The Ben C. Hubbard Leadership Award recognizes the achievements of a person who has promoted, championed, or achieved one or more significant goals benefiting education in Illinois. The following two educational professionals were recognized with the award in 2016 and 2017. The newest honoree will be announced at the EAF on the Red Carpet Spring Gala on Saturday, May 5, at the DoubleTree Hotel.

2016 award recipient Diane Ashby has achieved many significant goals benefiting Illinois education. She began her career as a middle school English and speech teacher. She then served Illinois State University, holding positions as an assistant professor, associate professor, and principal of University High School. She also served as the chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations, dean of the College of Education, and vice president for University Advancement.

Ashby was instrumental in launching Illinois’ now nationally recognized work in school leadership, helping to secure funds from the Wallace Foundation. At Illinois State, she brought in millions of dollars in research and professional development grants. Ashby has been an unflagging advocate for school improvement, teacher quality, and the importance of school leadership.

2017 award recipient Diane Rutledge has carved out a successful career in Springfield, where she has served in a variety of positions from an elementary teacher to the superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. Her work has focused on collaborating with partners such as the Ball and Wallace foundations, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and the Springfield Education Association to create initiatives that support student achievement. During her tenure Rutledge has concentrated her efforts on leadership development in support of student achievement and ensuring all learners are prepared for postsecondary education.

Rutledge holds a degree in elementary education from Western Illinois University and degrees in educational leadership from both the University of Illinois at Springfield and Southern Illinois University. She is also a graduate of the Superintendent Leadership Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.