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Northwestern Illinois YWCA names Liz Gerber for Mentorship Award

Liz Gerber holding the Mentorship Award

Liz Gerber, Highland Community College’s Vice President of Student Development and Support Services and Chief Student Services Officer, has been awarded the 2023 Women of Achievement Award for Mentorship by the YWCA of Northwestern Illinois in Rockford.

Gerber was one of two individuals nominated for the award and received the recognition on March 6 at the YWCA’s yearly ceremony. The award is given to an individual whose mentoring relationships impact women’s personal and professional development and fosters excellence. The recognition honors an individual for teaching, guiding, and inspiring women in a way that has changed their lives.

Gerber has headed the Division of Student Development and Support Services since 2014 but has been a fixture at HCC for more than 25 years, starting her career at Highland as Director of Marketing and Community Relations.

She is a leader at every level of the institution, from directing stakeholders across campus and the community in strategic planning and enrollment management to guiding the Behavioral Intervention Team and acting as Title IX Coordinator. Gerber is instrumental in shaping future changemakers as an advisor to the Student Senate and has championed an annual leadership conference for students. Over the years, thousands of Cougars have benefitted from her guidance in leading a student government body and learning leadership principles.

“Liz serves her peers with poise, pointing us toward a shared vision of Cougar engagement and growth,” said HCC President Chris Kuberski. “She is always ‘all-in’ and fully present in her work — whether shepherding institutional planning or providing individualized assistance to students.”

Connections comprise the core of Gerber’s efforts, with well-being her universally targeted outcome. An advocate for students as their personal contact and role model to her staff as a professional constant, she also has been entrusted to mentor her colleagues. Beyond rallying the community around those most in need of support, she facilitates the same qualities of compassionate leadership in others.

“I have worked under several individuals in leadership roles, and Liz has, by far, been the best,” comments Executive Assistant Stacey Moore. “She truly is the definition of a mentor because she leads by example and takes every step with compassion. She listens with empathy and goes above and beyond to help her team find solutions to problems and succeed.”

Gerber’s leadership through rapport-building has become an enduring legacy, touching multiple generations on campus. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology and English from North Central College and has a master’s degree in education and leadership in higher education from Capella University.

Gerber is the second individual to be honored in the recent Women of Achievement Awards. President Chris Kuberski received the YWCA of Northwestern Illinois’ Business category recognition in 2021.