EDITOR'S NOTE: Read an expanded story about Jeffers in the Sept. 27 print edition of the Herald Tribune.
Randolph County Treasurer Justin Jeffers has joined the elite.
The 31-year-old Sparta native and Steeleville resident has been named one of The Southern Business Journal's "Leaders Among Us," a series - sponsored by The Southern Illinoisan newspaper - that honors southern Illinoisans "who have a positive impact on their communities," for the 2017 class.
Jeffers received his plaque during a presentation at the Carterville Community Center on Sept. 19. He joins Carolyn Schwent, Bob Koenegstein, Barb Brown and Mike McClure as Randolph County winners of the award.
Schwent and Koenegstein are recent honorees, with Schwent being honored in 2011 and Koenegstein in 2009.
Growing up, Jeffers got a taste of community service from following his mother to various sorority organizations around Sparta. By the third grade, he had decided he could continue to help others through a unique occupation, funeral director.
At age 12, he was begging a funeral home to let him work and at age 16, they offered him a job. He graduated from Chicago's Worsham College in 2006 and returned to Randolph County as a licensed funeral director.
Jeffers also stayed busy with various not-for-profit charities, the Knights of Columbus and Lions Club, but after eight years in the funeral industry, he decided to make a change.
Jeffers pursued political office and was elected as treasurer in 2014. He continues to work on ways to help people, establishing a mobile office, real estate tax prepayment program and organized a clothing drive for victims of the flooding in Baton Rouge in 2016.