Peoria Magazines celebrated the silver anniversary of 40 Leaders Under Forty in 2018. Many cities around the country now have similar programs, but Peoria’s was one of the very first.
On November 27, 2018, the Peoria City Council recognized 40 Leaders Under Forty with a city proclamation for its 25th anniversary of celebrating young leadership in central Illinois. We are grateful for their support and the support of the Peoria community at large.
40 Leaders Under Forty was created in 1994 as a way to recognize emerging young talent in central Illinois. During a tough time in Peoria’s history, the program was intended as a beacon of optimism, reflecting the spirit of youthful initiative that would guide our community into a new millennium.
InterBusiness Issues (iBi) magazine and its corporate partner Caterpillar Inc.—along with WMBD Radio, CILCO, RLI Corp. and Bremer Jewelry—were responsible for getting this program off the ground.
An inaugural group of 40 young leaders was selected from many different fields and areas of interest, but each of them held two things in common. They were united in their passion for the Peoria area, and their work and volunteer efforts were making a critical difference in their community.
This first class of young leaders was honored at a prestigious reception at the Hotel Pere Marquette on November 2, 1994. A brief description of their activities and accomplishments was included in that month’s issue of iBi magazine. Today, many of them are still active in leading our community—and their impact has only grown more impressive.
Each and every year since, a new class of leaders has been recognized in similar fashion. The 40 Leaders Under Forty award has become a rite of passage for young professionals seeking to grow, develop and better their community. Many cities around the country now have similar programs, but Peoria’s was one of the very first.
After 25 years of recognition, there are now 1,000 40 Leaders alumni, and they come from all walks of life. They are business people and entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and community volunteers, doctors and lawyers, engineers and designers, teachers and coaches, law enforcement officers and community organizers, judges and politicians, and more. The diversity of their ranks is a tribute to the breadth and depth of talent and vision in the Peoria community.
Over the years, the 40 Leaders Under Forty program has grown while remaining true to its original vision. In 2014, iBi began recognizing the 40 Leaders Alumnus of the Year—a former award winner who has continued to make a strong impact on the community. Each year, they host an informal social event to bring alumni together for fun and networking, and to recognize the Alumnus of the Year.
Group photo from the 2018 40 Leaders Alumni Social
The longevity of the 40 Leaders Under Forty program is a testament to the unbelievable talent in the Greater Peoria community. It’s a tribute to the men and women of our region whose integrity, creativity and work ethic are second to none. It’s a way for the community to come together and celebrate the things that make us great.
40 Leaders Under Forty would not be possible without the hard work of the Peoria Magazines staff each year. It would not be possible without the support of Caterpillar Inc. and other sponsors—RLI Corp., Bradley University’s Foster College of Business; OSF HealthCare; Farnsworth Group; Hometown Community Banks; Community Foundation of Central Illinois; Busey; Cullinan Properties; Commerce Bank; and River City Construction—who give back to their community in ways that transcend the bottom line.
Finally, it would not be possible without the young people among us who give of their time, talent and treasure to make their community a better place to live. We hope and believe that the next thousand alumni are just as impressive as the first thousand. PS
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