Members You Should Know--Laura and Valerie
Director, 2019 Chamber Board of Directors
Laura Vroom has lived in the Lincoln-Way area for nearly 20 years and currently lives in Frankfort with her husband Paul and their two children, Grace and Isaac.
Laura earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, which has helped her understand students, parents, and organizations.
Currently Laura is the Executive Director of Manitoqua Ministries (Camp Manitoqua) and has been working in that capacity for nearly 20 years. During her tenure at Manitoqua, she and her team have added a new pool, upgraded the facility, doubled the summer camp enrollment, and added multiple new programs. A few examples are high ropes, paintball, and events for the whole family to attend.
Under Laura’s leadership, Manitoqua has continued to grow to a busy year round organization with group rentals, outdoor education and corporate events. Many have referred to Manitoqua as the "hidden gem of the Southside" and much of that is due to the dedication of Laura and her outstanding staff.
In her free time, Laura enjoys cooking, traveling, volunteering as a teacher in her church, and spending time with people.Needless to say, service is at the heart of Laura’s core. As the wife to a local pastor, a mother to two active children, and leading the charge at Camp Manitoqua, Laura has a passion to create safe environments to help people find Christ and grow in their faith.
As a Chamber Director, Laura brings her passion for service and hospitality to the Board and the Village of Frankfort
5-minute Q & A
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
As a person saved by grace, I would love to meet Jesus to say thank you!
Tell us a little bit about your family?
I have an awesome husband named Paul and he is a pastor of Missio Dei Church in Manhattan. We have two children. Grace is going to be a sophomore at Lincoln-Way East and enjoys participating in the music and drama department. We also have a son named Isaac who is a 7th grader at Southwest Chicago Christian School in Tinley Park. He loves all things sports and all things Fortnite. His favorite sport is playing travel baseball with Frankfort Force Baseball. We love Frankfort!
Where would you like to travel to?
One of my dreams is to take a cruise to the sun-soaked Greek Isles.
What one food do you wish had zero calories?
I wish any and all pizzas and wine had zero calories!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to watch the Food Network and then try to cook whatever they were making. I love to have people over and have great conversations over good food and good drink!
2019 Fall Fest Hospitality Chair
A 20-year resident, Valerie wears three hats in the Frankfort community.
Valerie works as the Community Connector for the Center for Independent Futures, supporting full lives, choices, and independent living of adults with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, Valerie is a PhD candidate in Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is building on her J.D., Master’s Degree from Northwestern University’s School of Communi-cations, and decade as a trial attorney protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Finally, Valerie is part of a team of Frankfort families working to establish sustainable, long-term housing that supports their young adult sons with disabilities who’ve chosen independent living.
Valerie has served on parent advisory and governance committees of non-profit organizations in the Will County area.
Valerie admits that her Fall Fest involvement began quite selfishly. As she supported her young son's navigation through educational and healthcare systems, there was little encouragement to have the kind of “independent thinking” that would lead to an “independent future” after age 22. As Max aged, it became clearer that community connections, naturally-occurring friendships, and building social capital for himself in Frankfort would provide sustained support that could never come from “the next government program.”
Fall Fest has meant greater inclusion and recognition of Max’s many gifts he has to offer each day. She puts it this way: “Fall Fest involvement began simply as support for my son and his friends who wanted to volunteer. Now, after years of volunteering alongside the positive attitudes and infectious dedication of fellow Fest volunteers, I consider it one of my great fortunes.”
5-minute Q & A
If you could interview one person (dead or alive) who would it be?
If I could, I would time-travel backward and interview my mother’s mother as she was watching her daughter become my mother.
Tell us three things most people don’t know about you.
The three things most people don’t know about me are: On college spring break, I married my high school sweetheart and remain, twenty-seven years on, the rapt leaf in his tide. I have a thing for Sean Connery. My workout playlist begins with Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” and ends with Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.”
What does true leadership mean to you?
To me, true leadership is a steadfast ambition – even in the face of frustration – to render yourself worthy of your fellow women and men. It lies in knowing the stories of the people you lead, willingness to acknowledge errors and learn from mistakes, and a sense of timing for when to wait and when to act. In my lifetime, leadership has meant Phyllis Sherbondy Richard, Leah Freeman Krause, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
What is your favorite movie and book?
For its astutely perceptive female lead especially skilled in banter, my favorite movie is His Girl Friday (1940) staring Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant. As for a favorite book, my honest and tragically dull answer is the dictionary – it’s kept close at hand and never steers me wrong. Coming in a close second is Jim Charlton’s Nothing About Us Without Us.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
If I weren’t a street-level advocate, I’d be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.