Dean Kilburg Wins Geneva’s Highest Honor: 2017 Wood Award
The Geneva Chamber of Commerce named Third Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg as its 2017 Wood Award recipient during the agency’s annual dinner and awards night Nov. 9 at Eagle Brook County Club.
The Wood Community Service award is presented each year by the chamber to an individual who has made significant community contributions in the areas of business, education, youth involvement, civic organizations, art, recreation, charity or government.
The award is named in honor of Bill and Elise Wood, and Nell and Burton Wood — four individuals who have all contributed to the growth and health of the city of Geneva.
Born on a farm in eastern Iowa, Kilburg attended Loras College, but is a proud Iowa Hawkeye fan. His move to Illinois only expanded the teams he roots for. The Cubs, Bears, Bulls and of course the Geneva Vikings all have a place in his cheering section. No matter where Kilburg has lived, he serves and gives to his community 100 percent.
In 1977, Kilburg was quoted in a Bellevue, IA, newspaper. “Washington D.C. isn’t going to solve all our problems. Some have to be solved by people in their own community.”
He has served on the Geneva City Council since 2011.
“Dean’s commitment to all things Geneva is hard to match. A genuine ‘good guy,’ Dean selflessly invests his considerable talents for the betterment of everyone who calls Geneva home and reminds us that good citizenship is first and foremost about doing good for others,” Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said.
Echoed over and over is the description of Kilburg as a steady voice who gathers input from all sides.
“Even though he may disagree with people, he is always respectful and willing to engage. (He has) a very calm approach to matters,” said Kilburg’s former Geneva Community Unit School District 304 board member Mary Stith.
He does not want credit, but rather wants to work on a solution that is fair, even if the final solution is not in line with his original position, she said.
Kilburg’s generosity, integrity and humbleness resonate with anyone who knows him along with his passion for his community.
Community Chest member Cookie Olson regards Kilburg as “someone who believes in giving back to the community, not for personal gain or benefit but because that’s what community members should do. He has a good heart and the desire to help others, and it is his mission to serve this community in whatever capacity he can.”
Kilburg’s selfless volunteering spirit is demonstrated in Geneva through his 12 years on the District 304 School Board, half of them as president. During this time, he was also instrumental in the search, interview and hire of the current District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler.
Kilburg served as president of Geneva Sports Boosters. He has been a Geneva School PRIDE volunteer for 10 years and lends his efforts to Geneva Community Chest, where for the last six years he has co-chaired their largest fundraiser, the annual golf outing. Kilburg also serves on the Citizens Advisory Board at Fermilab.
In addition, for the last 27 years, you still can find Kilburg on Friday nights at Burgess Field moving the “chains” at Viking home football games.
“He likes to contribute to the community through volunteering and service, wants to be involved and make a difference and is not looking for public attention for himself. He feels it is his duty as a citizen to give back,” said former District 304 School Board colleague Steve Lillie. “I think he also likes to keep informed on issues facing the city, schools and the community.”
In addition, Kilburg is a past member of Kane County Citizens Advisory Board, City of Geneva Strategic Planning Design Team, Geneva Academic Foundation, United States Jaycees and Iowa Jaycees.
“Through his service on the School Board, City Council and various other organizations, my father has made contributions to our community that I believe have positively impacted every resident and visitor of Geneva over the past three decades. I’m proud of all of these accomplishments,” said Kilburg’s son, Aaron.
Jim Kafer interviewed with Kilburg and others during the final steps to become athletic director at Geneva High School. While Kafer wasn’t sure the impression he made, he left knowing that Kilburg was “first class all the way.”
“The servant leader thinks of other people first and helps both people, organizations, and communities achieve their goals. A person who is a leader because of position or power whether in government or business begins from a different philosophy than the ‘servant leader.’ It takes a special person to dedicate himself to help others achieve success,” Kafer said.
Scott Lebin, chairman of the Geneva Chamber Board, said, “The servant leader seeks compromise and is always working for consensus to meet the best achievable results for the people, organizations and community. Dean (has) always been the quintessential servant leader.”
Watch a video Kilburg’s accomplishments on YouTube.