PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — For the last several weeks, we have been highlighting remarkable women in central Illinois ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday.
WMBD and WYZZ Vice President and General Manager Kevin Harlan on Friday announced Carol Merna as Central Illinois’ Woman of the Year. She won a trip to New York City to attend a taping of “The Mel Robbins Show.”
Merna, the CEO for the Center for Prevention of Abuse, helps lead Illinois’ efforts for education and prevention of human trafficking, domestic violence, and abuse. Not only has the organization provided more than 9,000 nights for survivors in a safe shelter, it’s also reached over 35,000 Illinois students with prevention education.
The CFPA’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Camille Yameen, nominated Merna.
“As you sort of expand this bubble of where Carol has an impact, it starts to have a larger reach,” Yameen said. “Her reach isn’t just, ‘Oh, we live in central Illinois,’ her reach is truly national.”
Merna’s philanthropic work at the CFPA doesn’t stay inside those walls; she’s in the community, helping in ways that positively impact the lives of others. Merna serves on the Board for the Bleeding and Clotting Disorders Institute and the Dirksen Congressional Center. She also served the public in the 18th Congressional District for two decades.
“To help people, or a community, solve a serious problem, is tremendous, and you can do that from a community level all the way down to the individual,” Merna said.
Additionally, Merna is a member of the Peoria Rotary Club, Illinois Human Services Partnership, and serves on numerous committees, like the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.
From the more than 100 local winners, one woman will be selected and named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year! That episode of “The Mel Robbins Show” will air March 23.
To see our four finalists’ remarkable stories, click here.