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.