A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

As director of strategic communications for Peoria County, Gretchen Pearsall serves as lead public information officer, coordinates internal communications among staff, leads special projects and events, and oversees all County-related public relations, media relations, marketing and advertising strategies. Under her leadership, the County has expanded its community outreach and education efforts and significantly boosted its online and social media presence.

As chair of the Central Illinois Public Information Officers committee, Pearsall oversees a regional network of communications professionals who plan and train for emergencies. Prior to the pandemic, she managed recruitment and developed training exercises for the group. During the pandemic, she has balanced her regular duties with a coordinated emergency response from the County, City of Peoria and Peoria City/County Health Department, contributing to hundreds of press releases and media briefings while fighting a torrent of misinformation. As part of this response, she and her team designed and executed the Health Department’s award-winning COVID-19 vaccine campaign, “Let’s End This Pandemic Together.”

Pearsall regularly plans and coordinates special events, including the 2021 dedication of a new veterans’ memorial statue with featured speaker Senator Tammy Duckworth. She oversaw the educational campaign and subsequent communications surrounding the closure of a County-owned long-term care facility, and has twice led the redesign of Peoria County’s website. She also heads the TEAM Peoria County employee committee, revamping its newsletter and working to uplift staff and acknowledge their hard work. She is assistant manager of Peoria County’s Heart of Illinois United Way campaign and an active member of the Shop Local 365 committee, City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA) and National Association of Government Communicators.

Outside of her work with Peoria County, Pearsall is a Girl Scout co-leader for her daughter’s Daisy troop and a longtime blood donor for the Red Cross of Central Illinois. She is a graduate of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School and a past volunteer for the Public Relations Association of Central Illinois and ArtsPartners of Central Illinois. PM