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Colleen Callahan

Colleen Callahan


Colleen’s story began on a purebred Hampshire hog, Angus cattle, and grain farm near Milford, Illinois. At 9-years-old, she was the youngest exhibitor of a Grand Champion at the International Live Stock Exhibition in Chicago. It was just the beginning of many firsts to come. During her first semester at the University of Illinois, Colleen earned membership on the State 4-H Livestock Judging Team, becoming the first female to ever make the team.

Colleen pioneered her way to broadcasting as the first woman Agribusiness Director for WMBD Radio and Television in Peoria, Illinois, a position she held for 30 years. She also served as the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and was the first woman inducted into their Hall of Fame. Shortly after starting her own communications firm, Colleen was invited by Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman to accompany her to the war zone in Afghanistan and Iraq. Colleen’s commitment to public service inspired her run for United States Congress in 2008. Colleen describes the experience as “Not Winning Doesn’t Mean Losing!”

Public service became a reality when Colleen accepted a Presidential appointment to become the State Director of USDA Rural Development in Illinois. Her impact was so well noticed that Colleen was asked to replicate the training in other Rural Development state offices and ultimately in Washington, D.C. After Colleen’s appointment with USDA Rural Development, she founded her consulting firm – Colleen Callahan Consultancy. In March of 2019, she paused her consulting when she began her appointment as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the first woman to lead DNR. She oversaw the agency for nearly four years managing, conserving, and protecting Illinois’ natural and cultural resources.

In 2023, Colleen returned to Colleen Callahan Consultancy and continues to lead the charge of “communicate, collaborate, connect.”

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