Alumni Class Notes
NEIU Alumni Class Notes by Decade
Keep up with your former classmates with Alumni Class Notes! Did you find a job or earn a promotion? Win an award? Get married? Tell us about it!
Patricia A. Wyman (B.Ed., '65 General Education, Elementary Education)
Wyman is a psychotherapist and has published a book, "Three Keys to Self-Understanding." She has two children and five grandchildren. She recently wrote to the Northeastern Illinois University Alumni Association and stated “I'm very appreciative of my time at what is now Northeastern.”
Joanne Kitsos (B.S. ’68 Elementary Education)
Kitsos was awarded the newly created Karen Utterback Award for Volunteerism by the the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Board of Directors, recognizing her contributions to the growth and success of the organization.
Lois R. Kurowski (B.A., '68 Elementary Education, Mathematics)
Kurowski went from working in the accounts receivable department to customer profile administrator for ACCO Brands, an office products leader.
David Helfand (B.A., '72 Mathematics, Secondary Education and Psychology)
After two years volunteering with Orphans of the Storm animal shelter in Deerfield, Helfand is now an Adoption Counselor with PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) of Chicago. He also enjoys taking his dogs, Roxy and Bounce, to visit with the seniors at the Lieberman Center in Skokie. Helfand retired as coordinator of career counseling at Northeastern Illinois University.
Maria F. Martinez (B.A., '72 Spanish)
Martinez published "Cuban Stories about People, Terraces, Food, Revolution and Good-bye's,” a memoir of her childhood in Cuba before and during the communist revolution. Martinez retired from Citigroup after a career of 25 years and is now an independent specialist in integrated marketing.
Charles A. Towsley (B.S., '72 Biology)
Towsley is currently founding president of Sante Shipping Lines, Miami, Fla. He was the former port director of the Port of Miami (1998-2006).
Anita R. Brook-Dupree (B.S. ’73 Biology)
Brook-Dupree recently retired from the School District of Philadelphia, after a 30 year career as a science teacher and curriculum specialist. After attending a conference in Chicago called "So You Want To Be An Educational Consultant?" Brooke-Dupree launched her own consulting firm called Science is My Specialty.
Robert Bluestone (B.A., '75 Political Science)
Bluestone is running for City Council in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He was also former city commissioner of Ft. Pierce, Fla. and retired as senior vice president of Harbor Federal Savings Bank.
Robert V. Cunningham (M.A., '75 Inner City Studies) Cunningham has served as an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago since the year 2009.
Clifford R. Wagner (B.A., '75 Secondary Education, Physical Education; M.A. ’01, Grad-Ed Lead: School Lead)
Wagner is a teacher at Bogan H.S in Chicago. He is also vice president for teenage youth at the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) and president-elect for the Illinois High School Association and the College Driver Education Association.
Mary Zentmyer (B.A. ’75 Speech)
Zentmyer starred in a two weekend run of "Late Nite Catechism" at The Legacy Theatre in Springfield, Ill., in April.
Luis V. Gutierrez (B.A., '76 English)
Congressman Gutierrez was named Hispanic of the Year by Panorama Hispano, a New York based paper dedicated to exposing news to the Hispanic community.
Thomas B. Perski (B.A. ’81 Board of Governors)
Perski, senior vice president/rehabilitation services, The Chicago Lighthouse, oversees several programs including the VA Program and the Consumer Products Store. He will lead an expansion of services and sales through a new catalog and e-commerce web site of technology and independent living aids and other programs that will integrate with the Low Vision Rehabilitation Service and the Adaptive Technology Department.
Toni L. Armstrong, Jr. (MA.S., '84 Teaching Children with Learning Disabilities)
Armstrong recently launched BLAST, a website powered by Meetup.com where "lesbians, bi women, transwomen, and our straight female allies have opportunities to socialize and network around their interests, to develop leadership skills, and to gain more LGBT and feminist cultural literacy."
Paul M. Nordhaus (B.A. ’84 Political Science)
Nordhaus has been appointed Chair of the International Advisory Board for the National Science Teachers Association for 2012-12.
Daniel J. Yee (B.S., '88 Computer Science)
Yee passed the MCSE in September 2009 which included certification in Comptia A+ (2005), Network+ (2006), PDI+ (2011), Microsoft's MCP (2006), and MCSA (2008). He currently works for the Chicago Police Department IT division as a Microsoft systems engineer.
John Byrne (B.A. ’90 Criminal Justice)
Byrne was promoted from deputy to lieutenant by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in April. He has served in court security, work release, jail, highway patrol, criminal investigations, the emergency management agency, and was director of training. He has been a member of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group and is the field operations commander of the tactical response team. Byrne attended the Northwestern University Supervision of Police Personnel and Staff and Command School and will be in charge of the court security division.
Gabriella Filippi (M.S., '91 Exercise Science)
Filippi recently wrote "Celebrate Your Seasons," an inspirational book on love and god, published by Rowman and Littlefield.
Rae Lewis-Thornton (B.A. ’91 Political Science)
Lewis-Thronton recently published “The Politics of Respectability” which is a memoir of her life and her personal journey living with HIV and AIDS. She is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist and educational speaker who has appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine, Ebony, Jet, Emerge, O (The Oprah Magazine), The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, CNN, Black Entertainment Television, and the Montel Williams Show. In May 2011, Lewis-Thornton received the NEIU Distinguished Alumna Award.
Basia Emano (B.A., '93 Education, Leisure Studies)
Emano is an independent casting director who has served on independent films including "Dog Jack," "Batman Begins," "Spiderman II," "Drunkboat," "What Women Want" and "A League of Their Own." She has also worked on several television series such as "Judge Alex," "Cristina's Court," "Texas Justice" and "Rozmowy w Toku." She is currently working as marketing director for the Lira Ensemble (a not-for-profit professional performing arts company comprised of a Symphony, female vocal ensemble, a chamber chorus, a children's chorus and a dance company) and will contribute to the upcoming feature film "Jerzy," to be produced by the famed and multi-talented Paul Hensler ("Star Wars").
Kevin R. McCormack (B.A., '93 Board of Governors)
McCormick relocated to Nashville, Tennessee from Atlanta, Georgia after accepting a position as a senior financial analyst with Hospital Corp of America.
Neil Slater (B.A., '93 Speech)
Slater is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Saginaw Valley State University.
Ivan S. Muslin (B.A., '94 Political Science)
Muslin earned a Ph.D. in business administration at the University of Memphis in 2011. He is an assistant professor of management at Lewis College of Business at Marshall University.
Gwen Zimmermann (B.A. ’94 Mathematics)
Zimmermann was recently named assistant principal for teaching and learning at Stevenson High School. She previously served as the director of mathematics. She has also served as chairwoman of the mathematics department at Hinsdale Central High School, taught at Glenbrook South High School, and West Chicago High School. Zimmermann was awarded the 2001 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching for the State of Illinois.
Enrique R. Gallego (M.A. ’97 Political Science)
Gallego recently completed a three-year assignment as the political-military affairs/ counterterrorism officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh. Among his achievements were organizing the first bilateral security dialogue between the United States and Bangladesh and working with Bangladesh's primary counterterrorism unit to reform its procedures to conform with international human rights standards. Gallego recently received the U.S. State Department's Superior Honor Award.
Torrey A. Rinaldo (B.A., '97 Management and Marketing; M.S.A. ’06, Accounting)
In addition to double degrees from NEIU, Rinaldo received a master’s degree from Loyola University of Chicago 2003 and Ph.D. Madison University 2010.
Robert F. Tredray (B.A. ’98 Non-Traditional Degree Program; M.A. ’03 English)
Tredray recently received the President's Volunteer Service Award. A letter from the White House was presented to him at the annual Awards Dinner of the Potawatomi District of the Boy Scouts of America, in recognition of his more than 500 hours of service in 2011. An independent scholar, Tredray presented papers to the International Congress on Medieval Studies in 2009 and the Mythopoeic Society in 2010.
Dean J. Young (M.S., '98 Exercise Science/Cardio Rehabilitation)
Young was recently hired by SPRI, a leading manufacturer and distributor of resistance exercise products for the health and fitness industry, as National Account Manager.
Felix B. Carter (B.A. ’99 Non-Traditional Degree Program; M.A. ’05 Political Science)
Carter earned an M.S. in Education with a concentration in Elementary-Studies from Quincy University (Quincy, Ill.). While studying he held two part-time jobs--one with the Chicago Public Schools as a special education teachers assistant, and with the Transportation Security Officers for Homeland Security. Currently he is pursuing a part-time career position as an academic advisor, career coach or admissions counselor at the middle school, high school or beginning college levels.
Gregory G. Jackson (B.A. ’99 Political Science)
Jackson was recently installed as President of the Chicago Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. He currently works as the principal for PPA International and serves as a member of the NEIU Alumni Advisory Board.
Jose Rico (B.A., '99 University without Walls)
Rico was appointed by President Obama as the director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2011. The Initiative is in charge of expanding academic excellence and improving educational opportunities for Hispanics for President Obama and Secretary Duncan. Rico received the Northeastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus Award at the December 2010 commencement ceremony.
Francine L. Sheppard (B.A., '99 Teacher Education)
Sheppard is an MBA student at Kaplan University and expects to complete her degree in 2013. She earned a master’s degree in educational administration leadership from Grand Canyon University in March 2011, and graduated from Joseph Business School with a certificate of completion in June 2007.
Julio J. Valle (B.A., '99 Mathematics, Secondary Education Certification: Mathematics)
Valle was recognized by the Latino American Who's Who, a New York based publication, for his accomplishments in the field of education. Currently, Valle is principal of Sawgrass Bay Elementary in Sunrise, Fla.
Luke N. Bobek (B.A., '01 Speech)
Bobek is the director of sales for industrial and institutional at Earth Friendly Products, an environmental cleaning products provider. Previously, he was the Midwest sales and marketing manager of Chase Products Company and the regional sales manager of Claire-Sprayway Inc. Bobek recently purchased a home in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Lisa M. Stevenson (M.A., '01 Linguistics)
Stevenson was recently appointed principal of Neil Armstron Elementary in Hoffman Estates, Ill. She will begin in July 2012.
Camille R. Caldwell (B.S. ’02 Biology)
Caldwell is a criminal investigator for the U.S. Airforce and recently married Kenneth Wayne Caldwell, aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Army.
Sean P. Fleming (B.A., '02 Criminal Justice)
Fleming recently announced his engagement to Christina Nerbonne.
Maria Luna-Duarte (B.A. ’02 Sociology)
Luna-Duarte, acting director, El Centro, received the 2012 E. Kika de la Garza Fellowship. This USDA award annually recognizes 27 fellows from Hispanic-Serving Institutions from across the country, based on their efforts within the USDA mission areas, as well as the impact their experiences will have on their institutions' educational abilities.
Paul A. O'Malley (M.A. ’02 Learning Disabilities; M.A. ’04 Educational Leadership)
O’Malley, who currently serves the Niles School District 219 as assistant superintendent of business services, has accepted the position of assistant superintendent of business at Oswego Community School District 308.
Valerie A. Betts (B.A., '03 Board of Governors)
Betts received a National Board Certification in 2011 as an early/middle childhood music mission trip leader and organizer to Kenya and Ghana.
Gregory Bublitz (M.A. ’03 Special Education)
Bublitz was promoted from current special education facilitator to interim director of special events at Park Ridge School District 63.
Carmen I. Lebron (B.A., '03 Speech)
Lebron earned a master’s degree from Benedictine University in 2010.
Louis E. Martinez (B.A., '04 Board of Governors)
Martinez currently works for the Chicago Police Department and is the president of the Illinois Academy of Criminology.
John J. Ross (B.A., '04 Board of Governors)
Ross, a North Dakota State assistant soccer coach, was named head coach at Northern Illinois University. He was previously the director for the North Dakota Youth Soccer Association Olympic Development Program.
Andrea V. Belard (B.S., '05 Business Administration)
Belard graduated from DePaul College of Law in May 2010. She is currently practicing as a licensed attorney in family law in Chicago.
Katie Muhtaris (B.A., '05 Teacher Education)
Muhtaris earned a master's degree in teacher leadership from Roosevelt University and achieved National Board Certification as a middle childhood generalist. She was recently featured in the Comprehension and Collaboration DVD by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels and will be featured in the upcoming new edition of Best Practice by Harvey Daniels, Steve Zemelman, and Art Hyde. She also works as an education consultant for Stephanie Harvey, with schools and districts across the nation to implement balanced literacy, comprehension instruction, and meaningful technology integration. Muhtaris has presented at the International Reading Association Conference, The National Council of Teachers of English, and The Illinois Computing Educators Conference. She also founded a blog called "Inquiry Live in the Classroom" that talks about her teaching career; using inquiry based teaching methods, implementing reading and writing workshop, and meaningful uses of technology as a tool for learning.
Aida L. Perez (B.A., '05 Early Childhood Education)
Perez is currently working for the Head Start Program across the city of Chicago managing the day to day operations, budget, and monitoring compliance. She is involved with Imagine Learning English; a literacy program used in classrooms. She completed a degree in educational leadership and administration from NEIU.
Eric P. Rojas (B.A., '05 Political Science; Board of Governors)
Rojas completed five consecutive years as top 5 percent Realtor in sales for Chicago Association of Realtors. He was recently selected chair of Winnemac Park Neighbors and delegate to 47th Ward Alderman's Ward Council. Most recently, Rojas was appointed by President Hahs to serve on the NEIU Alumni Advisory Board.
Christina Henza (B.S. ’06 Biology)
Henza was featured by the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry as a top 40 medtech professional under 40 for her work interfacing with regulatory authorities for domestic and international companies. She has also written papers in leading journals and lectured at important conferences.
Betty J. Howard (B.A., '06 Board of Governors)
Howard recently retired as a community supervisor at a Senior Volunteer Program of the Jane Addams Hull House Association (JAHHA) in Chicago.
Sofia Huitron (B.A., '06 Bilingual, Bicultural Education)
Huitron works for the Addison School District as a bilingual third grade teacher and recently was granted tenure. She is pursuing a master's degree in educational technology and is expected to graduate in December 2012.
Rodrigo Garcia (B.S., '07 Finance)
Garcia was appointed assistant director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs by Governor Pat Quinn in 2011. Garcia serves as the second-in-command over an agency with 1,300 employees, numerous veteran homes throughout the state including one under design and development, various programs and services divisions, and supports Illinois' 1.3 million veterans.
Laura A. Hoeflich (B.S., '07 Biology)
Hoeflich recently announced her engagement to Robert Kalas.
Daniel T. Kamka (B.A., '07 Mathematics)
Kamka was promoted from a position as a Network Operations Center Support Engineer to an Operations Center Administrator I at Classified Ventures LLC. He graduated with a master’s degree in science from Roosevelt University in 2010.
Diana M. Lanza (B.A., '08 Mathematics)
Lanza earned a master’s degree in information systems from DePaul University.
Jacqueline Cunningham (M.A. ’09 Linguistics)
Cunningham is co-chair of the English language learning and world languages department at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
Alicja Haptas (M.A. ‘09 Linguistics)
Haptas is a reading instructor at Richard J. Daley College and is currently earning a graduate teaching certificate from Roosevelt University.
Corrina J. Nemec (B.A., '09 Elementary Education, Teacher Education)
Nemec received the prestigious ISTA New Teacher of the Year Award for 2010-2011 for outstanding achievements in science education. She is currently the eighth grade science teacher at Monroe Elementary School (CPS), and also the science department chair. She participated in the MSI 2010-11 workshops for teachers, and is fruitfully organizing and tending the school garden. Nemec is planning an after-school science club, and is the school's science fair coordinator.
Winifred O. Whelan (M.A. ’09 Linguistics)
Whelan translated Mary García's “The Sufferings, Assassinations, and Martyrdom of the Missionary Church in Olancho Honduras (1963-1982): The History of a Church that Lived Its Commitment to the Poor,” which was published by Mellen Press in 2011, from the original Spanish into English.
Milton C. Zhinin (B.S. ’09 Accounting)
Zhinin earned an MBA from the Liautaud Graduate School of Business at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has accepted a position in the audit enterprise and risk services division at the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. Zhinin plans on being a licensed CPA by February 2013.
Tiffany M. Doan (B.A., '10 Psychology)
Doan is currently pursuing her master’s program at the University of Limerick, Ireland studying applied social research.
Jose Fulgencio (B.A. ’10 Political Science)
Fulgencio recently earned an M.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University and will pursue an M.S. in Entrepreneurship this fall at Oklahoma State. He will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, this summer to work as a consultant with Oklahoma State’s School of Entrepreneurship to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs with their businesses.
Ronald I. Hale (M.A. ’10 Political Science)
Hale recently married Elizabeth Moody in a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio.
Steven V. Jerome (B.A., '10 Mathematics)
Jerome recently started a Ph.D. program at Columbia University in theoretical biophysics and chemistry. He was also awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship which led him to presenting research at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Joanna P. Kowal (B.S., '10 Biology)
Kowal is a certified pharmacy technician at Walgreens. She is completing her master's degree at Saint Joseph's College.
Linda L. Stovall-Suazo (M.A., '10 Inner City Studies)
Stovall-Suazo is an MIT special education high school teacher. She recently received a LBS1 certification and is currently working on an ESL certification. This upcoming summer she will begin a Ph.D program at Capella University.
Silvana K. Torres (M.A. ’10 Linguistics)
Torres presented a paper entitled "Reanalysis of the Mandan Verbal Suffix Complex through the Complementizer Phrase" at the Linguistic Society of America and the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Annual Conference in Portland, Ore., in January.
(B.A., '10 Social Work)
Vazquez earned a master’s degree in social work from UIC in
2011. She currently works as a Behavior Health Clinician
for high intensive adolescent services at Resurrection
Health Care in Chicago, Ill.
Angel L. Velez
(B.A., '10 Justice Studies)
Velez received an ENLACE Leadership Institute Fellowship
and is currently working as a Graduate Assistant with
Proyecto Pa'Lante at NEIU.
Elizabeth Y. Webb (M.A. ’10 Linguistics)
Webb is working as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instructor in Izmir, Turkey.
George Wilmes (M.A. ’10 Linguistics)
Wilmes presented a paper entitled "Interrogative content words in Mandan and other Siouan languages" at the Linguistic Society of America and the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Annual Conference in Portland, Ore., in January. He also presented a paper entitled "Past applications of optimality theory to Siouan language data and phenomena: A review of the literature" at the Siouan and Caddoan Languages Conference in Lawrence, Kan. in June.
Galini Gkartzonika (M.A. ’12 Linguistics)
Gkartzonika is currently teaching Greek as a Second Language at the ATHENA Hellenic School in Morton Grove, Ill.