Getting Personal: Lyn Jones

Getting Personal: Lyn Jones

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, Melissa Merli chats with Lyn Jones of Champaign, president and CEO of the United Way of Champaign County. Getting Personal appears first in print, in the Sunday newspaper. In the July 8 paper, we'll have a chat with Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

Usually around 6 a.m. Start the coffee, let the dog out, go to the mailbox to get The News-Gazette.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

Went home to let the dog out and had a turkey sandwich on my back porch.

Best high school memory?

Spending hours with friends working on the homecoming float in an old barn outside of town.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

An old pair of comfortable Clark mules.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

Quiet time in front of the fireplace or on the back porch with a good book and a little jazz in the background.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

"The Littlest Angel" by Charles Tazewell. I read it every Christmas Eve and have given it to many of my friends' children and grandchildren.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

This past Christmas, we got our first pup, a shorkie. That's a combination of Yorkie and Shih Tzu. Pretty cute, but she won't be my favorite until she's completely housebroken.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

We were dying to go to Italy and just returned last Friday. Why? The Vatican, Venice, David, Isle of Capri, Sorrento — all in beautiful photographs that I wanted to see in person. Oh, and the gelato, too!

Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

Actually, I think I have been blessed to have qualities of both, but my mother is probably nicer than me.

What would you order for your last meal?

Brie and French bread, lobster, a great salad, something chocolate and raspberry and really good champagne.

What can you not live without?

My family, my circle of friends, music and good books.

Who do you have on your iPod?

Lots of Beatles, Paul McCartney, Motown, jazz, classical and Broadway.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

Absolutely it was the day our son, Christopher, was born. My husband and I both cried tears of joy.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

Paul McCartney, Diana Krall and Mike Ross with the keys to the Great Hall.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

It's a tie. One piece of advice since childhood has been that if you think you have problems, look around. There are always people who are less fortunate, and you should count your blessings and help others. The other great piece of advice came early in my career. A mentor told me never be afraid to fail or you may never really succeed.

What's your best piece of advice?

This is not a dress rehearsal — treasure every minute and the people who you are sharing life with.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

I walked beans on my uncle's farm. I earned 50 cents an hour and was very upset when I learned the boys were getting 75 cents for doing the same thing.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

I had decided I would look for a job in Chicago and leave Champaign where I was working in education. I met my husband and decided to stay here, and because of that, I had 22 great years at the University of Illinois and now five years at the United Way. I'm not sure I would have had such great opportunities in the big city.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

I have many, and one is I am harder on myself than anyone else. I have also been told I am a control freak.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

Call my mother; she's a great listener. And absolutely get together with my girlfriends, open a nice bottle of wine and talk it through with smart women I trust.