Our members bring an impressive range of academic, business, economic and cultural experiences to help form a truly diverse group. We believe in our community. And we are working to build a stronger community for tomorrow.


Katie Weston

Director of Programs and Events

Anderson Japanese Gardens


Why are you a NR Member?

When I took my position with Anderson Gardens in 2012, I wanted to learn more about Rockford and what businesses and organizations were doing to make Rockford what it is (and what it will become.) I didn’t want to just network, I wanted to be a part of something that was informative and forward thinking and to me, that was NR. Though I grew up in Rockford, I was always a passive member of the community. My role in my new career gave me the ability to become a more active member of my community. I am raising my family in Rockford and want them to be proud of their community and show them that being a part of organizations like NR can make a difference in shaping the future of this city.

What is your vision for the Rockford region?

I have truly never been an optimist- more of a realist but my feelings on Rockford and where this city will go are nothing short of pure optimism. We are moving into a generation where people are standing up and actively working to make Rockford a place we can all love. Rockford can be a top 25 city. It will be. It is a group effort and will be hard but I feel we have a group standing up to that challenge. Change is slow. Sometimes painfully so. But with hard work comes positive change; crime will get better, schools will improve, housing will rebound, business will flourish. The ball is in motion and is gaining momentum. If I listened in physics class, I don’t think that ball will stop until something gets in its way, and from my optimistic perspective, nothing is slowing this ball down. My vision is positive. Citizens will be positive. Positive they live in a city they love.  I grew up here and chose to come back after college. It was an active choice. I had hope Rockford would become better, I felt positive a difference could be made and I really think I am right. If I am right, that means I can go right back to realism because my hopes and visions of this city will be real.

What is your favorite thing to do in the Rockford region/place to visit, etc.?

I am very lucky to work in one of my favorite places to visit in Rockford but Gardens aside, I love to eat! The local restaurants in Rockford are incredible. The talent of these chefs in unmatched. We travel frequently and can say honestly I haven’t had food better anywhere in the U.S.

Things to do… hmmm….. so many choices but I have to pick watching my kids play hockey and baseball at a facility in Rockford is my favorite things to do and then go eat, of course. Having 2 young boys I spend 6-7 days a week at a hockey rink or baseball diamond, I am incredibly happy we have such an impressive Park District and youth programs.