schools. 

She has a master's degree in Political and Justice Studies and completed her second master’s degree in Political Science through Northern Illinois University in 2008 through the James Madison Fellowship.    

She was elected to her first state-wide Board of Directors for the Illinois Education Association in 2017 and in 2019, she was elected to her first public office position as Councilman At-Large for Wheaton City Council.  She’s currently in her 28th year teaching high school government and psychology.  

She’s enjoyed raising her family in Wheaton and is grateful for the time she’s served on the Council.  She’s learned so much more about this great community and is honored to serve its residents, businesses and visitors.  


Suzanne Fitch

Suzanne was first elected Councilwoman At-Large for the City of Wheaton in 2015 and then was re-elected in 2019.  Prior to serving on the City Council, Suzanne volunteered for six years on the City's Planning and Zoning Board.  

Suzanne received her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 2001.  She has practiced in many areas of the law including municipal law, real estate, land use and community association law.  

Suzanne lives in the City of Wheaton with her husband and three daughters.  She is an active member of St. Michael Catholic Church.  In August of 2019, Suzanne participated in the Edgar Fellows Program by the University of Illinois Institute of Government & Public Affairs.  This is a bipartisan and cross-regional leadership training program focused on fostering bipartisan cooperation and collaboration in addressing major policy issues. 


Lynn Robbins

Lynn is an experienced construction project and facilities management professional with over 20 years of experience. She has successfully served as an owner's representative on national retail, commercial, residential, local governmental and most recently solar community projects as well as program, project and facilities management services.

Lynn also serves as a Councilwoman for the City of Wheaton, West District. She was appointed in 2019.

Lynn earned a Bachelor of Science in Leisure Studies from the University of Iowa with minor’s in Spanish and Physical Education – Coaching. Lynn and her spouse, Maggie, live in Wheaton with their five furry children, all are from local animal shelters or rescue organizations.


Mehret Asgedom

Mehret is a grateful alumna of District 200 and Wheaton College. She has taught ESL in the district for eighteen years.  She is an advocate for equity, creativity, and excellence in education. She is a community healer in Wheaton and the world. She was born into war, saw her countries and community in the diaspora shattered by war at thirteen, and saw it annihilating her people again now. The first war and the current war weaponized food. Her family came to America through World Relief. Her mission now is to serve her communities faithfully, and effectively outlaw all wars by the next five years. She is on the Board of Exodus and on the advisory board of USAHello. She builds community empires of love using wealth from healed trauma, compassion, education, and poetry to bring wholeness. “Most importantly, I am nothing without God; I give Him all the glory.”


Vickie Austin

As a business and career coach, Vickie Austin’s first business decision in 2002 was to join the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce. “I joined the Chamber to learn,” Vickie said, “but the real gift is the friendships I’ve made.” In 2020, Vickie shifted from member to president & CEO of the Chamber, saying “What better time to re-invent oneself than during a pandemic?”

Her new role gives her the opportunity to help and promote Chamber members. Vickie combined her experience as a reporter, public relations and marketing executive, speaker and coach to lead the Chamber through a very tough time for business owners. “Our job is to offer connections—and hope,” she said.

Vickie graduated from Arizona State University; she has an executive master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird. She and her artist husband, Bill, have lived in Wheaton since 1994 and have two grown children and a (genius) grandson.


Jan KayJan moved to Wheaton in the early 60's after graduating from N.E. Iowa College, Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.  Being new to IL, took some time and effort, but after joining the Wheaton Chapter of The League of Women Voters, her working for others in the communities began. She’s a Social Policies Specialist for the LWVIL advocating on transportation, income, healthcare, children’s issues and affordable housing in IL.  She’s been involved with several Wheaton organizations such as Wheaton Housing Commission, CUSD200 Engage Committee, St. Mark's Food Pantry, and a regular at the City Council Meetings. Jan has held several leadership positions: President of the Wheaton League of Women Voters, and DuPage County League of Women Voters Board Member and founding member of the DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform  

Jan’s awareness of the REAL lives of those in need of our human services and friendship makes her advocacy work for all very meaningful.  “Let's carry on!”


potterPatti Potter has worked for the City of Wheaton for almost 20 years.  She started as a civilian employee after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She subsequently worked as a sworn patrol officer before being reassigned as a detective, where she spent a majority of her career. She worked on the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force and Officer Involved Shoot Team.  She is an ALICE Instructor, helping to implement new protocols in District #200 schools.  She became the Training and Community Relations Officer and organized the Citizen Police Academy, Shop with a Cop and National Night Out Events, which brought residents, community members and officers together and helped raise money for community organizations. She has since been promoted to Patrol Sergeant.

She seizes opportunities to make positive changes for the community and is grateful to work alongside so many upstanding people in this noble profession.  


Victoria Cobbett-01

Victoria is a USMC Veteran and the daughter of a WWII Veteran, so she’s always had a deep sense of patriotism and appreciation for the United States. She enlisted in the USMC in 1970 and attended basic training at Parris Island, SC where she was assigned to computer operations (4014/4016) at Cherry Point Air Station, Woman Marine Detachment 2.  She received on-the-job-training which consisted of learning about keypunch cards, huge tapes and drives and how to wire a cardreader panel. She remained there for her three years of active service. She’s married to a USMC Veteran and her son is also a USMC veteran and her daughter an Army Veteran.

 “Gratitude and appreciation are available to each of us to share as much or as little as we choose. I choose to appreciate positive experiences and friendships, learn from mistakes and bad choices, and keep a sense of humor.”


Sue Fehling-01

Sue is a US Navy Veteran and a Wheaton native.  She completed basic training and A School in Orlando and was the first group of 8 women that was sent to NAS Key West in 1972.  There weren’t too many opportunities yet open to women, so she was assigned to the personnel office until she was transferred into the Educational Services office and became an educational counselor for the 3,000 men who called NAS Key West home. 

The small group of 8 women helped forge the way for others who followed at this base and opened the door for acceptance.  We had now become a part of the bigger picture.

She has continued her service through volunteer work and being a member of the American Legion. Her military service was instrumental in shaping her life and she’s grateful for that opportunity.


Jennifer Hoppis-01

Jenny graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in business and consumer science.  She joined the Airforce after graduation, stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as a Jet propulsion technician, working on C-130 Cargo planes.  After finishing her enlistment, Jenny returned home to begin raising her family and continue her education.  Her family moved from the Wheaton area to Earlville, Illinois where she pursued a teaching career at Serena High school, teaching personal finance and computer technology.  She obtained a Masters in Information technology and another Masters in Guidance counseling and is currently the Counselor for the Serena School District.  Jennifer joined the Air Guard reserves to continue her service and works as an Air Fuel Systems technician for C130 transport planes and fighter jets.  Jenny was top graduate at AF tech school in 2020 and received an Excellence-In-Education award in 2018.