Welcome to Northeastern Alumni Class Notes
Find out what your fellow alumni are up to these days. Share your news and events by submitting a note.
Jerry C. Yanoff
(B.A. ’66 Education; M.A.S. ’77 Education)
Yanoff spent 27 years as a special education teacher at Mather High School and served as an educator for more than 45 years. He also taught a special education survey class at National Louis University for 18 years. Yanoff served as a member of the Chicago Board of Education’s Local School Council Advisory Board.
Thomas F. James
(B.A. ’69 Psychology, MA ’77 Guidance and Counseling)
James is a retired licensed psychologist in the State of Washington. He has a Ph.D. in Psychology with a Clinical specialization from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Francine (Pappadis) Friedman
(B.A. ’73 Secondary Education, English)
Friedman has published numerous short sorties and has earned various awards, including two first-place awards in 2008 for her memoir, “MatchDotBomb: A Midlife Journey Through Internet Dating.” She is currently working on her first novel.
Gregory S. Ridenour
(B.S. ’80 Earth Science; M.S. ’84 Earth Science)
Ridenour has taught courses in physical geography in the Geosciences Department at Austin Peay State University since 1996. He is currently collaborating on a research project with Dr. Shan Wang in the Mathematics Department at Northeastern. Ridenour’s wife, Violet, is also an alumna of Northeastern. He has a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.
Ann P. Kalayil
(B.A. ’82 Computer Science)
Kalayil was appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of Northeastern Illinois University. Kalayil currently serves as bureau chief of asset management for Cook County government. She previously served as regional administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration's Great Lakes Region. She earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Northeastern Illinois University, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
(B.A. ’84 Secondary Education, History)
Goldstein began teaching in Chicago and later moved to Maryland to teach with Prince George's County schools. He has taught general and AP history, government and criminal law, among other subjects. He served as a football and basketball coach and sponsored the student government. He has also been awarded Teacher of the Year and has won the Dana Kirkman Student Mentorship Award and the Rutgers University Honors Program Award.
Kathleen (Disviscour) DiBenedetto
(B.A. ’85 Speech)
DiBenedetto has worked for Jim Beam for 28 years. She was named a Keeper of the Quaich at Blair Castle in Scotland in 2008, joining the society that honors accomplishments in the development of the Scotch whisky category. She is one of a few women inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame for her work on developing a small batch bourbon collection. In 2018, a limited edition was introduced as Kathleen’s Batch and sold globally.
(B.S. ’94 Accounting)
Saper has published a book titled “From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran,” which will be released on Oct. 1, 2019. The publisher is Potomac Books - The University of Nebraska Press.
(B.A. ’99 Speech and Performing Arts)
McGowan is serving in her first term as alderman for the City of Geneva. She had previously served as a Kane County election judge as well as tech judge, and served the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois as Geneva registrar and troop co-leader.
Dustin T. De Felice
(B.A. ’03 Speech; M.A. ’05 Linguistics)
De Felice recently accepted a new position as the director of the English Language Center in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University.
(B.A. ’07 Board of Governors)
Champion graduated from National Louis University with a doctorate in Community Psychology in June 2018. Champion currently serves as a psychologist at Ludeman Center in Chicago.
Robert “Bob” Chikos
(M.A. ’07 Special Education 2007; M.A. ’14 Educational Leadership)
Since the summer of 2018, Chikos has published 13 short stories in literary journals. He currently works as special education teacher at Crystal Lake Central High School.
(M.A. ’07 Inner City Studies)
Witherspoon was recently named the vice president for diversity and inclusion at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. He previously served as associate dean of students and director of the multicultural student support services at Denison University in Ohio.
Panagiota “Patty” Tzortzis
(M.A. ’08 Gifted Education)
Tzortzis was named assistant principal at Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines Elementary School District 62. Previously she served as the assistant principal at London Middle School in Wheeling, and coordinator of instructional technology and as a Spanish teacher in Evanston/Skokie School District 65.
Iliana (Marcano) Rzodkiewicz
(B.A. ’09 Secondary Education)
Rzodkiewicz serves as an assistant principal at a Chicago Public Schools high school. She recently earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.
(B.A. ’09 Board of Governors)
Walsh was featured in The Naperville Sun for co-inventing the Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox that facilitates package delivery and pickup by drones.
(B.A. ’11 Communication, Media and Theatre)
Atanasova is co-owner and marketing director at Corsia Logistics, a digital marketing company in California.
(M.A. ’12 Reading)
Schwartzbach is the co-founder of The Laboratory Collective and was recently named to the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards Fellow. The Laboratory Collective has been featured in NPR’s “MindShift” podcast, Teaching Times (a U.K. teaching magazine) and numerous other local, national and international media outlets.
Jean Matelski Boulware
B.A. ’13 Psychology)
Boulware recently published in the Journal of Education, Society, and Behavioural Science on mindfulness and wisdom.
(B.A. ’13 Justice Studies)
Sefcik is the founder and CEO of Cross Country Cycle 4 Vets, a nonprofit organization that raises money for U.S. veterans and first responders through cross-country cycling. Her next ride will take her from Lake Forest to New York City for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
(M.S.I. ’14 Secondary Education: Language Arts)
Kobayashi was recently featured in a documentary published by the Center of College Access and Success (CCAS) at Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently working with CCAS to develop an inquiry and design-based curriculum. She is a previous recipient of the Golden Apple Award.
(M.A. ’16 English)
Since earning a master’s degree in English in 2016, Friedberg has published multiple essays and won multiple awards. He recently started writing a book, collaborating with six other authors. He is currently teaching an English course at Northeastern called Writing About Music in the U.S.: Contemporary History and Criticism. He also works as a consultant in the Writing Center at one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
(M.A. ’16 Communication, Media and Theatre)
Kroeck's comedic short story, “Seven Secrets of Happiness, or How to Just Survive Today” was published in Illinois's Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. Another short story titled “Letters to My Cat” was published in Illinois's Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction and America's Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction (Volume One).