Board of Directors

Mr. Glenn Ross

Glenn Ross is originally from Shreveport - a mid-sized city in North Louisiana.  After completing high school, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree at Grambling State University where he majored in Business Administration and Business Information Systems. 

He joined Caterpillar Inc. in 1977, and started his career as a Computer Programmer.  Throughout his career, Glenn has worked in a variety of leadership roles in Information Technology. 

In 1987, Glenn earned his Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Bradley University - Foster College of Business Administration.  Glenn retired from his Information Technology (IT) Manager position at Caterpillar Inc. in 2015. 

As IT Manager, Glenn was responsible for managing a Team of Senior IT professionals who lead strategic programs that enabled business units with systems and processes that support profitable business operation and growth.  The Team was also responsible for performing due diligence in evaluating IT organization capabilities and risks. 

His previous positions include Information Technology Audit Manager, Program Management Office Manager, Solution Deployment Manager, and Account Manager (Caterpillar Dealers - Pacific Region; Europe Africa & Middle East). 

Glenn has served his community as a volunteer, giving his time and talents to support the important work of community and civic organizations, and agencies.  He appreciates the opportunity to meet and work with diverse groups of dedicated leaders and volunteers with a mission of making their communities better and more attractive places to live and work.

Glenn currently serves on the Peoria Tri-County Urban League Board of Directors (Chair), National Urban League Board of Trustees, Quest Charter Academy Board of Directors, and the Peoria Promise Board of Directors.  He is Past President of the Bradley University National Alumni Association, and Past President of the Peoria Public Radio Advisory Board. 

Glenn is a strong believer in the importance of higher education - and thinks that education should be a high priority for our country.  “Education is one of the key elements in maintaining and expanding our competitiveness in the global economy.”

Carl Cannon spent most of his career in law enforcement.  After graduating from Peoria Central High School, Cannon joined the U.S. Army where he distinguished himself in the ranks of the Military Police.  Upon retiring from the military SFC, Cannon was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster), the Army Commendation Medal (4th Cluster) and Army Achievement Medal (5th Cluster).  He also received a Meritorious Unit Award for his role in quelling a riot at the USDB in 1994.  In 2010 Cannon was designated the US Army Illinois Citizen of Interest (COI).

Returning to his hometown, Cannon accepted a position at Pekin Federal Correctional Institution.  In 2000, he received the nationally recognized Selective Placement Program Manager of the Year for the North Central Region and was on his way to becoming one of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ best and brightest.  That career path was cut short when Cannon decided he no longer wanted to excel at keeping men in prison but focus on what he could do with youth to keep them from going to prison in the first place, so he transitioned from Correctional Officer to Youth Outreach Pioneer.

Mr. Cannon is a past member of the Children’s Hospital Advisory Board, Pediatric Resource Center Board, Catholic Charities Board of Directors, and past board member of METEC, a not-for-profit financial literacy agency. He currently serves as a Commissioner with the Peoria Housing Authority and is a member of the Don’t Shoot Governance Board.  Mr. Cannon was a recipient of the 2003 National Parks and Recreation Association Humanitarian Service Award, the 2003 Illinois Attorney General Peace Keeper Award, the 2003 National Everyday Heroes Award from Court TV and Insight Communications, the 2004 National Caring Award and induction into the National Caring Hall of Fame, located in Washington D.C., a 2005 inductee into the Central Illinois African American Hall of Fame, the 2007 recipient of the Central Illinois Interfaith Alliance Faith and Freedom Award, a 2007 recipient of the American Red Cross Local Heroes Award, the 2008 Inductee Rotary Foundation of Rotary International PAUL HARRIS FELLOW Award for Community Service and 2010 US Army Illinois Citizen of Interest (COI).  In 2011 Carl was awarded with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Cannon founded the ELITE Youth Outreach Program in 2006.  He and an army of volunteers have trained over 1500 hundred students in the ELITE soft-skills curriculum in eight different area high schools. The ELITE Drum-line, has become one of the most popular drum-lines in the area.

Much of what Carl does is on a volunteer basis. He has taken his motivational “do right” message to well over 400,000 youth in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Washington D.C.   He is a much sought after motivational speaker for schools throughout the Midwest as well as in Boston and New York City.  Carl and the ELITE program have volunteered hundreds of hours within the community.   

Carl and his wife Melinda have been married 33 years and are the parents of two lovely daughters Summer (Melton) Wright and Danielle (Cody) Randle.  They also have two grandchildren.  Carl will tell you without Melinda’s support and encouragement none of the things he’s accomplished would have been possible.

He now serves as Supervisor of Community Outreach at the Peoria Park District.

Mrs. Jan Leonard

Mrs. Leonard earned both a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in Instructional Technology and Telecommunications from Western Illinois University. During her 35-year career in education, Mrs. Leonard was a classroom teacher, athletic coach, grant-writer/grant administrator and juvenile court liaison for truancy cases. She was also a consultant for the Peoria County Regional Office of Education’s Two Rivers Professional Development Center for 16 years, providing professional development to teachers and administrators in a variety of academic areas. In addition, Mrs. Leonard was an adjunct instructor for Aurora University, a national trainer for Collaborative Learning Incorporated and a state trainer and school/district improvement coach for the Illinois State Board of Education. Mrs. Leonard has presented at national conferences, including ASCD, along with several state conferences. Currently Mrs. Leonard is a project coordinator for the Heart of Illinois United Way. In addition to being a member on the board at Quest Charter Academy, she is on the board of directors of the Hult Center for Healthy Living and the board of directors of the Westminster Infant Care Center. Jan also serves on the Education Advisory Board for PNC Bank.  Jan has been married to husband, Gary, since 1974 and has two daughters, two sons-in-laws and six fabulous grandchildren.

Dr. Jack F. Gilligan

John F. Gilligan, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, is president emeritus of both Fayette Companies and the Human Service. A founding member and past vice-chairman of the Leadership Development Center, he has provided managerial training and consultation to managers representing more than 200 of the Fortune 500 corporations. Internationally, as CEO of Fayette Companies he provided consultation and management training to multi-national corporations doing business in Poland and Russia.

Currently, he is a voluntary faculty member of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is presently Vice President of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas and on the board of directors for the following organizations:  UnityPlace, Creve Coeur Club; the Dean of the College of Medicine’s (Peoria) Advisory Council; and the Advisory Board of the Bradley University Center for Principled Leadership and Public Service.

Dr. Gilligan has also served as chairman of the board of directors for the following organizations:  Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, the Employers' Association of Illinois, Workforce Development Board for Central Illinois, and the Illinois Heath Care Collaborative (Quality Quest). He was also appointed by two Governors of the State of Illinois to the Illinois State Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency and served as chairman of the Prevention Committee.

 He received his Ph.D. from the University of Idaho and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology from the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, University of Illinois School of Medicine.  Previous degrees were from Stonehill College, North Easton, MA; Fairfield University, CT; University of Angers, France; and the Gregorian University, Rome, Italy.   Dr. Gilligan has served as chairperson of the Tri-County Community Partnership, Peoria, IL; chairperson of the Citizens Advisory Council on Social Services for the Illinois Department of Public Aid; and as treasurer for the American Academy of Psychotherapists.  He is the author of the Soul of America:  Essays on the Fourth of JulyThe Library of Congress:  An Embodiment of the American Identity, coauthored with Congressman Ray LaHood; Three Perspectives on Human Nature: Plato, Augustine, and Freud; and the Adversity Challenge as a coauthor with Charles Stoner.  His recent publication (2016) is The American Revolution 1607-1801: A Cultural History for Teachers, Parents, and Children. In addition to published professional research articles and presentations, more than 200 editorials, essays and comments have appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, and the Wall Street Journal.  He is also the 2013 recipient of the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s (Peoria) Annual Community Health Award.

Mickeisha has enjoyed a career in Human Resources for over 25 years.  She is currently employed by Caterpillar, Inc., and has worked in a variety of HR management roles at COUNTRY Financial and Mitsubishi Motors.   

Mickeisha received her BA in Business Administration from Eureka College and serves as a member of the Eureka College Board of Trustees.  In addition, she serves as a Commissioner for the Peoria Housing Authority Finance/Audit Committee.  She is a volunteer mentor for YoungLives and serves as a volunteer on the Creative Arts Team for Northwoods Community Church.  Mickeisha is also an adjunct professor at Eureka College.  Mickeisha is a motivational speaker, facilitates training sessions and coaches individuals on one-on-one basis.

Formerly she served as interim Board Chair for the Minority Business Development Center, Board President for the Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation, 1st Vice President for the Eureka College Alumni Board, Chair for the Heartland Healthcare Coalition and Co-Chair for the National Business Coalition on Health.

Dr. Venus Evans Winters

Dr. Venus E. Evans-Winters is Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations. Dr. Evans-Winters is also a faculty affiliate with the departments of Women & Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies. Her research interests are school resilience, urban education policy and practice, and the schooling of Black girls and women. Dr. Evans-Winters teaches in the areas of education policy studies, qualitative research, and social foundations of education. She is the author of “Teaching Black Girls: Resilience in Urban Classrooms, and co-editor of the books “(Re)Teaching Trayvon: Education for Social Justice & Human Freedom;” and “Black Feminism in Education: Black Women Speak Back, Up, and Out.” This White House invitee to the convening on, “Research on Women and Girls,” is the author of numerous academic articles and book chapters. Dr. Evans-Winters is also a Boar Certified Professional Counselor, psychotherapist, and school social worker. As an international scholar, she has served in West Africa and South Africa as well as engaged in critical pedagogy institutes in Spain, Greece, and Malta. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, meditation, and watching reality television. Favorite quote: There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. ~Nelson Mandela

Mrs. Polly Barton

Polly Barton is from Peoria, IL.  She went to St. Philomena grade school, Richwoods Community High School, and then Southern Illinois University graduating with a Business Education degree.

After college, she taught at Central High School in Peoria.  While raising a family, she coached tennis at Norte Dame High School and worked in the Development Department as Public Relations Director.

Her volunteer experiences include, Junior League of Peoria, Women’s Strength, St. Philomena CCD teacher as well as PE teacher.  Polly has sat on various community boards including Peoria Park District Advisory Board, Peoria Zoological Society where she was co-chairman of the Zoological Capital Campaign, Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, WTVP and OSF Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Polly’s interests are swimming, golf, reading and making our community a better place to live, learn and play.

Dr. Kiran K Velpula is Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, Pediatrics and Neurosurgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Hyderabad, India, and finished post-doctoral cooperations at the University of Central Florida, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria. His exploration advantages are to create novel quality treatment systems focusing on malignant growth cell digestion for the treatment of glioblastoma, generally known as cerebrum tumors. 

Dr. Velpula has gotten various network grants including the "40 Leaders Under 40" in 2017, Athena Young Professional Award in 2017, and "Ten Outstanding Young Professionals of Illinois" for clinical development in 2018. He is presently an individual from the Government Affairs Committee, The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of Directors for The Center for Prevention of Abuse, EP!C, and the Neighborhood House of Peoria. He likewise took an interest in the Horizons 150 program of PSD150 and served on the Education and Workforce Committee of the Chamber of Commerce.


Emeritus Board Members

Mr. Glen Barton, retired Caterpillar CEO

Mr. McFarland Bragg II, President and CEO of the Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity, Inc. (PCCEO)

Dr. Cindy Fischer, retired Peoria Public Schools Associate Superintendent & retired Executive Director of Crittenton Centers

Mr. Al Hooks, retired Caterpillar engineer

Dr. Vicky Stewart, retired Illinois Central College administrator