Every November for the last 27 years, we have celebrated the rising stars and emerging leaders of Greater Peoria. While the program is tweaked a bit each year, the 40 Leaders Under Forty Award Ceremony has remained fairly consistent. When you find a working formula, you tend to stick with it.
But this year is very different, and so is this year’s class of 40 Leaders. While the timeless qualities of leadership are instilled within each of them, they are entering the prime of their lives and careers in a very different place than previous generations. Even one year ago, we could not have imagined that 2020 would play out this way. Remote working, social distancing, mask wearing, homeschooling our kids, virtualizing events, meetings over Zoom… all while trying not to catch a deadly virus. The world has changed dramatically.
Winter is approaching, and we do not know how events will unfold in the coming months. We hope for a vaccine in 2021, but it no doubt will be some time before all the collateral damage is determined. But strong leaders know that change is constant and unexpected things will always come our way. As we collectively reimagine our future, I take comfort in knowing this group of young leaders is ready to meet the challenge head-on.
When our call for nominations went out in August, I was not sure how many we would receive in this extraordinary year. I need not have been concerned. No matter what is happening, strong leaders are all around us. They are the ones willing to put in the time, energy and hard work to make their communities better. They also understood that the celebration to honor them would look different this year.
On October 29, we held the 40 Leaders Under Forty Award Ceremony in a virtual setting. We started with a VIP Happy Hour, where this year’s class was able to meet, network and celebrate one another. For the Award Ceremony itself, we enlisted six of our 40 Leaders alumni to assist with the presentation, while several others filmed congratulatory videos. In the absence of their physical presence, we hope the 2020 class knows how special they are and how much we appreciate their leadership in our community.
A big shout out to photographer Kelli Drake, who once again captured each individual’s unique spirit—and was able to get a little creative this year. Congratulations to another class of 40 Leaders Under Forty! PM