Our fourth annual Women of Influence issue comes on the heels of an influential election, with a record number of women elected to Congress. Next month, 125 women will serve their country in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, yet “America still has a long way to go before women are proportionately represented in elected office,” as Congressman Aaron Schock points out in this issue.
In fact, the United States ranks 85th in the world in terms of female legislators, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union—behind China, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. (Visit ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm to see for yourself.) And in the private sector, just five percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t point out that exactly half of our 2014 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty, recognized last month, were females! Progress has been a mixed bag, but while institutional barriers remain, opportunities are everywhere if you are open to them.
The women featured in this issue are building the future of our community, advocating for the underserved, preparing the next generation of workers, and guiding their organizations through rapidly changing times. Their spheres of influence vary with their life stories and career paths, but all are making a significant impact in central Illinois. We hope you are inspired by their stories and words of advice.
We’ve once again shined a spotlight on eight of our region’s influential women, yet many others deserve recognition as well, from Joan Ausbury, who has operated a very successful business for more than three decades, to Jen Hopwood, chief nursing officer at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, to Nancy Anderson, a licensed counselor working to empower young women with effective communication techniques. From the committed nurses in our healthcare centers to those inspiring girls to explore careers in the STEM disciplines, the influence of women can be felt all over the Greater Peoria area.
After last year’s very popular panel discussion, iBi will again host a breakfast panel featuring six current and former Women of Influence. Moderated by Colleen Callahan, the December 9th event will feature Suzette Boulais of Arts Partners, Judge Kate Gorman of the Illinois Tenth Judicial Circuit Court, Kim Hauer of Caterpillar Inc., Councilwoman Elizabeth Jensen of Heyl Royster, Debbie Simon of UnityPoint Health – Methodist | Proctor, and Dr. Sarah Zallek of the Illinois Neurological Institute Sleep Center. This event will sell out—visit peoriamagazines.com/events to reserve one of the last remaining seats!
We’d like to thank everyone featured in this issue for telling their stories, and special thanks to Ching Zedric of ChingPhoto for her magnificent portraits. It’s been a great year, and we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and best wishes in 2015! iBi