As CEO of Children’s Home Association of Illinois, Matt George exemplifies the best advice he says he’s ever received: Never be low-energy. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1992 with a degree in program management, he started the Jeff George Foundation, a charitable foundation named for his cousin, a former NFL quarterback. As executive director, Matt raised funds all over the country for disadvantaged youth and cancer research.

In 2001, he and his family moved to Peoria, where he put his fundraising prowess to work for the Officer James Faulkner Fund, Sheriff Chuck Schofield Fund, St. Jude, Crimestoppers and other local groups. By leveraging his celebrity connections, he has helped raise more than $20 million for a variety of nonprofits, working with the likes of Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson, Ryne Sandberg, Jeff Foxworthy, Pete Rose and more. He believes that if all local nonprofits are successful, the community is the winner.

As president and CEO of Youth Farm, Matt worked with local leaders in helping to facilitate its 2007 merger with Children’s Home. The following year, he was named executive director of the Cancer Center for Healthy Living, where he helped facilitate its 2011 merger with the Hult Center for Health Education—a move which prompted a savings of $80,000 per year. He also brought the Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley and the UnityPoint Encore! seniors program under the Hult Center umbrella.

In October 2014, he returned to Children’s Home as its CEO. He and his wife, Laura, have five children: ages 21, 19, 16, six and four.

  1. Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere in Florida.
  2. Favorite aspect of central Illinois: The people. This is the best community!
  3. Favorite splurge: My mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
  4. Person who’s had the greatest impact on my life: My father.
  5. Which living person do you most admire? My grandma. She is 100 years old and has beaten cancer three times.
  6. What is it that you most dislike? Negative people.
  7. What is your motto? Be all in, all of the time.
  8. What would you say to your 20-year-old self? Enjoy your hair now—when you are 45, it will not be there!
  9. Favorite sport to watch: Illini and Bears football.
  10. What inspires you most? Knowing each day at work the Children’s Home staff changes and saves lives. a&s