About Us

Who We Are

The Illinois Property Assessment Institute is a non-profit organization established more than 50 years ago to elevate professional standards and provide educational opportunities to assessment professionals throughout Illinois. We own and confer the Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO) designation, the primary designation used by assessors to qualify for election or appointment in Illinois. The IPAI is the only education provider focused on the distinct needs of Illinois assessment professionals. Our courses not only teach assessment best practices and industry trends but instill knowledge of the laws and statutes of the state of Illinois that govern property assessment.

To meet our mission of “elevating and enlightening” assessing officials and professionals, we have developed a comprehensive curriculum that we offer annually at locations throughout Illinois. Our courses are taught by practicing assessment and business professionals who bring expertise and everyday experience into the classroom.


Where It Began

financial lawsIn 1958, City of Bloomington Township Assessor (and president of the Illinois Assessors Association) Leo Haas joined forces with past Illinois Assessors Association president William Brannan of Decatur to organize the Illinois Workshop. The workshop was designed to raise professional standards within the Illinois assessment industry by equipping assessors with industry best practices and hands-on training. The workshop became an annual training event and experienced significant growth.

After several years of increasing attendance, it became clear that a formal organization was needed to meet the educational and training needs of Illinois assessors. On January 20, 1966, Leo Haas founded the Illinois Property Assessment Institute. The founding board of directors included:

  • Chairman Leo Haas, CIAO, CAE: City of Bloomington Township Assessor, McLean County
  • Eugene Berghoff: IL Department of Revenue, Property Tax Division
  • Donald Shetter, CIAO: Rock Island Township Assessor, Rock Island County
  • Earl Zimmerman, CIAO, SRA, CAE: Tazewell County Supervisor of Assessments
  • William Jacobs, CIAO: Thornton Township Assessor, Cook County


About Our Founder

IPAO founderLeo Haas was the founder, first executive director, and first chairman of the board of the Illinois Property Assessment Institute. Leo was elected the City of Bloomington Township Assessor in 1949 and served six terms. In 1958, he was elected president of the Illinois Assessors Association. Leo’s passion for the assessment industry was recognized by the International Association of Assessing  Officers  in 1963 when they named him most valuable member. In 1969, he served as president of the IAAO.

In 1973, Leo retired as City of Bloomington Township Assessor. While he was no longer in elected office, Leo did not slow down. His work at the IPAI to educate assessors became a full-time pursuit. In recognition of his devotion to the IPAI and commitment to the assessment industry, the Leo Haas Scholarship was established in 1976. That scholarship continues today. Leo retired in 1978 from the IPAI. Both of his daughters, Ruby and Margie, would go on to work for our organization in the years that followed.

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