Tomilea Allison


Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion (1995)
Farewell Reception for Mayor
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis


Tomilea Allison served on the city council in Bloomington from 1977 to 1982. When she was elected mayor of Bloomington in 1983, she was the first woman to be elected, and second woman to serve. Under her leadership until 1995, Bloomington received its Tree City designation, and her support of the Parks and Recreation Department set the groundwork for the Thomson Community Park, the Twin Lakes Sports Complex, the Third Street Park, and the Kid City program of affordable summer day care for children. She also started the Downtown Canopy of Lights and instigated the founding of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County.

She is a 2007 inductee into the Monroe County Hall of Fame. She was named "Sagamore of the Wabash" by two Indiana governors, Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon. Her honors are extensive, including the Russell G. Lloyd Distinguished Service Award (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns); Special Recognition, U.S. Conference of Mayors (1993); Lifetime Achievement Award, Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (1995); President, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (1993–1994); Mayor of the Year, Murat Temple (1995); Citizen of the Year, National Association of Social Workers (1991); Kentucky Colonel (Governor Martha Layne Collins); and Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's History Month (2010). She founded the Commission for Bloomington Downtown. She co-founded, Community Development Conference, Bloomington; Citizens for Good Government, Monroe County; Bloomington Branch, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; and Verify the Vote, Monroe County. Tomilea has demonstrated a life-long commitment to public service and peacemaking. She is an inspiring model for people across the political spectrum and a strong advocate for the women, children, and men in Bloomington whose quality of life has improved because of her efforts. She has truly given a lifetime of contributions to Bloomington and Monroe County.

Tomilea was born March 28, 1934. A native of California, she majored in sociology at Occidental College, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1955. In 1957, she began working as a deputy probation officer for Fresno and San Bernardino counties. When her husband, James, joined the psychology faculty at Indiana University in 1963, Tomilea along with their two daughters, Devon and Leigh, moved to Bloomington with him.