Peoria, Ill. (WEEK) - We all have someone who acted as a role model growing up. Many young women in Peoria are looking for opportunities to learn and grow from others.
Female leaders and 130 high school students filled the Par-a-Dice Hotel ballroom to discuss the power of human differences and the importance of inclusion Wednesday. Peoria Magazines hosts the forum to empower leaders among us.
"We hope that people take that with them and take that back to their coworkers, families and really spread that message," said Peoria Magazines Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Wright.
Women spent time focusing on strengths, misconceptions and stereotypes along with sessions specifically for the students participating in Junior Achievement. But many enjoyed the opportunity to hear Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talk about her goal to constantly work on diversity and inclusion.
"If we recognize that as neighbors we have responsibility and an opportunity to bring everyone together, think about the power that we can harness," Lightfoot said. "Think about the talent that we can nurture."
Lightfoot says the status quo has failed most women in the past and now is the best time to chart a new direction and destiny, a message Dr. Rita Ali took to heart.
"In size, she's a little woman," said the Peoria City Councilwoman. "But boy is she a powerful, important and authoritative woman."
Ali was recognized as one of the Women of Influence this year.
"As a young mother on welfare, I never would have imagined having a doctorate degree, being a member of city council or being honored in this way. So I feel very fortunate and very blessed," said Ali.