John Morris: 40 Leaders Alumnus of the Year
As president and CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, John Morris leads the museum’s professional staff and 4,000+ member community with a common purpose to inspire confidence, create a culture of lifelong learning, and unleash the full talent of every individual.
His affable personality, charismatic leadership, and prodigious development skills have transformed the museum—and his hometown of Peoria—in remarkable ways. Under John’s leadership, the museum has vastly expanded its community partnerships, more than doubled its Visionary Society membership of major donors, surpassed its one millionth visitor experience, hosted the state's first comprehensive bicentennial museum exhibition, and more than quadrupled student visits through the Every Student Initiative.
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peoria Riverfront Museum ended its last fiscal year in the black with its strongest finish since its 2012 opening. During this extraordinarily challenging time, the museum launched the first-ever Virtual Peoria Riverfront Museum, initiated multiple new programs and partnerships, renovated all five of its exhibition spaces, upgraded the Dome Planetarium, and brought the international debut of “T. rex: The Ultimate Predator” to Peoria.
John’s leadership in the community dates back to high school, when he was student body president at Richwoods and worked with former Peoria Mayor Jim Maloof to establish the “Mayor’s Younger Buddies” program. He served as an intern in Congress and at the White House, and went on to obtain multiple degrees from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, before returning to make his mark on central Illinois.
John was twice elected an at-large member of the Peoria City Council, served as mayor pro tem, and was director of development at Lakeview Museum and WTVP, transforming both organizations through his remarkable fundraising abilities. Immediately prior to his current role at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, he served for ten years as founding director of the Ronald W. Reagan Society at Eureka College.
As Peoria’s biggest cheerleader, John’s love for community is second to none. His enthusiasm is contagious—and makes people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. He was among the sophomore class of 40 Leaders Under Forty in 1995, and Peoria Magazines is pleased to honor him as the 2021 40 Leaders Alumnus of the Year!
On Tuesday, August 24, 2021, Peoria Magazines will acknowledge John Morris and his many accomplishments at a virtual celebration streaming on Facebook Live at 4:00pm CDT. Mark your calendars and join us to celebrate this remarkable community leader, friend, husband, father and colleague! PS