Honoring An Exemplary Public Servant

by Brad McMillan
Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University

Ray LaHood will receive the Henri de Tonti Award for his outstanding community leadership.

A year ago, Ray LaHood ended his truly exemplary 36-year career in public service. While he served with great distinction in the U.S. Congress and did a tremendous job as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation in President Obama’s cabinet, it’s his outstanding community leadership that has afforded him the nickname “Mayor of the 18th Congressional District.” LaHood’s passion for helping small and larger communities in central Illinois prosper is a remarkable achievement worth recognition and celebration. And nowhere is that more evident than in the Tri-County region.

That’s why the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University is pleased to partner again with the Peoria Historical Society in presenting Ray LaHood with the Henri de Tonti Award honoring outstanding principled community leadership. The LaHood tribute dinner, featuring many notable speakers, will take place on September 27th at 6pm in the Peoria Civic Center main ballroom. This will be the first local banquet in his post-public service career, celebrating his contributions in making the Peoria area a better place to live, work and raise a family.

One of Ray LaHood’s great leadership qualities was his ability to bring central Illinois legislators together in a bipartisan manner to help move important projects forward. LaHood would convene regular meetings in his congressional office that included Senator George Shadid, Senator Dale Risinger, Senator David Koehler, Representative David Leitch, Representative Don Moffitt, Representative Keith Sommer, Representative Ricca Slone and Representative Aaron Schock. Congressman LaHood would help persuade this group of Democratic and Republican state legislators to work together on securing funding and support for a myriad of important projects, including:

  • The restoration and preservation of the Illinois River and Peoria Lakes
  • The $499-million reconstruction of I-74 (now named the “Ray LaHood Highway,” thanks to Representative Jehan Gordon Booth and Senator Koehler)
  • Building the $147-million Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitor Center
  • Building the new Cancer Research Center at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria
  • Building the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center
  • Helping Heartland Community Health Clinic become a federally-qualified health center, which in 10 years has grown from helping 800 low-income patients to 22,000.

Ray LaHood’s leadership has also helped his alma mater, Bradley University, in many significant ways, from providing federal funding for the renovation and addition of Westlake Hall to using his remaining campaign funds to endow scholarships for Bradley seniors studying American government. In addition, as the first Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley, he will share his impressive experiences in public service with future students in the classroom, as well as participating in national public policy symposiums.

Ray LaHood’s public service fingerprints can be found all across central Illinois. Join us on September 27th to pay him a well-deserved tribute for his outstanding, principled community leadership. iBi

For additional details, see the next page or register online at peoriahistoricalsociety.org.

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