Golden Gala 2020

7 p.m. Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Golden Gala is NEIU's annual celebration of outstanding alumni and it raises resources that increase scholarship and program support for our students. In this unique year, we are asking our most loyal friends to join us for a virtual NEIU Golden Gala and Alumni Awards Ceremony.

While it's not the same as being together in person, we have an exciting program to share! We want you to dress up, grab a drink and join us in celebration of NEIU's outstanding alumni and students. Best yet, there is no charge to attend the gala this year.

Our livestream event will feature 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award winner and retired WGN anchor Robert Jordan as our emcee. As always, our program will celebrate five Alumni Awardees, including the 2020 presentation of the University’s highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Your support is deeply appreciated, and you can participate in so many ways! You can:

  1. Bid on one of several exciting Auction Items!
  2. Enjoy a ‘Boxperience’ Meal: Have a gourmet dinner for two or an appetizer and wine delivered to your home the evening of the gala. Proceeds benefit the NEIU Foundation.
  3. Make an Impact: Community and connection are important, especially in this challenging moment. Coming together in the virtual space means that you can participate from coast to coast! Here are some ways to support our students:

Register Today


Ana Castillo
Distinguished Alumna Award

B.A. 1975 Art 

Ana Castillo is a celebrated and distinguished poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. She has contributed to periodicals online venues (Salon and Oxygen) and national magazines, including More and the Sunday New York Times. Castillo’s writings have been the subject of numerous scholarly investigations and publications.

Her award- winning, best selling titles include novels "So Far From God," "The Guardians" and "Peel My Love like an Onion," and poetry "I Ask the Impossible." Her novel "Sapogonia" was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has been profiled and interviewed on National Public Radio and the History Channel and was a radio-essayist with NPR in Chicago. Dr. Castillo is editor of La Tolteca 2.0 on her blog, an arts and literary zine, which features creatives of all backgrounds while focusing on the marginalized. In 2014 Dr. Castillo held the Lund-Gil Endowed Chair at Dominican University, River Forest, Ill., and served on the faculty with the Bread Loaf Summer Program (Middlebury College) in 2015 and 2016.

She also held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University 2001-06, the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Visiting Scholar post at M.I.T. and was the Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College in Utah in 2012, among other teaching posts throughout her extensive career. Dr. Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. from University of Bremen, Germany in American Studies and an honorary doctorate from Colby College.

Alumni Service Award
Charles L. Good

B.A. 2004 Economics and History     

Charles (Chuck) Good is a Chicago native raised on the Northwest Side.  At age 8 his parents divorced, leaving his mother to raise four children while working as an executive secretary. His family persevered, and enjoyed good careers and strong families. He and his partner/husband, Grant Peterson, will be celebrating their 28th anniversary this December.  

Good attended DePaul University for one year before leaving due to family financial hardship and attended UIC for one year. In 2002, he enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University where he felt at home. In 2004, Good graduated with a degree in Economics and History. He was in the  Honors Program and received cum Laude honors.    

In his professional career he facilitated the design, production and distribution of business-critical documents. He started his career as a sales executive in computers, software and networks (AmeriData, Inacomp), then served in mail and logistics as a sales executive/manager (Pitney Bowes, Neopost), and in the print industry as a sales executive (FedEx Office Services). Good volunteers at Feeding America, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, Center for New Horizons, and served as the President for the NEIU Alumni Advisory Board for six years. Good is currently retired.

In a recent interview Good said, “I am proud to be NEIU. NEIU allowed me to grow my thought process; to face problems and create multi-faceted solutions with global effect. My ask to you is to support NEIU, to make a difference in your communities and empower others so that they can succeed.”

Community Leadership Award
Berhane Hailemichael   

B.A. 2014 Justice Studies
M.A. 2017 Community and Teacher Leaders   

Berhane Hailemichael is a father, husband and full-time employee and human rights advocate. Since he came to the U.S., he has never stopped attending school and working hard. He has been using all available opportunities to become an independent person in his life. To survive and improve his education, he had the challenge of balancing, school, work and family responsibilities. 

In 2011, he graduated from Truman College, with his associate degree in Psychology, and received a diploma in Human Rights from University for Peace, United Nations. In 2014, he received his bachelor’s Degree in Justice Studies, and afterwards got his master’s degree in Community and Teacher Leaders in 2017. His dream is to advocate for people's social and justice issues. He believes education and hard work can beat poverty. He wants to share his experience with his community and to participate in their daily lives and activities. Since 2016, he continues to advocate for justice and equality as well as expanding education and developmental programs in his community. 

As part of his ambition, in 2017, he became an active member in establishing the Eritrean Assistance Organization in Chicago and Environs (EAOC). He currently working as board member. In addition, to accomplish his passion, he has been voluntarily teaching his mother language of Tigrinya to Eritrean children with other church members at an Eritrean church (St. Mary Chicago) since 2018. Hailemichael believes that to maintain connection, to transfer and to save Eritrean values, culture, and identity, to live in harmony with others, the community must teach and invest in their children's future.

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
David Robertson  

B.A. 2016 Nontraditional Degree
M.A. 2018 Community and Teacher Leaders     

David Robertson is a graduate student at Columbia University School of Social Work majoring in Clinical Social Work and minoring in Emerging Technology, Media and Society (EMS) and Advanced Certificate in Cooperation and Conflict Resolution. Robertson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Hope Is Foundation, an organization that supports local communities, education organizations, by creating mobile technology mental health and SEL curriculum, research, products and programs for youth and young adults.

Robertson’s background is a qualitative courage researcher. He combines his wealth of knowledge about trauma-informed practices with contemporary methods like restorative practices and wellness writing to support organizations in creating shared experiences that foster belonging and connection.

Robertson has a master’s and bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. He has partnered with and consulted University of Chicago, AmfAR, Berkeley City College, First 5 Alameda, Chicago Department of Public Health, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The Department on Aging, among other organizations to enhance the impact of their work with employees and other stakeholders.

Future Alumni Leader Award
Melanie Glover
B.A. 2018 Justice Studies
NEIU Graduate Student 

Melanie Danise Glover was born in February 1994 to parents Daneen Latrece Lemons and Melvin Glover. She is active at NEIU, currently serving as the President Black Caucus. Previously, she served as the President of Student Government Association, Chief of Staff for Student Government Association, Anti-Basileus (Vice President) for Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and Vice President of the Justice Studies Club. She also was active with the United Greek Council as Community Service Chair; University Advisory Council as Student Representative; Student Government Association as Chief Justice and Senator; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated as Parliamentarian; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated as Anti-Grammateus, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated as chaplain. 

She has participated as a panelist for African American students (October 2016-December 2016). The panel was designed to address the University and its issues with African American students having access. On the panel, Glover discussed the importance of student access and student involvement in critical decision-making.

Glover worked with the Chicago Youth Program (CYP) from August 2011 to the present. She has volunteered at homeless shelters and has helped the elderly community in a variety of ways since October 2017. Glover has also participated in juveniles talks, a program where juveniles who are incarcerated or have incarcerated can talk about the issues that led them to crime.