Craig Young received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History (Summa Cum Laude) from Bradley University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1985.
Young has spent his entire legal career with Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen beginning in 1985 in the Peoria office. He became a partner with the firm in 1993.
He practices in his firm's employment law practice group. He primarily focuses in the areas of workers' compensation and third-party employer liability defense. Young handles all aspects of Illinois workers' compensation litigation including arbitrations, reviews and appeals. In addition, he tries civil jury cases on issues related to employer liability and lien recovery. He has been a leader in assisting employers in limiting their legal liability and speaks regularly to industry groups on workers' compensation issues.
In addition, Young's representation of employers has led to an expertise in immigration law. Craig heads the firm's immigration practice and regularly assists employers in obtaining appropriate visas for foreign national employees. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
In addition to several professional organizations, Young has been actively involved in community service. He is president of the Heart of Illinois United Way, having served previously as vice president of fund distribution. He is immediate past-president of Lutheran Senior Ministries, formerly known as the Lutheran Home. He chaired the Peoria delegation to the Presidents Summit on Volunteerism held in Philadelphia.
Young is active at Bradley University, formerly serving as president of the Bradley National Alumni Board and vice president of Financial Support for that board.
He served on the Community Teen Pregnancy Task Force in 1994 and continues to work actively to implement its recommendations. Craig also is active in his church, having previously served as congregation president. He is a 1995 40 Leaders Under Forty award winner.
Tell us about your background. Where were you raised, schools attended, family, etc.
I was born and raised in Canton. In the 60s and 70s, Canton was a stereotypical small town and a great place to grow up. My family is from Canton and my parents still live there. In addition to my parents, my sister and I were fortunate to have all four of our grandparents very active in our lives as we were growing up.
I graduated from Canton High School and never strayed very far from central Illinois. I earned my undergraduate degree in history from Bradley University, and my law degree from the University of Illinois.
I met my wife Gayle, who is from Quincy, at Bradley and we were married the summer before my last year of law school. I was clerking for my firm at that time and the plan was always to return to Peoria. Gayle and I have two children, Daniel, who is seven, and Abigail, who is five.
Tell us about your law firm.
Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen was founded by Clarence Heyl in 1908 and has grown into the largest law firm in Illinois, with headquarters outside the city of Chicago. We have approximately 80 attorneys statewide, with 30 in our Peoria office. We also have offices in Springfield, Champaign/Urbana, Rockford, and Edwardsville.
For much of our history we were a defense litigation firm, but as our clients' legal needs expanded, we found the need to expand our areas of practice. I think there is a perception that if you are in business and have a complicated legal problem you need an expensive big city attorney. Fortunately, we have had considerable success in developing specialized expertise, which allows us to solve our clients' sophisticated problems with attorneys here in the Peoria community. While defense litigation remains a big part of our practice, we organized into practice groups headed by lawyers practicing specifically in legal areas such as employment, healthcare, corporate, environmental, real estate, estate planning, agri-business, not-for-profit, commercial litigation, and international.
Your practice focuses on what areas?
I am in my 15th year with the firm and spent my entire legal career in Peoria with Heyl Royster. I focus primarily in our employment law practice group and represent employers in the areas of workers' compensation and third-party liability.
I also work with employers in the rather unusual specialty of immigration law. In recent years, as our society has moved toward a global economy, central Illinois businesses have been employing more foreign citizens, especially in the specialized occupations. This created the need for immigration legal services which have not been readily available outside of the Chicago area.
We have a rapidly growing immigration practice representing many different types of employers. I chair that practice for our firm.
How supportive has your firm been to your volunteer efforts?
My firm is one of the main reasons I'm as active as I am. Heyl Royster has always been very involved in the community and our current managing partner, Bob Dewey, has been especially supportive of my United Way involvement. I think any lawyer who truly cares about his clients is also going to care about the community in which we all live.
Two of my partners, Rex Linder and Tim Bertschy, have made significant contributions to the central Illinois community and have been an inspiration to me.
When did you first decide to become active in the community? Why?
I never made a conscious decision to become active; it just happened. My parents and grandparents were always active in community affairs, and as I was growing up, it was simply understood that church and community are a part of life.
When I moved to Peoria and began my professional career, it became very natural to continue that idea. Community service is an extension of my family, my faith and my legal practice, so it has always been a natural part of my life rather than something I consciously chose to do.
What path led you from those early beginnings as a community volunteer to president of the United Way? How long is your term? What do you bring to the position that maybe no one else could?
Anyone who has been active in the community knows that volunteerism has a snowball effect, and my United Way experience is a good example. I started out with the United Way as a fund distribution volunteer and gradually became more and more active.
I moved from a fund distribution panel member, to a panel chair, to the United Way board, to chairman of the fund distribution process, to president of the organization.
I see this happening with so many community volunteers, which demonstrates the importance of volunteerism in people's lives. My term as president with the United Way is a two year term and will end in January 2000.
I don't know that I bring anything overly unique to the position other than a strong desire to serve.
If I have any unique quality, it probably is a sense of vision that allows me to look beyond the day-to-day details of an organization and see a path to improvement in the future.
I've been very active in the strategic planning process of the United Way, as well as some other organizations I have served. It's always exciting to see how a well thought out plan can lead to long-term improvement for an organization.
Tell us about the United Way; and why you chose to dedicate such a large portion of your time to that organization.
While I have been active in a number of community organizations, the United Way has been a main focus for me because of its broad community impact. I think most volunteers come to their service with both a specific interest in the organization they serve, but also with a broader sense of serving the community as a whole. There simply is no other organization which serves this latter goal better than the United Way. Service to the United Way is truly service to the community.
What types of things does the United Way do that directly impacts those living in central Illinois? How are those numbers measured?
It would take volumes to document the impact the United Way has on those living in central Illinois. We have 43 United Way agencies and, through those agencies, the United Way funds 76 different programs.
These programs range from very basic emergency needs such as food, shelter and clothing to programs which have longer term impacts such as daycare, after school programs, youth programs such as scouting, and programs for senior citizen groups.
In 1999, our programs served more than 1,004 central Illinois residents, 53 percent of those served were children, 33 percent were in the middle stages of life, and 14 percent were older adults. Our programs truly provide service from birth, to work, to retirement and impact people at all stages of life.
Frankly, measuring the impact of these programs is not an easy task. The new fund distribution process which is being developed is largely centered around measurements which will allow us to better document the successes we are having in individual lives.
In the past, we have measured our success based primarily upon documenting numbers of people served. Obviously, we know we are helping those people, but the degree to which we have produced ultimate successful outcomes has been difficult to measure.
How does the Peoria area compare to others as far as community support? Why do you think that is?
While it is difficult to obtain meaningful comparisons to other communities, I would have to say that if my tenure as United Way president has taught me anything, it is that the Peoria area is an extremely giving community. I would be remiss if I did not mention that this giving begins with our corporate community and is led by Caterpillar.
We all are aware of much of what Caterpillar gives back to the community, but I'm astounded to learn what they do behind the scenes in a very quiet manner. The example set by Caterpillar is followed by many other Peoria corporations.
I also think Peoria is different in that the support our community has goes way beyond financial support.
Virtually every corporate and business leader in Peoria is very actively involved in dedicated, heartfelt community support. Oftentimes, this service is without recognition or fanfare.
I wish more people could serve in the position I have held for the last two years if only to see firsthand this dedication shown by so many of our community leaders.
Is the mission of the United Way misunderstood? If so, why do you think that is?
Our mission is misunderstood; and we are making an effort to correct that. Many people continue to look at the United Way as it was seen when originally founded more than 75 years ago. The United Way was established under the concept that a gift to the United Way was a gift for the entire community, thereby eliminating the need for individual agencies to raise funds.
While I wish it was still possible to abide by that concept, we simply cannot promise our donors that their gift to the United Way will end all other solicitations for charitable donations. The need is simply too great, and the competition for charitable donations is significant.
While we believe a United Way donation is the best gift-if your intention is to benefit the entire community-we recognize there are many other charitable organizations which need and deserve financial support. We don't want our donors to be surprised when they are contacted for other contributions after having made a United Way gift.
The other misconception is one which we have been intentionally trying to correct, with some success, for the past four or five years.
The United Way has been seen as simply a fund-raising organization that effectively raises dollars and then passes those dollars through to our agencies. While this will always be a primary function, and while we do not intend to become involved in direct services, we are much more than a fund-raising organization.
With the development of our strategic plan in 1995, we made significant efforts to reposition ourselves as a community problem solver.
Over the past four to five years, we have become much more active, sometimes publicly, sometimes very privately, in partnering with others in the community to develop real solutions to our community's problems. These changes have contributed, I think, to the community's more organized approach to problems such as teen pregnancy and neighborhood development.
The changes which will be taking place in our fund distribution process are a natural development of this problem solving effort, and, I think, will go a long way towards correcting some of the misunderstandings.
How is the allocation of funds going to change in central Illinois? What impact will it have on the member agencies?
We are in the process of developing a fund distribution program which will focus on our community problem solving efforts while at the same time adding meaningful outcome measurements and accountability.
While the details of how this will work are being developed in a study process, which we expect to take some time, we do know we will be funding programs through four solution councils. These councils will focus on nurturing children and youth; building self-sufficiency; strengthening families; and providing health and rehabilitation services. Within each of these solution councils, we will be developing outcome measurements which will allow us to better document whether our programs are obtaining successful results.
The impact on our agencies will be significant, but they have been involved in the process and are supportive of what we are doing. This is not a process we take lightly, because it is extremely difficult to develop a meaningful measurement when dealing with serving human needs.
We intend to involve all United Way stakeholders, including our agencies, in developing both a fair and meaningful process.
How many people volunteer with the HOI United Way? What are some of the roles they fill?
The volunteer support enjoyed by the United Way is its strongest asset. It's impossible to even count the number of volunteers who support the United Way in some capacity.
The number of volunteers specifically listed in our annual report exceeds 400. Each and every one of these individuals is actively involved in significantly supporting some aspect of the United Way, whether it be fund distribution, campaign, marketing, finance, planning, or some other activity.
There are probably few people reading this article who have not at some point provided some meaningful volunteer service to the United Way. It truly is our greatest strength.
How much money is raised annually by the local agency? Nationally? How much of those per-dollar funds go toward administrative support, and how much is turned back to the community? How does that compare to other organizations?
Last year, we raised $5.626 million through our Heart of Illinois United Way campaign. Nationally, United Way raised more than $3.5 billion.
At the HOI United Way, the small percentage of our budget which goes towards administrative support is a source of pride. We have been able to keep this percentage at approximately 12 percent, and some of this actually goes towards direct support such as our community link/volunteer center.
The United Way of America statistics back out some of those dollars and report our administrative expense at 10.39 percent.
There are few charities that can meet this level of efficiency. Most of the credit in this area goes to an extremely dedicated and competent staff.
Where would you like to see the United Way 10 years from now? 20 years? How do you get there from here?
Our whole organization has spent time addressing this question. Our planning process is very specific as to where we want to be by the year 2005.
I want the United Way to be seen as the leader in central Illinois when it comes to solving community problems and building on the strong assets we have. While this sounds very generic, it is a true shift from the old United Way seen primarily as a fundraiser.
We have made some progress in accomplishing this goal, and the movement to solution councils should be a big step toward positioning the United Way where I would like it to be in 10 years. It's important to note that these problem solving efforts are not separate from our fund-raising obligations, but very much connected.
As impressive as our campaign totals are, my vision would be for this to grow at an even faster rate as we begin to document that we are impacting community need in a measurable way.
This financial growth will come not just in our annual campaign totals. We already can document significant dollars in addition to our annual campaign we have helped leverage into this community due to the United Way's problem solving efforts. We are also just beginning a study of ways to expand our major gift and endowment program.
This entire vision is connected back to our strongest asset which is the volunteer support we have from our community. That support has never been stronger and will be the foundation upon which we accomplish our goals.
What have been your goals for the United Way during your tenure as president? Have they been achieved?
Many of my goals have been directed towards laying the foundation for accomplishing the changes discussed above. A big task was to complete a second strategic planning process, which has resulted in our move towards the solution council model of funding with measurable outcomes. That process is complete, and a committee from our board is working on implementation.
Obviously, I have also hoped to increase our campaign totals each year, and we have been fortunate to do that. The importance of this success is underestimated.
Competition for the charitable dollar is extremely intense, and the fact that our campaign has grown in recent years is gratifying.
We recently set our campaign goal for next year, which is $5.7 million. If we meet this goal, and I believe we will, it will represent yet another increase which speaks very highly for this community.
Unfortunately, I have recently added a new goal to my tenure as president and that is to successfully replace Bob Haight, who resigned as our executive director to take the position of executive director of the United Way of Illinois. Bob has done an outstanding job of leading us over the last five years and deserves much of the credit for the changes and vision we have been discussing. His dedication to what we have been doing is demonstrated by the fact that we have been able to keep him for five years. He is highly respected within the United Way community, and has turned down a number of significant offers in order to complete some of his objectives with the HOI United Way.
While Bob will be sorely missed, I believe we have an opportunity to replace him with a new executive director that can move our vision forward.
The HOI United Way is in an attractive position not only because of our past success but because of the new initiatives we are implementing. Mike McCord has agreed to chair the search committee, and we have an outstanding group of United Way volunteers who will be diligently working on the search process.
We expect highly qualified candidates both from the local community and also nationally from within the United Way system. While we hope to decide upon a replacement quickly, we are going to take whatever time is necessary to find the right person to move our organization forward.
You chaired the Peoria delegation to the President's Summit on Volunteerism in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. What did you bring back to Peoria from that Summit?
The most interesting development for me was to learn firsthand how advanced Peoria is, when compared with other communities, in developing a community plan for addressing human need. When we attended the President's Summit, the United Way had completed the first strategic plan, and we were already working with many partners in the community to address the needs focused on at the Summit.
While we were at the Summit, the organizers had put in place a process which was supposed to help us develop a community plan for addressing the needs of youth.
The real lesson of the Summit occurred once we returned to Peoria, and goes back to the incredible support this community enjoys from its volunteers and leaders. We very quickly formed a Peoria committee to begin addressing the five resources identified by the President's Summit for our nation's youth.
We recently met with Colin Powell, chairman of America's Promise, which is the national effort, and it seems clear Peoria is ahead of most communities in the amount that has been accomplished. IBI