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EDWARDSVILLE, ILL., January 31, 2018

The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois is excited to announce the 2018 officers. Due to their qualifications, Keith Cook, Kevin Powers, Dr. Jim Dennis, Alonzo Byrd and Richard Mark were unanimously approved to serve a one-year term to provide oversight and guidance for the Leadership Council’s major operations to further the mission and vision of the organization.

The Leadership Council is a member-based, economic development organization working to unite business, industry, government, education and labor for economic growth in Southwestern Illinois. Each officer has an invested interest in Southwestern Illinois, bringing a wide range of experience and valuable insight to the Council.

The chairman of the board for 2018 is Keith Cook, Market President at Regions Bank. Having served Regions Bank in several managerial and executive roles, Cook also engages with the community as a board member of Memorial Hospital, the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, the Belle-Scott Committee and Southwest Illinois Council of Mayors. Cook graduated Southwestern Illinois College, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Webster University with degrees in Agribusiness Economics and Management.

Serving as the president is Kevin Powers, President and CEO of TheBANK of Edwardsville. Previously a Group President for Bremer Bank, Powers was key to building the Bremer Financial Corp into a powerhouse in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. An economics graduate of the University of North Dakota, Powers has had a successful 38-year career as a banker and banking executive. Since 2015, Powers has served as the President and CEO of TheBANK of Edwardsville, heading its expansion to two St. Louis area locations: Clayton and St. Charles, Mo.

President of McKendree University Dr. Jim Dennis is serving as the vice president. During his 24-year-long career at McKendree University of Lebanon, Ill., Dr. Dennis has led the institution to tremendous growth in academics, enrollment, fundraising, construction, athletics and more. Throughout his education and career, he has been committed to providing students with an education that prepares them for the workforce. Under his tenure, McKendree University has been nationally recognized for providing high-quality education. Additionally, Dr. Dennis serves on the executive boards of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Associated Colleges of Illinois and the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.

The secretary for 2018 is Alonzo Byrd, assistant vice president of public affairs at Enterprise Holdings, the largest rental car company in North America. Byrd, a graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a degree in journalism, works with Enterprise’s senior management to develop and execute corporate citizenship initiatives nationwide. Prior to joining Enterprise, Byrd worked as a vice president at Fleishman Hillard, working in media relations, corporate affairs and diversity-related issues. He currently serves on multiple local and national boards, including Chair of East Side Aligned, a collective impact initiative in the Metro East, a board member for Fair Saint Louis and a member of the Mayor’s Business Council for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Richard Mark, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois Company (AIC), is serving as the Council’s treasurer. AIC is a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, and serves over a million gas and electric consumers across three-quarters of Illinois. Since 2002, Mark has held many executive roles with Ameren. Currently he is leading the grid modernization effort in Illinois, which includes the installation of smart meters that will help customers manage their energy consumption and smart sensors that will help reduce outages. Mark also serves on several boards, including Tenet Healthcare, Fontbonne University and the Saint Louis Regional Business Council. He has been recognized for his civic and community work with three honorary doctorate degrees and many awards, such as being recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the Most Powerful Executives in 2012 and 2017, receiving the 2018 Visionary Award from Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the 2015 Outstanding Corporate Leadership Award.

“It is my honor to be able to work with these prestigious individuals serving as Leadership Council officers for 2018,” says Executive Director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Dr. Ronda Sauget. “In 2018, we look forward to sharing with key decision makers located all over the states and world about ‘Why to Invest in Southwestern Illinois,’ continue to be proactive on sharing with our future workforce and influences regarding careers in manufacturing, crafts, cyber, and STEM and continue to work on many other Leadership Council initiatives that unite our region for growth.”