Class Notes


Allan Hedberg, M.A.’63, published “Jonathan Edwards: A Life Well Lived.” Edwards made significant contributions in the fields of theology, philosophy, environmental studies, Native American affairs and church life. The book also offers insights into daily life in 18th-century America.


John Prochaska III, M.B.A.’70, was honored as the grand marshal of the 2016 Park Ridge Memorial Day parade for his 40 years of service as parade chairman.


John R. Almond, M.S.Ed. ’75, and Anita J. Schlinkert Almond celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 31. The couple was married Dec. 31, 1966, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in DeKalb. They raised two sons and are now both retired, John from a teaching career and Anita from a computer consulting career.

James B. Planey received the William J. Lee Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016. Jim became a founding partner of Lee & Associates of Illinois in 2002 and has been an industrial real estate broker since 1973.


Shirley Slade Forpe, M.A.’75, and Anne Spangler Hollenbeck, co-founders of ArtHelpsHeal, bring backpacks filled with quality art supplies and lessons to teens in hospitals for extended periods.


Joseph R. Fortunato Jr. wrote a real estate law publication, “Getting Started as a Real Estate Attorney,” for the American Bar Association.

Clifford Lill and his wife, Susan, celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Oct. 3, 2016.


Colette Yeiser Boyd, M.S.Ed. ’74, was elected to the Oliver Wolcott Library Board of Trustees in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Michele Fricke, ’M.A.’76, M.F.A.’84, esteemed professor and program Head of Art History at the Kansas City Art Institute has been appointed the first Ray Beagle Chair in Art History.


Larry Faulkner, M.S.Ed.’79, boys’ tennis coach at Glenbrook South, has been named National High School Boys Tennis Coach of the Year.


John Manderino published two books in 2016: a collection of short stories, “But You Scared Me the Most” (June 2016, Chicago Review Press), and a novel, “The True Meaning of Myrrh,” (October 2016, Ice Cube Press).

Jack Patronski

Jack Patronski, executive vice president of industry development at GES, a global full-service provider of live events, was inducted into the Convention Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders. Patronski is the immediate past president of the NIU Alumni Association Board of Directors.


Ken Hirschbein and Ann Gulke Hirschbein, ’80, M.S.Ed. ’99, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Oct. 8, 2016.

Howard A. Jaffe was named chairman of the American Bankers Association Community Bakers Council for the 2016-17 association year. Jaffe is president and COO of Inland Bancorp, Inc.


The basketball court at Southeast High School in Bradenton, Florida, was named John Harder Court to honor John R. Harder, M.S.Ed., for 35 years of service, 765 wins, three state championships and 21 district championships.

Jan S. Hertzberg, M.A. ’77, M.S. ’82, was named director of BKD’s IT Risk Services Division. Before joining BKD, Hertzberg led the cybersecurity and privacy practice for an international public accounting firm.

Laurie Sauer was recently promoted to tax director with the firm of Sikich LLP.


David Bedran has been named chairman of the board of directors of Salem Trust Company.

Gary Lindner, M.A.’79, M.S.’82, authored the third book in his detective Nick Verriet series, “Bitter Honey,” under his pen name, Nicolas D. Charles.


William J. Sullivan has authored his second book, “Long Before the Miracle: The Making of the New York Mets.”


Donald Doody

Donald J. Doody, J.D., was named Municipal Attorney of the Year as he received the Paul S. Buchman Award from the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association.

Ira N. Helfgot was sworn in as President of the Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

Robert A. Santucci, J.D., has been appointed as a library trustee by the Westhampton Free Library Board of Trustees to serve a four year term in the Westhampton Beach School District in New York.


George B. Huff Jr., J.D., was selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology as the disaster resilience fellow for business continuity.

Jean Lydon was promoted to chief nursing officer at Elmhurst Hospital. Previously, she was the associate vice president of clinical operations.

Steven H. Mevorah, J.D., a founding partner of Mevorah Law Offices LLC, was named an Elite Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine. He specializes in family law, personal injury and criminal law. In 2015, Mevorah was named a Super Lawyer by the same magazine and was placed in the top 1 percent of U.S. attorneys by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.


Jan Half

Jan S. Half, M.S.Ed., of San Mateo, Calif., received the 2016 Silicon Valley Women of Influence Award, honoring women in leadership roles who have influenced their industries as well as their communities. Half recently retired from a career that included working as a middle-school teacher, selling technology products and services, acting as a regional technology director for the California Department of Education, and directing a student technology nonprofit.


Michael P. Hogan, executive vice president of strategic business and brand development at GameStop Corporation, has joined the board of directors at ArcBest Corporation, a logistics and transportation corporation whose companies include ABF Freight, Panther Premium Logistics and U-Pack.


Paolo Colombo, M.A., art adviser at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, will co-curate an exhibition, “Archaic,” presented by The Ruya Foundation and held at the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 57th Venice Biennale in May 2017.


Crystal Broj has been appointed chief technology and innovation officer for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.


Tricia Stitzel

Tricia Mayfield Stitzel, group president of the Americas for Tupperware Brands, was elected to the Heart of Florida United Way Board of Directors. Her professional portfolio includes leadership roles for such brands as Tupperware, Fuller Cosmetics and Nuvo in more than a dozen countries worldwide.


Dante Leon, M.B.A., has joined Daytona State College as Associate Vice President for Business, Engineering & Technology.


Vincent Cornelius, J.D., president of the Illinois State Bar Association, was featured in the September edition of Chicago Lawyer magazine.

Kevin Folta with Judy Santacaterina of NIU Forensics

Kevin Folta, M.S. ’92, was honored with the prestigious Borlaug CAST Communication Award by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Folta is the chair of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He has been an outstanding advocate of the NIU Forensics program and was named a distinguished alumnus by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Michael A. McPherson, M.B.A., was appointed chief development officer and an executive officer with Oil-Dri, a supplier of specialty sorbent products. Prior to his new role, McPherson was vice president of business-to-business marketing and business development with the company.


Marivonne Rodriguez, M.S., has been certified as a registrant of the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists. It certifies professional microbiologists in food, pharmaceutical and medical devices.


Betty Trummel

Betty Trummel, M.S.Ed., is one of 78 women worldwide selected to participate in a Homeward Bound expedition, an elite science leadership expedition to Antarctica.


Kathy Eichlin, M.A., was recognized by Continental Who’s Who as a Pinnacle Professional in the field of agriculture. Eichlin is head of internal communications with Syngenta North America.

Carolyn McGuire Schroeder, J.D., was named an associate at the law firm of Waltz, Palmer & Dawson LLC. Schroeder practices under the name Carolyn McGuire in the areas of employment law, litigation and business law.

Jim Wong, CEO of Brilliant, presented two NIU accountancy students with $2,000 Brilliant Financial Search scholarships. Wong said he received a scholarship from the NIU accountancy program 25 years ago, and is happy to pay it forward to a new generation of students.


John D. Fitzpatrick, has authored a novel, “The Letter”, an adventure that starts out in first gear and then immediately shifts into fifth.

Kitty Kautzer, M.S.Ed., Ed.D.’99, has been appointed provost of academic affairs for Herzing University, an accredited private nonprofit institution. She will provide strategic leadership of all educational affairs.


Sara Christiansen Knigge has co-authored a Spanish reading workbook for bilingual and dual language classrooms through her company, READ en Espanol, Inc. She offers consulting to school districts with large Spanish-speaking populations.


Paul Czarapata

Paul B. Czarapata was named one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 Technology Leaders for 2017. Czarapata is the vice president of Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Keith A. Johnson, J.D., was appointed an associate judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois.

Tom Nevell was appointed executive vice president of business development at Differential Brands Group Inc. Previously, he was brand manager of men’s clothing and furnishings for Nordstrom.

Kevin J. Nohelty, M.S.Ed., is the new chief school business official at District 148 in Illinois. He came to the district with 24 years of administrative experience, including four years as assistant superintendent of business operations and human relations in Harvey Elementary School District 152.

Karlene Olesuk started a tax preparation service, Olesuk Tax Services, in McHenry, Ill. Prior to launching her own business, Olesuk worked for her father’s financial services and tax preparation business.


Mouneer Ahmad was named senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s cash services, facilities, and law enforcement areas. He will also become a member of the bank’s executive leadership team. Previously Ahmad was a senior manager in the finance strategy and operations practice of Deloitte Consulting.

Dan Verdun, M.S.Ed., and Barry Bottino created a Chicago Now blog, Prairie State Pigskin, to share news on Division I college football programs in Illinois.


Robin Zandri, J.D., has been recognized by the Leading Lawyers Network for her professional excellence and customer service. She has earned the title of Leading Lawyer.


Gregory Madden joined the procurement law division at the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a contracts attorney.


Steven Simon was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He serves in the Illinois Air National Guard.


Niccole Ranz, M.S. is the founder and president of In Home Medical Group, a medical services provider based in Rockford, Illinois.


Jonathan Grice

Jonathan Grice, fine arts director at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, was named the 2016 Art Administrator of the Year by the Illinois Art Education Association.

Jennifer Grady-Paswater, J.D., was named policy advisor for public safety in the office of the Illinois governor. She is also the chief labor and employment counsel for public safety for the Labor and Employment Advisory Division of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.


Michael Babb, M.B.A., has been named Vice President of Information Technology at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio.


88 East Beverage Co., a company launched by Jeff Shelton and Philip Horvath, ’06, entered into an agreement with NIU to make the company’s canned cocktails, the Gingerhead Moscow Mule, available for purchase at Huskies home football and basketball games.


alumni awards

Karoline Carstens

Karoline B. Carstens, J.D., was named one of “40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch” by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


Rich Stachon, was named the IAEA Middle School/Junior High Art Educator of the Year. He is the Metea Valley High School Art Teacher in Aurora, Illinois.


Linda E. Alberty, M.A.’11, has been selected as an honoree for The Daily Herald Business Ledger 2016 Influential Women in Business Award.  She is president of Cultivate Excellence Consulting.

Erica Mynarich, J.D., received the Lon O. Hocker Award from the Missouri Bar Foundation.


Lindsay Hatzis

Lindsay Hatzis, J.D., received the Best Under 40 Award from the Kane County Chronicle in recognition of outstanding leadership and professional accomplishment.

Michael Lepper, within six years has become partner at Impact Networking, LLC, in Lake Forest, Illinois.


Andrew Miller opened a new seafood restaurant and oyster bar, Third Coast Provisions, in Milwaukee.


Frank Chappell, M.A., published a book of poetry, “Wild Soil.” The book is a collection of free verse poetry about an individual’s navigation through faith, religion, and finding seeds of purpose amid nihilism.


Karla M. Altmayer, J.D., co-founded Healing to Action, an organization that creates events and spaces for workers to discuss and recover from gender-based violence and trains workers on how to talk to media and public officials.

Brian Schwerdtfeger was recently promoted to litigation manager in Sikich LLC’s Business Valuation and Dispute Advisory practices.


Peter M. Koelling, Ph.D., is the editor of and a contributing author to the eighth edition of “The Improvement of the Administration of Justice,” recently published by the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association.

Melinda Tejada

Melinda Tejada, Ed.D., was honored in Business Ledger’s 19th annual Influential Women in Business awards program. The awards recognize women who excel in business, civic and personal arenas in suburban Chicago. Tejada is the vice president of student development at Waubonsee Community College.


Amanda Insalaco received the 2016 Chicago Bar Foundation Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Public Interest Law Scholarship. Insalaco, a law student at DePaul University, graduated summa cum laude from NIU with a degree in community leadership and civic engagement.

Matthew C. Pirkle has been promoted to exercise specialist for ATI Physical Therapy.

Roman Ricker, J.D., was named partner at Hall, Partenheimer, and Kingkle in Princeton, Indiana.


Irakere Picon

Irakere Picon, J.D., was a featured speaker at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s public interest law symposium “(Un)Documented: Human Impact of Our Immigration Policies and Advocacy Struggles.”


Alexandra Futty, M.S.Ed., has been appointed a teacher of the visually impaired and orientation mobility specialist at the Vermont Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Kellie Hames, M.F.A., was appointed a print media technician at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ryan Stodden, J.D., has joined law firm Plager, Krug, Bauer & Rudolph Ltd.


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