Advisory Board Team

Dr. Rita Ali

VP, Illinois Central College

Rita Ali is an American politician serving as the 47th mayor of Peoria, Illinois since 2021. She was elected on April 21, 2021, finishing just 43 votes ahead of her opponent, councilman Jim Montelongo. Ali was sworn in two weeks later on May 4, becoming both the first woman and the first African American to serve as mayor of Peoria. She has previously served on the Peoria City Council and has held a position as Vice President of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College. Bio from

Andrew Young

Civil Rights Activist, UN Ambassador

Andrew Young, in full Andrew Jackson Young, Jr., American politician, civil rights leader, and clergyman who served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1973–77) and later was mayor of Atlanta (1982–90). Young was reared in a middle-class black family, attended segregated Southern schools, and later entered Howard University (Washington, D.C.) as a premed student. But he turned to the ministry and graduated in 1955 from the Hartford Theological Seminary (Hartford, Connecticut) with a divinity degree.

A pastor at several black churches in the South, Young became active in the civil rights movement—especially in voter registration drives. His work brought him in contact with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Young joined with King in leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Following King’s assassination in 1968, Young worked with Ralph Abernathy until he resigned from the SCLC in 1970.

Defeated that year in his first bid for a seat in Congress, Young, who was a Democrat, ran again in 1972 and won. He was reelected in 1974 and 1976. In the House he opposed cuts in funds for social programs while trying to block additional funding for the war in Vietnam. He was an early supporter of Jimmy Carter, and, after Carter’s victory in the 1976 presidential election, Young was made the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations in 1977. His apparent sympathy with the Third World made him very controversial, and he was finally forced to resign in 1979 after it became known that he had met with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1981 Young was elected mayor of Atlanta, and he was re-elected to that post in 1985, serving through 1990.

In 1990 Young ran for governor of Georgia but lost in the Democratic primary. He later established (2003) the Andrew J. Young Foundation, which focused on education, economic justice, and human rights. Young wrote several books, including the spiritual memoir A Way out of No Way (1994) and An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (1996). Bio from:

Cathy Hughes

Founder and Chairwoman, Urban One, Inc.

Radio maven Cathy Hughes was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Beginning her career in radio in 1969, Hughes’ first position was with KOWH, a black radio station in Omaha. Her successes there prompted the Howard University School of Communications to offer her a position as a lecturer and as Assistant to the Dean of Communications.

In 1973, Hughes was named general sales manager to WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C, and by 1975 was hired as the general manager of the station. Under her guidance, WHUR-FM, which had been struggling along with $300,000 in annual sales revenues, increased its annual revenues to more than $3.5 million. In 1978, Hughes left WHUR for WYCB Radio, where she served as the vice president and general manager of the station.

Hughes and her husband at the time, Dewey Hughes, decided they wanted to buy their own radio station in 1979, and after being rejected by thirty-two banks, they found a lender. With their loan, they purchased WOL, a small Washington, D.C. station and Radio One was born. While Hughes wanted a talk format for the station, the bank was pressing for music. A compromise was reached permitting Hughes to have a morning talk show program that was followed by music programming throughout the day.

Hughes’ marriage ended shortly after purchasing the station and she began her path as a single mother. She purchased her husband’s share in the station, but hard times soon forced she and her son, Alfred, to give up their apartment and move into the station to make ends meet. Over time, however, the station began turning a profit, largely due to the success of her talk show.

Since the early days of being a station owner, Hughes’ rise has been remarkable. Today, Radio One owns 65 radio stations throughout every major market in the country, making the company the largest black-owned radio chain in the nation. In January of 2004, Hughes launched TV One, a cable television channel targeted at the African American community.

Today, Hughes has the distinction of being the first African American woman to head a media company publicly traded on the U.S. Stock Exchange, and she continues to serve as Chairperson of Radio One. Bio from

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