Sunday, May 20, 2018

Memorial Day: Remembering the Unsung Heroes

Last Chance! If you haven't already been to the Illinois State Museum's Unsung Heroes Exhibit yet, it will be available until June 10, 2018, located at 502 South Spring Street, Springfield IL. With Memorial Day upon us, it is even more of a poignant time to experience this special exhibit. Among the heroes featured is Thomas R. Jones Senior who was an Illinois native and Navy Corpsman. 


Thomas R. Jones, Vietnam Veteran/author/playwright/motivational speaker, led an extraordinary life in public service. Tom Jones ‘Career Legends’ were transposed into a Proclamation from the Illinois Senate and issued by IL Senate President John Cullerton “in recognition of his exemplary career and dedication to Illinois public service and his sacrifice for the civic good of our nation”.

In his later years, Jones was instrumental in being able to get Springfield designated as a Purple Heart city, Sangamon County a Purple Heart County, and Illinois a Purple Heart state. 

Earlier in his career, Thomas Jones was assistant director of  Illinois Department Veteran Affairs in Governor Jim Thompson's cabinet. During that time Jones was an integral part in establishing the Vietnam Memorial here in Springfield, and also played a role in the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.  In D.C. he led his team where they were responsible for the Illinois contingency and were involved in some of the planning. 

Thomas R. Jones Sr. was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Vietnam Services Medal. His book, a historical fiction novel, the Lost Survivor tells the story of a marine corpsman of the Third recon battalion who spent most of his time in Da Nang.  His multimedia stage production Long Way Home was based on his novel.

This exhibit highlights his work as a veteran advocate in the Springfield area, Illinois, and the nation. Currently, photographs and artifacts from his life are still on display as part of the Unsung Heroes Exhibit at the Illinois State Museum through June 10, 2018. Please see the museum's website for more information at

Thursday, May 17, 2018

From Russia With Love: Combating Human Trafficking from Post- Soviet Region to Central Illinois

The World Affairs Council Central IL in partnership with NPR Illinois presents "From Russia With Love: Combating Human Trafficking from the Post- Soviet Region to Central Illinois" on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7:30 pm at the  Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St, Springfield IL. Our featured speaker is Dr. Laura A. Dean of Millikin University.

When folks think of this sensitive topic they don't realize it's happening in their own backyard so to speak, as It's often thought of being prevalent in really big cities. Dr. Laura A. Dean researches gender and politics issues focusing on public policy, migration, and gender-based violence in the former Soviet Union and is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Millikin University. Her talk will focus on her current book project, which examines policy adoption and implementation in the Post-Soviet region and research based on fieldwork and interviews with policy-makers in Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia.  Dr. Dean will also discuss the work of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force combating the issue in this region

More information on Dr. Dean can be found at For more information on this event and the World Affairs Council Central IL please see This program is open to the public. 

Dr. Dean is available for interviews and can be reached at  (217) 425-4699.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

A woman who flourished where angels and fools fear to tread

 For most of my life, people have been telling me not to try or to give up. They said my goals were impossible--that I couldn't possibly make any of it happen. But, what they were really saying was that it was impossible for them. Since they couldn't, I shouldn't even try. It was too bad and so sad that they empowered their fears and self-doubts instead of finding their own inner courage ignore the negative message. If you believe you can't, then you can't; yet if you are certain you can, you can find or make a way to reach your goals. I changed the punctuation, which modified the message to "I'm possible." What they didn't understand is that every time they said I couldn't, not only did I proved them wrong, but I did it so well that they looked foolish for doubting me.

I am a creative with a good business sense. As a storyteller, I tell tales about those who find the courage or are forced by circumstances beyond their control to face their deepest, darkest fears. As a producer, I use innovation, moxie, and the highest production standards to produce film and television projects. I base my projects on age, gender, and ethnic diversity both in front of and behind the cameras.

No matter what the venue, you first must start with an original concept and a well-crafted script. Adding the current visual/special effects or new talent doesn't make a project new, which makes nearly all remakes and sequels reruns.

The current trend of focusing on A-list talent and high price tent poles projects only serves to reduce the number of projects produced every year, which increases the financial risk to the investors and the production company. Just because it worked before doesn't mean it will be successful again. Original projects initially carry more risk, but the truly innovative ones become the trendsetters and sent new bars for profitability. Casting talent in an inappropriate role, no matter what their marketing rating, will only serve to increase the budget and will hurt the project at the box office. However, casting a talented unknown in the right role will garner the audiences and create a future A-list talent. 

Money can't fix a bad project. By substituting money for innovation is throwing good after bad and is the main ingredient in producing a disaster. Business 101 states that profitability comes when you give the public what they want at a cost-effective price. Business 102 states that if you treat your people well, they will treat you well, which means paying them a living wage and giving them respect. These are two elements many in the business community have forgotten, which is why the economy is still challenged.

Although I have not served, I use my talents to actively support military personnel and veterans. Recently, I was asked why. The answer is simple. I don't have the temperament to serve. Nearly all of my time would have been spent in the stockade. Besides, I am only capable of shooting off my mouth. But at that, I'm a markswoman because I know how to use words as weapons. 

Most of those who serve signed their name and dedicated their lives to serving and protecting their country and the world. However, killing others is an unfortunate necessity for both sides of conflicts. This is a major disconnect that causes most of the emotional issues for those served. In order to defend, they have to kill. But killing is contradictory to their need to protect. I met a gentleman, who served during WWII, who put it the best. Looking back on his life, he felt guilty over the good men he killed just because they belonged to the other side and for his buddies, he was unable to save. Now decades later, those memories tore him up inside, because he couldn't stop thinking about them

Those who serve the nation are people, not disposable parts of the war machine and they are especially not political footballs that are to be used, abused, and then losed at the whims of politicians.

My job is to make sure civilians and especially politicians never forget that.

I am proud of my work. It will make you laugh, cry, and scare your socks off. But it will also inspire you to see the world in new ways. Join my team and become the difference you want to see in the world.