Since 1985, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized our community’s unsung heroes who spend countless hours working without fanfare to help others. Our annual Hoot Gibson award is presented in memory of Horace J. “Hoot” Gibson who was the manager of the Peoria IBM office for many years along with being an active volunteer for the United Way.
Heather Ford, this year’s honoree, has much in common with Hoot. Dr. Ford is a Professor of User Experience Design at Bradley University where she teaches and coordinates the User Experience Program for the Department of Interactive Media within the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts.
With more than twenty years of fine art, digital creative, and UI/UX experience in the commercial and academic sectors, Heather shares her experiences in the methodologies of user experience design and research to not only teach the upcoming generation but to also help local nonprofits with website, mobile, branding, and product design. This past year, she has rebranded Home for All Continuum of Care (part of Heart of Illinois United Way) including a new logo, website, and more. When it came time to launch the new mobile hygiene unit called HOWIE (Hygiene.On.Wheels.Independence.Empowered.) as part of the United Way’s COVID-19 efforts, Heather designed the vehicle’s outer wrap and interior graphics to lend the space a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for individuals experiencing homelessness in central Illinois.
Heather is also an active member of the Continuum’s General Membership and also serves on the Board for Phoenix Community Development Services. She is the first to raise her hand to offer her services when a task or project comes up. And you know when she is at the helm, that the work will be completed well and on time without so much as a reminder or nudge.