Woman of the Quarter: Jane wernette, NCTV17

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and Women in Business are excited to honor Jane Wernette, Community Development Director at NCTV17 as our Woman of the Quarter.

Q: Describe your role as the Community Development Director at NCTV17.
Naperville Community Television started in 1987 when local cable stations were popping up all across America. Today, there are very few towns left who have their own television station.  NCTV17 is exclusively focused on keeping residents informed about what’s happening in Naperville and telling their stories.

The staff produce weekly news and sports programming, a wide variety of talk shows hosted by NCTV17 staffers as well as members of the community: Nicki Anderson (Inside the Chamber), Kim White (Career Center), Dr. Cathy Subber (The Moms Network), Arthur Zards (TEDxNaperville), and Dana Davenport (Dana Being Dana).

NCTV17 also provides live coverage of local parades, gives residents a front row seat at many community concerts and school performances, and provides important coverage of local elections. We even produce our own game show, Game On! hosted by Danielle Tufano that features two teams of Napervillians battling it out for city bragging rights – and a rather large trophy!

I have two primary roles at the station. The first is marketing: informing the community about the station, its programming and the many ways viewers can access and engage with the content both on-air and online. I do that both in-person at community meetings and presentations as well as by managing our online presence, including the station’s website, YouTube channels and social media platforms.

My other key role is fundraising to support station operations. Folks don’t think of a TV station as a nonprofit, but NCTV17 is a 501(c)3 organization.  It gives me great joy to work with clients like the Naperville Education Foundation and DuPagePADs; sharing their story through video so they can further their mission. I also work with our program sponsors and advertisers who use NCTV17 to market their business to Naperville. It’s a win-win situation. Our clients receive video or marketing support to help achieve their goals and, in turn, invest money in their local nonprofit TV station.

Q: What do you love most about coming to work?
I feel blessed to work for an organization with young, talented journalists whose primary mission is to tell Naperville’s stories. We keep residents informed about what is happening on a daily basis so the entire community can watch and connect to their hometown. #NapervilleProud

As with any small organization, everyone on staff wears many hats. In addition to my two primary roles, I also host Spotlight, our TV talk show for nonprofits, help create the games and produce Game On!, and represent the station on a variety of community committees including the Chamber’s NFP Advisory. It is the variety in my daily work at NCTV17 – coupled with the fact that I get to work in my hometown with representatives of all sectors of the community (government, schools, businesses, nonprofits, service clubs, etc.) – that brings me joy.

Q: What led you to NCTV17?
When I graduated from Michigan State University, I went to work at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. What drew me to the field was the opportunity to be involved in both the analytical and creative process. Working with clients on their business strategy, generating marketing ideas and producing a creative advertising solution made both sides of my brain happy.

I worked for the agency for 11 years before stepping out of the workforce to spend time raising my three daughters. During this employment hiatus, I became very involved with Naperville School District 203. I chaired the district’s School Family Community Partnership team and got to see first-hand not only the critical role volunteers play within our community but also how an engaged business community can make a positive impact.

In 2005, I returned to paid employment as the marketing director for KidsMatter. It was my first experience working for a nonprofit and it was a truly enlightening experience. I have a whole new appreciation of the safety net of social services our community offers to residents.

Throughout my time volunteering with D203 and working at KidsMatter, I got to know NCTV17’s Executive Director, Liz Spencer. In 2012, when the station was getting ready to celebrate their 25thanniversary, Liz asked me to consult on the project. I jumped at the chance given the project would allow me, once again, to do both analytical and creative work and build on my experience in the nonprofit sector. At the conclusion of the project, Liz asked me to stay – and the rest as they say – is history.

Q: Name someone in your life who inspires you and tell us why.
It’s hard to pick just one person because there are so many people in my life – both young and old – who inspire me in different ways: strong work ethic, generosity of heart, resilience, leadership, loyalty, service to others…and the list goes on.

Twenty-five years ago, I worked for a truly lovely man at Burnett who not only taught me the advertising business, advocated for me as a working mother, but also advised me to find something in everyone I could admire. He said if I did that, I would always have a positive anchor with my clients and colleagues that would get us through the inevitable rough waters. As I’ve aged, I more fully appreciate the wisdom in that advice.

Q: What other passions or hobbies do you have?
My biggest passion is my three girls. My husband and I recently celebrated our youngest daughter’s graduation from college, our oldest is getting married in July, and our middle is working in Chicago in Public Relations. I’m one proud mama!

When not spending time with my family, I love to play tennis. For the last 15 years I have run the ladies travel tennis team program at Huntington Estates. I love being part of a team with other women – it fuels both my competitive and social side. However, I only play doubles. I’m too old and not good enough to play singles any more!

I also love to garden. I think it comes from my English roots. A day spent digging in the soil and planting flowers or pruning roses is a day well spent. My other passion is sewing. From making curtains to travel pillows for every one of my children’s friends to sewing the first communion dress that was handed down through all three girls, I love making things. There is something very satisfying in doing work with your hands – it fuels my creative side. Plus, when the project is complete, I get to sit back, admire my handiwork and enjoy a nice glass of wine!

Q: Aside from the Chamber, how do you stay connected within the Naperville community?
By the very nature of my position at NCTV17, I am constantly out in the community. However, education has always been a priority for me. Over the past two decades, I have continued my involved with Naperville School District 203’s School Family Community Partnership initiative. I love creating partnerships between three key influencers in a child’s life – their family, their school, and their community. I also sit on the Business Partnership Advisory Council working with a wonderful group of business leaders and school staff to help further the work of the district in the area of college and career readiness.

I love going back into the schools where my children were educated and being able to play a small part in helping shape the experience of the next generation of learners.

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