Deborah Halperin

ARC Director

Deborah Halperin is the Coordinator of the Action Research Center. She has over 20 years of experience with not-for-profit organizations. Her resume includes work with the YWCA, Planned Parenthood, the National Runaway Switchboard, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the American Red Cross. As a not-for-profit management consultant, Deborah has worked with clients in Chicago and local clients including Western Avenue Community Center and MARC.

Deborah is committed to the long-term viability of organizations.She has been responsible for reengineering small and large workforces, improving program design and conducting research. Deborah has also worked as a grant writer, a marketing manager and volunteer coordinator.

Deborah is an active citizen in the Bloomington-Normal community. Deborah serves as President of Board of the Day Care Center of McLean County and also on the Board of the Founder’s Grove Neighborhood Association. Deborah has also volunteered as an ESL tutor for the STAR Literacy program, serves as a member of the Hispanic Families Work Group, and will be a Wish Grantor for the Make a Wish Foundation. In 2006, Deborah served as a General Coordinator of the Washington School Playground – a community-wide effort that built a $120,000 playground in a barn-raising style over 5 days with the help of 1400 volunteers.

Deborah attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. As a sociology major, Deborah participated in an internship with the YWCA Critical Services department. She worked with domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors in the emergency room, in shelters and through the court system. She found the experience a defining factor in her personal and professional life.

Originally from Hawaii, Deborah moved to Bloomington in 2003. She is married to Gregory Halperin, an ophthalmologist at the Gailey Eye Clinic. They have three children: Griffin Max, Tess, and Leo.

Contact Deborah at dhalperi@iwu.


Deborah Halperin

Cameron Blossom

ARC Coordinator

Cameron became the first ARC Coordinator in May of 2013 after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a BA in Business Administration and minor in Sociology.

As an undergraduate at IWU, Cameron joined the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP) Board while focusing on a business development project that analyzed and presented strategies for West Bloomington business retention, expansion, and consumer attraction. He now serves as co-chair of the WBRP Economic Development committee and previously held the role of Treasurer. At IWU, He was also a member of the IWU football team, served as the Class of 2013 Vice President, and President of the American Marketing Association. 

Cameron participated in the 2011 Fall Seminar analyzing community engagement in IWU athletics and the 2012 Community Partnership Program (CPP) partnering with the WBRP and working in Human Resources at State Farm. During the summer of 2013, Cameron supervised the the 2013 CPP interns at their community placements. 

Originally from Graymont, Illinois, Cameron attended Flanagan-Cornell High School. 

Contact Cameron at



Cameron Blossom

Jim Sikora

Professor of Sociology

Born in Chicago, Dr. Sikora served in the Marine Corps and managed Kroger stores before completing his B.A. in Sociology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1968, followed by an A.M. and Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1970 and 1972 respectively.

In 1973, he began teaching and later became an administrator at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. While there he was a researcher and volunteer consultant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Georgia Department of Corrections, Chattanooga Human Relations Council, Hamilton County Juvenile Courts, Chattanooga Police Department, and Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

From 1979-1995, he chaired the Department of Sociology at IWU. During that time he has worked and continues to work with numerous area not-for profits organizations. In 2003, he and Professor James Simeone established the Action Research Center (ARC), pairing students and faculty with community partners in not-for-profits. ARC, through the current efforts of its coordinator, Deborah Halperin, immerses students and faculty in community-wide, quality of life research projects.

He was president of the Illinois Sociological Association in 1986. He served on the American Sociological Association’s Committee on Teaching from 1989-92 and chaired the group in 1991-92. In 2007 he received The Pantagraph Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is campus coordinator for the Chicago Urban Semester. Dr. Sikora’s current courses include Introductory Sociology, Social Problems, Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency, Communities and Urban Society, and internship supervision.

Contact Jim Sikora at


Dr. Jim Sikora

Jim Simeone

Chair of Political Science

Professor Simeone supervises ARC interns for the department of political science and for the City Intern program. His interest in environmental studies led to ARC's sponsorship of the IWU Peace Garden and its river monitoring projects on the Mackinaw River and Kickapoo Creek. His environmental ethics class participated in What We Eat/Why It Matters, a liberal arts cluster of courses organized on the theme of food and social justice.

Professor Simeone's academic research looks at how political ideologies and institutions combined in the nineteenth century to produce illiberal outcomes and the uneven development of American democracy. He argues that the mechanisms which move democracies to produce
illiberal policies can be anticipated and checked by citizen action. This research led him to found ARC in 2003 with Jim Sikora. He believes that student civic engagement can counteract the mistrust, misinformation, and lack of organization which have in the past fed the illiberal impulses in American political development.

His research on frontier agrarianism in early Illinois has resulted in ARC's connections with contemporary efforts to promote Central Illinois farm communities including the Spence Farm Foundation, Stewards of the Land, and the IWU Peace Garden.

He enjoys life as a citizen in Bloomington, serving as a board member and treasurer of the Old House Society from 1999-2004. From 2004 to 2006 he served as secretary of Founders' Grove Neighborhood Association and as president from 2006 to 2008. He currently serves as treasurer on the Lamu Center of Preventive Health board and as program chair on the Steering Committee of the Central Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Contact Dr. Simeone at


Dr. Jim Simeone