Article published by the Rockford Register Star, Oct. 6 2020; click here for original article.

October 6, 2020
Maryjo Pirages Reynolds Special to the Register Star

Next Rockford is a group of civically minded professionals striving to connect with current and future leaders and positively impact the region. As Next Rockford transitions to new leadership, as it does every two years, we want to reflect on our collective efforts and growth.

While many organizations decreased or suspended offerings in light of COVID-19, Next Rockford did the opposite. We ramped up our efforts, offering weekly Zoom meetings during the stay-at-home order featuring local experts in the medical, education, legal, insurance, nonprofit and business sectors. We wanted to empower our members with resources and information and create connections during an extremely disconnected time.

While we have resumed our traditional monthly meetings, still using Zoom, we have been addressing topics of the utmost importance, including race relations and the upcoming election. In fact, on Thursday, Next Rockford is hosting a State’s Attorney Candidate Forum at 7:30 a.m. The public is invited to join us using the following link: (Meeting ID: 918 6313 2073; Passcode: 413168).

Further, from Saturday through Oct. 18 we are hosting a virtual 5K run and walk with all proceeds benefiting the Family Peace Center. For more information and to register, please visit

As the outgoing facilitator (president) of this amazing group, I am very proud of our members and their vast contributions to our community. It has been an honor to work with our Strategy Team and I am thankful for the friendships I have made and the opportunities I have had because of Next Rockford. I am excited to remain engaged under the leadership of our incoming facilitator, Jorge Herrera, and am confident that our group will continue to educate, advocate, and resonate.

Times are tough, but so are we. Now is the time to get involved and Next Rockford offers a great way to safely to do so. If you are interested in learning more about our group, email me at

Maryjo Pirages Reynolds is facilitator of Next Rockford.