Beyond the boardroom: Lainey Emmons of Elliott Counseling Group | People

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Lainey Emmons is Chief Operating Officer of Elliott Counseling Group. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette).


Overall, as global pandemics go, COVID-19 could have been much worse for the Champaign-based company LAINEY EMMONS helps lead.

“It made things different and forced us to rethink a lot of the policies and procedures that were in place before that, and while it’s hard to rethink and redo it hasn’t been harmful,” says the director of the operation of Elliott Counseling Group.

“It’s just different. Our business structure had to be flexible to survive, but we embraced it and we got there. In our industry, we knew so many people depended on us for their own well-being throughout the pandemic, we owed it to them to rethink, redo and carry on and we continued to serve our community successfully.

A Centennial High School graduate who now resides in Urbana, Emmons joined Elliott as chief business officer five years ago last month and was promoted to chief operating officer three years ago in September at the Center for Mental Health and West Clark Street Wellness.

The dedicated craftsman, animal rights activist and holder of three university degrees took the time to answer questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 138th episode of our weekly quick read spotlighting the leaders of organizations large and small.


My one unbreakable rule in the workplace is… meet others with kindness and respect, even in the face of error.

On the walls of my office you will find… diplomas, family photos, photos of my pets and a keepsake from a loved one that reminds me that I am a magical unicorn.

When it comes to my philosophy on meetings… I’m not one to “waste time” because I know how precious every minute can be. And yet, I know how valuable unscheduled or flexibly scheduled meetings are.

Not meeting your team for long periods of time is dangerous. You become disconnected from your team, lose vital moments monitoring them, and get a pulse on how they’re really doing that doesn’t send well in an email.







Lainey Emmons




I appreciate semi-regular meetings, even if they are spaced out, so you can get an overview of the team members. Having an agenda, but disregarding every second, allows time for natural conversations and an opportunity for organic information that you might otherwise miss.

I’m thrifty in this… things don’t have to be used conventionally to be amazing.

Reuse things. Paint things. Bringing things back to life.

The hardest thing about being a leader is… my mind moves at a mile a minute and is filled with ideas of how to solve problems, but sometimes you just have to shut up, stop your mind from coming up with “solutions” and just be with someone and support them while he finds the answer himself.

I can’t live without my… crew. Seriously, if the team isn’t there, it’s not a job I can do.

Every member of the team plays a vital role on a daily basis and I can’t imagine trying to do everything without them.

Plus, they’re quite fun to be around.

The three adjectives I hope my staff would use to describe me are… kind, devoted and courageous.

I relax after work by… laughing with my family and cuddling with my pets, reading and watching a TikTok or two…or dozens.

When it comes to the worst job I’ve ever had… I haven’t had any jobs that I would consider the “worst” and I’ve cleaned up a lot animal shit in my previous jobs.

They all had great teams, great opportunities and taught me a lot, so I’m grateful for everyone. Although I’m pretty glad I’m not cleaning up poo every day anymore.

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