Chair Starla Laper
The Ambassador committee represents the Growth Association as a public relations body. The main focus of this committee is to aid the Growth Association in maintaining our visibility in the community. The Ambassador committee provides this visibility by generously volunteering their time to attend our ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings, open houses, and member events. They volunteer to work at our special annual events. This committee also assists in the recruitment and retention of the membership.
This committee meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 9:00 am.
Starla Laper, Chair
Starla Laper is the Member Center Manager for CEFCU in Godfrey, IL. CEFCU is the newest credit union to join the Riverbend area as of 2021. Starla has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years and finds the most enjoyment in helping members of the community exceed their financial goals. She also prides herself on providing a top-notch member experience at her member center.
A lifelong resident of the Riverbend area, she also actively participates in other community organizations such as North Alton Godfrey Business Council, Zonta Club of Alton Wood River, Alton Main Street, and her church St. Paul Lutheran in Wood River.
In her free time, you may find her on a local golf course with her husband Travis or searching for her next great shoe find to add to her growing collection.
Starla is excited to join the Ambassador Committee to continue to serve the Riverbend community.
Heather's Zen Den
Heather originally started her yoga journey ten years ago. She had more free time and decided to try something new. It was at this time she fell absolutely in love with Yoga.
It was in September of 2016 when she graduated from Jane’s House of Well Being with a 200-hour certification and began her teaching journey. After working in her community and sharing her knowledge with students as to all the many benefits of yoga she decided to further her individual growth. She continued her education and received numerous certifications in Yin, Restorative, Deep Buti and Yoga for all. She received her 500-hour yoga certification in May 2021. She will finish her certification in Kundalini Yoga in August 2023.
Her passion has always been beginners. She loves to offer classes that are fun, lighthearted, and not so serious. She is always joking around while teaching classes.
She decided to open Heather’s Zen Den Yoga Studio as an outlet to share her love of yoga with the community while offering various classes at an affordable price. She wants students to feel comfortable while attending classes because yoga really is for everyone.
When not at the studio, she likes to spend her free time with her loving husband, Jason. She also has three cats named Sam, Dean, and Maggie. She loves learning new things and meeting new people.
Gary Hoggatt, Jr.
1st MidAmerica Credit Union
Gary has been in the financial services industry for over 35 years, having started his career as a part-time teller. He has managed various banking centers for 17 of those years. He also spent three years as a small business lender and relationship manager. Currently, he serves as the Vice President of Mortgage Services at 1st MidAmerica Credit Union, where he focuses on origination, processing, and servicing of residential home loans.
Gary graduated from Mississippi Valley Christian School in Alton and attended Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, Minnesota. He also attended Missouri Baptist College, Lewis and Clark Community College, and the Center for Financial Education focusing on Accounting, Business Law, and Commercial Lending. In July 2009, Gary completed the Community Bankers School and graduated with honors.
Outside of the banking world, Gary has served on the Board of Directors at the Ed/Glen Chamber of Commerce. He is the past Chair of the Ambassador Committee for the Riverbend Growth Association and now serves on the Promotions Committee. In addition, Gary is an active member at Faith Baptist Church in Godfrey, IL where he serves on the Deacon Board and sings in the choir. He also serves on the Mississippi Valley Christian School Board.
Gary grew up in the Bethalto area and currently resides in Alton with his wife of 29 years, Donna, and their two children Ellianna and Micah. In his spare time, Gary likes to spend time with his family, read, exercise, and enjoy outdoor activities when possible.
City of Alton
Bianca is the City Council Liaison for Mayor David Goins of the City of Alton. Her role in the Mayor’s Office includes, but not limited to, engaging with the public, assisting the City Council Members in accomplishing daily operational requests, and aide to the Mayor. She is a native Altonian. Prior to her appointment, she worked for the Alton Community Unit School District as a Parent Educator and worked in management for the non-profit sector. Bianca joined RBGA as an ambassador in January 2022.
Bianca graduated from Franklin High School, Baltimore County, MD. She is a graduate of Lewis and Clark Community College with an A.S. in Early Childhood Education. After transferring to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she studied Political Science and minored in Psychology. Bianca served as an Ambassador for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Senator for Student Government, and a Vince Demuzio Governmental Intern. Bianca studied architectural history in Egypt and Thai Society and Culture at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Bianca was awarded the PROMPT (Proactive Recruitment of Multicultural Professional for Tomorrow) Fellowship to earn her Master of Public Administration.
Bianca is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and National Council of Negro Women. Bianca is the proud mom of twin boys Javon and Jaxon.
Taylor Justice (Gibbs) received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Relations as well as a Minor in Media Communications from Webster University in St. Louis. She has been in the Development department with Beverly Farm since 2015 where she has worked her way to her current position as Chief Development Officer. In addition to her role at Beverly Farm, she is also an active member of the River Bend Growth Association as an Ambassador. She enjoys playing/watching softball, camping, cooking, and simply spending time with her family. Taylor currently lives in the Brighton area with her husband, their three sons, and two dogs.
For over 25 years, Matthew Kotzamanis has been a lender in the Riverbend community. He is currently the Vice President of Lending for Liberty Bank at their Godfrey location where he helps people every day with their mortgage and personal loan needs. Matthew is an active member of the Bethalto Kiwanis and Riverbend Rotary Clubs. He and his wife Brandy have two children, Lacy and John. He enjoys hunting and fitness as well as going to his son’s basketball and baseball games.
Adrianna Lock is the Marketing Manager at ReClaim, her family-owned and operated junk removal company. Prior to opening ReClaim, Adrianna worked as a public relations and marketing professional at St. Louis area agencies, contributing to national healthcare and insurance industry campaigns. She graduated from SIUE in 2016 with her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications.
In her free time, Adrianna lives for traveling (soon to Ireland!), yoga, wine nights, DIY projects, and spending time with her husband and pup. She is a lifelong resident of Alton – drawn to the lively community, wealth of history, and variety of entertainment the area offers. She looks forward to serving as an RBGA Ambassador and further her involvement in the Riverbend community.
McGilvrey Fine Portraits
George is the owner of McGilvrey Fine Portraits. He grew up in Danville Illinois, moving to Paris Illinois where he lived his adult life until he moved to Rosewood Heights to marry his wife Kimberly in 2015. George photographed his first wedding in 1981. The couple operates their photography business working on location in the River Bend area while doing location and studio sessions in Paris Illinois. George joined the RBGA not long after moving to the area as a networking tool to grow his reborn photography business and has since attended and/or assisted with as many RBGA events as he could.
McGilvrey Fine Portraits offers a full line of photography services from weddings to family portraits, high school senior portraits, business, and acting headshots, and Kimberly offers boudoir photography. “We find joy in portraying people the way others see them, not the way they see themselves in the mirror daily.” says George, there isn’t anything more satisfying than hearing “Wow, I look good!” from a satisfied customer. “It is our goal to create the best portrait you have ever had taken.”
OSF Healthcare Saint Anthony's Health Center
Lee is a Major Gift Officer who works at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center for the Foundation.
She works closely with our community, through philanthropy, to obtain resources crucial to enhancing the OSF HealthCare Mission. Funds raised through the Foundation are used in a variety of ways at OSF Saint Anthony’s and throughout the Ministry – including equipment, research, building, training, and multiple programs to help care for those who turn to OSF Saint Anthony’s for their health care needs.
Lee helped lead a successful Capital Campaign to build OSF Moeller Cancer Center, bringing the area’s only comprehensive cancer care center to Alton.
Lee holds an Associate’s degree from Lewis & Clark Community College.
She has two adult children, her daughter is studying to be a Child and Family Counselor, and her son is a United States Marine.
Village of East Alton
Lori has served the residents of the Village of East Alton as Village Clerk since May 1997 and is the longest-serving Village Clerk in the history of East Alton. As Village Clerk she is the official “keeper of the records” dating all the way back to 1893. Always a people pleaser, she enjoys helping the residents of the Village.
A lifelong resident of East Alton, Lori has been a member of the Riverbend East Rotary Club since 2000 serving as secretary since 2001. Rotary International’s motto “Service Above Self” fits in well with her core beliefs. Most importantly, she is an active member of 1st Assembly of God Wood River, serving on the advisory panel and unofficial dessert baker for the many church potlucks.
She and her husband, Rodney, have two married adult children and four amazing grandchildren. In her spare time, you will find her spoiling her Yorkie, Piper, baking, planning the next travel adventure, or searching for fabulous deals to rescue “homeless” shoes!
Lori is excited to serve on the Ambassador Committee to promote the RBGA and its many great member businesses and organizations.
Abigail is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and owner of Nourished Revival. She grew up as a picker eater and only thought of food as calories. Her eyes were opened when she learned that the food you eat can have a great impact on your health – her grandpa passed away with Alzheimer’s disease, and she learned there is a connection between nutrition and developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Through changing her own eating habits at that point, she found more energy, no longer struggles with constant sugar cravings, and overall feels more joyful. She now shares this passion of eating to take control of how you feel with those around her and works with people on an individual basis to help them get away from diet culture to learn how to eat for their own needs, so that they can improve how they feel too.
Abigail has always lived in the area and currently lives in Bethalto, where she runs Nourished Revival as a virtual business out of her home. She is also a member of the Bethalto Chamber of Commerce and enjoys being a part of the local community. Her favorite thing to do in her spare time is take motorcycle rides with her husband, Zach, and explore the area.
CNB Bank & Trust
Amy Roady is the Assistant Vice President/ Commercial Lending Officer of CNB Bank & Trust in Alton. Amy has been in banking for 18 years as a teller, new accounts representative, mortgage lender, and now a commercial lender. As a community bank, CNB has a vested interest in the success of local individuals and businesses in this community. From local schools to nonprofit organizations to community fundraisers, CNB makes it a top priority to give back.
Amy has spent her life in the Riverbend, being raised in Wood River. Amy is an alum of the 2014 RBGA Leadership Academy. Amy is looking forward to serving as an RBGA Ambassador!
Big Z Media
Erin Spain is an account representative for Big Z Media which includes WBGZ radio, MyMix radio, Today’s Advantage and AdvantageNews.com. Erin was born and raised in the Riverbend area and has been happy to have worked in the Riverbend community for more than 15 years. This has provided her with the opportunity to work with local small businesses to help them not only increase their business but also to promote the local economy.
Erin lives in Godfrey with her husband, Tom. They have two children. Claire and Jack. In addition to her work with local businesses, Erin also spends time volunteering for her church and her children’s schools.
Nancy Jo Wilson
Fancy Nancy on Main