Provost & Academic Vice President

Accessing Local and State Party Power Panelists

Debbie Halvorson

Debbie Halvorson

Debbie Halvorson was born and raised in a small suburb south of Chicago - Steger, Illinois and currently resides in Crete.

She started her elected career as Crete Township Clerk and was elected State Senator in 1996, the same year as Barack Obama. Debbie moved into a leadership position within her caucus after just two years and in 2005 became the first woman ever to serve as Senate Majority leader in Illinois. In 2008 Debbie ran for Congress and won.

She supported President Obama’s jobs bill because she knew what its like to face tough times as a single mother. She supported the healthcare legislation because she watched her mother make difficult choices when she faced breast cancer at 49 without health care and then with the preexisting condition precluded her from getting insurance so she prayed every day until she was 65 when she would have medicare. Debbie knew no one should ever have to go through that. It was personal to her.

She fought for twenty years for men and women who played by the rules and wanted a fair chance to earn their piece of the American Dream and fought for mothers and fathers who are just trying to create a better future for their children, and for sons and daughters who deserve to have their best days ahead of them and their potential realized.

As an Illinois State Senator elected in 1996--she fought to improve education and make healthcare more affordable and accessible. As a Member of Congress, she proudly stood by President Obama to put our economy on the road to recovery and start putting people back to work.

Debbie went back to college to pursue her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a single mom, serving in the State Senate at the same time she helped put her children through the University of Illinois.

She was the founder and past Chairwoman of the Rosie Foundation an organization to help women and children who fall through the cracks during a time when the State and Federal governments are cutting funding for the social services. Although she no longer is involved, it continues to do good things, raising money through an endowment.

Since leaving Congress in 2011 she wrote a book of her 20 years in political office and the “characters” she met along the way. Debbie served under three Governors, two of whom went to prison. The real story of the book is how to help other women - “Play Ball With the Big Boys”.

Debbie is also President/CEO of Solutions Unlimited a Government Relations Consulting firm as well as owner/President of American Eagle Logistics. Her passion has always been promoting women in the Economic Development/Transportation and Logistics arena where there are not enough women CEOs

In her spare time she loves to spend time with her husband, four children and six grandchildren. Loves to garden and play golf when she is not traveling to speak to women’s groups.

Mia Mayberry

Mia Mayberry

Mia Mayberry attended Rock Island High School and graduated in 2007. After graduation Mia attended Northeastern University in Boston where she played Division I basketball and graduated with honors. Mia has always been passionate about the law and helping others. She decided to pursue these passions and attended Valparaiso University School of Law from 2011 to 2014. After successfully passing both the Illinois and Iowa bar exams, Mia worked at Prairie State Legal Services in Rock Island, providing legal services to those who could not afford an attorney. Mia then transitioned into private practice at Pappas O'Connor, P.C. in Rock Island where she currently practices. As an Associate at the firm, Mia specializes in employment rights and civil litigation.

From a young age, Mia has been involved in politics and worked on numerous campaigns. Mia has been serving her community for the past four years on the Rock Island County Board. She is Chairwoman of the Governance, Health and Administration Committee and also a member of the Democratic Ethnic Minority Conference. Mia was elected in March of 2016 as a 17th Congressional District Hillary Clinton Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. At the DNC, Mia also served as a Whip within the Clinton delegate operation.

Mia is dedicated to seeing the youth of this community succeed and get involved in the democratic process. Every year she registers Rock Island High School students to vote to ensure the youth exercise their right to vote. Mia previously served on the Rock Island County Children's Advocacy Board and is a longtime member of the NAACP local chapter.

Avery Bourne

Avery Bourne

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was sworn into office on February 18, 2015 and elected on November 8, 2016 to represent the 95th District. Bourne grew up in rural Montgomery County where her family has farmed for generations.  

Since taking office, Representative Bourne has spent a considerable amount of time at the Capitol working on issues that affect Central Illinois. Her priorities include a pro-growth economic agenda aimed at strengthening our communities as well as providing job training to create new opportunities for our manufacturing talent.   

In addition to advocating for job growth, Bourne continues to fight for common sense property tax relief, fair funding of schools, term limits, and “no budget, no pay” legislation for elected officials in Springfield.  

Representative Bourne currently serves on the following committees in the Illinois House: Aging; Agriculture and Conservation; Appropriations- Elementary and Secondary Education; Elections and Campaign Finance; and Judiciary-Civil.   

In 2016, Bourne was appointed to the House Education Funding Task Force and the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission to work on a bipartisan statewide solution to funding disparities within the public education system. In 2017, Bourne was appointed to serve on the Legislative Research Unit, the chief general research agency for the Illinois General Assembly.  

The 95th district includes Montgomery County as well as portions of Christian, Macoupin and Madison Counties; the district contains the cities of Taylorville, Litchfield, Hillsboro and Carlinville.

Susan Wynn Bence

Susan Wynn Bence

Susan Wynn Bence has worked in Social Services and Education for most of her professional career in both the United States and Europe. Most recently Susan served as the Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager for former State Representative Josh Harms and Chief of Staff to State Representative Thomas Bennett. Susan began a new chapter in her professional career this past year when she was named the Springfield Director for Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. Elected three times to Iroquois County Board, Susan served 10 ½ years before resigning to accept her position with the Illinois Lieutenant Governor. While serving as an elected official she was a member of the Tax, Health, and Finance Committees. She has also served as the chairman of the Judicial and Public Safety Committee. Susan is also a former Republican Precinct Committeeman.

Susan’s leadership characteristics are evident throughout her community. She is actively involved and has served on many different boards including: East Central Illinois Community Action Agency; University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Unit Council (Past President); Iroquois County Historical Society; Watseka First Christian Church (Past Chairman of the Board); Kiwanis International; and Pledge for Life Partnership. Susan was recently chosen to serve on the Illinois Rural Health Board and the Illinois Rural Partners Board of Directors.

Susan has received numerous professional and community service awards however the honors that she is most proud were received while living and working in Europe; she was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) as an outstanding volunteer. She was also honored with the 6th ASG Commander’s coin for her dedication and work supporting the “Military Child.” Susan is an overachiever who is always willing to go the extra mile and has an exceptional reputation as a successful fundraiser and grant writer.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theatre (concentration in Public Speaking) and Physical Education from Eureka College and a master’s degree in Education from Olivet Nazarene University. Susan also had the privilege of attending and graduating from the Illinois Leadership Academy and the Academy of Municipal Excellence at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois.

Susan’s interest in politics began while a student at Eureka College in the late 70’s when she met and became inspired by the college’s most famous alum, Ronald Reagan. Susan joined the Illinois Federation of Republican Women in late 1990’s and has been significantly involved ever since. She is the past president of the Iroquois County Republican Women’s Club. She is also the past membership chairman for the IFRW.

Pam Monetti

Pam Monetti

Currently, Pam is working as a PR Marketing Specialist for American Income Life Insurance. Pam grew up in a union family of Carpenters, United Steelworkers and Education employees. Currently, she is a member of OPEIU 277. Previously, she worked for Illinois Department of Transportation as a Local and Community Safety Liaison, Department of Communications. Monetti was Regional Political Director for Dr. David Gill’s 2012 congressional race and worked as a staff assistant for former U.S. Congressman Phil Hare (17 th CD), overseeing his Carlinville District Office.

A Magna cum laude graduate of University of Illinois-Springfield with a master’s degree in Political Science focusing on women in politics, Monetti has been involved in politics for over twenty-five years serving as precinct committeeperson, Co-President of Illinois Democrat Women, board member of IWIL (Illinois Women’s Institute of Leadership) and a member of the Macoupin County Democratic Women’s Organization. She served on the Bunker Hill Board of Education for 12 years, serving for six years as President. She has been active in many community volunteer projects, served on the 7th Circuit Judicial Screening Committee, is President of the Bunker Hill Education Foundation, and worked on numerous local, state and federal campaigns. Monetti is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha.

She resides in Bunker Hill with her husband Dave, daughter Kristina and granddaughter Avery, and son Michael and his wife, Fallan.

Judy Davidson

Judy Davidson

Judy Davidson is Chair of the Scott County, Iowa Republican Central Committee and also currently serves on the State Central Committee for the Republican Party of Iowa.

Davidson’s vast political expertise and success has been recognized by many media outlets, including the Des Moines Register’s “Iowa’s 50 Most Wanted” political activists of 2014 (#11), Campaigns and Elections’ “Iowa’s Most Influential” activists in 2011, and National Journal’s “Iowa’s Top Gets.” She has served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Seventh Judicial District Nominating Commission (2012-2018) and to the Iowa Arts Council (2015-2016).