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Heartland Community College

President's Medallion Recipients 2024

A photo of Frances and Jerome Maddox

Jerome and Frances Maddox

Jerome and Frances Maddox are esteemed members of the Bloomington-Normal community, embodying resilience and service despite profound loss. Their son, Sgt. Anthony Maddox made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan in 2013. Francis and Jerome have contributed to the Hero House initiative by Habitat for Humanity and were pivotal in dedicating a Fallen Hero Wall honoring nine Central Illinois soldiers who lost their lives in combat. Through Jerome's leadership as president of the 100 Black Men of Central Illinois, he has been instrumental in establishing a robust mentoring program across the region. Their commitment to our community extends further as they both serve as board members of the Illinois Community Prairie Foundation. 
A photo of Patty and Steve McManus

Patty and Steve McManus

Patty and Steve McManus are dedicated community leaders whose philanthropic efforts and active involvement have left a lasting impact on various charitable organizations and initiatives. Steve's impact on the Heartland Community College Foundation is profound, having served as its past chair and initiated the inaugural Major Gifts Campaign, which raised over $7 million for scholarships at the College. He has also taken on significant community roles, co-chairing the Civil Justice Reform Group and Milestones Early Learning Center. Meanwhile, Patty McManus demonstrates her dedication as the chair of the Bloomington Normal Junior Women’s Club, actively contributing to various local charities and initiatives, showcasing her commitment to community welfare. 
A headshot of Ed Rust

Ed Rust

Ed Rust's extensive contributions to education and leadership are evident through his service on the Boards of America’s Promise Alliance and the James B. Hunt, Jr., Institute for Educational Leadership. He earned the prestigious Owen B. Butler Education Excellence Award, presented by the Committee for Economic Development. Additionally, Rust's remarkable dedication to education and workforce development was recognized through his receipt of the Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and the Order of Lincoln, the state's highest honor for a living individual in business. Under his stewardship, State Farm emerged as one of the largest private contributors to education, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to supporting educational initiatives since 1990. 
A headshot of Faye Freeman-Smith

Faye Freeman-Smith

Faye Freeman-Smith stands as a beacon of community service and mental health advocacy. In 2021, she was honored with the Multicultural Leadership Program Servant Leadership Award, a testament to her unwavering dedication to uplifting others. Recognized in 2017 with the YWCA Women of Distinction award, Freeman-Smith's contributions to her community are profound and far-reaching. As a founding member of the Black Business Alliance, she champions economic empowerment and entrepreneurship within her community. Her commitment to mental health is tangible through her establishment of the HCC Counseling Center in 2011 and her active role on the Mental Health Advisory Board for the McLean County Health Department. Freeman-Smith's membership on the Distance Counseling Advisory Board has been instrumental in crafting guidelines for tele-mental health, a critical endeavor both before and during the pandemic, especially in supporting the mental well-being of young adults. Her pioneering spirit in this practice is widely recognized and deeply appreciated. 
A headshot of Rob Widmer

Rob Widmer

Rob Widmer has built a remarkable and motivating career in higher education spanning four decades, with a significant portion—22 years—dedicated to Heartland Community College. Notably, he served as president for five years, during which he navigated the institution through financial hardships stemming from the Illinois budget impasse. His leadership was pivotal in steering Heartland through these challenges while also spearheading a new strategic planning process, fortifying the College's reputation as a vital community asset. Widmer's tenure saw significant advancements, including the development of Heartland's current campus in Normal, a testament to his enduring commitment to the institution's growth and development. Beyond his professional endeavors, Widmer chairs the Normal Children's Discovery Museum Foundation Board, showcasing his ongoing dedication to educational and community enrichment.