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Officials in and around government in Edgar Fellows class

State Journal Register

Monday, August 12, 2019  |  Column  |  Bernard Schoenburg

Central Illinois residents who work in and around government were among the statewide class of 41 people brought together last Sunday through Thursday in Champaign as part of the Edgar Fellows program.

 

Now in its eighth year, the program brings together emerging leaders from a variety of geographic areas and backgrounds, and includes an intense executive training program. Alumni of the program — now numbering more than 300 — also meet twice a year.

 

The program is designed and hosted by former Gov. Jim Edgar and the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and was begun in 2012.

 

Last week’s program had a number of policy experts address the group, and discussions were on issues like economic development, health care, education and intergovernmental cooperation.

 

“People who were strangers on Sunday become good friends by Thursday, and it has been so gratifying to watch that happen over the seven years we’ve had this program,” Edgar said in a news release before this year’s session began. He said the program is “all about ... finding common ground and respect, so our fellows can work together throughout their careers to help shape a better Illinois.”

 

Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright is among the fellows.

 

“Leaders at every level of government can benefit from the lessons in civility, bipartisanship and relationship building exemplified by Governor Edgar’s career in public life,” Wright said, adding that the experience “has further reinforced my enthusiasm to serve the people of Sangamon County as state’s attorney and positively impact our community.”

 

Among other central Illinois residents in the class are Amanda Elliott of Springfield, executive director of legislative affairs for the Illinois State Board of Education; Donovan Griffith of Chatham, director of government affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association; Brandy Renfro of Springfield, director of communications for the Illinois Senate president’s office; and Lori Yates of Springfield, director of district planning and member services on the Illinois Senate GOP staff.

 

State lawmakers in the class of fellows are: Sens. Christopher Belt, D-Cahokia; Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake; and Donald DeWitte, R-St. Charles; and Reps. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook; Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove; Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora; Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore; Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee; Tony McCombie, R-Savanna; Bob Morgan, D-Highwood; Lamont Robinson Jr., D-Chicago; Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago; Karina Villa, D-West Chicago; Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago; Maurice West II, D-Rockford; Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis; and Sam Yingling, D-Round Lake Beach.

 

Contact Bernard Schoenburg: bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.