Leadership is the ability to get things done—to not only dream big dreams, but bring them to fruition. Every November, InterBusiness Issues dedicates an entire issue to the young leaders in central Illinois—our most outstanding 40 Leaders Under Forty.
For the 14th year, InterBusiness Issues and Caterpillar Inc., along with sponsors RLI, Illinois Central College, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Health Alliance Medical Plans, South Side Bank, Commerce Bank and Farnsworth Group, present the new class of 40 Leaders Under Forty.
The Class of 2007 includes men and women who are committed to making central Illinois an even better place in which to live and work. They were chosen because of their dedication to advancing both their professional lives and supporting organizations that benefit their friends and neighbors. These remarkable individuals were honored at a prestigious awards ceremony November 7th at the Hotel Pere Marquette’s Cotillion Ballroom.
Congratulations to this year’s winners. We thank them for their current contributions and look forward to celebrating their future accomplishments.
Roslyn Adams is a territory manager with Bard Peripheral Vascular, servicing a network of hospitals, vascular surgeons and patients across central Illinois. Employing her state-of-the-art training in the implantation of vascular stents, grafts, filters and balloons, Adams advises surgeons and technicians in the selection and use of life-saving devices.
Adams received Pharmacia’s Rookie of the Year award in sales and product education, the Above and Beyond Excellence and Star Achievement awards from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the Boys and Girls Club Helping Hands Award.
She is an officer for the Moss-Bradley Residential Association Board of Directors and co-chairperson for the Junior League’s $6 million capital campaign to build a children’s museum at Glen Oak Pavilion. In 2006, Adams completed a program with the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School, working with the Boys and Girls Club on a project focused on the challenges facing Peoria’s at-risk youth. She is membership chair for the Peoria Medical Society Alliance and a Fine Art Fair Preview Party co-chair for the Peoria Art Guild, and serves on the board of deacons at First Federated Church and the board of directors for the American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate.
Andrew Black is president and CEO of Princeville State Bank, where he strives to maintain personal relationships with his customers. His demonstrated ability to lead has made this financial institution a success and helped it grow. Black caters to small businesses as well as individual customers by offering services which benefit owners and employees.
Black was named Career Banker of the Year by the Career Development Division in 2005. In 2006, he was named a Rising Star in Banking by the Northwestern Financial Review. Black is involved with the Village Board in Princeville and has served as first lieutenant for the Peoria County Sheriff’s Auxiliary.
He provides economic education to local schools and has taught proper budgeting practices to groups at his church. Black has participated in St. Jude’s Million and 2 Million Pennies drives with The Mix 101.1 radio station. He is on the annual conference committee for the Illinois Banker’s Association and is a member of Quarterly CEO Forums, Community BancInsurance Services’ Board of Directors and Career Development Division. He has coordinated CBAI’s Community Banking Scholarship program since 2003 and has been a member of the Peoria North group of Business Network International since 2004.
Rachel Bradford is the Social Responsibility Initiatives Representative for Caterpillar and is in charge of administering the Chairman’s Global Community Service Awards Program and coordinating the annual Caterpillar Employee United Way Appeal. She manages the company’s program of engagement with local communities and non-profit organizations and facilitates volunteer service by employees in worthwhile causes. Bradford also supervises the surplus property donation program and serves as liaison with local governmental bodies and officials.
Bradford is a graduate of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School. She serves as a board member of the Hult Health Education Center and co-chair of the Center’s annual lobster boil fundraising event. Bradford is the assistant chair of the Kids in the Kitchen project for the Junior League of Peoria and is on the Walk-Run Committee for Family House. She volunteers with Crittenton Center’s Crisis Nursery, providing care, comfort and love for infants. Bradford serves as a member of the Allocation Committee for Youth and Children with the Heart of Illinois United Way. She is a First United Methodist Church Bear Buddy and raised $3,000 during the tri-county race for the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate in 2006.
Stephanie Calahan is the founder and CEO of Calahan Solutions, Inc., setting the direction and coaching consultants to deliver the highest quality services. She is also in charge of all forms of the company’s marketing. Calahan is an advocate and strategist for her clients’ productivity needs, working one-on-one with each client to empower them to develop the skills they need to work independently.
Calahan was named a Rolodex Expert Panel Advisor, OnlineOrganizing. com’s exclusive blogger on paper and information management and received the Pantagraph’s 20 Leaders Under 40 Award. She is a certified Hemphill Productivity Institute Facilitator and was given the Pioneer Award by the National Association of Women Business Owners. Calahan is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Better Business Bureau and Women in Communication.
Her community involvement includes the Stepping Stones program and Women of Distinction Steering Committee at the YWCA. Calahan also serves on the advisory board of GMC Life Solutions. She is a member of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce and a lifetime supporter of various events of the Baby Fold.
Peter Cenek is a professor in the Department of Nursing at Bradley University, where he teaches senior medical-surgical nursing classes. He is on the Department of Nursing Committee and serves as a student academic advisor and faculty advisor for the Alpha Phi Omega service organization. He is also a part-time Advanced Practice Nurse/Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Neurosurgery group at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
Cenek was given the Award for Excellence by Bradley University Parents’ Association during his first year as a faculty member. His leadership and service have been rewarded with the Excellence in Professional Nursing Award for Clinical Practice and Best at the Bedside Clinical Ladder Level IV by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. He was also recognized as a WEEK Channel 25 Home Team Hero.
Cenek is a member of the Epsilon Epsilon and Tau Omicron chapters of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. He is a member of the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Professional Nursing Congress Advanced Practice Nurse committee and the OSF Six Sigma Breathe Easy Team. Cenek was nominated for the Dr. Joseph S. Solovy Award recognizing outstanding commitment to improving community health for the Air Bag Safety Awareness project.
Andy Chiou, M.D. is an assistant professor of clinical surgery and radiology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and an adjunct professor of engineering and technology at Bradley University. He is the director of endovascular surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and the director of surgical research at Methodist Medical Center. Chiou is the managing director of Advanced Mobile Diagnostics, a partner at Peoria Surgical Group and a surgeon for the Peoria Vein Center.
As a former lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, Chiou received an achievement medal and the National Defense service medal. He also received the Humanitarian Service Award for his relief efforts during and after Hurricane Allison.
Chiou is a co-founder of Peoria Robotics at the Peoria NEXT Center of Excellence. He volunteers with WTVP, the local PBS television channel. Chiou is a member of the Comprehensive Planning Committee in Morton, councilor for the Illinois chapter of the American College of Surgeons and board member of the Peoria Medical Society. He is the principal investigator of Project PROMIS, a community program which screens residents of Peoria County for vascular disease.
Erik Christian As assistant director of human resources for the County of Peoria, Erik Christian helps develop and execute the strategic focus of the County’s human resources department. He represents Peoria County in labor relations settings, partners with elected and appointed officials to develop management strategies and develops training programs on human resources topics.
Christian is a Certified Professional with the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. He is a graduate of the Young Professionals Leadership Development Academy and had an article published in the PA Times Online, the online newsletter of the American Society for Public Administration.
Christian serves on the personnel and distribution committees of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois and the Building Self-Reliance Distribution committee for the Heart of Illinois United Way. He serves on the planning and events committee of the Peoria Area Labor/Management Council and the personnel committee for the Heart of Illinois Port District and is the chairman of the community and economic development committee of the Peoria County Extension Council. He is a volunteer with Holy Family Catholic Church, the St. Patrick’s Society of Peoria and the Peoria Park District.
Brian Coffey As a sales learning consultant for Caterpillar, Brian Coffey manages complex projects with internal customers and external suppliers to produce e-learning courses which help sell Caterpillar products and services more effectively in the global marketplace. He supports the Parts Pro e-learning program and provides oversight to a third-party help desk.
Coffey was a finalist in the Caterpillar Marketing and Product Support Division for the Chairman’s Community Service Award and the Annual Quality Improvement Competition Award in the Caterpillar Systems and Processes Division. He also completed the Marketing and Product Support Division 101 training program for future leaders. Coffey has received numerous fundraising awards from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for individual and family team achievements and was commissioned as an associate in ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Coffey co-founded and co-led the Central Illinois Juvenile Diabetes Support Group and has devoted many hours of volunteer time to the JDRF Annual Central Illinois Walk to Cure Diabetes. He delivered JDRF Bags of Hope care packages to newly-diagnosed children in central Illinois and helped to secure grants for the cause from the Caterpillar Foundation.
David Cook As a full-time Six Sigma Black Belt, David Cook leads cross-functional project teams which seek to improve processes critical to the success of Illinois Central College. Black Belts at ICC are responsible for meeting project goals that deliver financial results and quality improvements. Furthermore, as a Black Belt, Cook develops and carries out strategies that foster a culture of continuous quality improvement at ICC.
Cook was selected as one of three college delegates to attend the 2004 Data and Decisions Workshop sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges and Association for Institutional Research. He was also selected as one of six college delegates to attend the Higher Learning Commission’s 2006 “Assessment as a Core Strategy” workshop. Cook is a graduate of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce Leadership School and holds membership in numerous professional organizations.
Cook belongs to the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria and the Uplands Neighborhood Association. He and his wife sponsor the Marilee A. Cook Scholarship, an annual award for an English or Library Science major at Illinois Central College. He is a fundraising volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and serves the Peoria Art Guild as well.
Paul Cusack is commercial manager of Caterpillar Logistics Aerospace and Defense. He is responsible for the execution, growth and implementation of Aerospace and Defense operations, supervises management employees and manages a budget in excess of $30.5 million. Cusack is a Six Sigma Green Belt who assists with business development activities through customer site visits and proposals in support of new business and acts as the liaison with Caterpillar Defense and Federal Products Division. He oversees Honeywell TLS, IMP and BIC operations, European Distribution Center and Joint Strike Fighter.
Cusack has received several awards from the Departments of the Navy and Defense and was appointed honorary faculty member of the US Army Logistics Management College. He is an Eagle Scout and was selected as a member of the Lexington Institute Logistics Team.
Active in the community, Cusack is a leader for the Appalachian Service Project, an Easter Seals VIP and secretary and umpire for the Central Illinois Umpire Association. He is an adult Sunday school teacher and an officer in the Peoria Sunday Morning League and has served as past treasurer of Mossville United Methodist Church.
Brad Deal is the owner and CEO of Sticks and Stones, a company which began in the Deal home and has turned into a multi-million dollar business with more than 35 full- and part-time employees. Deal conducts all operations of the company, managing its employees and working to expand the potential offerings of the company.
Deal has been asked to speak at various entrepreneurial and small business events in the Peoria area. He was the featured speaker at Peoria’s NOVUS event in June and has spoken at Bradley University and the Illinois Small Business Association’s annual meeting at the Civic Center.
Working toward improving the community, Deal took upon himself a project which is “beautifying Peoria one home at a time.” He funded this project, which fixes up homes in challenged areas of Peoria and sells them at a discounted rate to minority families looking to buy their first homes. Deal is also committed to the Teen Challenge organization and helps young men rebuild their lives not only by mentoring, but employing some of them. He also works hard to raise funds for Peoria Christian School.
James Feehan, Jr. is a special federal officer with the United States Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation Central Illinois Cyber Crime Unit. He is responsible for investigating state and federal crimes in which technology is used to commit child exploitation, fraud, computer tampering and other high-tech crimes.
Feehan has received letters of commendation, honorable mentions and distinguished service awards from numerous organizations for his dedication to the protection of children and their families from electronic crimes. He has received six Distinguished Service Awards in recognition of his outstanding work from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, Peoria Police Department, Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Feehan educates law enforcement personnel about high-tech, Internet and computer crimes, teaches college students about computer forensics and speaks with parents, teachers and children about Internet safety. He works with legislators to update laws to keep pace with modern technology and better prosecute sexually dangerous predators and is a guest speaker for law enforcement and governmental agencies’ conventions.
Sandy Gallant-Jones is a news anchor and meteorologist for WEEK TV, responsible for delivering the news and weather on television. In addition to her on-air time, she develops computer graphics for weather segments, produces and reports on news events and teaches school-age children and retirees about weather, broadcasting and meteorology.
Gallant-Jones was the recipient of the Bill Houlihan WEEK-TV Employee of the Month award in 2006. She is a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Radio and Television News Directors Association, American Meteorological Society, National Weather Association and the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.
Gallant-Jones serves on the board of directors for the Center for Prevention of Abuse and is a member of the Junior League of Peoria, volunteering with the Peoria Playhouse committee and Julep’s Closet. She is a volunteer co-host at the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon and has been an emcee for the Alzheimer’s Association, W.D. Boyce Council, Military Moms and local Phi Theta Kappa chapters. She worked on the production team for St. Jude’s telethon and is a member of St. Thomas Catholic Church and the Florida State University Alumni Association.
Angel Gibson As vice president of commercial lending at Busey Bank, Angel Gibson is responsible for developing new business relationships, maintaining existing ones, achieving certain financial goals for the bank and maintaining asset quality. She makes on-site visits and conducts cash flow analysis and industry trend reviews for clients. Gibson is a customer advocate who regularly participates in lending decisions at the local level.
Gibson was named Busey Bank Associate of the Quarter for the second quarter in 2007 and is a Certified Public Accountant in both Illinois and North Carolina.
She is president of the Pekin Chamber of Commerce’s Pekin First Committee and an associate member of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Gibson has served as a guest speaker at the first annual Money Smart Week in Peoria, the local SCORE chapter, the first annual Financial Empowerment Week and at the Busey Bank Presents seminar held in August. When not speaking at such engagements, Gibson attends association meetings as a member of the Pekin Rotary Club, Pekin Easter Seals Fundraising Committee and American Institute of CPAs. She is a former lecturer at Park University and a former board member of the Peoria Ballet and the Old House Society.
Michael Graham is first vice president of John Graham and Associates and president of Midwestern Securities Trading Company. He is a financial planner for John Graham and Associates, which requires him to work with successful individuals, for-profit and non-profit entities building and managing their personalized financial plans.
As president of Midwestern Securities Trading Co., Graham provides unparalleled broker/dealer and Registered Investment Advisor services to community banks and independent financial advisors in Illinois. He focuses on helping them build their businesses and keep them growing.
Graham is very involved in the community and is president of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce board. Within the Chamber, he has also been the chairman of the membership committee and treasurer of the board. He has committed much of his time in the last year to hiring and training new staff for this organization. He is also a member of the East Peoria Rotary Club and the East Peoria Mass Transit District. In the past, Graham has served as a school board member for Roanoke-Benson District 60.
Jessica Alameda Guingrich, M.D. is a breast imaging radiologist for Central Illinois Radiological Associates, Ltd., active staff of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. At the Susan G. Komen Breast Center, she is the medical director of the Breast Imaging Center and program director for the Breast Imaging Fellowship.
Guingrich routinely speaks on breast cancer topics at various events, including the Fourth Annual Prayer for the Cure, Forum on Breast Health, Breast and Cervical Health, Cancer Registry Conference 2005 and Beyond Breast Cancer Support Group. She also teaches radiology residents and medical students at the College of Medicine.
Guingrich has been published in several medical journals and serves as an advisor for the SomoVu Automated Breast Ultrasound System. She is a member of many professional associations, including the American College of Radiology, American Roentgen Ray Society and the Radiological Society of North America. She also serves on the Comprehensive Breast Center Steering Committee, Cancer Committee at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Survivors for Life Program Committee.
John Hafner, M.D. is an attending physician and member of the executive committee at the Emergency Department at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. He is a core faculty member, research director of the Emergency Medicine Residency program and chairman of the Peoria Institutional Review Board at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Hafner is a co-principal investigator of the Peoria Injury Free Coalition for Kids, editor-in-chief of Emergency Medicine Specialty Reports and member of the advocacy committee at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
Hafner was a recipient of the Ron W. Lee Excellence in Pediatric Care Award and is a member of the Lambda chapter of the Delta Omega Society. He was awarded the Emergency Medicine Residency Program Faculty Teaching Award in 2001 and 2006 and the Mentoring Award in 2002. Hafner was named Outstanding Rotating Resident in Pediatrics and received the Outstanding Research Award from the College of Medicine.
Hafner works with the Peoria Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children and Peoria NEXT. He is a member of the Peoria Safe Communities program with the Red Cross and the Illinois Injury Prevention Coalition.
Alicia Hermann is the owner and senior project engineer of Hermann and Associates, responsible for everyday business management, project coordination, marketing and bookkeeping. As a professional engineer, Hermann works with clients to design roadways, site developments, storm sewers, sanitary sewers, detention basins and preventative maintenance plans.
Hermann is a member of the American Public Works Association and serves on the APWA Central Illinois Conference program committee. She has been involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers, serving as secretary, educational/publicity chair and program chair. She founded the ASCE Annual Canned Food Drive competition held each December and is a member of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Service Team.
Hermann is involved with Kellar Primary Adopt-a-School, has been a guest reader and tutor and taught an eight-week class on math and puzzles for students interested in accelerating their math skills. She joined the Peoria Jaycees and has volunteered at the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Beer Fest, Santa Visits the Kids event and the Haunted House. Hermann is a member of the Spring Bay American Legion and has volunteered to help coordinate the No Tears for Christmas event for several years.
Tim Hickey As the director of business development for CORE Construction, Tim Hickey manages marketing and business development activities, including the establishment of strategies and goals, building relationships and increasing opportunities through improved market position and client retention.
Hickey is a graduate of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School. He is a former president of the American Institute of Architects in central Illinois and co-chaired the 2006 AIA Illinois state conference held in downtown Peoria last November.
Hickey serves as a board member and chairman of the Steamboat Festival for Peoria Area Community Events. He is on the board of the Peoria chapter of the American Institute of Architects and is a mentor for the Peoria High School Business Academy. He is an ambassador for the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association. Hickey is the director of the Rotary Club of Peoria North and is active on several of its committees: Literacy, Rebuilding Together-Christmas in April, Red Cross Blood Drive and Peoria Alternative High School and Bradley University Rotaract mentoring programs.
Michelle Holmes-Bello is the artistic director and primary teacher of the USA Ballet Academy. She organizes and implements rigorous rehearsals and coordinates timelines for intense tours which includes travel itineraries, theatre schedules, media interviews and maintaining a balance between workload and down time.
Holmes-Bello was awarded the Bloomington YWCA 2007 Women of Distinction Award in the area of Arts and Entertainment. She has also received critical acclaim from several industry leaders and has been featured in television specials, magazines and radio and television news programs.
As a dancer and director, Holmes-Bello is committed to enhancing public awareness of ballet as a viable profession through outreach performances and arts in education programs for audiences from preschoolers to seniors. She has instituted two programs to reach two very vital components of our society: Kids First reaches the underprivileged and at-risk population and Forget-Me-Nots focuses on seniors. She has also developed educational programs for the Girl Scouts of the USA which assists girls in achieving their required badges.
Richard LaHood, Jr. is the general manager, operations director and special projects coordinator of LaGondola Spaghetti House. In this position, he manages 14 different restaurants and more than 250 employees throughout central Illinois. LaHood is also a writer, producer, actor and director of Providential Communications, a non-profit television production company. LaHood created the “Angel Force” and “Knights of St. Michael” television shows as well as assorted music videos which air on EWTN.
Due to LaHood’s work, Providential Communications received the UCMVA award for children’s programming. They are nominated again this year for Best Religious and/or Movie Presentation for Catholic Evangelization of the Year.
LaHood’s role at Providential Communications is strictly volunteer work. As the general manager of LaGondola Spaghetti House, he donates his time and supplies to local causes and benefits from raising money for a young lady’s kidney transplant to the Big Brother Big Sister fundraisers. LaHood also supports the Family Resource Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Missionaries of Charity and many churches throughout central Illinois. He has sponsored the District 150 Band Booster Spaghetti Supper for 15 years.
Monica Li As the chief financial officer of Heartland Partnership, Monica Li is responsible for all financial and fiscal management aspects of the company and its eleven affiliates, which include the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois. She is part of the senior management team at the Heartland Partnership, and as such, provides leadership and coordination in the administrative, business planning, accounting and budgeting efforts of all of the companies. Li also serves as the HR and IT manager.
Li has been actively involved with the Peoria Chinese Association since moving to Peoria and was elected as president in 2006. The PCA is a 1,000-member, community-based, non-profit organization which represents Peoria’s strong and influential Chinese community. Under her leadership, the PCA has reached organizational goals and become incorporated. Li led efforts to reorganize the Chinese dancing club and helped to obtain a dragon from China to be used by the dragon dancing team, an integral part of Chinese culture. She has initiated several other clubs for the Chinese American community in Peoria, including a mom’s club, tennis club, youth dancing and more. She also serves as treasurer for the Chinese Language School.
Lucinda Loos is the regional vice president of Hanson Professional Services, Inc. As such, she is manager of marketing and business development at Hanson’s Peoria office. She is a project manager for Hanson’s architectural, engineering and management projects in Peoria and its surrounding communities, the client liaison for the company’s local government market sector and coach and mentor to regional employees and technical staff.
Loos is a recipient of the Princeville Pride Award from Princeville schools and a member of Bradley University’s College of Engineering and Technology Executive Advisory Council. She graduated from the Peoria Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership and Political Leadership Schools.
Loos continues to be involved in making Peoria a better place to live, work and grow through her involvement in major transportation and infrastructure initiatives and mentoring activities. She is a member of the Women’s Transportation Society, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Heart of Illinois United Way and the American Cancer Society. One of her greatest achievements was applying for a Safe Routes to School grant for Princeville Grade School.
Brad Mahony is a branch manager for South Side Trust and Savings Bank in Washington. He supervises and coordinates the sales and operational activities of the facility’s staff to ensure quality customer service and efficient operations and is responsible for the achievement of facility goals which are consistent with organizational goals.
Due to their commitment to their father after he developed Alzheimer’s, Mahony and his sister, Megan, were asked to speak at the Alzheimer’s 2005 National Convention in Washington D.C. Mahony is a great advocate for this cause and is starting a young professionals group for the Central Illinois Alzheimer’s Association in order to raise funds and awareness from this unreached demographic.
Mahony is involved in many other community associations and committees. He is a member of the 2008 Future Leaders Alliance of the Illinois Bankers Association, 2007 Washington Gus Macker Basketball Tournament committee, Washington Rotary, Race for the Cure, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Washington Chamber of Commerce and the RBPS2 Tournament for the American Cancer Society.
Steve Mattern is an assistant professor of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Illinois Central College, responsible for student advisement, assistance with program development and ongoing support of program needs. Mattern serves as academic fieldwork coordinator for OTA students, working closely with the program director. Mattern also works part-time in clinical practice at the Antioch Group as a licensed clinical professional counselor.
Mattern received the Pére Marquette Award for volunteer service to the Catholic Diocese of Peoria in 2004. He is a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society and the Phi Kappa Phi National Academic Honor Society.
Mattern donates his time to many groups, including the Knights of Columbus, Brimfield Men’s Club and Brimfield Historical Society. He presents classes and meets with couples to support family life for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. He also leads groups and studies for fathers to become better fathers and teaches Sunday school, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and marriage preparation classes through the diocese. Mattern also donates his time and professional expertise to local churches to educate people about mental illness.
G. Allen Mayer As special counsel to Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, G. Allen Mayer assists the Comptroller with legislative initiatives, including research, bill drafting and testimony and analysis of pending litigation. He serves as Freedom of Information Officer and Prevailing Wage Enforcement Officer and carries out projects such as special audits, accounting bulletins, local government division projects and cemetery care and burial trust division as assigned by the comptroller and chief of staff.
Mayer received the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award from the Illinois Jaycees and Illinois Junior Chamber International Senate in 2005 and the Peoria Jaycees’ Charles C. Schlink Memorial Good Government Award in 2004. He was elected to the Peoria County Board in 2004.
Mayer is secretary of the Peoria County Democrats and a member of Peoria Rotary North, the Peoria County Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, the Sierra Club, Peoria Jaycees and the NAACP. Mayer was part of a team of volunteers that organized support for the tax referendum to fund the county-owned Bel-Wood nursing home. He is a member of the church council at First English Lutheran Church, overseeing numerous charitable projects from blood drives to Christmas gifts for foster children.
Paige Murray, M.D. is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and a family physician at Methodist Medical Center. Her career as a physician involves providing preventive healthcare and disease management for patients of all ages. Murray is innovative at providing women’s healthcare in a family practice setting, offering hope and health to women suffering from menopause and other hormonal symptoms.
Murray has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and was the recipient of the Best Attending Teacher Award. She serves as a member of the MMG Operation Committee and the Information Technology and Diabetic Care committees at Methodist Medical Center.
Murray is a volunteer at Northminster Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school and serving as a board member of the Children’s Activity Committee. A volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and Peoria Academy, Murray initiated the first Tar Wars anti-smoking campaign and the Ready, Set, Fit nutrition campaign at Peoria Academy. She serves the community through numerous other charitable organizations and sponsors a five-year-old Nigerian girl through Compassion International.
Murali Natarajan is the assistant vice president of Corporate Delivery and Management Information Systems for RLI Insurance. He directs internal departments and external resources responsible for gathering requirements and designing and delivering applications for corporate customers. He is also responsible for developing the data warehouse, management information and tool/data education solutions for the company.
Natarajan was a member of the RLI Semi-Annual Task Teams in 2000, 2001 and 2003; was named Employee of the Quarter in 1999; and earned RLI Task Team Member of the Year in 1997. He was awarded the prestigious Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter professional designation from the Insurance Institute of America in 2005.
Active in the community, Natarajan supports the Heart of Illinois United Way through its annual campaign and golf outing and is a grant reviewer of the Children and Youth Committee. He provides direction to ekala.org, a non-profit entity which offers relief and rehabilitation to the poor and needy, and was among the leadership for the 2007 American Diabetes Association Kiss-A-Pig campaign. He also supports the annual Make-A-Wish campaign and the Shiri Saradha Sakthi Peetam orphanages in India.
Chad Parker As founder and chief executive officer of Cybernautic, Inc., Bloomington-Normal’s largest web development firm, Parker builds business through sales, customer relationships and project management, and gives input on design and layout while supervising and leading a team of six employees. Parker began his company at the age of 19 after graduating from high school.
Parker received the Top Association Web Site in the United States design award from the National Association of Home Builders.
Aside from founding Cybernautic, Inc., Parker founded and is the executive director of GOYA Ministries, a non-profit organization which works to provide a school, teachers, food, clothing and a future to children who live in Mitumba, an extremely impoverished area in Nairobi, Kenya. Parker also serves as the Director of Congregational Communication and Technology for International Ministry at Eastview Christian Church. He advises on the implementation of several new campus ministries that are being planted in the Philippines through Illinois State University’s Christian Campus House Ministries. Parker is also organizing a redevelopment project in the warehouse district of downtown Bloomington.
Vickie Parry is the communications director for the central Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross. She is responsible for sharing the work and mission of the Red Cross in the community and serves as the primary spokesperson for the organization. Parry’s department is responsible for all internal and external communications efforts, public speaking, website, graphic design and disaster public affairs. She represents the Red Cross and central Illinois on local and national disaster assignments and is one of two dozen public affairs professionals in the country who train volunteers in public affairs, teaching them how to best communicate to those who need Red Cross services and those who support the organization’s work.
Parry was awarded the Silver Trumpet by the Publicity Club of Chicago in 2003 and graduated from the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership School in 2004.
Serving the community through many organizations, Parry has a strong commitment to social responsibility. She is a member of the Junior League of Peoria and the Public Relations Society of America. Parry is on the board of directors for Peoria Area Community Events and acts as the editor of the weekly newsletter put out by the Kiwanis Club of South-West Peoria.
Tara Picken is a communications representative within Corporate Public Affairs at Caterpillar, Inc. As such, she is responsible for creating and managing vice president communications and communications targeted for supervisors and managers, as well as supervising communications interns. She is also the recruiter for communication talent within Caterpillar.
Picken graduated from the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy in 2004. She facilitated the Pekin YWCA’s strategic plan with board members and community leaders and led an aquatics sub-committee of board members. She also served as a writer and presenter for the YWCA’s Annual Women’s Recognition Day from 2005 to 2007.
Picken led a board of community members who were active with Tazewell County Children’s Advocacy Center to raise more than $100,000 throughout her time as a member. She led the board’s fundraising efforts, which support the center’s goal to provide a coordinated approach to the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual abuse and serious abuse cases, which is sensitive to the child victim’s needs and holds offenders accountable. Because of her efforts, they were able to pay off the mortgage and hire additional leadership staff.
Cory Reid is commander of the 182nd Mission Support Group in the Illinois Air National Guard. He provides group-level direction and management for work characterized as infrastructure support for internal organizations such as civil engineering, crash/fire/rescue, disaster preparedness, environmental management, medical, personnel, communications, logistic readiness, aerial port, services and security. He also ensures all personnel assigned are trained and ready for wartime deployment.
Reid has been awarded many medals and achievement awards, including three Meritorious Service medals, three Air Force Commendation medals, four Air Force Achievement medals, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, Humanitarian medal, Illinois Medal of Merit and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Reid is also very involved in the community and currently serves on the board of education for Oak Grove District 68, is a Limestone athletic booster and a Civil Air Patrol liaison. He is a lifetime member and past director of the National Guard Association of Illinois and a member of the National Guard Association of the United States. Reid is a member of American Legion Post 979 and the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3883.
Brad Singer is a child and adolescent psychotherapist with the Antioch Group. He provides therapeutic services, including play, art and cognitive-based therapies to children and adolescents for a variety of emotional and behavioral issues. He helped initiate and maintain a program with several schools to address issues related to bullying, peer abuse and interpersonal relationships in the classroom. Singer is also an adjunct professor of social work at Illinois State University.
Singer was a finalist in 2004 for the Jean Tucker Award given by the Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley for the Children’s Mental Health Provider of the Year. His most valued recognition, however, was presented to him “in appreciation for his outstanding dedication to putting families back together.”
He currently volunteers with The Center for Prevention of Abuse as a medical advocate for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. He is also a soccer coach with the Christian Center and a member of the Tri-County Autism Steering Committee and The Family Violence Coordinating Council. Singer belongs to Trinity Lutheran Church where he teaches Sunday school for high school seniors. He also serves as a lay minister and elder of the church.
Elizabeth Smarjesse is the director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, and as such, is the primary spokesperson for the diocese. She organizes all forms of communication used throughout the diocese’s 26 counties, including newspapers, annual reports, funding campaigns, videos and vocations recruitment materials. Smarjesse is also responsible for special events and is in charge of all aspects of the diocesan website.
Smarjesse is a graduate of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership School and serves as a Chamber ambassador. She is on the foundation board of Peoria Area Retarded Citizens and was recently elected as chairperson by her colleagues. She also serves on the planning committee for PARC’s annual auction dinner.
Smarjesse has been involved with Teens Encounter Christ since she was a teenager, serving on the board, numerous retreat teams, in the kitchen during retreat weekends and was recently appointed part of the new leadership efforts. She also organized, planned and managed two service trips for Peoria teens and adults to lead Bible studies for children and work on the construction of churches on an Indian reservation in South Dakota.
Ryan Spain As public policy manager of the Heartland Partnership, Ryan Spain directs, evaluates and coordinates a broad series of projects and activities for the Heartland Partnership, the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Peoria NEXT and the Peoria Civic Federation. Among his professional responsibilities are project management for the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center and the Peoria Wireless Initiative. He also serves as the managing director of the Heartland Foundation, a non-profit economic development organization.
Spain received the Helping Hand Award from the Boys and Girls Club and is a graduate of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School as well as the Peoria County Civic Leadership course.
Spain is an at-large city councilman who serves his community through many different organizations. He is a member of Lakeview Museum’s board, the Mayor’s Litter Committee, the Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board and Peoria’s Young Republicans. Spain volunteers for the Toys for Tots charity race and at local high schools to lead student discussion in the importance of government and political participation.
Nathan Thomas As the executive director of the Center for Residential Living and Leadership at Bradley University, Thomas supervises areas of housing, residential living, the student judicial system and the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service. He has co-authored grant projects for alcohol education, suicide prevention and student volunteer and leadership programs. Thomas is co-chair of the Health Services Advisory committee, a member of the commencement committee and a member of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service implementation team. He is also a co-coordinator and lead instructor of the Leadership Studies minor at Bradley University.
Thomas is a graduate of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School and has received the Bradley University Francis C. Mergen Memorial Award for Public Service. He has been the Bradley University Student Organization Advisor of the Year twice and is the province president of Phi Delta Theta international fraternity.
Thomas is involved with the Children’s Hospital of Illinois as a Dance Marathon advisor. He is on the Campaign Cabinet for the Heart of Illinois United Way and is a member of the American Red Cross Safe Community/Injury Prevention Advisory Board.
Brett Tilly is a Six Sigma Black Belt with Caterpillar’s North American Commercial Division (NACD) Industry Group. He is responsible for project chartering, recruiting, training and leading cross-functional teams of employees through the Six Sigma methodology to solve strategically-related business issues and implement appropriate process improvement plans related to corporate initiatives.
Tilly has received recognition as one of the most effective Black Belts at Caterpillar. He serves as a team leader for NACD’s Continuous Improvement Cultural Journey team and the facilitator for NACD’s Dealer Marketing advisory board. He mentors newer Black Belts and is requested to manage high-priority, strategic projects.
Active in the community, Tilly spends a large amount of time volunteering on various boards and committees. He is a member of the Knox College Board of Trustees and the Endowment Growth Committee of Lutheran Hillside Village. He serves as co-chair of the Faith For Tomorrow Capital Campaign for First English Lutheran Church and president of the Church Council. Tilly is president of the board of directors for the Central Illinois Alzheimer’s Association and was a team leader for Easter Seals.
Michael Unes is a network administrator at Heinold-Banwart, LLC. He is responsible for the daily operation of all networks, their integration and operation of corporate software, PC updates and maintenance and employee training.
Unes has received numerous awards recognizing his dedication to the community. He was given the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce 2006 Ambassador of the Year Award and the Rotary International Recognition for Membership Growth. He was also the recipient of the most votes for the East Peoria City Council election, which qualifies him as mayor pro-tem when the mayor is unavailable.
He also serves his community as a volunteer for many different organizations. He is a recent board member of the Young Professionals of Greater Peoria and has been treasurer of the Itoo Society board for three years. Unes also spends his time volunteering for the East Peoria Festival of Lights, the Armstrong School carnival and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. He is a Salvation Army bell ringer and an East Peoria girls youth basketball coach and serves on the East Peoria Beautification Commission. He is a former president of East Peoria Rotary.
Allison Vershaw is the director of administrative services for Premier Healthcare. As such, she is responsible for human resources, accounting and payroll, corporate safety, facility management, insurance verification, quality assurance and customer satisfaction. Vershaw is also an independent beauty consultant.
She received the 2007 Women in Leadership Woman of the Year award which recognizes a woman who is outstanding in her profession, community service and leadership and participation as a WIL member. Vershaw also received the 2007 WEEK 25 Women in Leadership award, presented to women who demonstrate unswerving dedication to the betterment of themselves, their family, their company and the community at large.
Vershaw is a volunteer for the Morton Pumpkin Festival and Peoria Area Community Events. She is on the membership and special events committees at the Peoria Zoo and the YWCA marketing committee. Vershaw is president and vice president of events for the Central Illinois Bradley Alumni Chapter and is involved with her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, as co-president of the Pi Beta Phi Alum Club. She serves on their house corporation, working with sorority members and maintenance staff to ensure the house is in prime condition.
Joshua Waite is the managing director and financial advisor for Waite Financial Group, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network’s Peoria district office. A certified financial planner, he provides vision and leadership for the office, recruits new financial representatives and coaches current representatives.
In 2002, Waite finished fifth out of more than 2,000 college interns in sales production within Northwestern Mutual. He won the Mike Gish Memorial Award for being the top sales representative in the entire nation and was appointed managing director of the Peoria district office at age 24, expanding the office from seven full-time financial representatives to 15 in two years.
Waite won the Master Achiever award for Dale Carnegie training and graduated from the Peoria Chamber Community Leadership School. He has also qualified for the International Million Dollar Roundtable Award each year he has been in the business.
As a board member of the Greater Peoria Area Fellowship for Christian Athletes, Waite provides leadership and direction and helps raise funds to support the ministry’s mission. He is a volunteer finance committee member of the Cancer Center for Healthy Living and a member of the Progressive Business Group. IBI