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Hannagan wins top prize at CEO Prize Day, CEO students speak at Vandalia City Council

After months of learning how to promote their business, the Class of 2023 Fayette County CEO students were put to the ultimate test on Friday night.

Each student had the opportunity to showcase their small business to a panel of judges for Pitch Day at Jefferson School. A winner was selected from each room to compete in front of all six judges.

Collin Hannagan poses with the six judges after being named the winning pitch during the Fayette County CEO program’s annual event.

Collin Hannagan of Hannagan Pen Co. took the grand prize. The other two finalists were Lilly Fender and Lydia Smith.

Fayette County Facilitator Erin Niebrugge said the event is one of three major projects held every spring for the program.

“It kind of forced the kids to talk a little bit more about their businesses to just be thorough and explain them,” Niebrugge said.


Participating students include:

Jady Alsbury – 824 Live More – Mental Health Bracelets

Autumn Payne – Diamond Detail – Interior Car Detailing

Emma Hamilton – Deserving Desserts – Non-traditional Desserts

Faith Budny Clymer – Faithful Deeds – Dog-sitting, House-sitting, Errand-running

Alexandra Goldesberry – Beautiful Chaos Charcuterie – Charcuterie and Dessert Boards as well as knife/board sets

Lilly Fender – Lilly Isabella Photography – Lifestyle and Commercial Photography

Jade Whitehead – Down 222 Earth – Unique Designs

Lydia Smith – Styles by Lydia – Thrifiting, Upcycling, and Styling Outfits

Collin Hannagan – Hannagan Pen Co – Handcrafted Pens

Olivia Baker – Liv Variegated – Jewelry

Addie McWhorter – Gifts Made Simple – Gift Baskets


Niebrugge said the event is a “good learning experience” and she hopes the practice acts as a way for the CEO students to dream beyond their wildest aspirations

“I hope it pushed them to really think beyond Fayette County and how big they could scale this business if they wanted to,” she said. “ I hope it forced  them to think in depth and question some of the things that they are already doing.”

The next event for the Fayette County CEO program is the annual Trade Show, which will be held on April 22 at the Kaskaskia College Vandalia campus.

Also this week:

A couple of students from the Fayette County CEO program discussed their impressions of the program and their budding businesses during the Vandalia City Council meeting on Monday, March 20.

CEO Program Board member Doug Knebel introduced Faith Budy Clymer and Lilly Fender who then each described what they learned from the program, their future plans and what their business is all about.

“This is our fifth year, and I’m more impressed each year,” Knebel said. “The quality of students we get is outstanding.”

Budy Clymer said her business Faithful Deeds is a faith-based service company that provides clients with dog sitting, house sitting and errand running offerings. She said she plans to attend Southern Illinois University Carbondale and major in biology with aspirations on becoming a dentist.

“I’ve learned how to mesh with people so well,” Budy Clymer said.

Lilly Fender

Faith Budny Clymer. left,

Fender, who has a lifestyles and commercial photography business titled Lilly Isabella Photography, said one lesson she has learned during her time in the Fayette County CEO program has helped to push her to be better.

“I believe in the importance of networking and the importance of pushing myself to the next level,” Fender said. “But also to be grateful for how far I’ve come.”

Mayor Rick Gottman said the city has been a longtime supporter of the CEO program.

“We appreciate what the CEO program means to the youth not only in the city of Vandalia but for all of those in the county,” Gottman said.