About Miss Illinois & 
The Board of Directors

About Miss Illinois

Since its inception on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1921, the Miss America Organization has served to provide scholarship and leadership opportunities for women. Miss Illinois, the official state final to Miss America, was first held in 1927 and saw the crowning of Lois Delander. Though Miss Chicago had competed in the pageant since 1921, Delander was the first Miss Illinois sent to represent the state, and subsequently she won the title of Miss America 1927. Illinois has since had four additional national winners with Judith Ford (1969), Marjorie Judith Vincent (1991), Katherine Shindle (1998), and Erika Harold (2003), making Illinois one of the most successful states in the Miss America Competition.

Today, the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization and its affiliated local programs serve to provide a platform for young women to showcase their talents, public speaking skills and their commitment to community service as they compete to win thousands of dollars in scholarship assistance. We as an organization remain committed to “preparing great women for the world, and preparing the world for great women.”

About Our Board

The Miss Illinois Board of Directors is comprised of a group of individuals from throughout the state of Illinois who share in the commitment to help young women find their path to success. Our directors have knowledge in the area of not-for-profit management as well as extensive experience in roles of leadership, personal development and advocacy.

Our Board of Directors

Donna Manering

Donna Manering - President
Dr. Donna L. Manering earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from Southern Illinois University in Special Education and Elementary Education. Her doctorate degree, also from SIU, is in Educational Administration.

In her early professional years, Dr. Manering was an educator and an administrator in southern Illinois and served as a high school principal and a central office administrator. Her teaching career is varied in that she taught first, third and fifth grade students along with implementing programs for special education and gifted students. During her teaching years, Dr. Manering also served as a lecturer at SIU-Carbondale. Throughout her career, she presented workshops for area teachers and administrators and helped to promote professional development within the educational field. For the last ten years prior to retirement, Dr. Manering held various positions with the Illinois Education Association/ National Education Association headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Manering was Director of Higher Education serving members at colleges and universities throughout Illinois. She concluded her professional career as the Director of Program Development at the IEA/NEA and was responsible for a department that addressed technology, event planning, lobbying, professional development and various other areas.

Dr. Manering served on various boards throughout the years and served on the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees for six years.

Dr. Manering is married to Gregory Manering and they reside in Carbondale, Illinois. They have two sons and two grandchildren.

Her interests and hobbies include reading, cooking and entertaining, studying Spanish and playing bocce ball and pickleball.
Lori Stettler
Lori Stettler - Vice President
Lori Lynn Stettler recently retired as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). She served as the senior Student Affairs Officer responsible for providing leadership to a comprehensive division including over 24 departments and 16 programs that served students outside the academic classroom. Before becoming the Vice Chancellor, she served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Auxiliary Services and Student Center Director at SIUC. Prior to that Lori served in positions at Southeast Missouri State University, Purdue University ,the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign , and Wichita State University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Recreation Administration from Southeast Missouri State University and a Master’s of Science in Education from SIUC.

As her roles and responsibilities expanded throughout her career, so did her opportunities to be engaged in key projects, task forces and boards. She continues to mentor current and former students both inside the field and across the nation. As a professional who identifies as a servant leader she understands the difference a leader can make when they lead with awareness, foresight and a commitment to unlock the purpose and ingenuity of their peers and employees. She is passionate about the opportunities that the Miss America Organization makes available for young women to support their educational goals.

Lori is married to Greg and is an avid reader who loves golf and outdoor activities, travel, animals, and mentoring young professionals pursuing their dreams.
Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Lee - Treasurer
Jennifer is the Development Director for Hospice of Southern Illinois where she manages fundraising efforts for the non-profit organization. In addition, she loves meeting new people as she builds relationships with individuals, groups and local communities within the southernmost 27 counties in Illinois.

Before bringing her expertise to Hospice of Southern Illinois, Jennifer worked for fifteen years as the Southern Region Director of the American Cancer Society and in foster care and adoption services with Lutheran Social Services for four years as their Licensing Coordinator. Prior to entering the professional world of non-profits, Jennifer studied Psychology and Sociology at McKendree University where she was recruited to play basketball along with her studies.

When Jennifer if not attending or planning fundraisers, she loves to spend time with her husband of 23 years, Matt, teenage son, Justus and golden retriever, Rudy Ruettiger. She spends time with friends, exercises and shops for fun, loves everything Peanuts Gang related and is currently obsessed with fairy gardens.
Susan Shea - Executive Director
Dr. Susan Shea graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Western Illinois University-Macomb where she was a baton twirler for the Marching Leathernecks. Her doctorate degree is from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Dr. Shea has been involved with the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization for more than twenty-five years and currently serves as the Executive Director and Travel Companion for Miss Illinois and Miss Illinois' Teen. Dr. Shea was selected to be inducted into the Miss Illinois Hall of Fame in 2020 but the presentation was made at the 2021 State Competition because the 2020 State Competition was not held due to the Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

Prior to her retirement, she served as the first female Director of Aeronautics for the State of Illinois for ten years. She resides in Springfield, Illinois, where she is currently on the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport Board of Commissioners.
Nancy King - Secretary
Nancy King recently retired from the State of Illinois. Her career focused on fiscal and procurement activities.  Her assignments afforded her the ability to work closely with the Directors and Chief Financial Officers of multiple State Agencies, along with procurement officials Statewide. In 2005 she was appointed to the Executive Staff of the Illinois Department of Corrections and became a Certified Public Procurement Officer.  Prior to retirement, she was assigned to bid out the State employee benefits under the umbrella of the Bureau of Benefits, Department of Central Management Services. As a retired State of Illinois employee, she is currently working under contract with the Illinois State Police as their Interim Agency Procurement Officer. 

Her involvement with the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization began with being asked to judge numerous local competitions. Nancy was Miss Menard County Fair and has judged numerous competitions in the County Fair system as well. She has assisted with multiple events for many Miss Illinois titleholders and has served as a hostess for Miss Illinois & Miss Illinois’ Teen Candidates during the State Competition in Marion. 

Nancy has served as the President of the Fallingbrook Townhomes Owners Association Board, and is currently the President of the Wood Lake Homeowners Association and has been a member of the Board for ten years. She is a volunteer at her church and a single mother of three. Her children are happily married and has seven grandchildren.
Beth Butler - Director
Patricia Polk
Patricia Polk - Director
Dr. Patricia Polk has volunteered with the Miss America Organization since 1976, when she became the first African-American to run a Miss America Local Competition. Miss Kankakee has been a paramount program in the Miss Illinois Organization, producing one Miss America (Marjorie Vincent in 1990), three Miss Illinois winners, and many preliminary winners at the state competition. Dr. Polk was honored to be inducted into the Miss Illinois Hall of Fame in 2018 for her years of service to the Miss Kankakee and Miss Illinois Scholarship Organizations.

Dr. Polk has always been passionately committed to young people, both within the MIss America Organization and in her community. She has worked tirelessly for decades to develop their talents and advocate for their educational successes. After more than 30 years as a special education instructor and principal in the Kankakee School District, she continued her mission by serving as the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Foundation. In addition, she has worked as an ambassador for the Hal Jackson Legacy Committee and was a multi-state director for Hal Jackson’s Talented Teen International for many years. She has also contributed over $300,000 in scholarships to assist young people achieve their educational goals and attend college.

Dr. Polk’s community and civic involvement is extensive. Some of her proudest accomplishments include serving as the Kankakee County Board Commissioner and as an Alderwoman for the City of Kankakee. As a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., she has served as a role model for many young women who are pursuing dreams of bettering themselves and improving their communities.
Jared Garrison
Jared Garrison - Director
Jared Garrison hails from Marion, IL where he has been the Executive Director of The Pavilion Event Center since 2011. Jared was recently selected to serve on the School Board of Marion Unit #2. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Marion Chamber of Commerce, where he is currently the Immediate Past Chair of the Board. Jared is also on the Board of Directors of the Williamson County Tourism Bureau and is the Chairman of the Marion Sister City Program.

Jared has been one of the Directors of the Hospice of Southern Illinois Red Carpet Gala for the last 7 years and is also a certified volunteer for Hospice of Southern Illinois.

One of his greatest passions is musical theater and helping children in the arts. To help fuel that passion, Jared is active in community theater and served on the Executive Board of Kre8ive Fine Arts Academy for 8 years, having also served as President of the Board for 4 years.

Jared loves the Miss America Organization and has served in many roles within this organization over the last 12 years – Local Director, State Field Director, Judge and is now honored to be on the Miss Illinois Board of Directors.

Jared is the proud Papa of Mr. Parker, his 20-pound Miniature Poodle, and thanks his parents for instilling in him the love of community and importance of giving back.
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