Hake delivers final address as President and CEO of Logan County Alliance

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[February 02, 2016]   LINCOLN - It was 2008 when Andi Hake arrived on the scene in Lincoln. A newly hired Executive Director of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, she was also a new resident of Logan County. In December of 2015, she announced to her board of directors at the Logan County Alliance, and to the public, that she would be resigning her position in the near future.

On Thursday evening, at the LCA Annual Dinner, Hake shared that her last official day of work would take place the following day, Friday, January 29th. Hake is leaving the Alliance in good standing, with a great deal of sadness on the part of her board, and with a great deal of emotion on her part. As she spoke on Thursday evening, she did so with moments of long pause to re-gathered her composure and complete her thoughts on her eight-year career in Lincoln.

Hake began by remembering that first day on the job. She noted that it was 2008, and also the day of the Annual Chamber Golf Outing.

Hake said that she often tells this story of her first day. When hired she was told that the board did not pay travel expense because there was a company car. In her mind, she had imagined some pretty nice vehicles, even to the point of thinking it would be fitting for a company car in Lincoln to actually be a Lincoln. However, as many will recall, that company car was a 1996 Mercury Sable painted like a slice of watermelon. She quipped, “First day on the job….rude awakening.” Hake said by this time in the story people are often laughing. But it gets better.

She went on to share that she had spent some of her time at the golf outing with Deron Powell, a member of the board hiring committee instrumental in hiring her. Deron had introduced Hake to his wife, Kristi. I thought, "…love the hair, we’re going to be best friends." Then I heard him say she’s on the board too. And I thought "What?" And then, she introduced me to her best friend….who is also on the board. Hake said normally in her telling of this story, at this point people are no longer laughing, and “I see pity in their eyes.”

But Hake said there is “the rest of the story.” She went on to say that the odd melon car was a talking point all around the country, and it made Lincoln memorable. She continued that those three board members also ended up being the hardest working members, and they all did become close friends.

Hake turned to a review of the last month of her career in Lincoln, noting it was her last annual dinner. “Over the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about all of my lasts. The truth is these experiences that I have shared with all of you and so many others over the years, will stay with me the rest of my life. I’ve written countless speeches over the years, and this one was truly the hardest.”

Taking a moment to get her emotions intact, she said that this evening was truly like the Oscars with a lot of tears and much to say. She went on to recall all the staff she has worked with over the years, all the board members she has served, and said they had together achieved great things. She also commented back on her predecessor, Bobbi Abbott, and said that she had taken over a chamber that already had accomplished good things and implemented great programs to serve the community.

She remembered those who she has lost, the members of the board and other great people who have died, but did great things. She also noted that among those things, she had also been blessed to meet the ‘love of my life” as part of her job.

"As I mention the successes that I shared and achieved only because I had great and dedicated people working beside me, it is not to discount any achievements that were accomplished before I got here, because I know there were many. I just want all of you to be proud of your Chamber, your Tourism, and know that your contributions, whether they be financial, time, talent, resources has created an organization, the Alliance, that is set to produce great results for Logan County and her businesses now, and those to come in the future.”

Moving on to review the condition of the State, Hake recalled that in 2008 the nation and the state were in deep recession. In Illinois unemployment was at its highest, and state income taxes were raised. The raises she recalled were intended to help decrease the state debt, but they didn’t. She noted that during her time in Lincoln a second governor was sent to prison, and now the state is facing a budget impasse that could go on for possibly even another year. The state stopped paying tourism grants, and tourism sites throughout the state have been shut down for lack of funding.

In spite of all this, Hake said she has seen growth and development in Lincoln and Logan County. She noted that the Alliance has also grown from one full-time employee and a hand full of part-time employees to today's four full-time employees and two part-time employees.

She called back to remembrance the watermelon car, saying that car had been a mobile advertisement for the members, and was an important part of the past.

“We gathered the masses of Logan County and fought hard to save our prisons, to ensure job security for hundreds. We advocated for local businesses at our state and federal levels; issues like workers compensation, tax reform, energy regulation, and re-districting.”

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Hake went on to talk about the Leadership Academy that has graduated more than 70 “up and coming professionals in Logan County.”

She talked about the implementation of the Land of Lincoln CEO program that began in 2015, noting it was one of her favorite things. She also mentioned the Agriculture scholarship program.

Hake drew laughs when she said, “We have answered thousands upon thousands of random, often interesting and entertaining questions from the general public locally and around the world; from how to spell words, to "why does Santa stop at Old Joe’s before the Christmas parade is over?"" As the audience laughed, she said, “That is a true story, though we were not in charge of the parade at that time. Hake went on to say that the point was, the Chamber had become a source of information.

She also discussed the formation of the Alliance as a consolidation of services. She mentioned the new tier structure membership, which, Logan County is the first chamber to offer that type of membership. She commented on the expansion of the festivals and applauded the Logan County Board for agreeing to allow wine to be served in Latham Park next year at the Art of Wine. She noted that the festival would benefit from their decision, and she predicted it would grow and succeed in the future.

As she concluded her speech, she turned to some personal aspects of her life, speaking about her close companion for the past few years, Stan Manes, who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.

"I want to thank all of you for letting me do this job. I want to thank my board for supporting me and my staff in this unbelievable year of change. I want to thank Stan for putting up with me this year. And not only did I not run him off this year, he wants to marry me. Everyone keeps asking me what my plans are; we will be moving to Germany this year. He has a 24 to 30-month assignment there, and I will be going with him. My son is graduating high school this year and moving on to his next phase in life, which is college, and I have agreed to go on this wonderful adventure. To some of you, this is really 'good-bye' and for others it is just ‘until next time.’”

After Hake had finished, Alliance Vice Chairman, Greg Basford, spoke briefly. He told the audience that it had been a pleasure to work with Hake and that in his opinion she has been a great asset to the community and the county. “It goes without saying that the transition from the previous organizations to what is now the Logan County Alliance was a difficult transition; it has not been easy, and we didn’t expect it would be. One thing I always knew when arriving at a meeting is that Andi was in charge, she was always prepared. I will tell you that if it weren’t for Andi, this transition would have been far more difficult. Andi clearly understood what needed to be done. She is to be commended for that.”

Basford concluded, "I want you to know, Andi, that you leave this organization in a better place than you found it eight years ago. You may leave here with your head held high. Andi Hake is top notch. On behalf of the board, I believe on behalf of the community and the county, we thank you for your efforts. And we wish you all the best."


Following Basford, Alliance Chairman, Tom O’Donohue, presented Hake with a plaque commemorating her years with the Chamber and the Alliance.

The program then moved on to a talk by O’Donohue and ended with the recognition of the Pride and Progress Awards.

[Nila Smith]

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