Whether it’s been showing up at the grocery store almost every weekend for her “Supermarket Saturdays” to ask working families what they want her to fight for in Congress, her leadership running the House Democrats’ $250+ million organization to protect and expand our House Majority or the time she spent with her grandfather on his hog farm in rural Illinois, Cheri Bustos has always understood the importance of showing up and working hard. Today, as a senior member of House leadership, Cheri is both an ambassador for Heartland values in Congress and a tireless champion in the work to restore a strong and thriving Democratic Party in small towns and rural communities across America. The daughter of Ann and Gene Callahan, Cheri’s story began in Springfield, Illinois. She learned the importance of being grounded in her community from her Mom, a preschool teacher and social worker, and the value of public service from her Dad, a longtime Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon, D-IL. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Springfield, Cheri moved to the Illinois Quad-Cities. Early in her career as a journalist, she met her husband Gerry, then a rookie cop and now the Sheriff of Rock Island County. As an investigative reporter, Cheri uncovered stories of corruption, held public figures accountable and used her pen to stand up for the little guy. It was in this work that Cheri refined her greatest skill – her natural ability to listen, to learn and to channel that energy into positive change. After 17 years as a reporter, Cheri put her skills and her values to use in a new venue: She became a senior leader at UnityPoint Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the Midwest at that time. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Cheri saw how the system simply wasn’t designed to put patient care first, and following in her Dad’s footsteps, she decided to try to make a difference through public service.

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