A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

As board president of Look. It’s My Book!, Mike Murphy is dedicated to getting books into the hands of students in Peoria Public Schools. Founded 10 years ago, the nonprofit organization distributes new books throughout the year to all students in grades K through four. In this role, he utilizes more than 200 volunteers, manages the executive and advisory boards, and helps raise over $100,000 yearly to purchase new books.

During the pandemic, Murphy led the development of new initiatives to get books to children safely, from drive-by book distributions to the expanded use of Little Free Libraries. He also developed “Storytime with Familiar Faces,” where well-known Peorians record stories for children. For seven years, he ran Murphy’s Salon & Day Spa in Peoria and recently opened the Starship Travel agency, using his passion for Disney to help families plan their Disney vacations.

As a volunteer with the Peoria Public Schools Foundation, Murphy assists with Little Free Pantries, fundraising and filling them on a weekly basis, and organized a school supply drive for all 27 schools—earning the foundation’s Hero Award for his efforts. He has served on Peoria Public Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee and currently serves as president of the PTO at Kellar Primary School, overseeing fundraising, special events and volunteer recruitment.  

A licensed foster care provider for many years, Murphy has since adopted three of the children and is currently fostering another child. He has been a mentor with Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters, taught classes at the Peoria Playhouse Children’s Museum, volunteered with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Crittenton Centers, served as a church deacon, and walked dogs for the PAWS animal shelter. He brings new ideas and energy to every organization in which he is involved. His positive attitude, entrepreneurial spirit, kind heart and endless passion make his community a better place to live, day in and day out. PM