Congratulations to Rockford Rotarian Rosemary Collins who was named the 2018 Excalibur winner on November 29th.  The Rockford Register-Star presents the award annually to a member of the community who has excelled in service to this community. Congratulations also go out to Rotarian Bob Presman who was one of the finalists for his leadership in the Rockford Reads program.
     In case you were wondering if having two finalists in the same year was unusual, it is not for Rockford Rotary.  In the 48 years of the award, Rockford Rotary has had two finalists in 17 of those years and three finalists in 2 of those years. 

Judge Rosemary Collins: A warrior for victims, children

Name: Rosemary Collins

Age: 64

Occupation: 17th Judicial Circuit Court judge

Community involvement:

President of the Board of Directors, Children's Safe Harbor, 2007 to present; Illinois State Bar Association, Winnebago County Bar Association, Rockford Rotary, League of Women Voters. She has served on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts, Contact, Keith Country Day School, Illinois Judges Association and as past chair of the Winnebago County Bar Foundati on. She presented on family violence at the First World Conference on Family Violence held in Singapore and helps to train judges and attorneys across the country on the legal protections available to help immigrant victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

Collins has created and brought new programs to the area to address family violence and helped secured more than $5 million in federal grant funds for local agencies and service providers. These endeavors include the Family Violence Coordinating Council, the Domestic Violence Assistance Center, Children's Safe Harbor, Domestic Violence Coordinated Court Division, the Mayor's Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and the soon-to-be Family Justice Center.

What the nominators said:

'Judge Collins' good nature and gen uine desire to work together toward positive outcomes in our! community continues to improve outcomes for all residents of the Rock River Valley. ... As a result of Judge Collins' mentoring and example of fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a new generation of leaders are inspired and have courage themselves to make a difference in their own countless ways every day.'

— Wendy Hinton Vaughn, clinical associate professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law and supervising attorney at the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic

'Change does not come easy.

Systemic and social change takes not only hard work but bravery and tenacity to effect. Judge Collins' decades of leadership have proven that each person within the system has a role to play, and that each must be willing and courageous enough to think and perform differently in order to ensure meaningful cha nge.'

Robyn Mazur, director of gender and justice initiatives, and Nida Abbasi, manager of gender and family justice; Center for Court Innovation

'It is my experience that one of Judge Collins' finest qualities is that she can bring people together from all backgrounds and unify them around a common goal in a way that gets results.

... She has let no one and nothing discourage her from being a warrior for adult victims and children. She is a woman to be admired and a mentor

to many.'

Meghan Brechon, executive director of Children's Safe Harb or

'Few in the local ! legal community have had the trailblazing impact on their profession and community as Judge Collins. ...

Throughout her career, Judge Collins has been tirelessly committed to both her profession and her community and has done so quietly and without seeking the limelight.'

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara

Of all of your professional accomplishments over the course of your career, what are you most proud of? Children's Safe Harbor. As a judge, I saw cases that just broke my heart. Children's Safe Harbor protects children and their families. It cuts down on the games people play and helps foster healthier relationships by providing a safe place and a supervised place for custody exchanges and visitations.

If you could work to fix something in our judicial system, what would it be? We need to enhance our approach to juvenile court to bring in more holistic services that can bring positive change to these children's lives. Juvenile court needs to be a place where we put our best, strongest people along with resources.

If you could give a local charity $1 million, who would it be and why? If not the Family Justice Center or Children's Safe Harbor, then Carpenter's Place and our food pantries. Carpenter's Place really helps people who are in harm's way, and food pantries because people would be surprised how many children and seniors go without food.




 Rosemary joins a long list of Rockford Rotarians who have received the Excalibur Award.  They are: Roger Reithmeier (2014); Rudy Valdez (2013); Paul Logli (2012); Kent Mallquist (2010); Dick Rundquist (2009); Dan Loescher (2006); Dave Rydell (2005); Terry Ingrassia (2002); Harry Ritter (2001); Jack Packard (1995); Carl Dargene (1993); Harry Stonecipher (1990); Howard Bell (1988); Bill Downey (1987); Dr. L.P.. Johnson (1980); Jeanine Wortmann (1979); Eugene Abegg (1975); Seth B. Atwood (1974); and William O’Donnell, the first winner in 1971.
     In the 48 years of the Excalibur Award, Rockford Rotarians have been a finalist 57 times with 19 of them winning the award.  As you can see Rockford Rotary has been very successful in these annual awards. Again, congratulations to Rosemary for carrying on a Rockford Rotary tradition of Service Above Self and winning the Excalibur Award for community service.