A Publication of WTVP

The Peoria area has a long history of cultivating leaders in the business, political and philanthropic arenas. Our area’s largest employer, Caterpillar, has a long tradition of producing leaders in industry and charity. Every year, employees from businesses both small and large step forward to make this community a better place to live. We have seen a long line of political leaders, from people such as Everett Dirksen and Bob Michel to folks who serve in thankless positions on school boards and in township governments. The many philanthropic and public service organizations in our community have thrived because of the leadership of many dedicated people. People like Joan Krupa with the Heartland Community Health Clinic have had a vision of leadership and have carried out that vision.

For more than a decade now, November in Peoria has become synonymous with leadership in Peoria. Due to the vision of Jan Wright Vergon and the many long-time sponsors, the annual 40 Leaders Under Forty awards have become a hallmark of the great leadership present in our area. It is an award much sought-after, cherished and well-deserved by those who receive it. It encourages our best and brightest young leaders to continue their involvement in our communities. And, in a way, by receiving this award, recipients are almost bound to help cultivate leadership skills in those who may be in future 40 Leaders Under Forty classes.

When one reviews the recipients of this award since its inception in 1994, it becomes apparent that those who have received it are the foundation of many good things in our community. Past recipients have risen to the highest peaks in business, volunteerism and public service. These are the folks who run our communities. They carry out decisions every day that make the Peoria area a desirable place to live and work. There are also recipients who have moved away from Peoria, but who continue to be leaders where they reside today.

Leadership is not an issue of gender, race or income level. Leaders come from all walks of life because leadership is founded on one’s spirit. Leadership also comes in many forms: quiet or aggressive, everyday or rise-to-the-occasion, new school or old school—it does not matter. What matters is that leaders realize that to make a difference they must take action.

To the 40 Leaders who are recognized in this issue, I say keep up the good work! You have all taken action and become leaders in our community. Our community expects great things from you, and I am confident you will not disappoint. IBI