Colleen Callahan grew up on a purebred Hampshire hog, Angus cattle and grain farm near Milford, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from the University of Illinois. She was the first woman agribusiness director for WMBD Radio and TV in Peoria. After 30 years with WMBD, Colleen started her own communications firm, specializing in giving motivational speeches, facilitating meetings and debates, and coaching individuals and organizations in public speaking and preparing for media interviews. She has traveled on official missions to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Cuba.
Colleen has a strong commitment to public service and has served on numerous executive boards throughout the Peoria area and the State of Illinois. She also served as the first woman president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and is the first woman inducted into its Hall of Fame.
The Obama Administration named Colleen State Director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois, and she began her duties in July 2009. She oversees the agency’s 13 offices and its $4.3 billion loan portfolio with investments in housing, business and community development in rural Illinois. While continuing in that capacity, in August of 2012, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asked Colleen to also serve as the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Drought.