A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

Taryn Bradley | 36

Coordinator of Student Success and Engagement,
Mennonite School of Nursing, Illinois State University;
Third-year PhD student, Higher Education Administration, ISU

Taryn Bradley
Taryn Bradley

Taryn Bradley has worked in education for more than 13 years, starting as a regional director for a supplemental education program for marginalized students in the Peoria Public Schools. After a stint as an admissions advisor at a college in Missouri, she returned to central Illinois to work in various capacities at Illinois Central College, including a success coach position under Dr. Rita Ali, now Peoria’s mayor. From there she moved to Illinois State University as an academic advisor for elementary education majors, then to her current position at the School of Nursing there. 

Along the way, Taryn has compiled a long list of community involvement and charitable work, much of it with vulnerable communities, from LGBTQ students to those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As a part of the YANI Collective, she helped organize the 2021 Mind Over Matter Book Drive, collecting more than 2,000 books for inmates at the Peoria Juvenile Detention Center; the 2021 Toyz N Da Neighborhood gift giveaway, which provided toys to some 600 Peoria children and computers to 300 local families; the 2022 DIGIM College Fair and Career Panels; the Juneteenth celebration at John Gwynn Park in 2021 and 2022; and the Sophisticated Ratchet Art Affair. 


‘Taryn is a consummate professional with a Swiss army knife skill set’

— Taryn Bradley Nominator


She is an NAACP member and NAACP Next Generation graduate, a certified adult literacy tutor, and a volunteer at Peoria PAC and at Strictly Hip-Hop 90.7 FM WAZU, where she wears multiple hats, from performing administrative tasks to brand development to managing social media responsibilities. 

“Taryn is a consummate professional with a Swiss army knife skill set,” said one of her nominators.

That extends to her talents in graphic design, which has been displayed on behalf of the Peoria Park District, the Peoria Police Department, and Peoria Riverfront Museum. 

Advice to your 20-year-old self: “Value yourself, know your worth, add tax, and include interest. Never devalue yourself to fit other people’s standards. You are a high value asset … Do not forget!”

Social issue passion: “Mental health awareness.” 

Recommended reading: “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, and DIGIM: D@mn, I Graduate in May! by Marc Supreme.”

Inspirations: “Every woman of color in our community making a difference in the lives of all people in our community, including our mayor, state representative, teachers, medical professionals, activists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, mothers and aunts.”