Laura Frerichs wins Young Professional Award

CHAMPAIGN — Laura Frerichs has been named winner of the 2013 Athena Young Professional Award, sponsored by past recipients of the Athena Award.

She will receive the award at the Athena Award luncheon today at the Champaign Country Club.

Frerichs, 35, of Champaign is director of the University of Illinois Research Park and chair of the board of directors of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

She's also on the boards of the Illinois Technology Association and the Executive Club of Champaign County.

Frerichs was nominated for the award by Laura Weiskopf Bleill, marketing coordinator for the research park, and Sarah Zehr, who won the Athena Young Professional Award last year.

Bleill called Frerichs "a tireless promoter" for entrepreneurs, start-up companies and established businesses in Champaign County.

"She is the type of visionary who doesn't just create a wish list," Bleill said. "She creates a pathway to make those wishes come true."

Frerichs' concern about the lack of women in technology fields led her to create a group called CU Women in Technology that meets every other month, according to a release from the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce.

She's also working to create a mentorship program for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Frerichs and her husband, state Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-Champaign, have a 4-year-old daughter, Ella.

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