Leading Women, Past and Present

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos speaks at Bradley's Women in Leadership luncheon.

By Frank Radosevich II
February 19, 2013

When U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos spoke about the importance of having more women leaders, her focus was not confined strictly to the Beltway.

“It’s not just in public service,” the first-term Democrat said, “it’s about serving on boards, as the head of organizations or as the head of universities. That’s what I believe we need to aspire to.”

Bustos spoke to the Bradley community as part of Women in Leadership luncheon, an event that honors the legacy of University founder Lydia Moss Bradley and contemporary women in positions of leadership. As the first women to represent Bradley’s campus and central Illinois in Congress, Bustos understands the challenges faced by young women as well as the importance of educating them.

“Make no mistake about it; she gets it. Education is the key to opportunity,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser, who introduced Bustos at the forum.

During her talk, Bustos cited the many women who shaped her ideas and encouraged her dreams along her eventual path to Congress, including Peoria’s own Betty Friedan. Friedan's groundbreaking book, “The Feminine Mystique,” published 50 years ago this week, helped blaze a trail for women seeking more out of life.

The book’s publication “was at a time when women didn’t dream of becoming president of a university or a member of congress,” Bustos said. “It was a foundational moment in history for women that allowed President Glasser to be running this University and for me to be standing up here today.”

The event was co-hosted by InterBusiness Issues magazine and Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service. The Institute's executive director Brad McMillan said the luncheon, a reoccurring event, both celebrates the work of women leaders as well as encourages female students to take on leadership positions.

“We bring to campus outstanding women leaders to speak to our Bradley students to inspire them to make a difference in our world, our country, our state and our region,” McMillan said.

In addition to the speakers, the luncheon also presented a new scholarship for women in leadership available in the fall 2013 semester. The $1,000 scholarship is designated for a senior woman who has shown outstanding leadership with campus organizations and service to the community.

“This is just one effort for community leaders to give back to women in service,” said Mary Ardapple, vice-chairwoman of the Peoria County Board who, along with the Institute, will manage the scholarship’s selection process.

For more information regarding the scholarship, contact Brad McMillan at bmcmillan@bradley.edu.