March 21, 2013

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos will speak March 29

by Pete Rosenbery

Cheri Bustos

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Freshman U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos will discuss her career and issues facing the nation in a lecture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

A former award-winning newspaper journalist, health care systems public relations and communications executive, Bustos, D-East Moline, unseated incumbent Republican Bobby Schilling in November 2012 to earn a seat in Congress.

The luncheon is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 29, in the Student Center Ballrooms.  Admission is free and the public is welcome.  The program, sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, will begin at noon, and also be available by livestream at

The luncheon and lecture are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and advance registration is required for meal considerations. To register, contact Carol Greenlee, Institute project coordinator, at 618/453-4078 or by email at by Monday, March 25.  Open seating will be available for those who wish to only listen to the speech and not be included in the meal.

Bustos has strong ties to SIU Carbondale.  Her father, Gene Callahan, of Springfield, served on the SIU Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2004, and was chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon when he was Illinois’ lieutenant governor.  Bustos’ late brother, Dan, was head coach of the Saluki baseball team for 16 seasons before passing away in November 2010.

Bustos’ appearance is part of Institute’s “Women in Politics” series.  Earnings from the Institute’s endowment funds pay for the luncheon.

Institute Director David Yepsen said Bustos has been part of Carbondale and SIU for much of her life, often visiting for her brother’s annual fish fry to benefit the baseball team.

“We are excited to have her back as a new sitting member of Congress,” he said, noting that Bustos’ career path is one that others can learn from.  Bustos also became actively involved in her community, winning two terms on the East Moline city council.

“We’re happy she’s taking time to talk about her career, her campaign, and the issues facing the country,” Yepsen said.

The 14-county 17th District includes portions of Rockford and Peoria, including along the Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin state lines, and includes most of the Quad Cities region. 

Yepsen also said Gene Callahan served as a longtime aide to former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon, D-Illinois, and Simon, and “has forgotten more about politics than most of the rest of us will ever know.”  Callahan also serves on the Institute’s Board of Counselors.

Bustos earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois Springfield.  She also attended Illinois College in Jacksonville.

For more information on the program, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit