In This Episode:
Creating a Rising Tide That Lifts All Boats

Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey is passionate about changing lives. As president of Illinois Central College (ICC), she’s a driving force behind student success initiatives, workforce development and community connection. She believes the key to breaking the cycle of poverty is creating opportunity, building alternate pathways to access training and providing support systems to help individuals get the credentials they need to move forward. That requires collaboration. Now, more than ever before, local leaders, businesses and organizations are coming together to create solutions that change the trajectory of people’s lives, fill gaps in the workforce and strengthen the economic environment in our region.

With workforce readiness training, career and technical programs, transfer degrees and even continuing education classes, ICC meets a wide range of educational needs and serves individuals throughout a myriad of life stages. This complexity creates unique marketing challenges that require very specific and targeted messaging.

Dr. Quirk-Bailey shares her insights on all these things and more from her journey to promote equity and inclusion in higher education.


“When you can find that sweet spot of something that works for the business community, the community overall and for individual students, then you know you’re going to be successful and you’re onto something.”


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About Dr. Quirk-Bailey

communityDr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey brings more than 26 years of community college experience to her role as president of Illinois Central College (ICC) – but that’s not where her achievements end. She belongs to an impressive list of local and regional committees (both in and out of the education realm), and in 2019, fueled by her passion for community, students and the workforce, she developed the Illinois statewide Workforce Equity Initiative. Through WEI, she promotes workforce inclusivity by creating credential and living-wage jobs for adults – with a focus on African Americans – residing in low income, low employment, high crime areas. Today, the program has expanded to provide over $18 million/year in funding to 18 Illinois community colleges, offering over 100 WEI programs and impacting over 4,100 Illinoisians.

Recognized for her instrumental contributions to workforce equity in Illinois, she was appointed member of the Commission on Workforce Equity & Access by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker – with a task of strengthening and diversifying existing workforce training programs to address shortages, expand access to talent and promote equity and inclusion across all industries.

Learn more about Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey’s contributions on the ICC Office of the President webpage or connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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