Working for Women
After working in sales and marketing for years, Nancy Whitlock found herself taking on a different challenge in 1996: the presidency of Rockford Woman’s Club. She describes the step as a “presidency by marriage,” since her husband’s great-great aunt, Jessie I. Spafford, was president of the club for 43 years.
Whitlock grew up outside Belvidere but moved to Rockford shortly after accepting a job at First National Bank. She became involved with the club after her sister-in-law asked her to help.
“At the time, the club was in bad financial shape,” Whitlock recalls. “They had one of the longest-operating restaurants in Rockford, called The Food Shop, and it was very popular but not profitable.”
Whitlock and the board made the decision to close the restaurant in order start putting the club back on solid ground.
“I look at the club as a big challenge on one hand, but the building and the history of what the club has given to the community are something that women should be proud of,” she says. “Today, the club is in better condition but continues to be a work in progress. Our 100-year-old building is one of the few buildings that was completely established and funded by women of Rockford. The members were involved from the design work all the way forward to completion.”
Throughout her presidency, Whitlock has helped the club to evolve in many ways. One of the Club’s most popular events is the creative writing contest.
“It’s one of my favorite events when the winners are invited to present their works at a luncheon attended by their parents and teachers,” she says.
Whitlock remains proud of the club’s philanthropic efforts, including work with The Literacy Council, Sharing Our Closet, the She-Vets, Remedies, Shirley’s Place and Keeping Your Culture. It’s a reminder of the club’s commitment to the community.
“In every single thing you will have both joys and challenges,” she says. “The club is where some days you have the creative writing contest, and it’s just a joyful day. Then, you get the gas bill and it’s a challenging day. I’m really looking for the next generation who really want to continue to keep the club moving forward.”