Neighbors in the news: Murphy honored for support of people with various disabilities

  • State Sen. Laura Murphy

    State Sen. Laura Murphy Courtesy of Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus

Posted9/21/2023 6:00 AM

• State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Laura Murphy (Des Plaines) was presented the 2023 Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities' Champion Award by Josh Evans, president and CEO, during the association's 2023 IARF Educational Conference & Expo at the East Peoria Embassy Suites.

The Champion Award recognizes individuals, groups and/or organizations that put forth significant effort(s) to support, advance, and/or raise awareness of the importance of community-based services and supports for persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.


"This year, the Illinois General Assembly made a historic investment in front-line staff serving and supporting persons with disabilities, increasing Direct Support Professional (DSP) wage rates by $2.50/hour," said Evans.

"Leader Murphy led the charge in the Illinois Senate through bipartisan legislation (SB 2026) that received nearly 3,500 witness slips supporting the bill during Senate committee discussions. This leadership and support translated to a major win for DSPs and disability services in Illinois."

The IARF is Illinois' largest trade association representing community-based providers serving children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses.

Joseph Maffey
Joseph Maffey - Courtesy of Lyons Township High School
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• Joseph Maffey, Lyons Township High School teacher and yearbook and literary magazine publications adviser, was honored with the Journalism Education Association's (JEA) Rising Star Award, to honor his commitment to scholastic journalism and media advising. Maffey, along with the seven other honorees, will be recognized at the fall JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention.

Rising Star awards are presented to advisers who are in their first five years of advising a school media program, have shown dedication to scholastic journalism, and have had success advising at least one media program.

Maffey, who has worked at Lyons Township High School for 18 years, is in his sixth year as the school's yearbook adviser. Under his leadership, students have won multiple awards from the National Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, American Scholastic Press Association, Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association, and the Kettle Moraine Press Association.

Nebu Kolenchery
Nebu Kolenchery - Courtesy of Nebu Kolenchery

• Arlington Heights native and Buffalo Grove High School graduate Nebu Kolenchery was recognized by the de Beaumont Foundation with its esteemed 40 Under 40 in Public Health Class of 2023. The honor celebrates Kolenchery's transformative work at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and sets the stage for his current role as chief revenue officer at Flourish & Thrive Labs, a consulting firm based in Grayslake.

"The professionals chosen for the 40 Under 40 in Public Health Class of 2023 demonstrate the determination, commitment, innovation, and resilience of the public health field," said Dr. Brian C. Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. "Their work is strengthening communities and improving lives, and I look forward to following their careers and learning from them."


While in St. Louis, Kolenchery led several groundbreaking initiatives, including the 2022 Mpox response and the implementation of Salesforce as a case management tool. His community-centered approach turned potential critics into collaborators, leading to effective rollouts of testing, treatment, and vaccines.

Lorena Engelman
Lorena Engelman - Courtesy of Elana Cohen

• Wheeling native Lorena Engelman has been appointed as the first female equity partner at CJBS, a Northbrook-based accounting firm.

Engelman has been a member of the CJBS team since 2009, boasting a career in accounting, tax, and financial management services spanning more than 25 years. Her expertise encompasses financial statement audits, reviews, and compilations, as well as operational reviews, forensic examinations, and individual tax planning.

"Lorena's appointment as our first female equity partner is a momentous occasion for CJBS," said CJBS Managing Partner Jeff Stuart. "Her exceptional skills and dedication to providing unparalleled client service make her an invaluable asset to the firm. We are proud to have her as part of our leadership team and look forward to her continued contributions in driving CJBS's success."

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