USF to Host Women’s History Month Panel Discussion

February 15, 2018 | Joliet, Ill.

As part of a celebration honoring Women’s History Month, taking place throughout March, the University of St. Francis (USF) will host a breakfast panel discussion titled “The Finesse of Female Assertiveness” on Monday, March 12 at 8 a.m. in San Damiano Hall at the university’s main campus, 500 Wilcox St. in Joliet.

The panel will feature three local leaders, each who will discuss their personal and professional journey leading to their career success:

  • Monica Mainland, ExxonMobil Joliet refinery manager
  • Dr. Cheryl McCarthy ’86, Joliet Township High School (JTHS) District 204 superintendent
  • Dr. Judy Mitchell, Joliet Junior College (JJC) president

“These three women are all admired locally for their leadership and character,” said Tracy Spesia, USF College of Education field experience coordinator and Women’s History Month Committee member. “They serve as role models and will give attendees an opportunity to take their respective approaches to being professionals and leaders and consider how it might apply to their own careers.”

The panel open to the community and free to attend but seating is limited. A complimentary breakfast is included. Those interested in attending can register at: by March 2.


Dr. Judy Mitchell was named president of Joliet Junior College in September of 2016. Mitchell has worked at JJC for 21 years, having started as an administrative assistant in the Computer Information Office Systems department in 1996. In 2001, she served as the program management specialist in Adult and Family Services, followed by the assistant to the director of administrative services in 2002. In 2004 she became interim director of administrative services, and then the director of business and auxiliary services in 2005. In September 2012, she was appointed to the role of vice president of administrative services.

Mitchell received her doctorate in community college leadership from National-Louis University in June 2012. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business and technology from Governors State University. She earned an associate degree in microcomputers for business and computer programming from JJC in 1998.

Monica Mainland was named ExxonMobil Joliet Refinery manager in 2016. She earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University in 1996, and joined Imperial Oil as a Contact Engineer at the Nanticoke Refinery later that year. She also held supervisory positions at the Sarnia Refinery and at the Imperial Oil Headquarters in Calgary.

Mainland transferred to ExxonMobil in 2007, where she held the Americas Planning Executive position in Fairfax, Va. In March 2010, she moved to Baton Rouge where she was the Technical Division Manager until being named the Billings Refinery Manager in 2012. In July 2016, Mainland and her family moved to Naperville, Ill. when she assumed the role of Joliet Refinery Manager.

Dr. Cheryl McCarthy ’86 was named the superintendent of Joliet Township High School district 204 in 2010. She was the first female superintendent in the history of the school district. McCarthy has served Joliet Township High School throughout her career, starting as a math teacher at Joliet West in 1986, division mathematics and science chair in 1996, assistant principal in 2001, principal in 2002, and assistant superintendent in 2010 before being named superintendent later that year. She is a lifelong resident of Will County and earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from USF, a master’s in Educational Leadership from Governors State University and a doctorate in education from Aurora University.

Under McCarthy’s leadership, JTHS was named the 2017 College Board Advanced Placement District of the Year. This national award recognizes JTHS as the leader among 10,000 schools for expanding access to Advanced Placement courses while simultaneously improving Advanced Placement Exam performance. In addition, she led the implementation of the 1:1 Computing Initiative, which provides netbook computers to all students. She has been instrumental in the implementation of the district’s strategic plan since its inception and works tirelessly to move initiatives forward to continuously improve student performance and make JTHS a school of choice.

Founded in 1920, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., is a Catholic, Franciscan university that serves 4,100 students nationwide; offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are more than 48,000 USF alumni across the globe.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.