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Forty outstanding Illinoisans selected as Edgar Fellows

Photo of Jim EdgarForty emerging leaders who reflect the diversity of Illinois have been selected for an initiative designed to promote responsible and responsive leadership throughout the Land of Lincoln in the years ahead.

The 40 fellows (click here for the full listing) were selected from a field of more than 200 nominees from the public, corporate and non-profit sectors across Illinois. They will gather from Aug. 19-22 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to launch a forward-looking enterprise led by former Gov. Jim Edgar (left) and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA).

The objectives of the Edgar Fellows initiative are to enhance leadership skills and promote understanding, networking and cooperation across regional, partisan and ethnic lines as these young men and women move ahead in their public-service careers. The program is offered by IGPA’s Office of Public Leadership and is funded primarily with donations from a diverse group of individuals, organizations and companies interested in promoting competent and well-motivated leadership in Illinois.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity for these outstanding women and men to further develop their abilities and encourage them to become the leaders our state will need to meet the great challenges of the 21st Century,” Edgar said. “Just as importantly, this program offers a chance for them to broaden their perspectives and to become acquainted with each other, so they can work together effectively for the good of our state as they assume additional responsibility.”

The inaugural class of Edgar Fellows includes elected and appointed officials from all levels of government – including Democratic and Republican legislators from the Chicago metropolitan area and downstate, mayors and members of county boards and city councils. They will interact with men and women who have demonstrated potential through involvement in the business world and community activities.

During the four-day session, the Edgar Fellows will participate in an executive training program featuring engagement with each other, seasoned practitioners and scholars. After the session is complete, the Fellows will remain involved with periodic briefings on major policy issues, such as health care and government finance.

“This will add a new, futuristic, sharply focused dimension to what IGPA has done with great success,” said Rick Winkel, director of the Office of Public Leadership. “We will build on our experience and success in providing executive training for elected and appointed officials at the state and local levels.

The Edgar Fellows initiative is advised by a committee comprised of a diverse group of distinguished leaders from the public and private sectors.

“IGPA has a proud and productive history of working in a nonpartisan fashion to better inform and to help develop government leaders,” said Robert F. Rich, the institute’s director. “I am pleased that Governor Edgar is leading the way on this initiative and I am very excited about how it can encourage and educate those who will play a vital role in moving our state forward.”

The advisory board is chaired by Alexander Lerner, chief executive officer of the Illinois State Medical Society. Other board members are Attorney General Lisa Madigan; MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council; Mark Boozell, government policy advisor in the Dykema law firm; Kirk Brown, a director of Hanson Professional Services and former Illinois secretary of transportation; Kevin Callis, vice president for operations of State Farm; Miguel del Valle, former state senator and Chicago city clerk; Julian D’Esposito, a partner in the Mayer Brown LLP law firm; Carter Hendren, a government relations consultant who served as Senate Republican chief of staff; Felicia Norwood, president of the Mid-American region for Aetna; Mark Peterson, president of Business Development for Bridgeview Bank; Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum; Gene Reineke, a long-time corporate executive in the public relations field; Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois, and John Varones, managing principal of Systima Capital Management.

Published June 15, 2012