Needed: Women in Leadership

Beth Crider Derry, Peoria County Regional Superintendent of Schools, with Peoria NOW members Brittany Miller, left, and Cinda Thompson.

Beth Crider Derry was a kindergarten teacher for 17 years before she became Peoria County’s Democratic Regional Superintendent of Schools.

Derry insists there is nothing remarkable about her, save one decision she made to enroll in Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, a training program structured to give women the skills they need to run and be elected to public office.

Derry said the program, started by Loretta Durbin, wife of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, “completely changed me.”

Concerned about the lack of women in elected positions, Loretta Durbin started Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, a one-year course of study to provide leadership skills, campaign know-how and fund raising practices that yield results. Graduates include U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.

Derry found the program so useful, she is collaborating with Peoria National Organization for Women to offer a 4-hour mini-seminar to review skills women need to run for public office. The session is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 3000 W. Richwoods Blvd.

Derry said the skills learned in IWIL are not just applicable for women who want to run for public office but for women who want to help with fundraising, campaigning, consulting and election strategizing.

“There is nothing extraordinary about me. It’s about learning the skills you need to run for office,” Derry said. “We will demystify the process.”

To register, go to or email Brittany Miller,

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