50 Influencers: Hunt Bonan, Chairman of the Board

IAN, Ill. (July 22, 2016) - In 50 years, 20 individuals have presided over the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees as Chairs. The other executive body on campus, the Rend Lake College Foundation Board of Directors, has had 13 leaders preside over that entity since its revitalization in 1979. But, only one man can claim to have done both.

When RLC stalwart Hunt Bonan isn’t excelling in his professional life as the CEO of Peoples National Bank and one of the most recognized bankers in Illinois, he’s been busy helping shape Rend Lake College into the institution it is today by being one of the longest-serving members on both the Board of Trustees (1997-2009, plus a three-month temporary stint from February to April 2017) and the RLCF Board of Directors (seated in 1988).

Serving on both boards is impressive in and of itself. That is a feat very few can claim.

But, to hold the leadership position on both boards is a feat Bonan has all to himself.


And, it doesn’t stop there. For a period of time (2004-06) Bonan held both the Board Chair and the RLCF Board Presidency (1995-2008) at the same time, heading the two most influential bodies on Ina’s campus while doing an outstanding job at both.

“Hunt has served as a cornerstone for the college in continuing to insure the partnership with the Foundation remains strong and true to the college and its mission,” said President Terry Wilkerson.

Bonan’s legacy is marked by his willingness to do whatever necessary to ensure the success of RLC’s students.

Throughout his history with the Foundation, he has continuously put his actions ahead of words. When it came to the iconic RLC Generations of Excellence Campaign, the RLCF Children’s Center campaign and the Music Program Renovation Campaign, Bonan and his People’s National Bank were quick to lead the charge, causing many more to follow suit.

“I believe you will be hard pressed to find a finer gentleman than Hunt Bonan. For nearly 30 years, he has generously shared his time, expertise and resources as a very active Foundation Board Director. He has been instrumental in the success of several Foundation projects on campus, including the most recent addition to the RLCF Children’s Center. Hunt’s genuine desire and commitment to helping our students, our institution and our community is truly a blessing, “said Foundation CEO Kay Zibby-Damron.

For his involvement, contributions, leadership and longevity, Bonan has received many accolades from both the college and the Foundation.

He was one of the first to win RLCF’s prestigious Presidential Award in 1995. He was one of four selected for the inaugural honor, alongside Mildred Fitzgerrell (Sesser), Richard Garner (Sesser) and Howard L. Payne (Benton).

In another first, Bonan was presented with the first-ever Hourglass Award in 2009 for his lengthy commitment to the college, Foundation and the district’s students.

At the 2013 RLC Foundation Annual Dinner, Bonan was saluted once again, this time along with Rich Yunkus. They were presented with special unnamed awards for their over-and-above efforts during 25- and 20-year tenures, respectively.

HuntBonanSpeakingWBonan speaking at the Rend Lake College Foundation's Annual Dinner

Bonan also holds a Foundation Gold designation for his numerous contributions over the years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bonan’s involvement and commitment to his community extend beyond RLC.

Over the years, Bonan has been, or remains, involved with numerous other organizations, including but not limited to his involvement with: the Illinois Bankers Association (IBA) Board of Directors, serving as Chair in 2004; a board member and officer of the Jefferson County Illinois Economic Development Corporation; the Hamilton Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, the Board of Trustees for Cedarhurst Center for the Arts and a board member of the SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation.

For his dedication, Bonan received the Citizen of the Year award from the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and was voted “Most Community Involved” in Jefferson County. In 2017 he was given the Jefferson County Presidents Award.

The IBA also honored him in 2012 as the Illinois Banker of the Year, a recognition that is the highest honor the IBA can bestow on one of its members. It is presented annually to an individual whose dedication to excellence has most profoundly enhanced the banking industry.

Throughout his more than 26 years in banking, Bonan has been very active in the Illinois Bankers Association and has worked closely with the Association to lobby on behalf of Illinois bankers.

Bonan did all this and still found the time to work on RLC students’ behalf while serving since 1994 as Chairman of the Board of Peoples National Bank, McLeansboro and Mt. Vernon and as President/CEO for Market Street Bancshares, Inc., a multibank holding company.

“It’s amazing how many people Rend Lake College and the Foundation support. If you ever think the world is going bad or going the wrong way, come sit by some of the students at our Annual Scholarship Dinner, and you’ll leave thinking positive thoughts about them and the future,” Bonan expressed.

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