Eldridge Gilbert Jr. was born in Rockford, Illinois and educated in the city’s public schools. He is a graduate of West High School where he was a member of student government, the choir, and a 3 sport athlete. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University and his Master of Arts in history from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
His professional career experience is broad and diverse, including work in business, education, and international development. In business, he worked in food production and ethical pharmaceutical sales and marketing in the eastern, mid-western and western regions of the United States. His career in international development began as a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Later he worked for almost six years in Malawi, Central Africa, as the Resident Representative for Africare.
Gilbert’s work allowed him to travel extensively throughout Africa while focusing his efforts on refugee relief, agricultural food production, water resource development, rural farmer agri-business cooperative development and the delivery of health services.
In the Rockford Public School District, he has focused on supporting student success through parent-school partnerships and culturally relevant teacher training. He has also worked as an Educational Resource Specialist, an Ombudsman, a middle school Athletic Director, and as a high school cross country and track and field coach. At Northern Illinois University, he was an assistant director of Upward Bound and an adjunct instructor in the Graduate School of Education. Later Mr. Gilbert, as an adjunct instructor, taught history at Highland Community College and Rock Valley College.
Eldridge Gilbert, Jr. is the son of extraordinary parents, Rev. Dr. E.H.E. Gilbert, Sr. and Mrs. Irene Gilbert, who dedicated their lives to bettering our community. His mother was the first Title 1 reading specialist in Rockford and his father pastored Pilgrim Baptist Church for 44 years, led efforts to desegregate public spaces here (the Nelson Hotel, in particular), and participated in the Washington and Selma marches. They left a legacy of cultural pride, and commitment to education and social justice. Eldridge “Skip” Gilbert, continues this legacy.
He is married to Theresa Paulette Gilbert and together they have 4 children: Erin, Emilia, Eldridge III, and Elise. Eldridge Gilbert’s love of children and youth, history and social justice, energizes his passion for ensuring that they are educated to build a better world.