Our Story

In March of 1958, City of Bloomington Township Assessor (and president of the Illinois Assessors Association) Leo Haas joined forces with Decatur Township Assessor William Brannan (who was a past Illinois Assessors Association president) to organize a training event they called the “Illinois Workshop.” The workshop, held on the campus of Illinois Wesley University in Bloomington, 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 event and experienced significant growth each year it was held.

After several years of increasing attendance at the “March Workshop,” it became clear that a formal organization was needed to meet the educational and training needs of Illinois assessors. On January 20, 1966, the Illinois Property Assessment Institute was founded. Out first board of directors was a “who’s who” of Illinois leaders in property assessment:

  • Chairman Leo Haas, CAE, CIAO, 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, CAE, SRA, CIAO, Tazewell County Supervisor of Assessments
  • William Jacobs, CIAO, Thornton Township Assessor (Cook County)


Educational offerings have grown and evolved over the years. The longstanding “March Workshop” is now our annual State Conference. In addition to in-depth two-day courses held in classrooms, we offer online courses and webinars to meet the changing needs of our designation holders.

IPAI works closely with our Illinois partner organizations including the Illinois Department of Revenue, County Assessment Officers Association, Illinois Assessors Association, and CIAO Association. For more than 50 years, we have been an affiliate member of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO).

Our instructors represent the best in their field. From township and county assessors at the top of their game, to attorneys, appraisers, and state officials, IPAI seeks out professionals with a passion for property assessment and sharing their knowledge with others.

Since our founding in 1966, IPAI has been headquartered in Bloomington/Normal. This central location allows us to easily serve and access the entire state from Chicago to the Metro East and Galena to Cairo. Since 2019, our office has been in Downtown Bloomington, just one block from our first office in 1966.

We own and confer the Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO) designation. It is the primary designation used by property assessment professionals in Illinois to be appointed, elected, or contracted to a township or county assessment office. We also offer three advanced designations (CIAO-I, CIAO-S, CIAO-M).

Our curriculum not only teaches assessment best practices and industry trends but instills knowledge of the laws and statutes that govern property assessment within our state. Our team of staff and professional volunteers work tirelessly to ensure our courses present the most accurate, relevant information so that are designation holders are equipped with the tools they need to be successful.



About Our Founder

 Leo 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 IAAO’s 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 when he became our first executive director. In recognition of his devotion to the IPAI and commitment to the assessment industry, the Leo Haas Scholarship was established by the board of directors 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.



Past Board of Directors

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