PEORIA — Peoria native William "Robbie" Robertson, who until last year was the commander of the local 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard, is the new acting director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Bruce Rauner made the appointment Friday afternoon.

“I’m confident Gen. Robertson’s decades of leadership experience in both wartime and domestic operations will ensure IEMA continues to fulfill its critical public safety mission,” Rauner said in a prepared statement.

Robertson, a brigadier general, served for 13 years as commander of the 182nd before being promoted last year to chief of staff for the state Air National Guard. He has more than 37 years of Air Guard experience. The general will remain in his position at the Air Guard. He said he’s excited to begin at the agency, saying he wants to keep in practice an adage he has long lived by: “never be late to need.”
“You can’t plan or prepare enough for today’s challenges,” he said. “It means that you have to be ready and prepare.”

Robertson said his Guard training lends itself to the position and he’s ready for challenge as well as a chance to work with the “professionals” there.

“It is an honor and privilege to be chosen to lead the state’s emergency management efforts, but, even more so, it is a tremendous responsibility,” Robertson said in a prepared release. “Every agency within Illinois, at every level of government, has a responsibility for planning for emergencies and when needed, responding quickly and effectively. Being at the center — coordinating those efforts — is vitally important and a ‘no fail’ contract we hold with the people of Illinois. I look forward to joining an outstanding team of professionals at IEMA and continuing the great work this agency does for the citizens of Illinois.”

He commanded the 486th Air Expeditionary Wing Operations Group during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Robertson has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Bradley University, an associate's in political science technology from Illinois Central College and is a graduate of the Air War College and Air Command and Staff College.