Steve and Britta McKenna are Batavia Citizens of Year
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News December 24, 2012 9:38AM
Britta and Steve McKenna have been named Batavia's 2012 Citizens of the Year.
Batavia’s Citizens of the Year Steve and Britta McKenna will be honored at the annual awards dinner of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. The dinner will be Jan. 26, 2013, at Lincoln Inn Banquets, 1345 S. Batavia Ave. in Batavia.
For ticket information, register online at www.BataviaChamber.org or contact the Chamber at 630-879-7134.
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:15AM
BATAVIA — For more than two decades, Steve and Britta McKenna have woven their interests together for the benefit of Batavia.
Mayor Jeff Schielke described the pair as a “dynamic team, one that has always been supportive of whatever the town is working on.”
Batavia Park District Executive Director Allison Niemela said noted the integral role the McKennas had on the building of the Batavia Riverwalk.
“They have an incredible work ethic and I’m honored to work alongside them,” Niemela said.
“What they work on turns to gold and I’m grateful their Midas touch has benefitted the Park District.”
On Monday, the McKennas were named the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year. The Batavia Chamber of Commerce will honor the couple Jan. 26 at its annual awards dinner.
The couple’s volunteerism began when they relocated their family to Batavia in 1991 to return to their Midwestern roots.
Britta McKenna stepped in to serve as a board member and marketing director when the all-volunteer Batavia Riverwalk was at a critical stage and was in need of a level of expertise to help launch the project.
Today, the Riverwalk continues to be a sense of pride and an integral part of community events.
A mother raising their two young sons at the time, McKenna supported her husband when he joined the Riverwalk Committee as a board member and treasurer. In 2000, the McKennas served as founding members of the Friends of the Riverwalk.
By then, Steve had been one of the founders of the Holy Cross Cub Scout Pack 121 and he continued to serve in a leadership role in the Boy Scouts through the Three Fires District Council for nearly 20 years.
“Our passions drove our ability to work together,” Britta McKenna said.
While Britta extended her volunteerism into the founding of the Batavia Parks Foundation, Steve volunteered as the non-profit organization’s president. He was one of three individuals to successfully submit an application establishing Batavia as a “MainStreet” community. In 2004, Britta was appointed Executive Director of Batavia MainStreet, a post she held through 2010.
In 2011, Steve served as chairman of Batavia’s “Bulldogs Unleashed,” a community-wide cultural arts initiative which recruited professional artists to paint sculptures of Batavia High School’s mascot.
The effort became a summer attraction when the 25 painted Bulldogs were placed throughout the downtown, culminating in a “dog wash” in the McKennas’ driveway before the art pieces went up for auction as a fundraiser for the community’s park, public education and library foundations.
Steve McKenna said their volunteerism has been with the “community in mind,” but they also have fun doing it.
Britta said Monday she has realized what a “great team” they really are and how their strengths have a way of complimenting one another.
“Britta is very determined and focused and little gets in her way,” Steve said.
She said her husband of 28 years has been her chief supporter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
Steve is the director of her newly created nonprofit organization: “Breast Cancer My Story,” an online companion that offers guidance to breast cancer survivors. Britta said she completed her treatments last May and decided to share her experiences and practical information.
“Steve was the first to raise his hand to help on the board. It is great having a life partner who supports you in many ways,” Britta said.