PSPPI Mayor Rita Ali photo

May 05, 2023

SIU’s Paul Simon Institute to host virtual discussion with ‘trailblazing’ Peoria mayor

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Rita Ali, the first woman and first Black mayor to lead Peoria, Illinois, is the next guest in the virtual Meet the Mayor series hosted by Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Ali will join John Shaw, institute director, for a virtual discussion at noon Friday, May 12. They will discuss Ali’s career in education, civic affairs and politics, along with her vision and policy agenda for her community. They will also explore her focus on workforce and diversity issues at Illinois Central College, her service on the Peoria City Council and her election as mayor.

“Mayor Ali is a trailblazing mayor of one of our state’s iconic cities,” said Shaw, who was born and raised in Peoria. “We are eager to learn about her career journey and the daunting challenges and big opportunities that she is confronting in Peoria.”

Ali is in her first term as Peoria’s mayor. She served two years on Peoria’s city council before she won the April 2021 mayoral election by 43 votes out of more than 16,500 cast. Prior to her election, Ali was vice president of workforce and diversity at Illinois Central College.

Ali earned a bachelor’s degree in human services management from the University of Illinois Springfield, a master’s degree in education administration from Bradley University, an MBA from Walden University and a doctorate in organization and management from Capella University.

The online event is free and open to the public; registration is required at Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Ali on their registration form or email them to

Meet the Mayor is a series of virtual conversations in which the institute hosts interviews with Illinois’ municipal leaders and discuss the challenges and opportunities they face. The institute also has a list of past speakers and events available for review.