Honoring Outstanding Community Leadership

by Brad McMillan
Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University

Caterpillar Inc. will receive an award for its strong leadership and support in creating Peoria’s new cultural campus.

With the October opening of the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center, the timing is perfect to honor Caterpillar Inc. for its commitment to providing principled community leadership to the Peoria region for over 100 years. Indeed, the company and its employees have strategically invested $75 million in the Peoria area over the last three years in charitable giving. The impact of Caterpillar’s strong community leadership touches every corner of the Tri-County Area and has improved the quality of life for all of us.

In recognition of Caterpillar’s outstanding, principled community leadership, the Peoria Historical Society is partnering with the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University to present the company with the inaugural Henri de Tonti Award at a celebration event on September 15th at the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom. Tonti is the French explorer who founded Peoria, the oldest community in the state of Illinois, in 1691.

Nearly a dozen years ago, Congressman Ray LaHood and Caterpillar convened the first meeting of the Museum Collaboration Group, which included the African American Hall of Fame, Lakeview Museum and the Peoria Historical Society. Together, they embarked on a decade-long, collaborative adventure to fill the seven-acre hole in the heart of Peoria with a $136-million cultural campus.

Caterpillar’s strong leadership was the glue that enabled this dream to become a reality. Caterpillar CEOs Doug Oberhelman, Jim Owens and Glen Barton all passionately backed this once-in-alifetime community project, and this critical support helped solidify the public and private support needed to build this landmark project on Peoria’s riverfront.

For decades, the Peoria Historical Society has longed for a place to showcase Peoria’s rich history. “The Street” exhibit in the new Peoria Riverfront Museum, sponsored by the Peoria Historical Society, will be a dramatic gallery of changing exhibits with a large media display that will immerse visitors in more than 300 years of Peoriaarea history. “The Street” will include a hands-on area, a Wall of Fame recognizing inductees to the African American Hall of Fame, an Oral History Center and Object Theater.

The Peoria Historical Society recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and is looking forward to continuing its collaboration with the Peoria Riverfront Museum, preserving and enhancing its two historic homes (Flanagan House and the Pettengill-Morron House), and implementing new technologies on the Internet for the general public to access documents and images that reside in its extensive collections. To help with its ongoing sustainability and to enable the organization to continue on its mission to preserve Peoria’s rich history, all proceeds from the September 15th Tonti Celebration will benefit the Peoria Historical Society. iBi

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