James Ayers was elected to the Parkland College Board of Trustees in 1989 and was re-elected four additional times. He became board chairman when John Albin retired in 1999 until 2001, and he served as vice chairman from 2002 to 2003 and as chairman in 2007. He currently serves as board secretary.
Additionally, he has served more than 20 years on the Parkland College Foundation Board, including six years as its president. In November 2017, Mr. Ayers was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to the Illinois Community College Board as the community college trustee representative for a six-year term.
Mr. Ayers is the former mayor of Monticello, Illinois. He is CEO of Central Illinois Manufacturing Company and is an attorney in Monticello.
Highly active in state and national organizations on behalf of Parkland College and the community college movement, Mr. Ayers has held leadership positions in the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and served on the board of the nationwide Association of Community College Trustees for seven years. He is a past chair of the ACCT Central Region and was a member of all the standing committees at one time or another. He is a past president of the ACCT Trust Fund Board and currently serves on the ACCT Advisory Board to the Board of Directors.
Mr. Ayers received the prestigious Ray Hartstein Trustee Achievement Award through the ICCTA in 2004. In 2006, he received the Outstanding Central Region Trustee of the Year Award and the M. Dale Ensign Trustee of the Year Award for outstanding trustee nationwide by the ACCT. A past president of the ICCTA (elected July 2011), he received the 2010 Trustee Education Award through the ICCTA as a five-time recipient, one of only five Illinois trustees to receive it.
Mr. Ayers is dedicated to serving various civic organizations as well, including Rotary and the Boy Scouts. He led the first GSE Rotary Group Study Exchange to China in 2006. In addition to earning the Silver Beaver Award, he is a past president of the Prairielands Council.