Class of 2022

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The Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois Awards program recognizes individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 who exemplify the best attributes of young people from across Illinois. Recipients come from many backgrounds, but each has made an impact on their fellow man and communities. 

The Illinois Jaycees is proud to announce The Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois for 2022:

  • William Bishop IV, 33, Springfield, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment.  Bishop is President & CEO of Solid Ground Solutions Inc., which offers a wide range of construction services and products and is the leading minority owned and operated general contractor in Central Illinois.

  • Emily Fortschneider, 37, Brussels, IL for Political, legal, and/or governmental affairs. Fortschneider is Mayor of Burssels, IL and serves on the Calhoun County Economic Development board. She is also a Civil Engineer for Heneghan & Associates, P.C..

  • Alexandra Gale, 29, Danville, IL for Personal improvement and/or accomplishment. Gale is Vermilion Regional Airport Manager and is responsible for ensuring the airport is maintained efficiently and effectively, bringing in events and creating public interest in the airport.

  • Mitch M. Gilfillan, 39, Peoria, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership.  Gilfillan serves on multiple community boards including the Community Advisory Board at OSF Healthcare’s Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the Pediatric Resource Center. He is an attorney and law partner for Quinn Johnston Law Firm.

  • Xander Hazel, 29, Champaign, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment. Hazel is executive director of Champaign Center Partnership, a nonprofit membership-based organization within Champaign which fosters a vibrant, inviting, and active core in Champaign’s Downtown, Midtown, and Campustown by strengthening business and building community.

  • Tim Jackson, 36, Peoria, IL for Personal improvement and/or accomplishment. Jackson is a public speaker for the disability community and educates people without disabilities to be better advocates for their friends and to provide better access for all. Jackson serves as a State Ambassador for Best Buddies in Illinois.]

  • Michael McDonald Jr, 40, Champaign, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment. McDonald is owner of Wood N’ Hog Barbecue restaurant with locations in Champaign and Urbana.

  • Grace Nichols, 31, McLean, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Nichols is an elected trustee on the board for the Mt. Hope Funks Grove Park District and has served on many committees and boards including Bloomington-Normal Young Professionals. She is a Mortgage Loan Officer at INB, N.A.

  • Douglas Pope, 40, Petersburg, IL for Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment. Pope is Vice President at Zillow and Developer and Owner of Broadgauge restaurant located in Petersburg, IL.

  • Patrick Keith Simon, 27, Brussels, IL for Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Simon is board member of the Brussels Community School District, Member of Calhoun County Economic Development Commission and chair the Calhoun County Republican Party. 

The Outstanding Young People (TOYP) program annually recognizes young people throughout Illinois who excel in their chosen fields, endeavors and show a great commitment to their respective communities.

“The Illinois Jaycees is proud to honor these young community and business leaders who serve their communities. I am confident they will ignite passion in their community and young people throughout the state.” said Eric Hiatt, 91st President of the Illinois Jaycees.

The Illinois Jaycees recognized this year’s honorees at an awards banquet on April 30, 2022 at the Wyndham Springfield-City Centre. 

The TOYP program is supported by friends and employers of the honorees, local Jaycee organizations, Illinois businesses and the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation. Thank you to this year's TOYP event sponsor, INB, N.A.  Thanks to all the friends, local businesses and organizations who supported the program by purchasing space in the banquet program. 

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