Tap into the Next Generation

by Jan Wright, Publisher

Twenty-five years is a long time. That’s how long we’ve been recognizing Greater Peoria’s young leaders as a key ingredient in our community’s future. With the 2018 class, there are now 1,000 alumni of the 40 Leaders Under Forty program—one of the first such initiatives in the entire country.

When the inaugural class of 40 Leaders was announced in 1994, our managing editor had just started his freshman year at Bradley University. NAFTA had recently gone into effect, and Nelson Mandela was the new president of South Africa. Forrest Gump and The Lion King hit cinema screens and Friends debuted on TV. Amazon and Yahoo were small startup companies; GM and Ford were at the top of the Fortune 500.

When that first class of leaders was identified, we called and even mailed letters to them—we didn’t use email yet. Facebook and Twitter were far off in the distant future, of course. Many of today’s job titles and descriptions were not even thought of 25 years ago. But even as information today is disseminated around the globe in an instant, the fundamental need for strong leaders—and the basics of strong leadership—remains constant.

Amidst our ever-more-chaotic world, the leadership pipeline must still be filled. In recent months, I’ve had discussions with CEOs and top management about who to tap and how we plan our future—both in the short term and for the long haul. In every industry, the resounding concern of employers is the talent pool. The survival of our businesses and community institutions depends on the next generation rising to the occasion.

This is why we continue to seek out our community’s young leaders to honor their accomplishments. We hope this recognition spurs them on to even greater heights. We hope they continue to be actively engaged—that they continue to give of their time and talents to make our region a better place. If previous years’ recipients are any indication, they will do just that.

In this issue, we introduce another class of rising young stars. As you read of their excellence in the workplace, community involvement and passion for service, we hope you will be as inspired as we were! We also hope that you continue to think local, shop local and support local—in all that you do. This is what makes our community great. Thank you for your support, and congratulations to this year’s class of leaders! iBi