About DAWN

Our History

In May 1982, inspired by Mary Scott Welch’s book Networking: The Great New Way for Women to Get Ahead, Charlotte Hanks, Chris Neeley, and Mickey Robertson invited a small group of women in Decatur, Illinois, to brainstorm about organizing a local networking group. In August 1982, DAWN filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Illinois, and just two months later, twenty five charter members pooled their resources to fly Alina Novak (a networking pioneer mentioned in Mary Scott Welsh’s book) in from New York City. She spoke at an informational meeting with 200 women in attendance. Ms. Novak considered networking the “next stage in the women’s movement” and many responded. One year later, in October 1983, the organization had grown from 25 to 160. An article appeared about DAWN in the Decatur Herald and Review with the headline, “DAWN Shines.” More than 30 years later, DAWN continues to shine by following the vision of the charter members-providing networking opportunities for women in the Decatur area. DAWN is proud to have encouraged hundreds of women in their career and life journeys.

Our Mission

DAWN's Mission is to use networking for the development and promotion of women.

History of DAWN.PNG

Our Purpose

  • to provide professional development and community awareness

  • to promote communication and networking among women

  • to encourage women to develop their leadership skills and talents

  • to enrich the lives of members by sharing resources

  • to support members in their professional and personal pursuits and goals

  • to cultivate the spirit of fellowship among members and other community women

  • to continually seek new members to expand our networks

Our Distinct Advantage!

  • diverse membership

  • commitment to the further development of women in our community

  • no service or volunteer hours required

  • no organizational business conducted at monthly meetings

DAWN Leadership


Darcy Morr


Darcy has been a member of DAWN since moving back to Decatur in 2004. She is the Office Manager at Decatur First Church of the Nazarene where she schedules and manages events and provides administrative support for several pastors. Darcy’s husband, Dave, is a web manager for ADM and together they have two active young children, Tessa and Drew.

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Jessica Ashmore

Jessica Ashmore

Vice-President of Reservations

Jessica has been a member of DAWN since 2016.  In 2014, she began her career as a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.  Jessica partners with her clients to achieve their financial goals, whether it's retirement, college savings, planning for the unexpected, or simply saving for a trip.  She and her husband Clint live in the Mt. Zion area with their two sons, Connor and Evan.  The boys are involved in scouts, clubs, and sports.

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Tina Owens

Tina Owens

Vice-President of Membership

Tina has been a member of DAWN since 2017. She is the Community Partnership & Mentor 2.0 Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central IL where she connects the community to BBBS through volunteering, special events, and fundraising. She also works with high school students to prepare them for college and or the workforce. She is a mentor with BBBS, a member of the Volunteer Organizational League, Community Partnership Council and the Youth Advisory Council for Decatur Township. In her spare time, you can find her volunteering, traveling and spending time with family.

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Rachel Dasenbrock

Vice-President of Programs

Rachel has been a member of DAWN since October 2016. She is a Sales Consultant at Heart Technologies where she provides customized technology solutions in telephony, security, infrastructure, and networking. Rachel is also President Elect of the Decatur Metropolitan Rotary Club. On the weekends, you can often find her camping, canoeing, or sitting around a bonfire with her fiancé, Brian Lewis, and their dog, Lucy.

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Heather McConnel-Smith

Heather McConnell-Smith


Heather has been a member of DAWN since spring of 2015. She is a Supervising Engineer for Ameren where she provides Project Controls support for large Natural Gas projects. Heather has worked as a Project Manager in several different industries including Petrochemical, Oil Refining, and Agricultural. She has a patent and is a PMI certified Project Management Professional.

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