Focus Forward Central Illinois (FFCI) collaborates across the Greater Peoria area to focus on four strategic initiatives: Act regionally – Expand economic performance – Improve human capital and to – Enhance the quality of life.
The FFCI team now has three Greater Peoria region members who are dedicated to moving the FFCI strategic plan and initiatives forward. They add their skills to help facilitate the tasks and expertise of the many volunteers who have joined the FFCI organization.
Denny Kief is serving as the Acting CEO for both FFCI and the EDC until the EDC-CEO is hired in the coming months. He is responsible for making sure that both agencies are complying with the needs of the area’s public and private sectors, as well as the various grant requirements. As the former Pekin, IL City Manager, Kief has a large amount of experience in working on regionalism in Central Illinois, especially in economic development. Hired initially as the Project Manager for FFCI and the EDC, he is compiling the new CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) report for the FFCI five-county Economic Development District and is preparing a project submittal form and ranking criteria for future grant submissions. He also leads the very active Technical Work Group, the economic development professionals representing all areas of the five-county FFCI region. Kief has been an active participant in the two years of regional planning activities that created the strategies guiding FFCI and its regional development goals.
Ray Lees is the Managing Director of the FFCI WorkForce Alliance initiative dedicated to a mission of developing the quality and quantity of skilled workers to grow the region’s economy. Lees is responsible for coordinating and managing the collaboration of various stakeholders representing community, education, training, certification and employers. He served as a principal of the Peoria-based architectural/engineering practice of PSA-Dewberry and has been engaged in State and regional municipal, economic development, education and workforce planning in Illinois and Arizona. The WorkForce Alliance collaborative process will also increase awareness of career opportunities and make the region a superior resource of talented, motivated people. It will ultimately serve as a catalyst for employer expansion and location in Central Illinois.
Heather Wolbeck is the Fund Development Coordinator for FFCI. She works with the FFCI Fund Development Committee to introduce private donors as well as the counties and cites who are current and future investors to the FFCI regional strategies. She also leads the FFCI grant process to expand the base of financial support for FFCI. Wolbeck’s experience includes all aspects of fund development including planned giving, major gifts, annual fund, direct mail, and special events for non-profit administration. These included program development, communications, marketing leadership, and strategic planning at local not-for-profits including Bradley University, Goodwill Industries, and Catholic Charities.