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Purpose Is the Gift – Ronda Guyton By D. Rena’ Chaney

Leadership is a lifestyle, not a position

Realizing strength in your purpose and determination in your drive, while overcoming obstacles at every turn is just part of life and builds confidence for many people. Achieving goals which sometimes are not set by you and conquering challenges with an approach of poise and humility adds a jewel upon your crown. Mrs. Ronda Guyton is a woman who wears her crown well. She is a wife, mother and friend to many. Her fight began at a young age, and she has been knocking down walls ever since.

Sometime throughout Ronda’s journey, she created a bucket-list. However, through those unforeseen obstacles and challenges, this bucket-list expanded beyond her imagination and she deeply feels those added things were that of a higher power (God).

Growing up with a mother with mental illness was a challenge in itself especially for a child. Becoming a teenage mother at the age of thirteen was yet another challenge which had to be faced head on. Unaware of any unforeseen obstacles she would later face in life, she remained destined to make better choices. As a result of having the police called to her home on many occasions due to her mother’s mental illness, there was a feeling of compassion building within her of wanting to help others.

A pivotal point for Ronda as a teenage mother was enrolling in a program called, Good Beginnings. This program provided education and support to first-time, at-risk pregnant and parenting young women in Peoria and Tazewell counties. The program proved to be an intricate staple in her decision-making while providing new experiences, opportunities along with support and meeting new people; she truly began to make the necessary changes for her future. Any sense of vulnerability and fear slowly began to fade as she stepped into life gaining confidence and a new focus.

Ronda served in the United States Army Reserve in 1991-1999 and later obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois (Springfield -2004) summa cum laude, and a Certificate in Non-profit Management from University of Illinois at Chicago (2017).

Appointed Superintendent of the Peoria County Jail in August 2017, Ronda became the first African American to serve in that position. She began her career in law enforcement in 1994 as a correctional officer holding various positions and responsibilities over her 24-year span.

However, on May 11, 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction on July 12, 2012. This life-changing diagnosis left her dealing with a great deal of depression, however, even with all the various emotions there was always something in her pushing her not to give up! The people she encountered, the stories she heard, the meetings and events she attended and volunteered at provided her with hope and strength. This fight was now her fight and would later inspire her to start the Living to Serve Foundation in 2013. The mission is to increase awareness of women’s health by providing resources, programming and education. This foundation is an extremely important mission to her as she continues to educate and provide these services for both women and men.

In October 2017, Ronda, along with several volunteers hosted a “Mammogram A Thon” in support of the Susan G. Komen Memorial and Partnership for a Healthy Community. The event sponsored by area businesses and personal donations provided literature, breast cancer screening, stories and celebrations of life and a tremendous amount of hope!

Already dedicated and heavily involved in the community through law enforcement, her foundation, and serving on various committees, a board of directors and general volunteerism proves her commitment to serving and making a difference in people lives.

Over the years Ronda has been able to travel throughout the United States and abroad experiencing wonderful places to enjoy with family, friends. In preparing travel plans personally and for family and friends, she decided to establish Ronda Guyton Travel for others to enjoy their own travel experiences.

As a community leader, trailblazer and a breast cancer survivor wearing many hats as well as her service in various positions, her commitment and determination continues. It is important to her to continue to empower, educate and provide ongoing services for women to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It’s never too late to make positive changes in your life and taking the initiative on learning how to achieve them. It is important to recognize what the challenges are, embrace them and face them,” she stated.

In her position as Superintendent, she would like to enhance some of the existing resources and programs but specifically implement mental Illness resources for inmates. Over her veteran years working at the county jail, she has witnessed a significant number of inmates with mental illness and desires to address this vital issue. She believes addressing mental illness will definitely decrease the repeated arrests associated with this illness. Also, the enhancement of education, implementing 24-hour mental health staffing and a re-entry program into the workforce would be beneficial for repeated offenders.

“The support of family, friends and utilizing resources available through the community is a stepping stone for a potentially better life. Getting involved in the community is one of the many pathways to build character, trust, confidence and a sense of accomplishment not just for you but for others as well,” she stated.

Ronda looks forward to the upcoming 2018 year where she will continue to work hard and embrace life as it comes and show love and compassion for people the best way she can, by being a positive influence in their lives. As a mother, wife, friend and colleague she is grateful and appreciative for all the support she has received thus far in her journey and said, “thank you.”

For more information on Living to Serve Foundation or Ronda Guyton Travel

Visit or Call: or call (773) 609-3845 › Ronda Guyton Travel Agency