A Publication of WTVP

Growing women as leaders, professionals and community members…

“WILCI is an organization made up of a very diverse group of women, all leaders in their own way. They are a collection of bright, talented and articulate women that in their homes, careers and communities give of themselves making others’ lives better.” —Amy Whiting

Women in Leadership of Central Illinois has been promoting leadership to women by providing mentoring, networking and educational opportunities in the Peoria area since 2004. The group helps women grow as leaders from a well-rounded perspective, putting focus on diverse members and topics that allow women to learn and grow from one another as professionals, philanthropists and leaders. Below, we let the women of Women in Leadership tell our story…

Growing as Leaders
“WIL is a safe place to grow in your leadership skills.” —Heather Fitzanko

Monthly luncheons are an interactive educational opportunity for women to learn about growing as leaders, with presentation topics like “Harness the Motivation of a New Year,” “Tools for Business and Life” and “7 Step Process to Reach for Business and Personal Goals.” WIL teaches women how to reach their potential as leaders by learning from one another and promoting professional development.

“I’ve evolved from a person too shy to introduce myself by saying my name to standing in front of the members leading the meeting. It has been an amazing road of personal and professional development.” —Amanda Beadles, WIL president

Growing as Professionals
“The diversity of the membership. There are members just starting out in management positions, those who have been working in their job for decades, and some who are retired. We all can learn from each other about how to navigate work and leadership roles, no matter how much experience we have.” —Jeanne Buysee

Women in Leadership of Central Illinois was founded by business professionals who wanted to create a support system for other women in leadership roles. The group offers professional support with programs such as “The Value of a Mentor Relationship,” “Promoting Your Business Through Media,” and “No One Likes Fake Fruit – How to Promote Your Personal Brand While Being Completely Authentic.”

“We celebrate each other’s accomplishments. It is fantastic to have professional female peers available when working in a male-dominated field.” —Shawna Knapp

“WILCI members have been the advisors that I have turned to for important business advice and support.” —Mary Jane Johnson

Growing as Community Members
“If a woman wants to become a better leader or person, they should join WIL. Some join for the networking, others for the educational or charitable aspect. There is no one reason that fits everyone. But, if a woman wants to improve themselves, WIL is a great organization for them.” —Tonya Taylor

Each month, the women of WIL celebrate each other’s successes with a small donation given to a local charity. At least twice a year, the group dedicates an education program to learning more about nonprofit organizations. In the last year, the organization has done work with the River City Rough Riders Outreach Program, Peoria Friendship House and Dress for Success, Peoria Riverfront Museum, South Side Mission and The Salvation Army.

“WILCI has offered me opportunities to network with great ladies who are in business, nonprofits and volunteer communities.” —Betsy Bladel

“I joined Women in Leadership shortly after moving to Peoria, and it was a great way to get connected in the community!” —Becky Davies

» The WIL Scholarship
Established in 2006, the Women in Leadership of Central Illinois Scholarship Fund is a non-endowed fund targeted at assisting women in the Tri-County Area who are pursuing college/university, post-graduate, or accreditation/certification for business management/professional or entrepreneurial education. The award is intended to defer tuition, fees, books and other academic expenses, and was established through the generosity of members and the monies collected at monthly luncheons, as well as proceeds from the annual conference. In 2007, WILCI awarded the first scholarship, and since then, through the administration of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, the WILCI Scholarship Fund has awarded $1,000 annually to one deserving woman applicant.

Growing as Women
“I appreciate that this organization teaches and encourages women to be leaders, to be friends, to be mentors, to be involved, and to be confident.” —Julie Sowers

WIL recognizes that women are often responsible for a lot more than just professional leadership. Time management and finding a healthy balance is important. The organization offers education in areas of “How to Create and Maintain Balance,” “Legal Issues Affecting Women,” and “Eating for a Healthy Life.”

“WIL is a group that every woman would feel comfortable joining. We are a welcoming group, and we try to offer programs and events that cater to everyone’s interests.” —Amy Durbin

Each year, Women in Leadership of Central Illinois hosts a conference to spotlight WIL members’ businesses and promote the organization. This year’s conference, “How Authentic Women Lead,” was held May 9th at the Par-A-Dice Hotel. Additionally, monthly meetings provide an avenue to unify the community of women with a strong sense of empowerment and focus. By regularly attending these monthly luncheons, members build a referral network, resources, support and long-lasting relationships. iBi

WILCI meets the second Thursday of each month at the Country Club of Peoria from 11:30am to 1pm. Learn more at