PSPPI header - Mwilambwe

September 28, 2021

History-making Bloomington mayor is next guest in ‘Meet the Mayor’ virtual series

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Mboka Mwilambwe, the mayor of Bloomington, Illinois, is the next guest in the “Meet the Mayor” series hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Mwilambwe will join John Shaw, institute director, at 11:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 1 for a virtual conversation held by Zoom webinar.

Mwilambwe and Shaw will discuss how the central Illinois community is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, Mwilambwe’s history-making career in local politics, and the mayor’s journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the American Midwest.

Mwilambwe served on the Bloomington City Council for 10 years and became the city’s first Black mayor after his election in April 2021. Mwilambwe is from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and during his childhood lived in the Ivory Coast, Senegal and the Republic of Congo. He came to the United States after he graduated from high school, moving to Bloomington in 1990 to attend Illinois State University, where he now works as an assistant director in the Office of Equal Access and Opportunity. He is fluent in several languages including French, Swahili and Lingala.

“Mayor Mwilambwe is a path-breaking leader with a remarkably interesting and compelling life story and a passionate commitment to public service.” Shaw said. “His celebration of diversity and inclusion is inspiring, as is his intense focus on the fundamentals of good governance.”

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required for access to the Zoom webinar. Visit to register. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Mwilambwe with their registration or by email to

The institute’s “Meet the Mayor” series of virtual conversations invites leaders from Illinois communities to talk about their careers in public service as well as the challenges their towns are overcoming during the COVID-19 pandemic.