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Susan Real



BLOOMINGTON — The new executive director of the Bloomington-based East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging wants to make it easier for older adults, people with disabilities, their caregivers and grandparents raising grandchildren to access available services.

"Sometimes, we hear that some seniors and other consumers don't know about services that are available," Susan Real told The Pantagraph on Thursday. "We want to make sure that services are more easily accessed by our consumers."

Real was announced Thursday as the next executive director for the agency, which helps Central Illinois older adults and people with disabilities to lead healthy, independent lives.

Real, 57, of Henry, was named to the position, effective April 1, by the agency's board.

She succeeds Mike O'Donnell, 66, of Bloomington, who will retire March 31. O'Donnell, who has been with the agency since 1979, announced his retirement in September.

"I am so excited to play a bigger role in delivering needed services to seniors, persons with disabilities, their caregivers and grandparents raising grandchildren," she said.

Real has been with the agency for 29 years, beginning as a grants management specialist, then community grants manager, which evolved into her current position of planning and program manager.

"I will use my planning and program development and management experience and apply it to advocate for our consumers," she said.

Ruth Ann Lipic, first vice chairwoman of the agency board, said in a prepared statement that the board is confident that Real will collaborate with the public and private sector to empower people to live independently.

Real's annual salary will be $87,500.

The agency has 13 employees who serve 21,000 people in McLean, DeWitt, Livingston, Piatt, Ford, Iroquois, Macon, Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Moultrie, Shelby, Douglas, Edgar and Vermilion counties.

The agency has a yearly budget of $8.9 million of federal, state and local tax money and participant contributions. In partnership with organizations such as Peace Meal and PATH, the agency funds programs for seniors such as home-delivered and congregate meals, information and assistance and investigations of abuse and neglect.

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