A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty


Courtney Lee, Age 38

Counselor, Manual High School, Peoria Public Schools

Courtney Lee

“Courtney is an amazing single mom of two children, Olivia and Caden, a compassionate and supportive school counselor, and a great friend,” said her nominator. “Courtney pours her everything into so many more children and young adults than just her own two when it comes to the work that she does as a part of Peoria School District 150. She is also an animal lover who volunteers at animal shelters, is a member of the Illinois School Counseling Association, has developed mentoring programs to support diversity, and is currently working to complete her third graduate degree.”

In the past, Lee coached cheerleading at Richwoods High School and Sterling Middle School, the Lego League (Sterling) and the swim team (PHS). She has developed a mentoring program and started/hosted Black History Month assemblies at Sterling. She has been a Girl Scout troop leader and currently co-chairs the child and youth development subcommittee of the Peoria mayor’s Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity. She is a member of the Peoria Public Library Board.

Childhood ambition: “Heart surgeon.”

Advice to 20-year-old self: “Embrace life’s changes.”

Hobbies: “Reading, trying new foods, travel, anything science-related, spending time with family and friends, volunteering … and dancing.”

Unknown to colleagues: “I was in an opera in downtown Chicago.”

Bucket list priority: “Go to Jamaica.”

Best advice ever: “Don’t settle for the mundane.”

Biggest challenge: “Living as a single mom.”

Motivating social issue: “Social/racial inequities.”

Book recommendation:The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Leadership definition: “Patience.”

Personal inspiration: “My uncle, Ronnie West Lee. He was the head of the emergency room at Loyola Hospital, Chicago until he passed.”

Peoria needs: “Generally speaking, Wildfire (my favorite restaurant). Theoretically speaking, more equity, acceptance and opportunities for people who are ‘different.’ This may reference various categories such as individuals with perceived racial and socioeconomic differences, or people who are not from Peoria.”