Natalie Richardson

Natalie Richardson

Employment and education:

I found my passion for higher education and leadership when I was a student at Lincoln Land where I was elected to serve as the Student Trustee in April 2010 on the college’s Board of Trustees. In this role, I had the opportunity to travel around the world advocating for the American higher education system and college students. This experience opened the doors to my professional passion — higher education and the study of leadership best practices within higher education.

After graduating from LLCC, I transferred to Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois where I earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational & leadership communication. I then worked at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for the Association of Graduates. I then joined Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education as a master’s student in fall 2014 to study higher education administration, with a focus on leadership & organizational performance within higher education administration, allowing me to combine my two passions and interests.

While studying at Vanderbilt, I learned a lot through various professional experiences. I served as a graduate assistant for the Office of the Provost, a graduate assistant for the Office of the Vice Provost for Learning & Residential Affairs, and an academic coach for the Office of Growth & Purpose for Students at Belmont University. I also helped plan NEW Leadership Illinois, a national nonpartisan program to educate college women about politics and leadership and encourage them to become effective leaders in public leadership. I am currently an internal change management consultant at Vanderbilt University, serving the SkyVU project, a large-scale project to replace Vanderbilt University’s financial, administrative, and research support systems with Oracle Cloud. This project is transforming Vanderbilt’s administrative processes and the underlying technology across financial, administrative, and research support organizations by making each less complicated and more efficient while consolidating system applications and mitigating risk. As an internal change management consultant and the lead for the Campus Coordination workstream on the Change Management team, I have the privilege of leading the university community in navigating and preparing for this exciting and industry-leading change.

How has Lincoln Land Community College impacted your life?

LLCC shaped my entire career. I would not have found my passion for higher education, nor my “inner flame” that was ignited through my many life-changing experiences without LLCC. LLCC changed my life and I am forever grateful.

What is your greatest accomplishment(s)?

My greatest accomplishment is whenever a young woman tells me that I helped her realize that she is a leader and that I am one of her role models. My greatest accomplishment is teaching them to believe in themselves and to recognize their own unique strengths and contributions.

Was there a professor, advisor, staff member or fellow student who made an impression on you or helped you when you were here at LLCC?

Too many to list! Just a short list:

  • LLCC President Charlotte Warren: She has inspired me since the day I met her. Her leadership skills, service to the community and to students, and her overall absolute brilliance amazes me every day. She is one of my life’s greatest mentors.
  • Lynn Whalen: Lynn gave me one of the greatest gifts someone can give another person: She invested in me and believed in me from a young age. Lynn gave me the opportunity to work as a student intern in the LLCC Public Relations & Marketing office where she mentored me, taught me and helped me grow. I admire and look up to her so much.
  • Marci Rockey: Marci no longer works for LLCC, but when I was a student, Marci was the director of student life for LLCC. She encouraged me to run for the student trustee role, which turned out to be one of the most tangible influences on my entire career. She also introduced me to Illinois State’s Communication Studies department, which is where I later transferred to and where I completed my bachelor’s degree.
  • Professor Dean Butzow: Professor Butzow radiates passion for his pedagogy, for his profession, and especially for his students. He makes learning FUN, interesting, and ignites a passion in his students due to his own passion for the subject. He give each student the kind of individualized attention that makes them feel truly valued as a student and as an individual.
  • Marian Johnson: Marian and I met when we were both students at LLCC. She completed a life-long goal of graduating from LLCC at the age of 80. She inspires me daily for her love of learning and desire to constantly grow and learn.
  • Alexis Wernsing: Alexis and I met in Dr. Roberts’ Western Civilization course and instantly became friends. She was one of the most beautiful, brilliant, selfless, thoughtful, funny, and incredible humans I have ever met. I feel her presence with me daily and I know she is the most beautiful angel. It was an absolute honor to have known her and called her my friend.
  • The entire LLCC Board of Trustees, LLCC Foundation staff, and the entire LLCC family– I cannot possibly list all of the amazing people who invested in me and helped ignite my passion.

What did you like about LLCC or what is your favorite LLCC memory?

LLCC truly ignited my passion. I do not where I would be or who I would be without my experience at LLCC. The faculty, staff, leadership, and mission of LLCC makes it one of the most unique and special places in the world to me. I will always look back on my memories at LLCC with the most sincere appreciation. I am who I am because of LLCC.