Colleen Callahan

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Colleen Callahan Burns
Colleen Callahan 2009 USDA RurDev IL.jpeg
USDA photo, 2009
Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Assumed office
March 1, 2019
GovernorJ.B. Pritzker
Personal details
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Dick Burns
RelativesJoseph R. Callahan (grandfather)
Cheri Bustos (cousin)
ResidenceKickapoo, Illinois
Alma materUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
OccupationNews reporter

Colleen Callahan Burns[1] is an agribusiness news reporter and Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She was the Democratic nominee for Illinois' 18th congressional district in 2008.


Callahan grew up on a farm near Milford, Illinois and graduated as salutatorian from Milford Township High School in May 1969.[1][2]

Her family has long been active in politics in downstate Illinois. Her father, Francis Callahan, was chair of the Iroquois County Democrats. Her grandfather, Joseph R. Callahan, was in the Illinois House of Representatives. Her uncle, Gene Callahan, was the Administrative Assistant and Press Secretary for Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon (before Simon became a United States Senator) and Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Alan Dixon;[3] his daughter, Cheri Bustos is the U.S. Representative for the neighboring Illinois's 17th congressional district.[4][5]

Callahan and her husband Dick Burns live on a farm near Kickapoo, Illinois, between Brimfield, Illinois and Peoria, where they raise purebred Angus cattle.[2][3] They have a grown daughter who became a practicing attorney in Chicago.[3]


After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973, she moved to Peoria to work for WMBD (AM)[3] until 2005. She was agribusiness reporter for WMBD-TV and WCIA from 1974 to 1997.[1]

In 2003, she went on a study trip[1] to Afghanistan and Iraq, paid for at her own expense, at the invitation of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.[3] She started her own business, Colleen Callahan Communications, in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, she changed employers from WMBD in Peoria to WGFA in Watseka, Illinois; she has been agribusiness director at both stations.[1]

In 2008, she ran for U.S. Representative for Illinois' 18th congressional district, a seat open by the retirement of Ray LaHood. She won the Democratic nomination, but lost the November 4 general election to Republican Aaron Schock, 59% to 38%, with 3% going to Sheldon Schafer.[6]

On 13 June 2009, Callahan began work as United States Department of Agriculture Illinois State Director of Rural Development.[7]

In 2017, Colleen Callahan was named by J.B. Pritzker the co-chair of the latter's Agriculture Transition Committee.[8] Once Pritzker had become governor, Callahan became Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on March 1, 2019.[9]

Civic participation[edit]

Callahan has served on the boards of many local organizations, including:

She has also served as a member of the St. Francis Medical Center Women's Health Services Public Relations Committee, and is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She has been heavily involved in the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB), was its first female president, and was chairman of the NAFB Ethics Committee.[2][3]

She has also been active in local Catholic schools, serving on the education board at St. Mary's grade school in Kickapoo and assisting Peoria Notre Dame High School.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Colleen Callahan Burns (resume)" (PDF). 2007-10-04.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Colleen Callahan Communications - About". Colleen Callahan Communications. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Central Illinois' voice of experience working for you in Washington". Callahan for Congress. Citizens For Callahan. 2008-05-12. Archived from the original on September 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  4. ^ Pearson, Rick (2014-08-15). "Gene Callahan, Illinois political aide and MLB lobbyist, 1935-2014". Chicago Tribune (online ed.). Chicago. Retrieved 2019-06-07.
  5. ^ Our Callahan
  6. ^ "Elections". WEEK News 25 website. Granite Broadcasting. 2008-11-05. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 100% of precincts reporting. Unframed data at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2011-02-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  7. ^ Messina, Joan; Pirok, Keith (2009-11-12). "Colleen Callahan Named Illinois State Director for Rural Development" (Press release). USDA Rural Development Illinois. Archived from the original (Microsoft Word) on 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  8. ^ Finke, Doug (November 21, 2018). "Pritzker names Ag transition committee". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Winkeler, Les (March 23, 2019). "Direction of IDNR under Pritzker a mystery". Herald & Review (online ed.). Decatur, Illinois: Lee Enterprises. Retrieved 2019-06-07.

External links[edit]