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Alumni in Action in 2013

National Louis University • Winter 2013

Contents table of contents

message from the president

First Word: Carlos Azcoitia ’75............... 3 Alumni Spotlights................ 4 30 over 30: CAS Alumni...................... 6–7 30 over 30: CMB Alumni..................... 8–9 30 over 30: NCE Alumni................. 10–11 Alumni Relations • 312.261.3159

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Staff John Bergholz, Vice President of Institutional Advancement Matt Douponce, Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Tom Foley, Director of Development Karen Galea, Director of Public and Private Funding & Florida Regional Development Officer Jason Givan, Director of Advancement Operations Danielle LaPointe, Associate Director of Advancement Services Mark Loper, Research & Prospect Analyst Kimberly Michaelson, Director of Alumni Relations

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the second edition of our newly revamped NLU Alumni Magazine — a publication designed specifically with you, our valued alumni and friends, in mind. The magazine is just one component of National Louis’ goal of strengthening the bond with our alumni and showcasing the achievements of this integral part of our University community. It is our intention to bring you stories that are informative, inspirational, celebratory, entertaining and maybe even enlightening — all in an effort to deepen your connection to this great institution. As a reminder, you can access this magazine as well as previous issues on the web at In this issue, themed “30 over 30,” we proudly salute our alumni and their accomplishments. These 30 individuals are just a sampling of the 65,000+ living alumni who go above and beyond every day positively impacting their communities, their work and themselves. From our doorstep in suburban Chicago (Evelyn Chenier, Waukegan’s Family First Center, p.4) to the limits of our solar system (Felipe Romo, NASA Contractor, p.9), the countless lives NLU graduates touch is pervasive and invaluable. Our institution’s founder, Elizabeth Harrison, would have fit right in with this group of go-getters. She was just 37 when she founded a training school for kindergarten teachers in Chicago, a predecessor to the National College of Education and National Louis University. During her career as College president, she authored some 20 books on childhood and education and helped pave the way for the establishment of the National Parent Teachers Association (PTA) by organizing a series of annual conferences in Chicago. Elizabeth Harrison’s influence reached beyond those immediately around her and continues to touch lives to this day. We hope after reading these profiles about your fellow alums that it prompts you to drop us a note about your accomplishments and endeavors since graduation. We would love to hear from you. Best wishes,

Sean Riesenbeck, Annual Fund Manager Robert Schroeder, Alumni Outreach & Communications Specialist Kaitlin Weiss, Administrative Assistant

Nivine Megahed, Ph.D.

the first word Toward Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood by Carlos Azcoitia ‘75

Editor’s note: On Nov. 18, 2012, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed alumnus Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D., Distinguished Professor of Practice in the National College of Education, to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education.

Carlos Azcoitia

The driving force behind urban education is a simple premise: education does not occur in isolation from the rest of a student’s life.

At NLU, we pride ourselves on opportunity for the underserved, an innovative approach to preparing teachers and top-notch curriculum, values that mold teachers who are active members of their communities, not just their schools. These values must also be implemented within Chicago Public Schools, a diverse school district with overwhelming minority and immigrant populations, in order to provide quality school options in every neighborhood in the city. It cannot occur unless we implement consistent accountability standards applicable to every school option available. This approach toward educational and fiscal accountability standards for all schools needs to be supported by a “community school model” where the integration of school, families and communities become interdependent for student success. Chicago Public Schools cannot escape interdependence with outside factors that influence whether students learn.

school to offer health fairs, conferences and services to families. Parents working as literacy leaders can teach other parents and community residents. Family support can be provided through counseling sessions and initiatives on financial education, neighborhood improvement, immigration rights and community safety. In seeking out community opportunities, we cannot ignore the growing richness of diversity in our city. Immigration and community-focused schools reflect and strengthen the core values of democracy in America. Both are just and wise investments. The immigrant population in its great majority is grounded on the value of hard work, family and faith commitments and the adaptation to America by learning English, all traits that can be tapped by schools for support. It is estimated that immigrant youth will make up one-third of young Americans in 2040. We need to focus on their educational and economic success for the well-being of our country. Therefore, the Dream Act, as it has been proposed in Congress, needs to be addressed. Community schools are a successful approach for addressing the needs of immigrant families. Students should advocate for issues they regard as vital and become involved in dialogue on these issues. Whenever students are involved with applying ideals such as fairness, equity and justice to their world, their engagement is powerful. Therefore, service learning opportunities enrich the curriculum and provide leadership development as students address community needs.

As Elizabeth Harrison, The meaningful extension of the school day founder of NLU, said, is all about strengthening schools’ external “CPS cannot escape “One of the chief relations. Extended learning opportunities interdependence with joys of life has been must provide a variety of academic, social to watch the sweep and recreational activities to accommodate outside factors that forward from the different learning needs and styles, meaning influence whether idea of education as there must be a seamless connection a formal acquisition between what classroom teachers do during students learn.” of material facts and traditional school hours and what happens philosophic theories after school. Family and community to the more vital work of creative activity and the engagement can be fostered through high school equivalency, English as a second language and literacy significance of community responsibility.” classes that reflect the needs of the community. A partnership with a health agency would allow a 


alumni spotlight spotlight Building Community, One Family at a Time CAS alumna heads Waukegan Family First Center by Robert Schroeder

Evelyn Chenier

The city of Waukegan, along the shores of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, has seen its share of violent crime. But the 2002 gang-ordered execution-style murders of 16-year-olds David Mackins and Jarreau Patterson, found stuffed in a car trunk in Zion, IL, threatened to turn Waukegan’s smoldering gang conflicts into a full-scale war.

The community at large, however, had seen enough. John Caples, pastor of Jesus Name Apostolic Church, reached out to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), then a Representative in the 10th Congressional District, and the two partnered to launch the Family First Center, with a mission to strengthen community by placing emphasis on rebuilding the family, repairing division and developing strategies to empower change. From day one, the center has been managed by 54-yearold NLU alumna Evelyn Chenier, Ph.D. in Community Psychology ‘03.

have rules and regulations, we don’t quit until we find an answer, and we service with a heart.” The center focuses on converting entire lifestyles; for younger clients, the goal is to remove them from the streets, steer them towards a GED, enrolling in college or job training, and eventually obtaining a job. The Smarties program, working with children ages 8-13, provides after-school enrichment in critical thinking, arts and crafts, drama, math and reading. For the many adult clients, the focus is often on personal health. The center offers a free gym and a community health workers program targeting individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. The center also provides rental, utility and food assistance, not as handouts but as tools to push individuals and families towards the path of self-empowerment.

“[Our clients] feel like we are family, and they call us the caretakers of Lake County.”

“[Our clients] feel like we are family, and they call us the caretakers of Lake County,” Evelyn said. “Although we

“We have a young man right now who is destined to become a gang member if he is not caught up and turned around,” Evelyn said of a 13-year-old client who carries a gun and has had several close scrapes with the law. “We have given him a mentor, and we believe this young man is on the right track to turn his life around.”

Opening the Door to Home Ownership Alumnus leads Century 21 through tough financial times by Robert Schroeder Rick Davidson is a man in high places — literally. As the president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, Rick commands the largest real estate company in the world. And as an avid high-altitude alpine mountaineer, the Bachelor of Science in Management graduate could be found last December scaling the 18,491-foot peak of Pico de Orizaba, the tallest mountain in Mexico, as part of a charity climb to support Century 21’s philanthropic partner Easter Seals. Rick, 52, is also one who understands low places, leading Century 21 through one of the Rick Davidson worst real estate recessions ever.


alumni association “Nothing worth doing is ever easy, so having had the opportunity to lead the world’s largest real estate company through one of the toughest downturns in housing has been an incredible experience,” Rick said. As CEO, Rick manages a company with a presence in 73 countries and territories, with more than 7,000 offices and 100,000 sales professionals worldwide. His goal for 2013 is to connect with consumers ages 25-34 by focusing on how technology can play a greater role in the real estate business. Century 21 is venturing into online social gaming by advertising on SIM Social via Facebook as an attempt to strengthen connections with that demographic. Century 21’s second major campaign in 2013 took place in early February at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, with the company sponsoring the onehour pregame show leading into kickoff as well as local “Hometown Hero” commercial spots during pregame coverage. Connecting with community is a major focus for Rick, both as CEO and in his personal life. Century 21 has raised more than $104 million for Easter Seals, and Rick also volunteers with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. “When you spend quality time with [kids], you show them that the commitment of time can also be the best thing you can give,” Rick said.

“Nothing is more incredible than handing over the keys of a brand new house to a first-time homebuyer.” Rick also sees his work as connecting with community on a larger scale, facilitating a fulfillment of the quintessentially American dream of home ownership. “There is nothing more incredible than handing over the keys of a brand new house to a first-time homebuyer and watching them take their families in,” Rick said. 

Greetings Alumni and Friends! I hope you enjoy this issue honoring NLU’s dedication to adult learners. Did you know that the average age of our nearly 9,000 students is 35? You are just one of the 65,000 alumni whose accomplishments continually impress us. While the alumni we profiled in this issue are engaged in work that is often very public, we have so many alumni who are giving back behind the scenes in equally meaningful ways. For example, Ursula Pawlowski, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development ’09, staffed the Alumni Association table as a volunteer last year at graduation events for the Class of 2012. She spoke with graduates about her own story, earning her first degree in her 30s and leveraging CMB faculty connections to obtain her current position at the American Hospital Association. Now, Ursula and I are collaborating on a special program to help connect NLU students to job opportunities offered by alumni around the Chicagoland area. We’re also working with the Class of 1993 on the first-ever 20-year reunion which will be a party welcoming this year’s graduates to the Alumni Association and a mentor program. There’s a 50-year reunion, two events in Florida, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author coming to campus. Learn more about these events by visiting All the best,

Kimberly Michaelson Director of Alumni Relations •


institutional advancement

One story that generated a lot of interest in our first issue was the cover story on our new Education to Employment Veterans Initiative. I am proud to say that working on the Veterans Initiative has been one of the best experiences I have had in my career. Recently our volunteer Veterans Advisory Council met with NLU’s Stephen Curda, Ph.D., and others to create a national model for higher education’s approach to veterans education. Please look to this space and this magazine to keep you up to date as we make progress on this Veterans Initiative.

John Bergholz Vice President of Institutional Advancement 5

On the Frontlines of Homeland Security

CAS alumnus on the cutting edge of security and disaster preparedness

college of arts and sciences

by Mark Donahue Bob Tuohy (Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science ‘93), deputy director of the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSSAI), has had a front-row seat for the evolution of the nation’s domestic security effort.

The HSSAI is a research institute operated by Analytic Services Inc. (a not-for-profit public service corporation) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The HSSAI conducts studies that address some of DHS’s most difficult problems to help the department function better. Previously, Bob spent nearly 30 years working for the Department of Defense and was a senior technology executive there before jumping into the private sector as one of the first advisors to DHS. Bob Tuohy

Bob, 59, acknowledged that while private defense contractors once played a larger part in helping DHS get its arms around its mission when it was formed in 2002, the department is relying less on contractors today. He said that DHS currently has an initiative to move work from contractors back inhouse. He added that as a federally-funded research and development center, the HSSAI has a special contractor designation, and he expects it will have a long-term role in filling the gap between work done by DHS employees and by commercial firms. In the immediate future, Bob echoed what many in and around the federal government are saying in the wake of the “fiscal cliff” crisis: 2013 will be defined by budget concerns. As DHS’s studies and analysis institute, he said, HSSAI is in a position to give the department the analytical underpinnings to make tough budget and investment decisions. “It is easy to make investment decisions when the budget is flush,” he said. “It takes careful consideration to make smart decisions when money is tight.”

Ceasing the Circle from Cell to Street Alumnus counsels troubled youth in Atlanta by Kaitlin Weiss According to the Department of Justice, juveniles incarcerated in state delinquent centers face a 55-percent chance of rearrest, and one in three will be reincarcerated. NLU alumnus Ron Brashear, Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Sciences ’01, is looking to reverse those statistics.

Ron, 50, who struggled himself as a young person, now spends his life working with his Personal YouTurn program. This curriculum allows Ron to share his story and bring real-life examples of how students can create their own course in life.

The Youth of Honor Foundation (YOH), founded by Ron in 2006, is focusing on juvenile recidivism in Atlanta, looking to make a long-term, constructive impact on young adults exiting the juvenile justice system.

The mission of the foundation is clear in the Be A Giant and Get YOH Jump on Life 10 Step programs. The programs provide youth with collaborative learning atmospheres where young people hold themselves accountable for their success.

“These young people are capable of becoming giants in life,” Ron said. “There was a time when you heard the word ‘at risk’ and it only applied to a certain pocket of youth. Given what the youth of today are exposed to, far beyond what we were exposed to when we were growing up, practically all of today’s kids are at-risk.”

For Ron, his troubled past has only guided him to where he stands today — as founder and president of Youth of Honor, motivational speaker, philanthropist, author, and inspiration to struggling youth everywhere.

Ron Brashear

“What I hope to be is a beacon of hope and share with youth my troubled past. I want to share with them how I was able to turn my life around and I hope that they will do the same thing,” Ron said.

Julie Zaura ’08 Program Manager, American Hospital Association

Michael Clatch ’00 Founder, Courage to Connect Therapeutic Center Age 36 • M.A. Psychology

Age 34 • M.A. Psychology

Julie Zaura is working on the Partnership for Patients campaign at the American Hospital Association Health Research and Education Trust. Seeking to reduce inpatient harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent by the end of 2013, Julie commented, “I am proud to be working in an area that aims to improve health care, not just for myself and my family but for all Americans.”

Michael Clatch, Ph.D., runs a private practice in Glenview, IL providing a strength-based therapy approach for a range of mental health and developmental issues. In 2013 he will introduce three new therapeutic groups, including ADHD, Asperger’s and grief and loss. “Seeing clients walk out the door with smiles when they came in upset or down is the best perk I get,” Michael said.

Geraldine Palmer ’12 Executive Director, North Side Housing & Support Services

Age 58 • Ph.D. Community Psychology

Geraldine Palmer leads an organization dedicated to providing permanent housing and support services for the homeless. The organization is expanding veterans services and launching a program to bridge the gap between homeless or formerly homeless fathers and their children. Geraldine is a nominee for a fellowship to enroll in Harvard’s non-profit leadership courses at no cost. “I totally enjoy being in a position that allows me to develop and build programs designed to empower rather than enable the participants,” she said. Susan Neustrom ’04 Executive Director, JUST of DuPage

Age 62 • B.S. Management

Susan Neustrom leads an organization dedicated to empowering inmates at the DuPage County Jail outside of Chicago, IL to make a positive re-entry into their community. In 2013, JUST is developing a 60-day education track for inmates to address anger issues, substance abuse and social skills. “Incarceration is a symptom of much larger societal problems, but I am convinced that change does happen,” Susan said.

Barbara Oilschlager ’86 Illinois Community College Leader

Age 64 • B.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences

Barbara Oilschlager has been a voting member on the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) board of representatives for 15 years. This year’s challenges include funding and pension obligations. “When I hand students their diploma as they walk across the stage on graduation day, it brings great joy to them, their families and those of us who have played a small part in their success,” Barbara said. Don Akery ’98 Vice President at Arrow Electronics

Age 53 • B.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences

Don Akery is a vice president with Arrow Electronics, in Englewood, CO which provides design assistance and services to more than 120,000 global customers. Don leads the marketing for a group of electronic component products. In 2013, he plans to focus on expansion to the growing mobility/portable power market adding “We are involved with new technologies, new materials, new ideas and new electronics that will make life not only different but better in the future.”

Wytress Richardson ’99 • Founder, Girls of Grace

Age 45 • B.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences

Wytress Richardson, Ph.D., associate professor in CAS, leads Girls of Grace, where volunteers are dedicated to holistically improving the lives of at-risk girls and young women through peer mentoring, etiquette lessons and leadership development. “I realize that my life is of service and requires me to give away all that I have,” Wytress said. ”I am always extremely encouraged when I can assist and support individuals to think outside the box.” 


college of management and business

Charting a Diplomatic Course

Former Grenadine ambassador exports management skills to developing nations by Robert Schroeder

Denis Antione

When Hurricane Ivan slammed into the island nation of Grenada in 2004, NLU alumnus Denis Antoine was far removed from the violent winds that lashed the beach shores of the Caribbean country. But as calm settled over the besieged lands, Denis found himself in the eye of the recovery efforts.

With all communications to the islands wiped out, the British Royal Navy reached out to Denis, in the U.S. as the Grenadine Ambassador to the United States from 1995-2009, for permission to dock in the foreign waters on an aid mission. “That was a very telling moment in my career,” Denis said. “When the families of loved ones are calling on you and you aren’t sure what to say because you can’t reach the point of access in your country…you have such a critical role to play.”

Today, Denis (B.S. Management ’92), 64, is channeling his diplomatic background as the chair ex officio of the Young Americans Business Trust (YABT), as well as the Ambassador at Large and director of International Programs and Exchange at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). At UDC, he directs the Global Affairs Institute, which brings in foreign ministers and officials for training in management and human resources allocation. As a member of the YABT board, Denis is leading an effort to push youth entrepreneurship in developing nations in the Americas through business labs, seminars and workshops. “There has to be a critical focus on the impact not only of social media but the use of technology in business,” Denis said. “We need to declare for young people to be on the front line, since they are more attuned to the use of technology.”

Alumnus Leads Venerable Steel Corporation Senior VP runs global operations services for U.S. Steel by Mark Donahue To say George Babcoke (Master of Science in Management ‘94) is busy is an understatement. As senior vice president, Europe and global operations services, with United States Steel Corporation, he oversees a diverse swath of functions for the multi-national steel George Babcoke producer. He has executive responsibility for its operations in Slovakia and global oversight of safety, marketing, research and development, engineering, procurement, raw materials, materials management, real estate development and process excellence functions. George said the steel industry, like most manufacturing industries, was hit hard by the recent recession, and U.S. Steel has been recovering with some of its target markets either ahead of (automotive) or behind the curve (housing). He is

heartened that housing starts and non-residential construction have shown recent signs of life. While maintaining its footing, George believes U.S. Steel is well positioned in 2013 to make big gains. Its tubular business, which primarily services the energy industry, could tap into a growing market around shale recovery of oil and gas — which may have a side benefit of driving down domestic fuel prices leading to a resurgence of stateside manufacturing. George said he finds the wide scope of his position refreshing, with significant developments coming along nearly every day. But if there’s one thing he truly cherishes in his nearly 37 years at U.S. Steel, it’s those he has shared the journey with. “I enjoy the people I work with, the people I’ve gotten to know over the years,” he said. “That’s one of things that keeps it interesting for me these days; I get to work with a lot of great, smart people, and I get to play a role in developing future leaders in the company.”

Felipe Romo ‘06 NASA Contractor

Age 34 • Master of Business Administration

Felipe Romo is a contractor supporting the launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope successor when it launches in 2018. Felipe says his job “creates multiple jobs not only around my workplace but throughout the nation.” Felipe’s goal for 2013 is to become familiar with the Earned Value Management System as he and the NASA team push towards the 2018 launch goal. Gary Birkland ’00 President of Craig Wireless Systems, Ltd. Age 58 • B.S. Management

Gary Birkland is the president of Craig Wireless, a company that offers Internet access, hosting, security and telecommunications services to locations internationally. Previously, Gary spent more than 35 years at Motorola and was a vice president at Craig Wireless. “The key to my work is to be creative, aware of the market, keep an open mind, flexibility and be able to execute efficiently,” Gary said.

Kayne Grau ’09 Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Age 39 • B.S. Management

Kayne Grau manages the websites of, examining how the customer experience evolves as consumers use mobile devices to shop for apartments and cars. “To a degree, technology bores me…I’m not excited by the shiny object,” Kayne said. “I’m way more passionate about pulling together really good teams and being able to overcome very complex business challenges.”

Jim Croft ‘83 Executive Vice President and CFO at the Field Museum

Age 65 • M.S. Management and M.S. HRMD

Having joined The Field Museum in 1984, Jim Croft, Ph.D., has taken responsibility for finance, protection services and facilities planning and operations. Jim’s skills also cover budgeting, accounting, grants administration, investments and debt compliance. Jim is an active member of the Chicagoland community and has taught courses at many local universities. Kevin Scanlan ‘84 President & CEO of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council Age 63 • M.S. HRMD

Kevin Scanlan leads a regional organization that provides high quality, accessible health care to the 90 metropolitan hospitals it serves. “Whenever the phone rings, I never know what challenge or opportunity is going to be on the other side,” Kevin said. His recent successes included launching the Land of Lincoln Health Co-op and the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy. Robert Lammie ’92 VP of Sales North America and Export for Ampacet Corp. Age 67 • B.A. Management

Bob Lammie knows plastics. Having spent more than 43 years in the plastics business with experience in sales, marketing and management, Bob has kept himself busy with his work nationally and internationally. In 2013, Bob plans to open a consulting firm on international business and stay active with the Plastics Pioneers Association and service organizations in the area. “I always proudly put my fellow man or woman before me,” Bob said.

Diana Sorfleet ‘89 • VP and Chief HR and Diversity Officer at CSX Corporation Age 49 • M.S. HRMD

Leading human resources allows for Diana Sorfleet to retain impressive and diverse talent for CSX Corporation. “At CSX, we believe that our responsibility is not just simply connecting people, products and places,” Diana said. “Our employees strive to make life safer, greener, healthier and more rewarding for the cities, towns and neighborhoods throughout our 21,000 miles of track.” 


Son’s Struggles Ignite Father’s Passion

National college of Education

NCE alumnus leads national epilepsy advocacy organization by Robert Schroeder

Philip Gattone

In 1991, Philip Gattone’s life hit a crossroads when his 4-yearold son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Gattone and his wife, Jill, enjoying successful business careers, decided to exit the corporate world and devote their working lives to securing resources and opportunities for Americans with epilepsy.

Today, Philip (M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction ’00), 49, is the CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of America (EFA), a national volunteer agency dedicated to promoting the welfare of the nearly 3 million Americans with epilepsy and their families. As CEO, he is leading the merger of two of the nation’s major epilepsy awareness organizations, as EFA merges with the Epilepsy Therapy Project. “When our son began having seizures and [my wife and I] started going down this road trying to find

care for him, we both recognized how precious life is, how short life is, and we decided we wanted to spend our lives really doing something that mattered,” Philip said. EFA focuses on education efforts to reduce the sense of stigma that surrounds epilepsy, runs a “Managing Seizures in the Classroom” program and works to ease access to employment for adults with epilepsy. Crucially, the organization funds medical procedures that lessen or eliminate the risk of seizures for some people with epilepsy. EFA is also working with partner organizations to bring new therapies to the forefont and in 2013 will be part of the roll-out of three new therapies. “When you see a young man who is seizure-free and has been for quite some time, able to move on with his life as a direct result of finding good care and aligning with a program and a foundation, that’s probably the most fun part of my job, seeing how when life is tough and this foundation intervenes, life can be better,” Philip said.

Teaching the Joy of Giving

NCE alumna brings philanthropy into her preschool classroom by Mark Donahue

Ziomara Perez (B.A. in Early Childhood Education & Human Development ‘97), a preschool teacher at Nettelhorst School in Chicago, has enjoyed some great accolades in recent years for her work in early childhood education. She was a Golden Apple Award winner in 2006 Ziomara Perez and garnered a Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award in 2011. Ziomara, 37, is also a co-founder of SwaziKids International, which stemmed from a 2007 trip she and a colleague took to southern Africa, where they witnessed the ragged state of schools. She returned with the idea of engaging her young students to help make a difference.

in goody bags for children in Swaziland. Though she was at first worried her students might be jealous of the things they were sending overseas, Ziomara quickly discovered these young children were excited by the chance to help someone else. SwaziKids International was started as a non-profit in 2009 and in addition to providing supplies also raises money to send kids in Swaziland to school. In 2013, Ziomara and her colleague will hand-deliver the students’ gifts to Swaziland, as they do every summer. The effort has taken on deep meaning for this Chicago teacher. “I think I’ve had wonderful moments in my classroom these past 14 years, but this probably is going to be what I remember when I’m 80 years old somewhere,” she said.”This is just going to be what stands out for me.”

The preschoolers in Ziomara’s class collected spare change and bought school supplies and toys to put

Andrew Clements ’72 Children’s Author

Margena Christian ’93 Senior Writer, EBONY Magazine

Age 63 • M.A. Teaching

Andrew Clements is the author of more than 50 children’s books, including the children’s classic “Frindle.” In early 2013, Andrew’s newest book, “In Harm’s Way,” will be published as part of the “Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School” series. “My years as a teacher are instrumental to the intent of my writing,” Andrew said. “I want to provide a good learning and thinking experience for kids in my books.”

Age 45 • M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction

Margena Christian is a senior writer at EBONY magazine, writing entertainment and human interest features for EBONY and covering health/fitness and spirituality for its ELEVATE section. Look for her cover story on Bishop T.D. Jakes in the February issue. “As a writer and as an educator, I enjoy the freedom of writing and rhythm,” Margena said. “I enjoy each teachable moment as it freely unfolds.”

Blakely Bundy ’85 Executive Director, Alliance for Early Childhood

Robb Janov ’96 Founder, Jefferson Middle School Rock & Rhythm Band

Age 68 • M.Ed. Early Childhood Education

Blakely Bundy has been the executive director of the Winnetka, IL-based Alliance for Early Childhood since 1989, dedicated to providing services to parents and teachers of children from infancy through age 8 to promote healthy growth and development. In 2013, the Alliance is focused on promoting physical activity, expanding its “Let’s Play Initiative.” “It’s a joy to be working in these communities and really allow children to still have a childhood,” Blakely said.

Age 44 • M.A.T. Elementary Education

Robb Janov is a musician at heart. That may be part of the reason why the Rock and Rhythm Band music class he founded is so successful the class has its own waiting list. “A lot of kids tell me, ‘This is the thing that helps me survive the school day,’” Janov said. In September 2012, Janov was invited to participate in the TEDx Talks series and will be receiving a Creative Bravos Award in March. Tamara Anderson ’04 Founder of The Voices Project

Joan Blount ’57 Parenting Specialist

Age 76 • B.A. Elementary Education

Since 1965, Joan has been providing young mothers with the tools to raise their children. Now, she is actively working to involve incarcerated fathers with their families as research has shown that even when not physically present, a father can still have a positive impact on his children. “I believe that educating, informing and supporting parents is some of the most important work to be done,” Joan said.

Age 39 • M.Ed. Curriculum & Instruction

Tamara Anderson is the creator of the Voices Project, a writing workshop series aimed at helping teens and young adults in Philadelphia who have dropped out of school. Tamara fused the first batch of work produced by the project into a play and is scheduling readings of the script for 2013 with local middle and high schools. “The strategies I learned at NLU allowed me to make connections between research and what is occurring in the field,” Tamara said.

Jose Rico ’04 • Exec. Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Age 42 • M.Ed. Administration and Supervision

President Obama has charged José Rico with helping to push the president’s education reform agenda forward and improve academic achievement of Hispanic students in the U.S. “The most rewarding piece is knowing that opportunity is going to be given to thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of more students,” José said. 


Consider Supporting a National Louis University Student Scholarship Today

Scholarships are not a handout, but a hand up. I am aware that as my career progresses, one of the ways I can show my gratitude to those who saw my potential is by participating as a guarantor for tomorrow’s generation of students.

—David Murray ’12 | B.A. ABS Tulpin Endowment Fund and East Wing scholarship recipient

If you are in the first stages of considering a gift, we would be happy to discuss your donation options and find the right choice for you. Remember, every gift does make a difference. Information on how to give to NLU can be found at or contact Tom Foley at 312.261.3958 with any questions you may have regarding the donation process.

NLU Alumni Magazine: Winter 2013