As early as 1897, representatives from Illinois independent telephone companies were gathering together periodically to discuss common telephone problems. Such meetings were largely local, made up for the most part of telephone representatives from neighboring counties. Gradually, common interests and problems gave rise to organized associations of telephone men and women.
One of the most important of these and a predecessor of today's organization was the Illinois Telephone Assn. It was created at a meeting of representatives of 25 independent companies at Springfield on June 18, 1897. Dr. I. A. Lumpkin was elected as first president, serving the next four years with distinction. It's interesting to note that Dr. Lumpkin was the great-grandfather of Richard A. Lumpkin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Co., Mattoon. Richard Lumpkin is a member of the board of directors and a past president of the United States Telephone Assn. He was a past president of the Illinois Telephone Assn., as was his father, R. A. Lumpkin.
In 1898, the association officers were: Dr. I. A. Lumpkin, president, Mattoon; F. A. Brooks, vice president, Charleston; A. M. Howell, secretary, Hillsboro; and M. Weinburg, treasurer, Augusta. The executive committee included: A. M. McPhearson, Decatur; Dr. W. W. Tobey, Danville; and B. M. Burke, Carlinville. Apparently, the organization in those earlier years was more informal. Then in April 1905, over 100 representatives of Illinois independent companies met in Peoria to formally organize the Illinois Independent Telephone Assn. Interim officers elected during this preliminary meeting included: C. H. Glass, president of Pekin; C. A. Camp, vice president of Henry; and A. Schuler, secretary of Streator. The following year, the first annual convention of the Illinois Independent Telephone Assn. was held, at which time E. R. Conklin was officially elected the organization's first president.
Action was taken during the annual meeting of the Illinois Independent Telephone Assn. in 1911 at Quincy to incorporate a clearinghouse (The Independent Toll Clearing Co. of Illinois), which was to function as a toll pool conceptually comparable to access charge pools of today. The clearing house operation was abandoned in the '50s.
At the 1922 annual convention held in Springfield on November 10, Illinois Bell Telephone Co. became a member of the association. The association, as a result, presented a solid front comprised of 96 percent of the total telephone properties in the state. The organization's name was then changed to the Illinois Telephone Assn. since Illinois Bell became a member.
Around 1930, J. A. Parsons became the first full-time secretary of the association; and in 1944, J. G. Hardy was secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 1960. Jack Tharp served as Secretary of the Association until 1997 when the Illinois Telephone Association became the Illinois Telecommunications Association. Jack's title was changed to President and the membership was expanded to represent all companies certificated by the Illinois Commerce Commission to provide telecommunications in Illinois. Jack Tharp retired in early 1998 and Douglas Dougherty was hired to serve as President of the ITA. Doug served until 2011 and was replaced by Matt Johnson who served until September 2015. Randy Nehrt was then hired to serve as President of the ITA.