A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty


Jessica Clark, Age 39

Dean and Professor, Bradley University

Jessica Clark
Jessica Clark

Clark provides academic, administrative and financial leadership for six academic departments within the College of Education and Health Sciences at the private university in Peoria.

“Jessica goes above and beyond to advance the vision, mission and core values of our historic institution founded by a similarly courageous and innovative leader in Lydia Moss Bradley,” said her nominator.

Clark won Bradley’s Theodore C. Burgess Award for excellence in interdepartmental collaboration. In addition to her work building professional partnerships between BU and OSF HealthCare and Carle Health, Clark’s community service includes being a school board member and president of a parent-teacher organization. She’s been active with Relay for Life and Easterseals. As a registered nurse, Clark joined a medical missions team to El Salvador. Prior to her career in higher education, she oversaw telehealth programming for the Department of Veterans Affairs at eight medical centers and 65 outpatient clinics in three states.

Clark and husband Chad are parents to two daughters and one son.

Jessica_Clark family


Childhood ambitions: “My paternal grandfather was a severe, insulin-dependent diabetic with an extensive history of cardiac disease and I remember certain things that looking back now, caused me to be excited about health care. … My grandfather would even let me help give his daily insulin injections … when I was just 5 years old. … It was the culmination of those experiences which ultimately led me to nursing, and then education, as a calling as much as a profession.”

Unknown to colleagues: “I love all things vampires … movies, myths, legends.”

Bucket list priorities: “I have two: To swim with the indigenous pigs of Exuma Island in the Bahamas and cruise through the Mediterranean.”

Best advice: “Sometimes the world is not ready for that particular idea or innovation. If you wait for others to catch up, you are already behind. Proceed until apprehended.”

Favorite books: “Fiction book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. … Non-fiction book: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek.”

Inspirations: “As a first-generation college student, my parents afforded me opportunities that were not afforded to them and I grasped onto them with both hands. … Locally, there are so many female leaders in the community who inspire me on a daily basis including Dean Meenakshy Aiyer of UICOMP.”

Peoria needs: “Hands down, a Trader Joe’s.”