In This Episode:
Working Together to Move Peoria Forward

Peoria mayor Dr. Rita Ali is driven by the opportunity to make a difference in the city of Peoria. She has a vision for what she wants the city she grew up in and loves deeply to be, and she’s committed to collaborating with key stakeholders to bring it to life.

Dr. Ali learned early in life that doing just enough to get by does not lead to success. That valuable lesson motivated her to do more. She calls herself “an ordinary person who puts forth extraordinary effort to get things done.” And it shows. She has a fighter spirit and rich history of community involvement that stems back to her teens.

Much of her career has been spent fighting for the young people she serves, especially at-risk youth, to get them the skills and education they need to sustain themselves. Now, she’s bringing those skills and experience in diversity, equity and inclusion into her role of mayor.

In this interview Mayor Ali talks about her upbringing, career journey, initiatives she’s facilitating for our city, and the work going on behind the scenes to engage the community. There truly is much to be excited about. In fact, Peoria was recently named the best place to live in Illinois.

“We can do a lot more working together in unity than we can do working on our own…I think that working together despite our differences will take us a long, long way.”


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About Dr. Rita Ali

evolving the brand of a cityDr. Rita Ali made history in 2021 as the first woman and first African American to be elected mayor of Peoria. A part of Peoria’s fabric for many years, Mayor Ali began volunteering and taking on leadership roles in the community as a teen. Much of her work has been related to social justice, urban economic empowerment, welfare reform, minority student development, employment, training and mentoring.

Before winning the mayoral race, Dr. Ali served as Vice President of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College for 17 years. During that time, Dr. Ali penned a book, “Role Models: Profiles of Successful African American Professionals in Peoria, Illinois. Designed to inspire Peoria’s youth and young adults, it features 126 professionals representing 115 different occupations.

Prior to joining ICC, Dr. Ali was marketing director and manager of AIS Federal Services Group, director of Multicultural Student Services at Bradley University, a consultant for the City of Peoria’s Central Illinois Private Industry Council, a vocational counselor and coordinator of youth programs for the City of Peoria and a counselor at Children’s Home.

Learn more about Mayor Ali and the community on the City of Peoria website. 


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