NEIU Weekend - Golden Gala 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Alumni Award Winners!

The Golden Gala Alumni Awards Dinner raised more than $150,000 in one evening and we recognized five outstanding alumni. 


Distinguished Alumnus Award 
Billy Ocasio, B.A. '92 Board of Governors

Billy Ocasio is the chief executive officer at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture. Previously he served as the senior advisor to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn appointed to work on social justice issues. He began his appointment on June 1, 2009, after it had been announced on May 12, 2009. Prior to his appointment, Ocasio served as the 26th Ward alderman in the Chicago City Council. Ocasio is a lifelong resident of Humboldt Park where he attended Von Humboldt Elementary School and Roberto Clemente Community Academy.

Alumni Service Award
Richard C. Lindberg, B.A. '74 and M.A. '87 History

Richard C. Lindberg is an award-winning author, journalist and lecturer who has written and published nineteen books about Chicago history, politics, criminal justice, sports and ethnicity. In 2012, his memoir of growing up, titled "Whiskey Breakfast: My Swedish Family My American Life," was named Non-Fiction Book of the Year by the Chicago Writer’s Association. His institutional history of NEIU, "Northeastern Illinois University: the First 150 Years" and a 2009 biography titled, "The Gambler King of Clark Street: Michael C. McDonald and the Rise of Chicago’s Democratic Machine" were both honored by the Illinois State Historical Society. Mr. Lindberg is a past president of the Society of Midland Authors, the Illinois Academy of Criminology and is a member of the Northeastern Illinois University Alumni Advisory Board. 

Community Leader Award
Shawn K. Woods, B.A. '98 Criminal Justice

Shawn K. Woods is president and CEO of Shawn K. Woods & Associates, an organization committed to empowering businesses and individuals to unleash their full potential. An international trainer/facilitator, author and executive/life/career coach, he has delivered over 500 conferences including keynote presentations, bullying awareness seminars and leadership training to Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, government and non-profit organizations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. He has served as a law enforcement officer, decorated detective, assistant director of human resources for the Board of Education, as well as an investigator for the Office of the Executive Inspector General for the State of Illinois. 

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
Leslie Dubin, M.B.A. '09 Business Administration

Leslie Dubin teaches business, marketing, management and entrepreneurship courses at Oakton Community College. She is an executive and corporate leader. Along with business consulting, she is involved in academics, teaching and developing team management strategies. Leslie taught for several years in the Chicago Public Schools system. She served as vice president and operations manager for a Chicago-based textile firm, overseeing 200 employees over several locations throughout the United States. In 2014, Leslie was awarded the Ray Hartstein Excellence in Teaching Award for Part Time Faculty. Despite major health issues which surfaced in 2016, Leslie has continued to teach and develop course material for her school.

Future Alumni Award
Yadira Alonzo, current student 

Yadira Alonzo is a junior majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Linguistics and Biology. She is active in Northeastern’s Student Food Pantry, the University’s Undocumented, Resilient, and Organized Club, and in the Beta Beta Beta Honor Society. She traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, on an Alternative Spring Break Service Trip and Mexico as a member of Dreamers without Borders. Most recently, Yadira attended the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute where she received the Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders. She also received a scholarship from the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education. Yadira volunteers at World Relief Chicago, working with a Syrian refugee family.