top of page

The Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois Awards program recognizes individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 who exemplify the best attributes of young people from across Illinois. Recipients come from many backgrounds, but each has made an impact on their fellow man and communities. 

The Illinois Jaycees is proud to announce The Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois for 2021:

     Michael Gamble, 35, Springfield, IL for Personal improvement and/or accomplishment. Gamble is a Police Officer for the City of Springfield and serves in the US Army National Guard. 


​     Kayla Graven, 32, Springfield, IL for Contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights. She is Executive Director of Downtown Springfield, Inc and served as Springfield’s 2020 farmers market manager and revamping it to accommodate Covid safe protocols and introduced the SNAP Match program.

     Matt Kuhlman, 38, Palatine, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment. Kuhlman is a certified personal trainer and owner of The Sweatshop LLC which offers fun and effective workout experiences.

     Katharine P. Roberts, 39, Springfield, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Roberts is a leader in Springfield Families Helping Families, an online mutual aid and resource network empowering Springfield-area residents to help each other during the pandemic. She works in the office of the Illinois Attorney General as a policy advisor and speechwriter.

     Elizabeth Sullard, 29, Champaign, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Sullard is an active citizen in her community. She serves on the Committee on aging; as a board member of the Young Professionals of Champaign Urbana and is founder of working Moms in Chambana.

     Elizabeth Thomas, 39, Palatine, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Elizabeth has a passion for helping people with special needs.  Thomas expanded NWSRA’s virtual therapeutic recreation programs during the pandemic, leads the disability ministry at her church and volunteers at many local organizations including Clearbrook. 

     Dr. Barbara L. Toohill, 40, Washington, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment. Dr. Toohill is Clinical Psychologist and the owner of The Antioch Group, Inc which offers Contemporary Christian Counseling and Psychological Services in Peoria.

The Outstanding Young People (TOYP) program annually recognizes young people throughout Illinois who excel in their chosen fields, endeavors and show a great commitment to their respective communities. “The Illinois Jaycees is proud to honor these young community and business leaders who serve their communities. They are shining examples of helping others and achieving their goals.” said Dawn Stangle, 90th President of the Illinois Jaycees.


The Illinois Jaycees recognized this year’s honorees at an awards banquet on November 13, 2021 at the Wyndham Springfield-City Centre.

The event is supported by friends and employers of the honorees, local Jaycee organizations, Illinois businesses and the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation. Friends, local businesses and organizations can offer congratulations to the honoree and support the program by purchasing space in the banquet program

TOYP: Class of 2021

bottom of page