NEIU Distinguished Alumnus Award

The Northeastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest alumni honor the University bestows. It recognizes a particular achievement of note, a series of such achievements, or a career of outstanding accomplishment. Since the award's inception in 2005, Northeastern has recognized alumni who have distinquished themselves as preeminent in their fields, excelling in their vocations and avocations. 

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients:

2005 - Daniel L. Goodwin (B.A. ’66), chairman and CEO, Inland Real Estate Group, Inc.
2006 - Mirta Ramirez (B.A. ’72), founder, ASPIRA of Illinois
2007 - The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez (B.A. ’76), 4th Congressional District of Illinois, U.S. House of Representatives
2010 - Jose A. Rico (B.A. ’99), director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
2011 - Rae Lewis Thornton (B.A. ’91), Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist and educational speaker
2011 - Dr. Robert Jordan (M.A. ’94), news anchor and reporter for WGN-TV News; owner, Jordan and Jordan Communications, Inc.
2012 - Dr. Ann P. Kalayil (B.S. ’82), Great Lakes Regional Administrator of U.S. General Services Administration
2014 - Linda Winer (B.A. ’68), chief theatre critic and arts columnist at Newsday
2015 - Bill Pollakov (B.A. ’70), president and CEO, The Pollakov Financial Group Inc.  
2016 - Thomas White (B.A. ’81), global head of human resources, Zurich Financial Services Group
2017 - Alice McGee (B.A. '84), former chief publicist and senior supervising producer, "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

2017 Alumni Awards 

Alumni Service Award
Dr. A. Michael Drachler (B.A. '68 Biology), is a proud graduate of Northeastern Illinois University who earned a B.A. in Biology with a second major in Elementary Education in 1968. Drachler received his medical degree from Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, completing his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Cook County Hospital. Drachler has won numerous teaching awards, serves as the Senior Clinical Educator at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and serves on various boards including as Vice President of the NEIU Alumni Advisory Board.

Community Leadership Award 
Dr. Jerry Watson (B.A. '93 Board of Governors), is currently an Associate Professor of Social Work at Rust College. Watson received a B.A. in the Board of Governors Program from Northeastern Illinois University; M.S.W. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work; M.B.A. from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois; and Ph.D. from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. His research focus continues to be diverse ranging from offender re-entry and African American men’s health to cultural and linguistic competency. Watson taught at DePaul University, Aurora University in Chicago, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University. Currently, he is a co-founder of Men Healing Men and Communities in Memphis, Tenn.

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award 
Carlos Jiménez Flores (B.A. '06 Human Resource Development), is a writer, producer and film director. In 2015, he was featured in the NEIU Alumni: All Access Series where he presented and gave a film screening. In his presentation he demonstrated the lifelong value of a Northeastern Illinois University degree from the perspective of some of the University’s most successful and inspirational alumni. Jiménez Flores has been profiled by the Chicago Reader, Michigan Avenue Magazine and ABC7’s “Ñ-Beat.” A former high school and college dropout, Jiménez Flores earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern in Human Resource Development in 2006 after transferring from Wilbur Wright College. Jiménez Flores is the first Puerto Rican director to have two films theatrically released in the same year.

Future Alumni Leader Award 
Nicholas Martinez (NEIU student), is a current student at Northeastern Illinois University majoring in biology. He has served as president of the NEIU Student Government Association and has been active with the University’s advocacy issues in Springfield. He has also served on the Executive Board of the University Advisory Council and as the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Representative.

2016 Alumni Awards

Alumni Service Award
Gloria Iverson (M.A. ’08 Special Education), special education teacher in Skokie/Evanston School District 60 in Evanston and owner of the Mini Man Monkey Brains candy store and Nixie Events and Gallery in downtown Skokie.

Community Leadership Award
The Honorable William (Willie) Delgado (B.A. ’82 Criminal Justice), Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 2nd District since 2006. 

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
Carrie Horton (B.S. ’14 Accounting), finance and accounting at Granger. 

Future Alumni Leader Award
Terrie Albano, student in the Nontraditional Degree Program and an English major.