The Parkland College Foundation recently announced its selection of David J. Downey, founder and president of The Downey Group, Inc., as the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Mr. Downey will receive the V. Dale Cozad Entrepreneur of the Year Award during Parkland College's 10th annual Entrepreneur of the Year Banquet, presented by SUPERVALU, Inc. An annual fundraiser for the Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program, the banquet will be held Wednesday, June 12, at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.
A Canton, Illinois, native, Mr. Downey has over 40 years' experience as a life insurance producer. He became an agent for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1962 and earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a year later. In 1966, he earned his juris doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law, was admitted to the Illinois Bar Association, and earned the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) professional designation, one of the oldest and most respected credentials in financial services.
Today, Mr. Downey is one of fewer than 20 individuals in the world to have qualified for the Top of the Table (placement among the top life insurance and financial service professionals worldwide) for the entire period of its existence. A former international president for the Top of the Table (1980), he also has served as national president for the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (1984). He has represented the life insurance industry before Congress, the Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Financial Accounting Standards Board. His company, The Downey Group, Inc., became a member of the M Financial Group in 1983.
Mr. Downey is currently a board member of First Busey Corporation and a life member of the University of Illinois Foundation Board. Formerly, he served on the board of The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Inc., was a member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the University of Illinois Athletic Board, and the University of Illinois College of Business Board of Overseers. He is a former University of Illinois adjunct professor of finance.
While a student at the University of Illinois, Mr. Downey was a star basketball player; as part of the 100th Anniversary of Illinois Basketball Celebration, he was chosen as a member of the All-Century Team. In addition to being selected by his teammates as Illinois' Most Valuable Player three consecutive years, he was named All Big Ten and All American and won the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor for Proficiency in Scholarship and Athletics. He still holds the single game scoring record—53 points—set in 1963 when he led the basketball team to a Big Ten Championship. In 2018, Mr. Downey was inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Banquet reception begins at 5 p.m., with dinner starting at 6 p.m. During the event, the foundation will also recognize John and Marge Albin of Longview Capital Corp. as the program's 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
The Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program is the result of a partnership between the college and community members committed to developing strong, educated leaders for today's workforce. The program provides scholarships to students demonstrating potential for growth as future managers, leaders and innovators, for immediate entry into District 505 industries and companies. Ultimately, the Entrepreneurial Program aims to increase the number of graduates with a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence that supports existing industry, creating a more attractive community to future employers.