A Publication of WTVP

Women of Influence

Each December, Peoria Magazine highlights area women who are making a difference in central Illinois—in conjunction with a half-day forum featuring breakout sessions, panels, featured speakers and more. This annual event is a tribute to women in the workplace and an inspirational way to bring the community together and empower female leaders.

Women of Influence

The Power of Diversity & Inclusion

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
7:00am to 12:00pm
Par-A-Dice Hotel, East Peoria

Diversity involves the range of human differences, including generations, personalities, race, gender and sexual orientation, to name a few. Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. Together, diversity and inclusion is a powerful combination that brings value to any organization or workplace.

Enjoy a plated breakfast, networking with your peers, and inspirational presentations from a wide range of speakers. New this year, Peoria Magazines and Junior Achievement of Central Illinois are partnering to allow 130 students from Peoria Public Schools and Quest Charter Academy to attend the conference—and be inspired by strong women leaders!

Women of Influence

Feature Presentations

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

The Honorable Lori Lightfoot
Mayor of Chicago

Special VIP Guest Speaker

An experienced manager, advocate and reform expert, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has worked at the city and federal level to make government more accountable and accessible. Taking on tough challenges and forging solutions, she is now successfully leading the third largest city in the country. As mayor, she works to create opportunity for every Chicagoan—regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status or neighborhood.

Pallavi Verma

Pallavi Verma
Senior Managing Director, US – Midwest for Accenture
Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Women, 2019

“It’s Okay to Be a Space Alien”

Being different is good. It is a competitive advantage. It is a superpower. From being one of the few women pursuing her technical degree to being the only senior woman executive in the boardroom, Pallavi Verma has embraced her inner space alien throughout her career. She will share examples of she handled those momentsand how we can embrace our own inner space alien to live our lives to our fullest potential.

Dr. Rita Ali

Dr. Rita Ali
At-Large Member, Peoria City Council
Vice President, Workforce, Diversity and Career Development, Illinois Central College

“Building Equity in the Workplace”

Equity work is complex, yet rewarding. Dr. Rita Ali explains how an equitable workplace leaves no one out, assures fairness and recognition, values people at every level, and most often results in successful outcomes and solutions. Attendees will be equipped with a toolkit to assist such efforts.

Women of Influence

Breakout Sessions

Rhonda Carter Adams, Illinois American Water

“Small Does Matter: Progress in the Workplace”
Small steps toward diversity & inclusion can positively affect employee relations in the workplace. Adams discusses the incremental progress that can impact how employees engage, respect and appreciate each other’s differences.

Kathy Lehman, UnityPoint Health

“Starting Your Diversity & Inclusion Journey”
When UnityPoint Health created the Diversity & Inclusion Officer position in October 2017, no one in Peoria—or the entire health system—had ever held the position. Lehmann will talk about this journey… and the challenges experienced along the way.

Abby Clark, Davis & Campbell LLC

“The War of Generations: Call for a Ceasefire”
How are work styles and expectations different amongst Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers? How can they leverage one another’s strengths and come together to get the job done? What misconceptions do the various generations hold about one another—and how can those stereotypes be busted?

Grace Mata Gomez, Howard & Howard Attorneys

“Is Pay Equity on your Radar?”
The #MeToo movement ushered in wide-ranging legislation addressing the pay gap between men and women, while the Illinois Equal Pay Act was recently expanded to cover pay discrimination between African-Americans and non-African-Americans. Gomez will discuss the IEPA and other laws related to pay discrimination.

Sara Foster, Commerce Bancshares, Inc.

“It Takes a Plan AND a Village”
A successful inclusion & diversity program includes a plan from a centralized function and engagement at all levels of the organization. The creation of local I&D councils and employee resource groups helps teams across the company achieve buy-in and add their unique perspectives and ideas.

Jen White, Caterpillar Inc.

“Allyship of the Majority”
Social movements are strengthened by growing majority empathy and inspiring action from allies who champion the cause. These commitments can be secured by crafting a clear business case for the value of change and using representative storytelling and visuals to celebrate small wins.

Women of Influence

Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Corporate Sponsors

Caterpillar, Inc.Junior AchievementAccenture
 Hometown Community Banks 

Executive Sponsor

 RLI Corp. 

Presentation Sponsors

Davis & CampbellCommerce BankHoward & Howard
Illinois American WaterUnityPoint Health 

Associate Sponsors

Soderstrom Skin InstituteCLAHeart of Illinois United Way
Illinois MutualIllinois Central CollegeCullinan Properties
OSF HealthCareMorgan StanleyRSM
River City ConstructionCommunity Foundation of Central IllinoisPekin Insurance
Women of Influence


2018 Women of Influence Forum

The 2018 Women of Influence Forum featured presentations on mindfulness and unconscious bias, multiple breakout sessions, and a panel discussion entitled “Tell it to me Straight!” The panel was moderated by Jennifer Zammuto and featured panelists Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, Banu Hatfield, Dr. Sara Rusch and Tana Utley.

2018 Women of Influence Forum


Peoria Magazine Highlights Women of Influence…

December 2019 PM2019 Women of Influence

View previous Women of Influence recipients