Northbrook Civic Foundation honors Roloff for her volunteer service
Karen M. Roloff laughs during a District 30 Board of Education meeting at Maple School in Northbrook, Illinois on January 17, 2013. | Ray Whitehouse~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 8:50AM
NORTHBROOK — The Northbrook Civic Foundation has bestowed a special volunteer award on Karen M. Roloff for making a significant contribution to the welfare of the community.
Roloff, who has been a resident for 34 years and a volunteer for most of them, said she was surprised, humbled and gratified to learn of the honor.
“I’ve been an educator for a long time, my employment being at the college level, and all of my volunteer commitments have had something to do with education,” Roloff said.
“I started with the nursery school board when our first child was born. The more I learned about it, I thought it was a place I could learn some things – and I really did learn a lot.”
Rolff’s career in education began nearly 45 years ago, after she graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., then completed graduate studies at the University of Illinois.
She spent most of her career as a college professor of communications at numerous universities, retired as a professor of communications at De Paul University, and currently teaches at Elmhurst College.
Roloff is married to Michael E. Roloff, a Northwestern University professor of communications, and they have three grown daughters, all of whom are teachers.
Karen began her extensive volunteer service in the 1980s as a board member of Northbrook Community Nursery School, and served as District 30’s Wescott School’s PTO Treasurer.
When her children were students at Glenbrook North High School, she volunteered for many organizations, and held positions on committees and task forces throughout Northfield Township.
Serving as an elected trustee of District 30 for more than 23 years, Karen is now the board of education member with the greatest length of service in Northfield Township.
During that time, she served 12 years as District 30’s board president, and is the only founding trustee still serving on the district’s Education Foundation.
Karen also was actively involved in creating the Lew Blond Memorial 5K Run/Walk fundraiser.
And for more than 20 years, she also has volunteered for the Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching, and has served in leadership positions on the National Communication Association, the National Society of Experiential Education, and was a member of the Augustana College Alumni Board of Directors.
James Bream, president of School District 30’s Board, said the board is always pleased when the service of its members is recognized and the recent recognition of Karen Roloff’s years of service is no exception.
“Board members are asked to participate in the representation of the board in the greater community through a variety of opportunities and Karen has consistently and diligently served the Board in many ways in Northbrook,” Bream said.
“Her activities as trustee for the District 30 Education Foundation, as a longstanding member of the Village’s Economic Development Committee and as a member of the Northbrook Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee are particular examples in which she has represented not just the district, but the greater community in which she lives with a great deal of passion and knowledge.”
Karen noted that she continually learned more about education through her volunteer work.
“And the flip side of that is that those experiences helped me to become a better college teacher, too,” she added.