About the Mayor
After serving two years as an At-Large City Council Member, Dr. Rita Ali was elected Mayor of Peoria, Illinois in April 2021, becoming the city's first woman and first person of color to serve in that role.
Keeping her promise to serve as a full-time mayor, Dr. Ali retired early from her position as Vice President of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College (ICC) where she earned statewide recognition for strong and effective equity-focused programming. ICC's Workforce Equity Initiative, while under Dr. Ali's leadership, targeted underserved individuals and provided them with education and training leading to high-wage, high‑demand careers in healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, and transportation.
Dr. Ali led efforts to establish ICC's first International Center. She launched a comprehensive, aggressive strategy to effectively recruit and retain students of color in college. Her book, Role Models: Profiles of Successful African American Professions in Peoria, Illinois, featured 126 professionals representing 115 different occupations. It was designed to inspire Peoria's youth and young adults.
Mayor Ali is involved in a plethora of local civic and community activities as the President of the Martin Luther King Holiday Committee of Peoria, board member of the Illinois Municipal League, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and countless other roles. In addition, she has compiled a long list of awards such as the Whitney M. Young Award from the Boy Scouts of America, Harry Sephus Trailblazer Award from the Peoria NAACP, and the Valeska Hinton Human Rights Award from the Peoria YWCA.
Mayor Ali is leading a bi-partisan, multi-region effort to bring passenger train service to Peoria and Central Illinois. She intends to put Peoria on a pathway to become a Smart City and she's working with key stakeholders to equip Peoria citizens with high-demand workforce skills and local careers.
Mayor Ali earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services Management from the University of Illinois - Springfield and a Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy from Bradley University, Walden University, and Capella University respectively.
Her daily prayer is, God make me an instrument of your peace and your love.