On Bradley’s campus, Heather McCord is known as the assistant dean for budget and administration for the Foster College of Business. But beyond Bradley, her passion for volunteering and leading others has spread across Peoria.
McCord also serves as the president of the board of trustees at Peoria Academy, the treasurer of the Peoria Ballet’s board of directors and the treasurer of the Greater Peoria Sanitary District board of trustees.
Along with her husband and friends, McCord helped start Impact Peoria, a group of volunteers that work with non-profit organizations in the area and assist with projects and events.
Now, she is the latest recipient of the Francis C. Mergen Award. The award is given to one Bradley faculty or staff member, recognizing them for their public service. It was presented to McCord in October at the Founder’s Day Convocation.
It’s clear she likes to keep her plate full and her efforts were acknowledged by her colleague Jennifer Robin, the associate dean and associate professor of management and leadership.
“I nominated Heather for this award because I know of no one more deserving,” Robin said. “Heather’s work ethic is amazing. It is near impossible to imagine our college operating without her leadership.
McCord said winning the award came as a surprise and was humbling.
“It motivates me more because just to know that you’re appreciated sometimes, I think everybody likes that,” McCord said. “You could work really hard and never know if you’re making a difference or not and I think this just encourages me that I am doing the right thing.”
Coming from the small-town of Ohio, Illinois, McCord watched her parents get involved with the community.
She found the value of being active, whether it was in her student council or in sports. That engaged attitude carried her all the way to Bradley, which she attended from 1997 to 2001.
As an international business major, she was involved with Habitat for Humanity, spending spring breaks building houses on the East and West Coast. She stayed in Peoria after graduating, earning her MBA from Bradley in 2006.
Once she began to call Peoria home, she noted a large number of non-profit organizations in the area and felt the need to contribute.
“I feel it’s important as a citizen of the community to contribute and help keep these different [organizations] alive,” McCord said.
In 2016, Peoria Magazine named McCord to its “40 Leaders Under Forty” list. She said that even her failures contributed to her success as leader and she offered her advice on decision making.
“Be a patient leader that listens,” McCord said. “Make your decisions after you’ve heard all the constituents’ insights into it … people like to be heard.”
To her, all the volunteering has an intrinsic reward. She suggested others could get started by volunteering for one hour at a time. She said receiving the awards has pushed her to accomplish another goal.
“It wants me to get other people more involved,” McCord said. “Because if everyone gave a little back, then just think of how much of a difference this world could be.”