Although unintentional in nature, Megan Duesterhaus' alter ego of "Megarotta the Wicked" is a perfect complement to her role as executive director of Quanada, the social service agency that assists women who have been victims of domestic violence.
"Megarotta" is the name Duesterhaus takes as a member of the Dark River Derby Coalition, Quincy's all-female roller derby team that has gained quite a following during its first two years of existence. The roller derby is all about women empowering themselves while raising money for charitable causes in the community.
Duesterhaus said the "Megarotta the Wicked" moniker was derived from a character in a show she once saw on the Syfy Channel. She has become so identified with the character that her husband, James AuBuchon, is known as "Mr. Wicked."
Her role with the roller derby -- and what it stands for -- plus her duties with Quanada fit nicely with her belief in service. Duesterhaus tries to guide her life by the words of Sargent Shriver: "Serve your families. Serve you neighbors. Serve your cities. Serve the poor. Join others who serve … for in the end it will be servants who save us all."
Family: husband, James AuBuchon; one baby due to arrive in January; two dogs, Chopper & Norton; parents, Steve and Glori Duesterhaus; sibling, Eric Duesterhaus and his wife, Liz, and daughter, Lydia.
Education: Doctorate of Philosophy in Sociology (Trustees Doctoral Fellow), University of Central Florida Master of Arts in Applied Sociology (Provost's Fellow), University of Central Florida Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Western Illinois University Illinois Certified Domestic Violence Professional.
Community Involvement: Community Building Council, United Way of Adams County; Adult Education Advisory Committee, John Wood Community College; Treasurer, Dark River Derby Coalition; Treasurer, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Marketing Committee; Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence; West Central Illinois Continuum of Care Consortium; Quincy Area Partnership for Unmet Needs.
What is your job, what do you do and what do you like best about it? Executive director, Quanada. My primary responsibilities include guiding and assisting the board of directors, directing the recruitment and retention of staff, acting as a liaison with state coalitions and other social service agencies, promoting community awareness of our programs and services, managing grant applications and reporting, fundraising and strategic planning. The best thing about my job with Quanada is the diversity of my responsibilities. There are many things I enjoy greatly, and my position allows me to do them all. I'm rarely ever bored.
What is a typical workweek like? When you provide services to victims of domestic and sexual violence there is no typical workweek. This is especially true given that my office is located in the main shelter building where people are living. I've had to learn to stay ahead of deadlines, because I never know what crisis may suddenly appear that takes me away from pushing paperwork.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it? When I was 15, I started my first job working at Sheridan Swim Club as a lifeguard and concession stand worker. Even though I was one of the youngest employees, my coworkers never made me feel inferior or left out.
How do you balance everything? I have learned to say, "No." I don't do it as often as I need to, but finding a balance is a process.
Which person has influenced you the most and why? I've had too many positive influences in my life to answer this question succinctly. I could maybe fit it into a top 10 list …
Have you ever failed at something? How did you recover? Failure is a part of life. After a failure, I allow myself a brief time to wallow in self-pity (not to exceed 48 hours). After the wallowing, I evaluate and take responsibility for my actions that led to a failure and try not to repeat the same mistakes.
What does success mean to you? Taking pride in your work, welcoming new challenges and not having to look back on your life with regret.
What was your proudest professional moment? Being asked to talk about my research on American Public Media's Marketplace Money radio program.
What is your favorite stress buster/leisure time diversion? Roller Derby! However, full-contact sports are prohibited for expectant mothers. At present, I'm stuck bench coaching and maintaining the treasury. I'll be back on skates for the 2014 season.
What is the biggest need in your community? Full community support for lifelong education.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community? We have many outstanding individuals and businesses in our community who take pride in Quincy and understand the importance of caring for each other. These attitudes are long-standing among Quincy's residents, dating all the way back to the early 1800's.
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be? High school Megan wouldn't have the maturity to listen to my advice.
If you weren't working for Quanada, what would you be doing? Before coming to Quanada, I was considering pursuing a career in academia.
If you could add a few more hours to the day, how would you spend them? I would try to spend them with my family, but I would likely end up taking on more responsibility with the Dark River Derby Coalition. It's a good thing everyone in my family is a huge derby fan.
Career aspirations aside, name one thing you definitely want to accomplish in your lifetime. I have a long list of places I would like to travel to before I die. Experiencing different cultures changes one's perception of the world and can fundamentally change the way we live.