Honoring What You Come From—Conversations on Leadership: Photogallery
Business students heard a refreshingly honest and insightful viewpoint during the Conversations on Leadership session with Karen Bushy, former village president of Oak Brook, Illinois, and current CEO of Memories & Beyond, the largest scrapbook store in Chicagoland.
The Conversations on Leadership sessions, hosted by Trinity’s business department and the Trinity Business Network, provide a place for students and the community to come together to learn from local business leaders.
First introducing herself as a “daughter of the church,” Bushy told a story of growing up in poverty “when dinner was mayo on a piece of bread”; applying for a work permit the day of her 14th birthday; and reading a set of encyclopedias to help educate herself because she was unable to attend college.
Inspired as a child by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s televised acceptance of the nomination of the Republican National Convention, Bushy was “always interested in the role of government but not ‘politics’, and she eventually went on to dedicate many years of her life to serving in government.
In the ’70s, Bushy worked on the Oak Brook village president campaign for George Howell, and she served on the Oak Brook planning commission. When Howell inquired about her aspirations, Bushy told him she wanted his job. He encouraged her goal, and years later Bushy ran and was elected. She served as the village president for 12 years before choosing to take a different path.
Bushy explained that during her first month in office, she was “taken aback by the enormity of the responsibility” she had accepted. “No matter how prepared you think you are, when you put your backside in the chair, you ask ‘What have I done?’”
But Bushy didn’t waste time getting down to business on her first day in office.
“Leaders have to decide what persona they will project,” she told students. “For me, it was to live the faith I proclaim. If you mean it, you have to live it.”
Bushy said her first step in living out her faith as an elected official was to communicate clearly to her staff, telling them, “I will never lie to you or for you. I will never ask you to lie for me and don’t lie to me.”
Reflecting on her years in office, she spoke fondly of the team she had built and the camaraderie they came to cherish. Bushy said she and her staff strived to interact with each other “from a base of honesty” and to “run an honest government.”
“A phrase that describes Karen Bushy would be contagious passion,” said Courtney Samudio ’15 of Surprise, Arizona, an entrepreneurial management major. “She is so passionate about being an ethical leader and motivating others to do so as well. As a leader, showing that you care about those who work for you, believing in them, and treating them well allows you to gain the support that you need.”
Now the owner of the largest scrapbook store in Chicagoland, Bushy’s passion for integrity, connectedness, and authenticity carries over into Memories & Beyond, which she sees as a facilitator of “telling the family story.”
“I think God wants us to remember our heritage,” Bushy said. “You are the sum total today of a lot of people. You miss a great part of yourself that God made if you don’t recognize what you come from.”