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Route 66 Miles of Possibility
Second Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference | October 20-23, 2016 | Bloomington-Normal, Illinois
Hosted by McLean County Museum of History, 200 N Main Street, Bloomington, IL 61701
Contact Terri Ryburn at or call 309-452-5325.

Conference Speakers
Ellie Alexander
Director of Tourism, City of Pontiac
“Enhancing Tourism's Potential”
Through a timeline of photos and stories, Ellie will discuss Pontiac's road to successfully building their tourism product.

Ellie Alexander has been the Director of Tourism for the City of Pontiac, Illinois since 2005 after serving in various chamber of commerce and hospitality industry positions, primarily in the Chicago-land area.  Ellie is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist and serves on the board of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, and the Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Committee.

In her current position, Ellie has been the driving force behind the remarkable growth in tourism in the City of Pontiac. Pontiac has seen its visitor count rise consistently since the opening of their first attraction, The Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in 2004.  Ellie is married with five adult children and seven grandchildren. 

Aimee D. Awonohopay
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) Public Lands Partnerships Manager

“American Indians and Route 66: Stories Untold”

Route 66 is nostalgia. Organizations like The Road Ahead and American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) are working to preserve that nostalgia. Embedded in Route 66 nostalgia is the story of the American Indian and how they were impacted. This year, AIANTA published “American Indians and Route 66,” a travel guide bringing the authentic Native voice to the Mother Road. Learn how AIANTA is working to help preserve Route 66 heritage through first-voice interpretation and driving tourists to America’s most famous highway.

Aimee D. Awonohopay is the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) Public Lands Partnerships Manager. Aimee is a partnerships specialist dedicated to promoting economic development in Indian Country.  She has more than 17 years of experience in tourism, business development, public relations, marketing, Indian gaming and intergovernmental affairs. She began her career at her tribe’s casino, St. Croix Casino & Hotel, in the marketing department, serving eight years. After completing her bachelor degree, Aimee accepted a public relations position with her tribe, managing intergovernmental relationships and serving as the Public Information Officer. She then returned to Indian gaming as a Director of Marketing, developing the corporate revenue growth model and establishing a data-driven marketing strategy. Aimee then went on to represent the 11 Wisconsin tribes as the Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW) Executive Director, strengthening relationships with the Wisconsin Governor’s Cabinet and packaging and promoting Wisconsin’s combined cultural tribal tourism. During her tenure with NATOW, she was also appointed by Governor Scott Walker to serve on the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Tourism in 2012. Most recently, Ms. Awonohopay was elected to serve on her tribe’s governing board, enhancing relationships to increase tribal revenue and developing reporting systems to improve tribal member quality of life.

Aimee is very committed to developing tourism in Indian Country. She believes tourism can not only provide to tribal economic development, but also help bridge gaps with the non-Native community and maintain tribal culture for future generations. Aimee became involved with the industry in 2008 when her tribe appointed her as their NATOW representative. She also began a museum initiative for her tribe at the same time, involving tribal stakeholders with various backgrounds. Aimee realized the benefit of tourism then, seeing how much opportunity and pride it could bring to tribes. She was appointed to the AIANTA Board of Directors in 2013, representing the Midwest region and advocating for tourism to other tribal leaders and state and federal agencies. Aimee served as the Board Secretary and Marketing Committee Chair, leading the committee in developing the organizational marketing message. She was very passionate about educating and garnering support for the Native American Tourism Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, which has been introduced in both houses of Congress and met with much enthusiasm by tribal leaders.
Aimee is an enrolled member of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, a descendant of the Menominee Nation and a member of the Turtle Clan. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduating with Cum Laude honors. Aimee is very devoted to her traditional way of life, attends Midewin ceremonies and is a member of the Big Drum Society in her home community, Maple Plain of the St. Croix Chippewa. She is a proud and loving auntie of 11 nieces and nephews. Aimee relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to work full time for AIANTA and Indian Country.

Joel Baker
Owner of American Giants

“Muffler Men:  Giants of Industry”

Joel will talk about Muffler Men Giant Fiberglass figures made in the 60s and 70s to attract customers to businesses.  He will discuss their history and their economic impact, as well as their recent comeback and popularity.

Joel is a TV producer from Loveland, CO.  He runs and owns American Giants, a muffler men restoration company and YouTube series.

Daniel Bruce
Former Executive Creative Director with the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency

“Market and Promote Your Route 66 Community/Business/Attraction”

In this workshop, Dan will offer his expertise to conference attendees seeking professional advice on how to enhance their efforts to market and promote their Route 66 community, business and/or attraction. Participants in this session are asked to prepare a brief description of their current situation, which they will present during the session. Dan will call upon his 30+ years of experience to engage you in question and answer discussion designed to help identify ideas to make whatever they are marketing/promoting more interesting and attractive to tourists.

Dan has spent the last 30+ years invigorating brands such as Oscar Mayer, Anheuser Busch, Kimberly Clark, Macy’s, Kraft, and, most recently, the Illinois Office of Tourism. A passionate advocate of Route 66, Dan has created and produced numerous films and commercials promoting the Route as well as the highly successful MiniAbe and “Find Something More” campaigns for the State of Illinois.

Tim Butler
Illinois State Representative

“My Past, Present, and Future on Route 66”

Representative Butler will discuss his family's history on Route 66 and his efforts in the General Assembly to ensure the long-term viability of the Scenic Byway.

Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) joined the Illinois House of Representatives in 2015.  A native of Peoria, he is the fourth-great grandson of Lewis Barker, a State Senator from Pope County during the first four Illinois General Assemblies. Tim is the youngest of seven children and his parents owned a small manufacturing business.

Tim brings to the House more than 20 years of public service working for the people of Central Illinois. He has served as District Chief of Staff for both Congressman Rodney Davis and former Congressman Ray LaHood. He also served as the director of marketing for St. John's Hospital in Springfield. Tim began his professional career working on Capitol Hill for over three years.

Tim has been an active community volunteer for many years. He currently serves on the boards of directors for Downtown Springfield, Inc. and the Dirksen Congressional Center. He assists with the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, is a graduate of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce's Community Leadership School, and was in Peoria's 1998 class of Forty Leaders Under 40.

For over a decade, Tim was involved with the Springfield Road Runners Club, serving as President and directing two of the largest races in Central Illinois: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon and Abe's Amble 10k. He is the 2007 recipient of the Rod Steele National Volunteer of the Year award from the Road Runners Club of America and is a 2011 inductee into the Springfield Road Runners Hall of Fame.

A 1990 graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, Tim has lived in Sangamon County since 1998 with his wife Wendy. He previously lived in Logan County for over three years and has family ties to Tazewell and Menard counties.

Frank Butterfield
Springfield Office, Director of Landmarks Illinois

“Place Matters: Historic Preservation as Economic Development”

While historic buildings, neighborhoods, and corridors are central to Illinois tourism and Route 66, these places are often undervalued in promoting local economic development.  This session will discuss how reinvestment and reuse of historic places are central to economic development and revitalization, and will educate participants on how to use this data to be advocates for the historic resources in their communities.

Frank Butterfield is the Springfield Office Director of Landmarks Illinois, the statewide non-profit preservation advocacy and education organization. Now in his fourth year with Landmarks Illinois, Frank assists owners and local advocates with a wide range of preservation-related support, such as assisting with feasibility studies, coordinating advocacy efforts, and linking building stewards with the resources needed to help repair their historic structures. Prior to joining Landmarks Illinois, Frank was director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Wisconsin Field Office. Frank has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Boston College and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bill and Jane Diaz
Owners, Diaz Sign Art

“Public Art and the Walldogs”

Bill and Jane will discuss the history of advertising art in the US and how the Walldogs continued that tradition and how the Walldog movement evolved, making a big difference in the towns that have welcomed public art into their communities. 

Bill is a graduate of Pontiac High School, Northern Illinois University and received his masters at Penn State where he also taught painting and drawing.  Jane is a graduate of Flanagan High School and Illinois State University and she taught K-12 art in several local schools until joining Bill full time in the sign business. 

Bill and Jane Diaz have operated their own business on Route 66 since 1979.  Their sons now are in business with them and all four have been Walldogs since 1993, at the very first meet.  In 2009, the Diaz family helped organize a Walldog Mural Festival in their hometown of Pontiac, Illinois, which hosted 150 mural artists.  Seventeen murals were hand painted in only four days!  Shortly after saying goodbye to all of their Walldog friends that summer, they were awarded the Citizen(s) of the Year award, were Parade Marshals for the Threshermen’s Parade, and received the Illinois State Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award.  This year Bill is being awarded the Distinguished Alumni at Pontiac Township High School.

Robert Dirks
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University

“Route 66 Restaurants and their Attractions in McLean County, Illinois”

Route 66 throughout its history fostered new ideas in the restaurant industry. In McLean County, Illinois intense competition led to some remarkable innovations, and restaurants were quick to adopt novel concepts. This presentation recalls some of the ways the county’s Route 66 eateries sought to distinguish themselves from the competition and attract guests to their tables.
Robert is a native of Milwaukee, earned his Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University and currently lives in Chicago.

Professor Dirks has conducted research on various aspects of food and nutrition since the 1980s. His publications include papers in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Current Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Journal of Nutrition, and Annual Review of Nutrition. His book, Come & Get It! McDonaldization and the Disappearance of Local Food from a Central Illinois Community, traced a changing American food culture from frontier days to the beginning of the twenty-first century. His most recent book, Food in the Gilded Age: What Ordinary Americans Ate, explores late 19th century eating habits through the observations of the founders of nutrition science.

Herb Eaton

“Art and Inviting People: An artist’s experience invigorating Route 66”

Herb presents an artist’s experience in transforming and invigorating a community by presenting the value and worth of the ARTS and ARTISTS by making, exhibiting, performing, selling, or offering an invitation to participate while traveling through or stopping for a stay in a community.  The value of art-making, showing, and offering art works for sale is the invitation to participation.  The transformational experience of Art and Artists revaluing the area along the oldest section of Route 66 (Main and Center streets) in Bloomington has been a part of his experience working with others for several decades.    

For 45 years, Herb has created and designed for himself, family, friends, and the community.  He’s a guy who likes to make things--often utilitarian things.  He also makes art and music.   He opened Eaton Studio Gallery in 2000 in a 1902 building in Historic Downtown Bloomington on Route 66 with his wife, Pamala Eaton, to show and sell paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints. Their goal is to keep the ARTS ALIVE and create value in ART in the downtown community by exhibiting and selling new and monthly rotated work and hosting musical and theatrical events and cultural salon discussions that focus on local community interests and talents, and partnering and collaborating with the people and organizations who make this community their home.

Gallery Events and Awards:  Art Openings, First Fridays, Gather @ the Gallery Art Salons, Guided Art Workshops, Music & Theatrical Performances, Partnering Events and Soirées.   2006-Beautification Award from City of Bloomington, 2009-Heritage Award from the Historic Preservation Commission, 2010-Jean Anderson award from Downtown Bloomington Association.

He is presently publishing a serial blog,, a fictional compilation of words and images about developing a reunion for modern and historical enfant terrible artistics and an art museum for them in an old circus tent on the prairie.

In 1984, Herb received an MFA in sculpture and drawing at Illinois State University, He is a carpenter, instructor, museum designer, preparator, toy designer and manufacturer, musician, and co-founder of the Children’s Discovery Museum, Normal.  His art is in public collections of Chugai-Upjohn Corporations, Sun Capital,  State of Illinois, St. Josephs Hospital, Advocate-Bromenn Medical Center, Town Of Normal, Il. Asahikawa Hokkaido, Japan, and private collections locally and abroad.

Cynthia M Fleischli
Executive Director of the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association

“Marketing Wine & Creating a Brand for Route 66”

Cindi will discuss creating a "Kicks" on Route 66 brand, and marketing techniques for wineries involving partnership development. 

Cindi retired from the State of Illinois in December 2015 after 32 years of service, with 20 years in the Illinois Office of Tourism. She is responsible for creating the Interstate Sign Program, assisting with the Illinois National Scenic Byway Program, the Illinois Heritage Tourism Program, and working in the legislative office at the Illinois Department of Transportation. She lives in Springfield, and enjoys her new position’s responsibilities.

Guy Fraker
Lincoln Expert

“Lincoln Rides the Eighth Judicial Circuit to the Presidency”

Lincoln spent almost half of his professional life riding the circuit, part of which Route 66 later followed.  The professional and personal friendships that he developed during this period made it inevitable that he would be nominated for President.

Guy, an attorney in Bloomington, Illinois, is the author of Lincoln’s Ladder to the Presidency:  The Eighth Judicial Circuit, published in October 2012, by Southern Illinois University Press.  In addition to his book, he has written extensively and spoken across the country about Lincoln and the Eighth Judicial Circuit.  Guy has practiced law in Bloomington in the heart of the old Lincoln Circuit since his graduation from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1962.  He is currently serving as Chairman of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, the action arm of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, a 42-county area in downstate Illinois established by act of Congress on May 8, 2008.

He was the consultant on the award-winning PBS documentary, “Lincoln, Prelude to the Presidency,” and co-curated “Prologue to the Presidency:  Abraham Lincoln on the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit,” a traveling exhibit also on permanent display at the David Davis Mansion, a state historic site in Bloomington.  He served as an advisor to the National Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.  Guy is a past president of the McLean County Bar Association.  His website is:

Debby Funk
Funks Grove Maple Sirup

“Sweet Serendipity: Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup & Route 66”

Debby will share the history of Funks Grove and sirup making from the 1800s to present day and the impact Route 66 had on the business.

Debby and her husband, Mike, have been farming and producing Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup since 1988 when Mike’s parents, Steve and Glaida Funk, retired from the farming and sirup business.

Nick Gerlich
“Preserving Route 66 in Photos and Video”

The best way to document change is by means of photography and videography. This ranges from deliberate and systematic captures of the present, to artistic, retrospective, and historic imagery of the abandoned and forgotten. Together, these allow us to preserve the Mother Road for generations, if only in electronic form. This presentation will explore how we can use electronic media to capture the past that still lingers in the present, by focusing on obscure alignments, buildings, and bridges along the Route.

Dr. Nick Gerlich is Hickman Professor of Marketing at West Texas A&M University, where he has taught since 1989. A native Chicagoan, he recalls traveling Route 66 in the backseat of his parents' car in the 1960s, which no doubt inspired him to make it his passion in adulthood. He earned is Ph.D. at Indiana University. Gerlich has more than 100 published scholarly articles in journals and conference proceedings. His most recent research specializations include social media, corporate crisis communication, e-commerce, mobile applications, and online buyer behavior.

Gerlich is credited with creating and continuing to teach both MBA and undergraduate courses in Evolutionary Marketing, in which he explores the very latest trends in the field. While this has often found him focusing on social media platforms and their applications in business, he is also keenly attuned to demographic changes, such as the buying habits of the Millennial generation and the cultural artifacts that differentiate them from prior generations. He spends much of his time reading and studying about the demographic and technological changes of the day. Gerlich routinely teaches to both campus and online classrooms of students from all corners of the world.

Outside of the university, Gerlich has served as the Social Media and Marketing Director of New Mexico Fashion Week, where he managed social media campaigns and public relations. He created and delivers his popular Social Media Boot Camp for small- and medium-sized businesses wishing to leverage emerging tools and techniques.

Gerlich is an avid scholar of Route 66, has served as historian and tour guide on several tours, and is writing several books with a German photographer that capture the Mother Road in an entirely new light. He is the writer and host of the Unoccupied Route 66 documentary series, and also partner in Sun Mesa Journeys. Gerlich is a long-time cyclist and photographer, and is known to combine his interest so that he can explore obscure places on two wheels, and capture them digitally. He is also documenting and photographing vintage neon signs across the US in an effort to capture historic pop culture artifacts.

Gerlich can be found across the social graph (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr) via his username nickgerlich. In addition to his academic publications, his writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from Route 66 Magazine to New Mexico Route 66 Magazine, Amarillo Magazine, and Skeptic Magazine.

Phyllis Chandler Grey
Author, Educator, Travel Writer, Photographer

“Passing the Route 66 Torch:  
Igniting the Interest of Generations beyond the Boomers”

This presentation will look at the profile of the Route 66 tourists through recent research gathered from museums and other venues. It will examine what is being done to encourage road trips by families and to educate the youngest generations about the rich history and value of Route 66.  Cars 3 alone is not enough to keep the torch burning brightly beyond the current generation of Baby Boomers. 

The concept of “chain of influence” will be explored along with current progress on the children’s initiative as well as ideas that might be implemented. We will organize a task force and provide ways that Route 66 aficionados can be actively involved in small ways (which collectively are large ways) in keeping the road alive and thriving.

Phyllis is an educator, travel writer, and photographer. She is the owner of Artist Row Publishing in the Houston area and has authored five books.  Her first two books focused on Anna Maria Island, Florida, where she resides part of the year. As a past teacher, reading specialist, and guidance counselor, educating the reader is always a goal of her work. Anna Maria Island Sunrise to Sunset included shell and bird identification and a theme of ecological guardianship for the nesting sea turtles and migrating birds there. Goodnight Anna Maria Island repeated this theme for children through aquarelles rendered from her photography.

Her third book, Route 66: In Search of Ghosts and Treasures, was released in February, 2016.  She designed a children’s book that the parents would learn from as well. It is illustrated in a kitschy 1950s style and covers the Chicago to L.A. road trip of a modern family repeating grandmother’s “best vacation ever” and spotlighting the old and new icons.

She has embraced the initiative to share the Mother Road with children and has visited schools in New Mexico, Texas, and Missouri, gifting schools with books and when possible, doing chats with the fifth and sixth graders and signing books. The gifting has been fueled by book sales across Route 66.

Her recent books include a World War II non-fiction, Shoo Shoo, Baby, and a baseball guide to the colorful language of the game, Talkin’ Baseball.

Anne Haaker
Retired Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

“Follow the Auburn Brick Road”

Using the ongoing preservation of the Auburn, Illinois, brick pavement, Anne will discuss effective means of working with transportation and economic development government agencies to preserve the Road and its roadside attractions to encourage tourism and enhance visitor enjoyment.

Anne recently retired as the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, a position she held since 1993.  This opportunity allowed focus on the preservation of National Register properties affected by various forms of development.  Making a career of government service was particularly rewarding for Anne, creating the opportunity for a wealth of experiences in the survey, preservation, and promotion of Illinois Route 66.  Anne is now a private consultant specializing in historic preservation and the National Environmental Policy Act.  She is also the Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Association.

Jim Hinckley
“Route 66: Crossroads of the Past & Future”

The international interest in Route 66 provides an unprecedented economic development opportunity for communities along that highway corridor.  In this session we will examine the international appeal of Route 66, and how some communities are successfully harnessing the highway’s renaissance as a catalyst for historic district revitalization and economic development.
Jim Hinckley is the author of fourteen books, five on Route 66 specific subjects. In addition, he has made presentations on Route 66 history, as well as economic development in the United States,
 in the Netherlands, and at the First European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, Germany. He also provides service as a marketing development consultant for companies such as Grand Canyon Caverns, and serves as an advisor to Kingman, Arizona, area tourism.

Dave Hoekstra
WGN Radio weekend host and story finder

“A Route 66 Roadtrip: the Constancy of Change”

In this session you’ll take a nostalgic trip down Route 66. Dave will guide you on a road trip featuring various touchpoints along the Mother Road, highlighting the unique sense of place that the road offers its travelers. Dave’s presentation will include images and perhaps even a little music that reinforce the fact that the only constant along Route 66 is change.

Dave Hoekstra presents his "Nocturnal Journal" radio program at WGN Radio on Saturday nights. From 1985 through 2014, he was a columnist-critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he won a 2013 Studs Terkel Community Media Award. Dave has written books about the farm-aid movement, Midwest supper clubs, and minor league baseball. He's contributed pieces to Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Reader, and Playboy Magazine. His newest book is about soul food and the civil rights movement.

Cheryl Eichar Jett
“Writing Popular History”

Cheryl Eichar Jett is the author of six books published by Arcadia Publishing and is currently working on two book projects for other publishers. A regular contributor to The Prairie Land Buzz, Show Me Route 66, and The 66 News, she has also been published in Illinois Heritage (Illinois State Historical Society), Forum Journal (National Trust for Historic Preservation), local newspapers, and online magazines. She has received several awards in the past year for her short fiction.

Are we turning out “comfortable, unchallenging nostalgia-fodder?” Or are we writing well-researched and professionally written historical narrative? Academic authors and popular history writers have long debated the pros and cons between the two. Followers of popular history writing label academic articles and books as inaccessible, full of jargon, written for other academics, and lacking narrative. Academics criticize the lack of depth in research, the absence of argument and analysis, and too much personality and narrative in popular history.

Cheryl, an academically-trained historian who has spent close to a decade writing published popular history, applies this debate to Route 66 and “road” history. She suggests that popular history writing can benefit from using some academic guidelines, while recognizing popular history's own strengths, such as narrative and personality. Using writing examples, she examines the differences between the two disciplines and looks at ways to draw from both to improve our popular history writing.
Cheryl has lived near Illinois Route 66 most of her life. She has worked as a bookkeeper, music teacher, musician, grant writer, and nonprofit executive director. She holds undergraduate and master's degrees in history from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). For her thesis, Southwestern Indian Women in World War II, she interviewed elders in the pueblos of New Mexico. She often presents programs in Illinois on Route 66, local history, and writing topics. In 2002, she was invited to present a program based on her thesis research for the Los Alamos (NM) Historical Society.

In 2000, Cheryl was a founding board member of the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. Currently, she serves on the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway board of directors, as President of the (Illinois Route 66) Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition, and on the advisory council for the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability (a Buckminster Fuller-designed geo-dome) at SIUE. In 2015, she served as director for the first Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference.

Cory Jobe
Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism
“Leveraging Tourism to Promote Economic Development”

Cory Jobe, who has been the Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism since early 2015 is a strong advocate of leveraging tourism to promote economic development on both the local and state scale. From the florist down the street to the bed and breakfast across town, he recognizes how tourism connects people to grow local businesses, puts money in the pockets of Illinois' taxpayers and improves quality-of-life benefits for all Illinois residents.

Cory is responsible for leading the state’s tourism industry marketing and development efforts. Mr. Jobe works in collaboration with tourism industry professionals to promote visitor travel both domestically and internationally, and to help grow the tourism industry throughout the state. Prior to his appointment by Governor Bruce Rauner in January 2015, Mr. Jobe was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Illinois Office of the Comptroller from 2011 to 2015. In addition, he serves on the Springfield City Council as the elected alderman of Springfield’s 6th ward, which includes tourism attractions like the Dana Thomas House and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Mr. Jobe served as leader of the Peoples Economic Development Corporation from 2006 to 2010, and as Director of Economic Development for the Illinois State Treasurers Office from 1997 to 2006. Outside of work, Mr. Jobe serves on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois, The Hope Institute for Children and Families, The Phoenix Center and the Springfield Urban League.

Bill Kemp
Librarian, McLean County Museum of History

“Preserving the Past: Basic Tips on What to Collect and How to Preserve It”

If you're a writer, historian, genealogist, or member of a historical society or heritage association with little or no experience collecting and preserving historical materials, this session is for you! Bill, librarian for the McLean County Museum of History, will give you some much-needed pointers and plenty of dos and don'ts when it comes to caring for everything from photographs to correspondence.

There will also be quick asides into tips on dating photographs and the vital role oral histories can play in preserving the past.

Bill has served as librarian for the not-for-profit McLean County Museum of History, Bloomington, IL, for thirteen years, and writes a weekly Sunday feature about local history for Bloomington’s newspaper, The Pantagraph.

Greg Koos
Retired Executive Director of the McLean County Museum of History, Bloomington, IL

"Grids: Travel in a Prairie Place"

In the early years one critic observed in Illinois, there are no roads, just places they call roads. This illustrated presentation will cover the development of a central Illinois road system, which ranged from dirt right of way, smoothed with wood drags, to the four-lane Route 66 with its one-hundred-mile-an-hour curves. And from there to the information highway!

Greg Koos is retired executive director of the McLean County Museum of History; his career spans over four decades. Beginning as a part-time employee, Greg was hired full-time as archivist and site manager (1977-1987) at the Historical Society’s former home inside the McBarnes Memorial Building in Bloomington. In this role, he oversaw three major historic site development projects including the award-winning Miller/Davis Building (1844).

In 1987 Greg became the executive director, leading the transition and move into the Museum’s current home inside the 1903 McLean County Courthouse. That re-utilization project was honored by the American Association for State and Local History in 1993. Working closely with the county, Greg oversaw the restoration of the courthouse dome which won the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Award in 2005. Greg also served as curator for multiple exhibits on local history, including the museum’s new Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 exhibit.

Greg’s published writing includes histories of McLean County, academic articles on the material culture of American buildings, the Irish in the American Backcountry and articles on museum and community relations.  Greg has a B.A. in Historic Administration from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. He lives in Bloomington with his wife Carol and is currently working on a two-volume book on the history of McLean County.

Will Krause
Alderman, City of Edwardsville

"Communicating Value: Route 66 and Heritage Tourism"

Alderman and preservation advocate, Will’s presentation clarifies the relationship between heritage tourism and economic development. Case studies will be featured in the first half of the session to provide examples of best practices. The second half of the session will present firsthand advice on the challenges, strategies, and efforts used to work with elected officials and Route 66 enthusiasts. This session is a must to succeed in achieving your heritage tourism goals.

Will is the Fifth Ward Alderman for the City of Edwardsville where he is an advocate for preservation economics and heritage tourism. He has completed several preservation-based planning and development projects, many along the historic Mother Road. He has worked as a preservation leader, lecturer, and spokesperson educating local governments on the value of reinvesting in our built environment. Krause holds an M.A. in urban planning and development from Saint Louis University.

Geoff Ladd
Program Manager for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and part-time professor at Heartland Community College

“Saving and Restoring The Mill”

Geoff formed a non-profit organization in 2006 to save and restore The Mill restaurant in Lincoln, Illinois, at the urging of Ernie Edwards of Pig Hip Restaurant fame. The Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County was able to save this historic landmark located along the original alignment of Route 66 in Lincoln, and in 2017, it will be opened as a Route 66 museum and souvenir shop. The historic structure has been awarded two National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program grants, and was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame. Nearly $80,000 over ten years has been raised to restore this famous iconic attraction.

Geoff is the Program Manager for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and a part-time professor at Heartland Community College. Ladd was the founding member and is now secretary and past president of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County.

Previously, Geoff was executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County for over eight years, assistant director for Jacksonville Area CVB, board member and past president of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, and Logan County representative for Route 66 Association of Illinois. Geoff received the Route 66 Association of Illinois President's Award in 2013.

Geoff has a background in professional videography and photography. He has been a journalist and radio personality. He has run his own website design company and managed an internet service company. He has Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology and communications (broadcasting emphasis). His hobbies include being an aficionado of rock music, an amateur paranormal investigator, and a Pez collector. He resides in Lincoln, Illinois.

LaWanda Henry Matson
Writer, Researcher, Speaker

“Chester Henry: Illinois State Policeman to Route 66 Legend”

LaWanda’s presentation will be about her father, retired Lt. Chester Henry, Illinois State Police. He is a Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame member who spent his career on Route 66. She will also speak about the early years of the Illinois State Police as well as her own interest in Route 66.

LaWanda's interest began when she was a child hearing her father's stories about his experiences on the road. Later, as a college student, her interest was rekindled when she took Terri Ryburn's honors colloquium at Illinois State University on the topic of Route 66. Since then, she has spoken at various conferences/events, and been published in the Route 66 Magazine, Route 66 News, and Illinois Geographer. She also received an award for her essay, "Life's Highway,” and has conducted oral history interviews with several of the earliest Illinois Route 66 Association Hall of Fame members.

LaWanda is a member of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, the Miles of Possibility steering committee, and serves on the Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center Advisory Board. She is a retired Business Analyst from State Farm Insurance, which is also in the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame. During her retirement she is, once again, becoming more actively involved with Route 66. On her "bucket list" is to travel the entire route from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in California.

Jerry McClanahan

“The Art of Preservation”

As a Route 66 artist Jerry frequently preserves or restores the appearance of lost or changed Route 66 icons in his work. This involves much research into historic appearance. Many bygone structures are remembered only in old photos or have been drastically modified.  Jerry’s work is intended to restore their earlier accurate appearance, or to document and preserve how Route 66 relics appear today in an arrested state of decay.  He will discuss and illustrate the presentation with photos of 66 sites and his artwork as he describes what goes into researching a Route 66 historic site.  As a Route 66 map maker and author, he will discuss researching old alignments of 66, as these cannot be preserved if not identified.  Jerry was first to rediscover many "lost" sections of 66 such as the Jericho Gap in TX and Upper Cajon Pass in CA. This work is ongoing.  He also provides photo reference in support of Route 66 restoration projects like the U Drop Inn, and Domingo Trading Post.

Jerry McClanahan's fascination with Route 66 dates back to family summer vacations during the Sixties. The interstate highway system had all but taken over by 1981, when Jerry began photographing and researching what was left of the old highway. He began painting and writing about Route 66 full time in the early Nineties, and his award- winning work has been exhibited in shows across the country, both on and off the route, being found in private and corporate collections in this country and abroad.
Jerry has written extensively for the Route 66 Federation News, American Road and Route 66 Magazine. His articles uncovered many miles of “lost” and forgotten sections of Route 66, such as the Jericho Gap in Texas and the abandoned alignments of the Santa Fe Loop, as well as giving honor to many Route 66 personalities and businesses.

His acclaimed EZ 66 Guide (published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation,, since 2005 and now in the fourth edition) has helped thousands of travelers discover the excitement of Route 66, as has the 8-state set of Route 66 maps co-created with Oklahoma Route 66 guru Jim Ross, in print (with revisions) since 1994.
2011 brought the publication of Route 66 Sightings, a photography tour-de-route with Jim Ross and Shellee Graham. Jerry’s Route 66 artwork and photos have appeared in many books and in periodicals as diverse as Historic Traveler, Popular Mechanics, and Playboy of Brazil.

Besides painting Route 66 scenes of his own choosing, Jerry also enjoys creating specially commissioned artwork featuring collector's cars in Route 66 settings. He has established an online gallery,, as well as McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery at 306 Manvel (a half block off 66) in Chandler, Oklahoma, where he enjoys meeting with tourists from all over the world.

Kaleigh Moore
Social Media Manager, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

“Leveraging Social Media for Route 66 Economic Development and Marketing”

Food and food photography is a major aspect of social media today.  Kaleigh will explore how restaurants and businesses can leverage their mouth-watering treats on social media to spur economic development as a powerful marketing tactic.

In her spare time, Kaleigh writes for publications like Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Frank Norris
Historian, National Park Service, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Courageous Motorists: African American Pioneers on Route 66”

The experience of black travelers along Route 66 is described, along with their strategies for finding available accommodations, and an assessment of the physical legacy of accommodations that welcomed African American motorists.

The office where Frank works administers or co-administers nine national historic trails as well as the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

Deborah Carr Senger
Spiritual-Medium and Co-owner, Timeless Presentations

“The Other Side of Historic Entertainment on Route 66”
This session will show you how to plan, create, and market your own historic ghost walk on Route 66 and American Byways.  You will learn to explore the Other Side of historic entertainment in your own hometown.

Deborah has co-owned and operated Timeless Presentations in Normal, IL, since 2008. The Spirits of Bloomington series offers step-on and walking tours, as well as presentations and investigations of historic and haunted Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln sites in the Bloomington-Normal area. She has recently introduced the Spirits of Evergreen series that includes family-friendly or late night tours and investigations at the Route 66’s Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, IL. She is developing the Spirits of Normal historic ghost walk and the 2nd Annual Haunted Tales… in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.
Deborah's innate knowledge and easy humor allow her to balance the serious and humorous side of her metaphysical and entertainment business. Through channeling and extensive research and study, she is also honored to portray many characters in history such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Helen Keller and Route 66 icon at The Mill (in Lincoln, IL) Blossum Huffman.

Deborah is a Spiritual-Medium, teacher, Reiki Master, speaker, coordinator, as well as an historic actress, paranormal and psychic investigator and author. Her educational credentials include a Masters of Metaphysical Sciences (University of Metaphysical Sciences) and an associate’s degree in business management and marketing.
Deborah continues to build her entertainment business on Route 66 by integrating her love of history, haunts and personal experiences to bring Spirits Alive on Route 66!  Arcadia/History Press is releasing her book, Haunted Bloomington-Normal, IL, in September, as part of the Haunted America Series.  Information about her Timeless Presentations and Event Calendar can be accessed at or

Joe Tulley
Uptown Manager, Town of Normal &
Patricia S. Stiller, Executive Director, Downtown Bloomington Association

Tulley  Stiller
“Event planning for Your Community”

Joe will discuss the in's and out's and importance of forming and maintaining successful partnerships in the context of event planning and marketing efforts.  Patricia will speak about creating a sense of place through collaboration; all actions work together.  Empowering citizens to engage in their community provides exponential reward.

Joe Tulley
A Bloomington-Normal native, Joe is a graduate of Normal Community High School, Heartland Community College, and Illinois State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and an M.B.A. Joe has worked for the Town of Normal for five years serving as the Uptown Manager for the Town and as Managing Director of Uptown Partners, the business association in Uptown Normal. He plans, organizes and staffs a variety of events and happenings in Uptown in addition to coordinating marketing efforts and serving as the Town’s liaison with Uptown businesses. In his spare time, Joe enjoys fishing, kayaking and spending time with his soon-to-be wife and children.

Patricia S. Stiller
Patricia hails from the south Chicago suburbs. She and her four siblings, the proud progeny of two elected civic leaders, were raised with a deep appreciation and understanding of the importance of active participation in contributing to the quality of life within one’s community.  Since 2011, Patricia has served as the Executive Director for the Downtown Bloomington Association, a not-for-profit, membership based organization committed to enhancing the vibrancy in the city’s center.  Following the revitalization guidelines established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the DBA’s four working committees plan and implement events, support business and property owners, enhance the surroundings through beautification and public art, and generate awareness for the unique splendor that resonates throughout the historic district.

Fred Walk
Retired History, Geography, and Economics Teacher

“Preserving Towanda’s Piece of the Mother Road”

What to do with a 2 1/2 mile stretch of abandoned Route 66 in Towanda, Illinois? Preserve it! Students and faculty members from Normal Community High School, Illinois State University, as well as community members collaborated to preserve a piece of the Mother Road . This session highlights how a section of Route 66 was converted into a linear Parkway and used as a learning tool to engage students in service learning by interacting with teachers and local community volunteers.

Fred taught history, geography, and economics for 33 years at Normal Community High School. Fred recently retired from Illinois State University after teaching human geography and history-social science methodology classes that prepared students for the teaching profession. He also served as an academic advisor and director of student teaching for the history department. Fred has conducted inquiry-based teacher workshops throughout the nation for the National Geographic Society and the Teacher Curriculum Institute. He has a passion for preserving the abandoned stretch of Route 66 in Towanda, Illinois, and a keen interest in all of Route 66.

John Weiss
“Preserving the Past for the Future”

John will discuss the historic preservation efforts in Illinois, which he has led since 1993 as Chairman of the Preservation Committee of the Illinois Route 66 Association of Illinois.  Along with his large group of dedicated volunteers, he is responsible for physically restoring, maintaining, and participating in dozens of large and small preservation projects.

John’s passion is historic preservation. He believes that what we are enjoying today is the history of yesterday, but what we do today will become the history of tomorrow.  He has been actively involved with Route 66 since 1989.  John was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and received the Ambassador award.  He has also been honored with the John Steinbeck award and been inducted into the Kingman, Arizona, Walk of Fame.  John is the author of three books pertaining to Route 66. The guide book, “traveling the…New, Historic Route 66 of Illinois,” is the only guide of Illinois Route 66 and is now in its 8th updated printing.  Now retired, he spends his time on preservation projects, giving talks, and conducting bus tours of Route 66.


©2016 Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference.