PEORIA — Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday named Colleen Callahan to be the next director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The Edwards resident runs her own communications consulting firm and is best known in the Peoria area as a former agriculture broadcaster at WMBD for three decades who served as the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.
She served as state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture during Barack Obama's administration. A release from the Pritzker administration notes that during her tenure in that post, she boosted Illinois' loan portfolio by $1 billion while presiding over a 20 percent reduction in staffing.
Callahan also has been active in local Democratic politics, attending a number of Pritzker campaign events during the 2018 election cycle, including the opening of his Peoria campaign office.
She was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 2008, running against Aaron Schock to represent the Peoria-centered 18th Congressional District.
Her husband, Richard Burns, has had a lawsuit pending since late 2015 against Schock, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and the Peoria County GOP stemming from the contents of a campaign mailer signed by Schock and LaHood and funded by the local party while Burns was running for the Peoria County Board in 2014. It alleged Burns was banned from showing championship hogs at the state fair, a claim Burns labeled categorically untrue.