The naming of Riverside’s Person of the Year has been a longtime annual event and done to recognize someone who has given of themselves to the community in many ways. 

Long a joint effort of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce and the Riverside Township Lions Club, this year the event is being sponsored by the Lions Club, which has chosen to honor Jean Sussman of Riverside as Person of the Year for 2015.

Sussman, originally of Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with her husband, Ed Lyons, came to Riverside 23 years ago. She brought with her a degree from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. from University of Minnesota in agricultural economy, and a list of qualifications that made her an asset to the community. Retired from the Quaker Oats company where she was an economist, Sussman has put her knowledge to good use in Riverside.

She says she first became involved in the community through the American Association of University Women’s book club. Believing a “sense of community is important,” she was asked to serve on the Plan Commission, followed by the Zoning Board of Appeals, becoming chairwoman of that commission. 

Sussman was a natural to become a trustee of the village, and was elected to serve two terms. Her terms on the board saw both change and progress within the village with, among other things, the building of the Village Center (the old Henninger property), changes to the Des Plaines River and plans for the central business district. 

She played an important part in establishing the Riverside Farmers Market and helped get it to its present location. The Riverside Arts Weekend (RAW), which just completed its eighth year, owes much of its success to Sussman and her ability to enlist the aid of many volunteers.

Reflecting on her eight years on the village board, Sussman says “it was a wonderful experience” and remarked on how much talent there is in the village and how people come together. 

“It is an honor to live in Riverside and I will stay involved,” she said.

Though she says she is “still exploring,” Sussman recently was appointed to the Police Pension Board and serves in an advisory capacity for the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University. 

She may feel it is an honor to live in Riverside, but is Riverside’s good fortune she chose to live here.

She will be honored at a dinner at the Riverside Golf Club later this summer. Details will follow soon.