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You’ve seen them before in the pages of InterBusiness Issues—10 years ago to be exact, when they were first revealed as members of the 40 Leaders Under Forty Class of 1996. We caught up with six of the recipients and found some interesting similarities: they’ve stayed in central Illinois because they love it, and they’ve continued to make the kinds of significant community contributions for which they were recognized a decade ago.

Daniel Daly
Currently the regional president for the Metropolitan Peoria Region of Busey Bank, Dan Daly is still involved with the company he launched just over nine years ago. “First Capital Bank was Peoria’s first new bank in more than 27 years. It was a great success, growing to more than $250 million in assets over the next nine years. In early 2004, we agreed to sell First Capital Bank to First Busey Corp., and we became part of a larger community banking organization,” he said.

Over the last 10 years, Daly has served on 15 boards and commissions. “One of my most gratifying experiences was serving as chairman of the Peoria Civic Center Authority for three years,” he said. “I led the effort to proceed with the $55 million expansion currently underway. I’m in my 11th year on the Peoria Civic Center Authority, where I serve as co-chair of the Redevelopment Committee.”

He also served as president of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities and continues to serve on the board. Other commitments include co-chairing The Greater Peoria Vision 2020 Quality of Life Council and serving on the boards of M.H. Equipment Corporation, Community Bank of Lemont, Peoria Civic Federation, Fayette Companies, and the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois, among others.

Since becoming a 40 Leader, Daly said his professional challenges have grown, as First Capital Bank experienced its dramatic growth and sale to First Busey Corp. “My professional life is focused more on the development of key people in the organization, and I’m taking on more executive management responsibilities with Busey Bank. I continue to grow as a professional.”

And he’s able to do so right here in central Illinois. “My family loves living in the Midwest and, in particular, Peoria. I enjoy the business challenges I face, and I also enjoy my involvement in the community.”

He advised other young professionals seeking to become leaders to find a cause they embrace and pursue it. “Getting involved in the community is a great way to give back and to interact with and learn from other professionals. Leaders need to grow and adapt or they run the risk of becoming inconsequential. Besides professional development education, I’ve learned much by interacting with other leaders.”

Scott Klaus
Scott Klaus has remained committed to serving as vice president of Klaus Companies, an 86-year-old Peoria company.

He’s also stayed active in the community. “I’m the past president of Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis, where I’ve been a board member since 1996. I’m also on the Saint Francis Foundation, and I’m involved with ACD Advisory Council for Whirlpool & ABD Advisory Council for GE. I recently was asked to be the assistant tennis coach at Richwoods High School, helping Head Coach Steve Knight,” Klaus said.

He attributes his continued success to the same things that allow anybody to succeed: being focused and maintaining a positive attitude. “I believe you get out of something what you put into it. In a city like Peoria, we need to keep people active in community activities. It’s much easier for young people in a city our size to be involved than in a city like Chicago.”

Klaus said he chooses to stay in central Illinois for one reason. “I was born and raised in Peoria and believe it’s a great community with great people.”

In encouraging the development of young leaders, he said, “I think young people in this community need to get active in charities—not only to help the great causes out there, but to network and meet people. Peoria has so much to offer, and we need to keep it a great place to live and raise a family.”

Cheryl Kuppler
For the past 10 years, Cheryl Kuppler has worked to grow her company, Kuppler & Associates. “My business continues to grow each year. It’s been great fun to start something, nurture it, and watch it grow more successful each year. I really enjoy what I do, and I feel like I’m really helping people, which is very rewarding,” she said.

Her commitment to the community in which she lives has remained strong, as well. She chaired the Police and Fire Commission, served as treasurer of the American Red Cross, was a member of the American Red Cross Board, served as president of the Susan G. Komen Memorial Chapter, co-chaired Race for the Cure, was a Susan G. Komen National Board member, and was vice chair of the Susan G. Komen National Board Foundation. Currently, she serves as an ICC Foundation Board member and continues on the Police and Fire Commission and Interview Panel. For her work with the Komen organization, Kuppler received the National Service Award from The Susan G. Komen National Foundation.

Kuppler said living in central Illinois makes it possible to have both a successful professional and personal life. “It’s such a great place to raise children. Karl and I have been here almost 20 years, and it really feels like home. Without a long commute, you can really spend time with your children, attend all their sporting and other events, and be very involved with their lives. Living in a big city like Chicago, one sometimes encounters commuting times of upwards of two hours a day. That’s a big chunk of your life spent away from your family.”

She attributes the success she’s enjoyed to support from her husband and children. “My oldest daughter helped start the teen challenge for the Race for the Cure. She was very involved with the Race I co-chaired, even though she was the captain of two sports teams at Peoria High and was vice chair of the student council. My youngest daughter carried on the tradition. It’s a lot more fun to do volunteer work when you can do it as a family.”

Her suggestion for up and coming leaders—and especially for young women—is to be positive and support one other. “Be tenacious, and don’t doubt your abilities. It’s easy to be negative and get down when something doesn’t go right. Stay positive, fix whatever problems come your way, and never give up. Owning your own business provides flexibility and fun and is a wonderful vehicle for having quality time with your family.”

Bradley McMillan
From private practice to public service, Brad McMillan has had a whirlwind 10 years. Formerly a partner and owner in the law firm of Heiple & McMillan, he’s now district chief of staff for Congressman Ray LaHood, responsible for three district offices and serving as the Congressman’s liaison in the 20 counties that make up the 18th Congressional District. “In my current role, I get the privilege of partnering with so many great folks on a wide variety of community initiatives,” he said.

Even with so much responsibility, McMillan has stayed active in his volunteer commitments, which have included Peoria Chamber Community Leadership School, Peoria Area CVB, Community Builders Foundation, Lakeview Museum Board, Peoria High School Board, Peoria Chamber of Commerce Board, South Side Mission Board, Salvation Army Community Advisory Board, Illinois River Coordinating Council, Heartland Water Resources Council, Human Service Center Board, Economic Development Council Board, Peoria NEXT Implementation Committee, and the Regional Museum Collaboration.

McMillan isn’t shy about his allegiance to the Peoria area. “I absolutely love raising my family in central Illinois. The quality of life is fantastic. I can take my wife, Jackie, to a Broadway play; my four kids to a Chief’s game; afford a nice home in a great neighborhood; and have meaningful friendships and an interesting career. The outdoor beauty and recreation are plentiful, and the cultural opportunities are diverse. All of this, without the traffic and commute hassles of a large city, and the cost of living is one of the best in the country.”

He said LaHood has been an excellent role model and has contributed immeasurably to his success. “In working for Congressman LaHood, I’ve had the opportunity to be heavily involved in meaningful community initiatives. Ray believes one of the most important parts of his job is to bring folks together to solve problems and move worthwhile projects forward. He’s given me the freedom and encouragement to help with great projects.”

McMillan’s advice for young leaders? “Good leaders listen carefully and encourage others to be the best they can be.”

Andrea Parker
A clinical coordinator for Methodist Medical Center and medical director of the Carver Family Health Center 10 years ago, Andrea Parker is now the public health administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department and the Marshall County Health Department—a position she accepted in 2003 after departing an assistant professor faculty position with Bradley University.
Parker’s career certainly has taken her in new directions over the years, but her positions are all about one principle: helping others. “In 10 years, I’ve gone from being a home health nurse to being a nursing coordinator in a physician practice to being an agency administrator.”

Some of the awards and honors she’s received over the years for her work include induction into the African American Hall of Fame in 2004; receiving a “Those Who Excel” Award of Excellence for Community Service by the State of Illinois Board of Education in 2000; receiving the Dr. Joseph Solovy Community Health Award as a member of the team responsible for the “In School Health” program in 1999; and receiving of the Outstanding Mentor of the Year, Peoria Public Schools Health Science Academy, in 1999.

Looking back at her accomplishments, Parker said her goal has been to make a difference for those whose lives would indeed be better if they had the necessary support. “I’m not afraid of a challenge or to get involved.”

Parker credits her family—and her restlessness—with helping her achieve her goals. “I have a very supportive husband and family. I don’t like to be bored or sit idle. I really enjoy helping others, which is extremely motivating to me. And the friendships and relationships formed along the way have had great impact on my accomplishments.”

She said her sense of commitment to this community comes from the fact that this is where she grew up. “Peoria is a good place to live; it’s not expensive, and daily travel isn’t cumbersome. We’re located close enough to Chicago and St. Louis areas that traveling to either shop or experience other activities is relatively easy.”

Believing in yourself is the first step to achieving leadership, she said. “My parents instilled in me that you can become whatever you want to be. However, I do believe the plan doesn’t solely belong to the individual, but to a higher being with a larger plan. And when the course changes, be ready to change as well. Be flexible—not fearful—and be honest and trustworthy.”

Michael Wiesehan
Continuing his career in the business his grandfather opened, Michael Wiesehan is now executive vice president and operations manager for Lippmann’s Furniture and Interiors and Parkway Home Furnishings.

Among his accomplishments in recent years, Wiesehan is vice president of the Creve Coeur Club and chaired its Washington Day Banquet in 1999, is a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School (CLS), served on the CLS Steering Committee, served on the Peoria Riverfront Business District Commission, chaired the Riverfront Public Arts Committee, assisted in founding the Peoria Area Family Business Forum, served on the Heart of Illinois United Way Cabinet, received a Peoria Jaycees Outstanding Young Business Professional award, and was appointed by Mayor Ransburg to the Zoning Commission.

His professional life has grown because of his experience with Community Leadership School. “I had no idea what CLS was about, but boy how that changed things. A whole new door of business networking opportunities opened—not just for Lippmann’s Furniture & Interiors, Inc., but also to help me grow as a professional. It also allowed me to get involved with city government,” he said.

Wiesehan’s connection to family is part of what’s kept him in the Peoria area, he said. “Central Illinois has been very good to our family over the 55 years we’ve been in business. I couldn’t think of a better place to grow up and raise a family. Staying here, helping keep the business alive and well, and giving back to the community is why I’ve stayed.”

His family is also one of the reasons he’s been so successful, Wiesehan said. “My parents and grandparents always taught me to believe in myself, work hard, and treat people with respect and be honest. That’s what I’ve strived to do.”

Like Parker, Wiesehan said believing in yourself is key to success in leadership. “Also, work hard, have great support, and most of all, have fun.” IBI

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