As a part of the annual LeadHership Seminar presented by the RiverBend Growth Association on September 15, 2023, at Enjoy Church, three of the area’s leading women were honored for “doing remarkable things” in the Riverbend.

The seminar and accompanying award presentations are hosted yearly by the Growth Association.

The 2023 LeadHership “Empowerment” Award, the highest recognition given during this annual event, was presented to Crystal Officer, Beverly Farm Foundation CEO.

Stefanie Withers, RBGA Member Engagement Director, presented the Empowerment Award to Officer. “Crystal was nominated by four women and selected by our committee for her leadership and strength over the last year.”

Ms. Officer leads with positivity and optimism and makes all feel like we can make a difference every day. Crystal has been creative and innovative in her approach to bringing life back to Beverly Farm Foundation. She is leaving no stone unturned in her tenure and it has been truly amazing to watch her successfully transform the organization. She leads the organization and her entire strategic operations team which consists of mostly female leaders. Each leader has had career growth opportunities under her leadership.

Says Crystal, “I am honored and humbled to be the 2023 Empowerment Award Winner. At Beverly Farm Foundation we value people. Equipping and supporting our team members to grow both professionally and personally is an important part of our daily work. I would like to thank the RiverBend Growth Association for this award, the team and residents of Beverly Farm for their dedicated efforts and support, and God for His enabling grace, strength, and love.”

Two LeadHership “Inspire” Award honorees were also recognized at the seminar.

One Inspire Award was presented to Lindsey Herron, Wood River Public Library Director, for her dedication to her team and city and all those around her.

“Lindsey is being honored for all she does for the community and through her leadership, empowers her team and community,” noted RBGA Communications Director Debbie Hagen during the awards presentation.

Lindsey’s continued partnerships with the different city departments have truly been able to set her apart from other libraries. She has connected with Park and Recreation, Police Department, Fire Department, Lewis & Clark Elementary, as well as many restaurants and small businesses. She lets these places have the spotlight to shine on what they are doing and how they are helping make Wood River better.

As a Library Director, Gymnastics Coach, Women’s Health and Mentor with BODi, East Alton School District PTA President, Oiler Junior Football League Treasurer, former Riverbend East Rotary President, wife (not to mention a football coach’s wife), mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend; she has embodied the spirit of a servant’s heart. She steps into each of these roles with a fresh mind, perspective, organization, and inspiration.

Heard from Lindsey, “I’ve never set out to be a leader and somehow here I am.”

The second “Inspire” Award recognized Kristen Burns, marketing consultant for the city of Wood River. Kristen has been involved in extensive volunteerism in our area. She is a volunteer for the Wood River Economic Development NFP. As a marketing consultant, she developed the update of the website, the newsletter, and social media for the city. She is in the process of making Wood River a Main Street community. Kristen has worked very hard in the last year to make a difference in the City of Wood River. She has brought new energy with her desire to bring the community together to make a better place for the citizens, to bring new businesses to the area, and to help revitalize the city and surrounding municipalities.

“I am honored to receive the Inspire Award from the RBGA. My parents taught me the importance of volunteerism and community involvement at a very early age and being acknowledged for my work is truly humbling.

“I am thankful for my family, friends, organizations I volunteer with, and the City of Wood River for giving me the opportunity to contribute to my community,” spoke Kristen.

Says Stefanie Withers, “Thank you for going above and beyond with your dedication to making Wood River a better place through your relentless work and by inspiring others to get involved!”

The RiverBend Growth Association presents the annual LeadHership Seminar to provide a space for women to meet, network, learn and grow. Year after year, an audience of nearly 200 women from throughout the RiverBend community participate in the event. 2023 speakers were Derlene Hirtz, Heather Garrigus, and Abby Thurman. Several retail and food vendors had booths to complete the day’s experience.

The award finalists are chosen from nominations submitted by their peers within the RBGA membership to be recognized at the LeadHership annual seminar with the inspirational and empowerment awards for “doing amazing things in their career and community every single day.”

The RiverBend Growth Association is the Chamber of Commerce for the 11 communities known as the Riverbend. For more information about the Growth Association, please visit or call (618) 467-2280.