President & CEO John Morris

John Morris Head Shot2


John D. Morris is the president & CEO of the private, AAM-accredited, multidisciplinary Peoria Riverfront Museum. His 28-year career has been devoted to teaching people the joy of giving to help inspire others through learning, cultural, and civic engagement.

Since his arrival at the Peoria Riverfront Museum in April 2017, Morris has launched the donor-sponsored “Every Student Initiative,” quadrupling the curriculum-related visits to the museum by area students. He has overseen the doubling of the number of major donors joining the Visionary Society, the passing of the $10 million endowment mark, and the launch of the new Falcon Circle recognizing estate and planned legacy gifts.

During his tenure, the museum has curated the only comprehensive Illinois bicentennial exhibition in the state, featured the national arts of Central Illinois, installed the iconic 31-foot tall “Return Visit” bronze by Seward Johnson and appointed a Guest Curator of Art who brought major works of fine art to the museum, including renaissance sculptures and a drawing by Gustav Klimt.

As part of the museum's community engagement, Morris has designated 2019 as the “Year of Invention” with community partnerships and an exhibition schedule that features top medical inventions, the largest waterfowl decoy collection ever mounted by a museum, and major traveling exhibitions on the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and LEGO brick art.

Prior to coming to the museum, Morris served for ten years as the founding director of the Ronald W. Reagan Society at President Reagan’s alma mater, Eureka College, and for the previous decade as vice president for development at the pioneering digital PBS station WTVP in Peoria. He has managed fundraising campaigns and events in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and produced events with authors, scholars, business leaders, musicians, and political leaders ranging from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. His career began as the development director for Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences.

A native of Peoria, Morris has served eight years in public office as an at-large member of the Peoria City Council where he advocated for economic development including the expansion of the University of Illinois Medical campus, helped lead a $30 million campaign in system-wide library improvements, established the local Arts Partners, and helped achieve eight straight balanced budgets with no property tax rate increase.

Morris holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where he was elected student association president, selected as the founding Presidential Administrative Fellow, and served as a White House intern.