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New Leader Takes Reins

The United Way of Whiteside County welcomes Diana L. Verhulst of Prophetstown to the position of Chief Executive Officer.20161228 103734

Diana assumes the leadership role following the Dec. 30, 2016 retirement of longtime Executive Director, Russ Siefken.

She brings leadership experience in major donor cultivation, grant writing, corporate partnership development, event programming, strategic planning, direct mail marketing, media engagement, and public speaking to the United Way, said attorney Elizabeth Klahn, President of the United Way of Whiteside County Board of Directors.

“The Board is extremely pleased to announce Diana as our new CEO. Diana has an impressive set of skills and talents to bring to the United Way, and we are confident that her dynamic personality is the perfect fit to continue the mission of the United Way of Whiteside County.”

Diana leaves the position she held for nearly five years as Director of Advancement for Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, a continuing care retirement community. Previously, Diana was an Executive Director for the American Red Cross both in Rockford and Freeport. Prior to her work with nonprofits, she wrote for The Journal-Standard newspaper in Freeport and was an award-winning journalist on the West Coast.

It is in the nonprofit realm, though, that Diana has found her niche, she said. 

“I am enthusiastic about continuing, if not increasing, the work we do to support nonprofits in Whiteside County, for which my predecessor has been so well known. In 2015, the United Way was ranked the number one nonprofit in the world by Forbes. It is a historic organization with a broad social impact, and I want nothing more than to help maximize our assistance to those who need it in Whiteside County,” Verhulst said. She is particularly interested in United Way’s focus on education and literacy.

“Writing and reading have played a huge role in my life, so that is what grabbed my attention from the start. But I also look forward to finding innovative ways to grow our services and work with all our agency partners,” she said. 


Background: Diana is a graduate of Dakota High School in Dakota, Ill., earned an Associate of Arts degree from Rock Valley College in Rockford then moved to Southern California where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science with postgraduate studies in mass communication and journalism from California State University, Northridge and U.C.L.A.

She moved home from California to Lake Summerset in 2004 to be nearer to her aging parents. After relocating to Whiteside County several years ago, Diana married Robert Verhulst, a partner with LRV Farms in rural Prophetstown. She is the proud mother of two sons: Wes Roemer, 30, a professional baseball player, and Jonathon Roemer, 25, a production editor with the NFL Network and Spectrum Sports in Los Angeles.

In her spare time, Diana enjoys cooking, entertaining, decorating, and antiquing. She is presently a member of the Sterling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Diana’s work at the United Way began mid-November.

United Way of Whiteside County