Colleen Callahan Named Co-Chair of Illinois Ag Committee

Illinois Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Juliana Stratton announced the formation and members of the transition’s Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee. The committee is the fifth of several working groups of the Illinois transition made up of subject-matter experts who will advise and guide the incoming Pritzker-Stratton administration. The Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee will be chaired by former USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan and Former State Senator John Sullivan, and consist of 22 members. “Agriculture accounts for one in 17 jobs in Illinois, and J.B. and I are committed to supporting farmers across our state,” said Lieutenant Governor-Elect Stratton. “This committee will focus on policies that help our agriculture and rural communities thrive — from investing in farm to market infrastructure and expanding access to capital for family farmers to defending agricultural education and growing rural areas in downstate Illinois.” While Callahan served as the former state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois, she oversaw a 20 percent reduction in staffing while still being able to generate a $1 billion increase in the Illinois loan portfolio. As a broadcaster, Callahan served as the agribusiness director for WMBD (Peoria, IL), a position she held for 30 years. In 2002, she was elected the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). NAFB named her Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 1999 and inducted her into NAFB’s Hall of Fame in 2011. About her nomination, Callahan said, “I’m honored to be asked to serve as co-chair of Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker’s transition committee on Growing Our Agricultural Economy.  As a new administration begins, I’m proud that J.B. and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Juliana Stratton have reached out in a bipartisan manner to subject-matter experts who will advise and guide on policy, innovation, education and the rural economy.”