Former Executive Director of the Illinois Education Association dies, fondly remembered

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association is deeply sorry to hear of the passing of Clay Marquardt, who served as executive director of the IEA from 1993 to 2005. His career at the IEA began in 1971. Our hearts go out to Marquardt’s family during this time of sorrow.

The following can be attributed to Al Llorens, president of the Illinois Education Association:

“We were so sad to hear of the passing of our former Executive Director Clay Marquardt on Fri., Dec. 8. Clay was a true unionist. He loved IEA and was truly committed to its purpose of effecting excellence and equity in public education and to be THE advocacy organization for all public education employees. He came from the field, working directly as a proponent for our members, and he brought that perspective to his job as executive director. He emphasized membership growth and under his leadership, IEA surpassed 100,000 and continued to grow. Not only was Clay a good IEA leader, but he was a dedicated husband and caregiver to his wife, Karen, who had a debilitating illness before she passed away, and a loving father and grandfather to his family. He will be missed.”

Please see below for more comments from Anne Davis, IEA president from 1999 to 2005 and co-worker of Marquardt:

“During my presidency, Clay and I worked closely together. I appreciated and will long remember his ability to face challenges, take risks and manage the crises issues of the day (e.g. school funding, No Child Left Behind, school transformation etc.).  His work ethic, problem-solving skills, and at times, his ability to be tough as nails were invaluable characteristics that resulted in IEA being pushed outside its comfort zone; becoming a stronger organization; and the best version of itself. It’s difficult to forget someone who gives much of themself. Clay cared deeply about IEA, was a visionary, and gave much of his time and effort unselfishly.”


The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest union. IEA represents Pre K-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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