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 distinguished 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.
  • 2015: Dame Libby Komaiko (B.A. '78) founder and artistic director, Ensemble Español
  • 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"
  • 2018: Billy Ocasio (B.A. '92 Board of Governors), chief executive officer at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
  • 2019: Michael A. Orona (B.A. '92 Criminal Justice), Division Chief, African Affairs Bureau, U.S. Department of State
  • 2020: Ana Castillo (B.A. '75 Art), distinguished poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar
  • 2021: Miguel del Valle (B.A. '74) President of the Chicago Board of Education and former Senator in the Illinois General Assembly

2021 Alumni Awards

Miguel del Valle
Distinguished Alumnus Award

B.A. 1974 Secondary Education-Spanish; M.A. 1977 Guidance and Counseling

In 2006, Mr. del Valle was appointed City Clerk of Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Daley, and subsequently won a citywide election to the post in 2007, becoming the first Latino elected to the office of City Clerk.

In 1986, Mr. del Valle was elected the first Latino Senator in the Illinois General Assembly where he served for 20 years. He became an Assistant Majority Leader, and served as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee, and Senate Select Committee on Education Funding Reform. He served as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, and member of the Revenue, Appropriations, Labor, and Executive Committees. He also was the co-founder of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

Before running for public office, del Valle worked with several community-based agencies, organizing and providing direct services and institution building. He was Unit Director for the Union League Foundation for Boys and Girls Clubs, and Executive Director of Association House, a human services agency in Chicago. He also did work for the Pilsen Little Village Community Mental Health Center and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Mr. del Valle is a graduate of Chicago Public Schools and holds a M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University. He is married to Lupe del Valle, and has four children and four grandchildren. Three of his children attended Jose de Diego Community Academy, and one graduated from Lane Tech. All four of his grandchildren have or are currently attending Chicago Public Schools.

Alumni Service Award
Laura Stock 
B.A. 1982 Secondary Education, Physical Education

Laura Dojutrek Stock was born and raised in Chicago with her twin sister who has a Learning Disability and Aphasia. Laura attended NEIU from 1978-82 and graduated on the Dean's Roll with a B.A. in Secondary PE. Laura was honored as the first ever recipient of the NEIU Charles G. Kane Award. After graduation, Laura taught at Glenbrook South High School, Glencoe School and worked at Independence Park. She coached the Maine South Boys Gymnastics team, Fenton High School Girls Gymnastics team, Glenbrook South Boys and Girls Gymnastics team and Buffalo Grove High School Girls Gymnastics team. Laura also worked at Lovellton in Elgin as Adolescents in Recovery Counselor. Laura moved to Texas in 1999 where she founded a nonprofit, Dream of Hopes Ranch, Inc., for adolescents and adults with special needs. She started the program with five ranchers and to date has helped more than 200 families during the past 20 years. Dreams of Hope Ranch is now year round with more than 65 families involved from the day program, respite care and Special Olympics, which Laura has been involved with since 1968. Helping others has been Laura's passion since she was a child.

Community Leadership Award
Jessie Fuentes

B.A. 2013 Justice Studies; M.A. 2018 Community and Teacher Leaders

Jessie Fuentes is an activist in the Humboldt Park Community in Chicago. Jessie is a graduate of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School – the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s very own educational institution. Jessie received a bachelor's in Justice Studies and a master's in Community and Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Jessie has done work around empowering young people in the community, the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, anti-gentrification work, education reform, and work around the independence of Puerto Rico. Jessie began her political work as the director of a youth organization in Humboldt Park called the Batey Urbano. She is now the Director of Policy and Youth Advocacy for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Through her social justice work, Jessie strives to create a more just world through policy and grassroots organizing.

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
Dr. Samniqueka Halsey

B.S. 2011 Biology     

Her scholarship excellence, commitment to service, and unstoppable leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion make Dr. Samniqueka Halsey (B.S., Biology, 2011) one of NEIU’s most accomplished young alumni. She has published a dozen peer-reviewed articles and received numerous awards while completing her Ph.D. in Computational Biology, such as the ACM Computational and Data Science Fellowship. She has been consistently active in community education efforts, including co-founding an organization to provide hands-on STEM experiences for inner-city children and introducing middle school girls and their teachers to coding. Now a faculty member at University of Missouri, Dr. Halsey works one-on-one with a diverse group of undergraduate students in her research lab and is the lead creator of the COMPASS mentoring program for underrepresented students in STEM. As a Black woman in science, Dr. Halsey has distinguished herself as an outstanding role model for the next generation of scientists. 

Future Alumni Leader Award
Kimberly Nu-Tall 

NEIU Student, Biology  

Kimberly is a compassionate, motivated and determined student at NEIU. Kimberly actively seeks mentoring opportunities through professional organizations like Increasing Diversity in Dentistry and with faculty at NEIU. Most recently was awarded the Robertson Family Education Enrichment Award. Kimberly presented her summer research at the NEIU symposium in October 2020 as well as presented her findings at the national Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science conference in 2020 and more recently at the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority conference on Feb. 28, 2021. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology and is interested in pursuing a career in dentistry.  

2020 Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumna Award
Ana Castillo (B.A.1975 Art) 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) 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) 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) 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, current NEIU graduate student) 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.

2019 Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumnus Award 
Michael A. Orona (B.A. '92 Criminal Justice) has spent the past 18 years working for the U.S. Department of State, where he has served in an array of senior-level foreign policy advisory positions. Orona currently serves as Division Chief in the State Department’s African Affairs Bureau, where he oversees foreign policy formulation and chairs senior-level U.S. government meetings focused on a variety of issues facing the continent.

During the Obama administration, Orona served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of State’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs during the tenure of Secretary of State John Kerry. From 2009-2013, he served at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he helped to facilitate the release of three human rights prisoners of conscience. From 2005-2009, Orona served as Deputy Director and later was promoted to serve as Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

In 2004, Orona helped to establish the U.S. State Department’s Atrocities Documentation Team, which included U.S. government officials and NGO representatives who were dispatched by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to investigate the violence in Darfur, Sudan. The evidence gathered by the team led directly to the U.S. government’s historic determination of genocide in Darfur.

Orona is widely recognized as an honest broker on U.S. foreign policy matters among Democratic and Republican administrations alike. He has earned four U.S. Department of State Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards for his work promoting and protecting human rights throughout Asia and Africa.

In addition to being an alumnus of Northeastern, Orona is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps University - Command and Staff College in Quantico, Va., where he received the Foreign Area Officer Association award for exceptional research in international affairs. Orona is married with three children and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Alumni Service Award
Flora Llacuna (B.A. ’79 Secondary Education; M.A. ’83 Guidance & Counseling) has served NEIU for 39 years, including 35 years of service in the Division of Student Affairs. She currently works as a student advocate and with Undocumented Student Resources. She began working at Northeastern Illinois University in March of 1979. Soon after earning her graduate degree, she started teaching Spanish courses at NEIU and was on a continuous rotation every fall and spring semester for decades, alongside her full-time role as an academic support professional. Throughout her time at NEIU, she has worked with an authentic spirit of care and concern for every student and person she has engaged with at NEIU, helping to strengthen NEIU’s reputation as a place where all students and community members can feel welcomed. Flora also served as the Coordinator of the National Student Exchange Program for 25 years where she advised exchange students; she worked with the Minority Student Mentoring Program for 25 years; and most recently, she oversaw the food pantry at Northeastern Illinois University, which provides fresh and canned foods to current NEIU students. In addition to being a student advocate and working with Undocumented Student Resources, Flora currently serves as a coordinator in the Division of Students Affairs at Northeastern Illinois University.

Community Leader Award
Helen Sinclair (B.A. '85 Nontraditional Degree Program) has served as the chaplain for the Illinois Department of Corrections for more than 75 years. On Sundays, Sinclair journeys to Illinois state prisons to lead worship services. She sings, offers prayers, teaches about black history and shouts words of encouragement. She offers hugs and broad smiles. She listens as the inmates testify about how God has helped them find their better selves and a sense of peace. She is known in the community as the Queen Mother. “In her work, she found her name and her passion,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. “Sinclair has transformed into that spiritual mother for dozens of men, some who count her as their only family,” Jackson said. After her stepbrother, Eli Watson, was arrested and later died in custody in a prison, Sinclair’s family became more involved. While Sinclair’s contributions may be little known to outsiders, at Stateville Prison in Crest Hill, Illinois, the inmates and staff have a special affinity for her. Her image is painted on a hallway wall and the inmates dedicated to her their re-entry clothing closet, which provides suits for men to wear when they leave prison.

Outstanding GOLD Alumni Award
Angel Velez (B.A. '10 Justice Studies; M.A. '12 Educational Leadership) is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with a concentration in History of Education and a graduate minor in Latina/o Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is currently a Diversifying Faculty in Illinois Fellow as well as a former ENLACE Leadership Institute Fellow. He is a research associate in the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at UIUC on a National Science Foundation grant. Over the years, Angel has been recognized for his teaching and public engagement. He has received five teaching awards from the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, which ranks the top 5% of instructors at UIUC. In the Puerto Rican community, he is engaged in the development of the Puerto Rican Community Archives in Chicago. Angel was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is a proud product of the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago. He loves spending time with his family, particularly traveling with his wife and son. Angel currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at Northeastern Illinois University.

Future Alumni Award
Francisco Sebastian, NEIU student, is an outstanding accounting major in the College of Business and Management, providing exceptional service to NEIU in many ways.

Francisco currently works as the payroll manager for the NEIU Independent, the University’s student-run newspaper, as well as provides all-around support for articles and student authors. He has served as the NEIU Budget Taskforce student representative, and helped the university identify cost efficiencies. Additionally, he has worked as administrative management for NEIU’s launch of the AARP’s Work for Yourself @50+ grant; volunteered to manage student volunteers at NETT Day and secured the event’s keynote speaker, Jason Kunish, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago; and served as the assistant to the event coordinator for the College of Business and Management’s International Business Conference.

His work as a student does not stop there. Francisco also serves as the treasurer for five COBM clubs: CEO Club, Marketing Club, Accounting Club, APICS, and Investment Society. Beyond NEIU, Francisco volunteers to prepare free tax filings for Ladder Up, a community not-for-profit. Francisco’s dedication indicates he will be an outstanding NEIU alumnus, who will continue to give back to NEIU throughout his professional career.

2018 Alumni Awards 

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

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.