March 31, 2023

Former Rep. Cheri Bustos to keynote INBA Spring Convention

Former U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos will be the keynote speaker for the INBA Spring Convention in Springfield. (

Cheri Bustos, a former journalist who just concluded a 10-year stint in Congress, will be the keynote speaker for the Illinois News Broadcasters Association’s Spring Convention in Springfield.

Bustos, a Springfield native, will speak during the event’s Saturday evening dinner on April 29 at the Wyndham Springfield entre hotel. Convention registration information will be available soon.

Earlier this year, Bustos left the U.S. House after five terms representing the 17th District, which took in parts of northwestern, western and central Illinois, including the Quad Cities and portions of Rockford and Peoria.

She recently accepted a job with Mercury, a global, bipartisan public strategy firm. She will lead Mercury’s team in Illinois, co-chair the Washington, D.C., office and will divide her time among Chicago, Springfield and D.C.

Bustos has deep roots in Springfield. She graduated from Springfield High School in 1979 and attended Illinois College in Jacksonville before receiving a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland. She returned to Springfield to complete the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at Sangamon State University, the predecessor to the University of Illinois Springfield.

Her involvement in politics also runs in her family. Bustos’ late father, Gene Callahan, was well known as a reporter and political columnist for the former Illinois State Register, a political aide and chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon, and Major League Baseball’s first lobbyist. Bustos’ husband, Gerry, recently retired as the elected sheriff of Rock Island County.

After earning her master’s degree at Sangamon State, Bustos moved to the Quad Cities to take a job as a journalist for the Quad-City Times. She worked there for nearly 17 years before moving on to health care corporate communications roles for the next decade. She defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling in 2012 to win her first term in Congress.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Ryan Denham

I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

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