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Congratulations to Sean and Crystal Garrett, 2024 Hoot Gibson Honorees

Since 1985, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized a volunteer who spends countless hours working without fanfare to help others. Our annual Hoot Gibson Award is presented in memory of Horace J. “Hoot” Gibson, Jr. who pursued his goals in a quiet, determined matter, caring little if others knew of his accomplishments. In addition to serving on our health committee and as board secretary, Hoot’s hard work helped the Heart of Illinois United Way transition our allocation process to address prioritized needs. His leadership is the basis of how we continue to fund vital needs today.

Our 2024 Hoot Gibson honorees, Sean and Crystal Garrett, have much in common with Hoot Gibson including their community volunteerism, focus on family, and support of the Heart of Illinois United Way.

2024 Hoot Gibson Award Recipients

In 2022, Sean founded Pierpont Ventures a commercial real estate investment company which owns and manages shopping centers, self-storage facilities, and multi-family properties in Illinois and the Southwest. Prior to starting Pierpont, Sean was an executive at Cullinan Properties where he was recruited to the Peoria area in 2011. His roles there involved leading the development of the Levee District and other national projects.

Upon arriving in Peoria, Sean responded to the Heart of Illinois United Way’s GENeration United call for volunteers and went on to co-chair the GEN U LEAD committee which planned and launched the BoardSERVE initiative. He has served on our Campaign Cabinet; and for the last several years, he has volunteered with United Way by serving on the Agency Audit Committee. He credits the United Way for helping him quickly develop pride and a connection to the Peoria area. Many of his friends were made through GenU, and some of his earliest dates with his now-wife, Crystal, were to GenU volunteer outings and fundraisers.

Since joining GEN U, Sean has been involved in many other volunteer organizations in the community and currently is a board member of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. He has served on the CEO Council, working tirelessly on various economic development initiatives for the area.

Crystal is the Global Program Manager for the Medium Wheel Loader Product Group at Caterpillar. She plays a key role in managing strategic initiatives, particularly in the areas of supplier resiliency and global footprint strategy. Her career at Caterpillar has given her the opportunity to travel across five continents and serve as an ambassador for the Peoria region.

Crystal also started her volunteer work with GENU, and her commitment to the community is reflected in her volunteer work for our Financial Stability Impact Area Grant Review Committee. Along with Sean, they serve on the Community Foundation of Central Illinois’ Emerging Philanthropist committee. Crystal is also actively involved with IMPACT Central Illinois, reviewing and awarding grants to local non-profits. Additionally, she volunteers at the TAPS animal shelter, where she looks for every opportunity she can find to snuggle a puppy.

Outside of work, Sean and Crystal enjoy chasing after their 18-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, who is constantly on the move. They also find joy in mountain biking and volunteering for causes they are passionate about, such as financial literacy, philanthropy, and animal welfare.

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