Kim Spayer is Development Manager for Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, an organization that has become near and dear to Women in Business. WDSRA is Women in Business’ 2016 Charity Partner, and provides engaging, community-based recreation programs for children, teens and adults with special needs.
WIB Blog September
Q: Please tell us about Western DuPage Special Recreation Association.
I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve worked for Western DuPage Special Community Association because it offers me the opportunity to meet so many people in Naperville and the other eight communities we serve. I get to tap into my background combining fundraising and marketing and uses my experience with organizations where I have worked with people who had physical disabilities. WDSRA focuses on so much more than just the therapeutic side of a disability – we focus on having fun while learning vital social and life skills. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people in the community who not only know of WDSRA but who warmly respond with stories of their experience with the organization. The best stories I hear are the ones where their experience or their family member’s experience was so successful that they don’t need our services any longer. They have become fully integrated into their schools, sports teams, social groups and communities. That’s the best possible outcome!
Q: How have your jobs been similar and different?
There has been a real breadth, depth and diversity in the organizations I have worked for over the past 30 years. They have come in various sizes and missions. Some have been older and more developed – others have been pretty grassroots. Because I have been in the field of fundraising and mission development for so many years I have seen the field absolutely explode in terms of number of organizations and evolve because of the way technology has shaped and grown it.
It’s difficult to compare one organization to another because their missions makes them so completely unique and draw different people into their orbits because of that. I think it is like that familiar adage of when asked to choose “Comparing them is like comparing your children - you love the one who needs you most at the moment” – and so it is working with non-profit organizations.
Q: What gets you excited about your work?
I love the intersection of pairing people’s passion for something – or people’s needs with the right resources. It’s like solving a unique puzzle and – I do get very excited by those kinds of opportunities!
Q: What advice would you give for other women in business?
That you lead best by example. Education is necessary but people skills are equally important – you must display trust, authenticity and grace under pressure!
Q: Who do (did) you most want to meet in the world?
I think my perception of Ellen De Generis is the culmination of everything I really enjoy and value right now. I think it would be a great experience to meet her because she combines fun and humor with enormous doses of generosity, compassion – and an element of surprise. I absolutely admire how she interviews such diverse groups of people yet never seems to offend anyone – and she always encourages everyone “to be kind to everyone!” What a great life mantra.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?
I believe it’s learning how completely interconnected we all are. I’m not a “true” extrovert but, I really love meeting total strangers and after some conversation finding out that we have something in our background in common - or who we know. I love that unexpected connection. I’ve known for a long time that relationships are so important but this keeps being reinforced with me in new and amazing ways.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do in Naperville?
I’m a really big fan of the Carillon and I enjoy the musical concerts. Even when I don’t have time to sit down and listen I get to hear it as I drive around town and sometimes I can even hear it in my own yard. Many of the concerts and festivals take place close to where I live. So my husband and I have created our weekend tradition of walking from our house towards the Carillon and Riverwalk. It’s a beautiful five mile walk and we truly enjoy watching nature change during the different seasons.
Q: What is one thing most people don’t know about you? In absolute seriousness… if I won the lottery next week I would create my own charitable foundation and help identify causes and people who have needs. I could help match them with financial and other needs that they have. I would choose to do exactly what I have been privileged to do over the last thirty years because of other people’s empathy and because of their tremendous generosity. I would want to give to others in the same way I have witnessed others giving of their time and financial ability.
Other facts about you…..
My husband and I have been married 37 years. We met in at Augustana College. We moved to Naperville 20 years ago by choice – and love it.
We have three children who share a love of music which has been great fun to watch develop over the years. Our oldest child just got married last weekend and it was such a joy to witness all of them sharing their musical talents together in a joyous milestone.
By Robin Boggs Choquette, Psy.D. Elite Performance Counseling, Inc.
Elite Performance Counseling provides psychological services to individuals from preteen through older adulthood in individual psychotherapy, family therapy (including parenting strategies), couple’s therapy, and skill seminars. In addition, she consults with a specialized emphasis on performance enhancement for athletes, performing artists, musicians, and executives. http://eliteperformancecounseling.com/
Photo by: Sabina Cavalli Photography, a boutique studio in south Naperville that specializes in creating photographic art with you or your favorite people in it. Sabina is a Certified Professional Photographer, has her Masters of Photography Degree and has received top accolades including the Top 10 Imager in Illinois by the North Central District of the Professional Photographer of America (PPA) and National Bronze Photographer of the Year by the PPA. She teaches lighting and posing techniques at PPA affiliates in the Midwest. Please visit her website at www.sabinacavalli.com or call 630-699-2072 for a visit to her studio.