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Alumni in Action 2015


Message From the President

Table of Contents The First Word ......................................... 3

Dear Friends,

A Different View........................................ 4

Welcome to the Winter 2015 edition of the NLU Alumni Magazine. Whether this is the first edition you are reading or have been a loyal recipient over the past few years, we have worked hard to keep the focus of our magazine the same - to share stories that are informative, inspirational and impactful, all in an effort to keep you engaged with NLU. With this issue, we bring you our annual “30 Over 30: Alumni in Action” themed magazine. While this is a play off the more traditional 30 under 30 profiles, the twist is very befitting of the students who attend National Louis. As an institution that focuses on adult learners, we like to spotlight individuals who possess the same qualities that you found important when you first stepped through NLU’s doors – the resolve to work hard to achieve your personal and professionals goals and the tenacity to take the necessary steps to positively impact your family and community. NLU Alumni have the same innovative passion as their younger counterparts and deserve the same kudos for their ambitions. Hopefully by seeing coverage of your fellow NLU alumni you are inspired by their determination and spirit. Take for instance Lisa Zimbler, who, after 20 years in a different career, was looking for a way to transform her early love of writing into a new career. She turned an interest into a local history movement. Or Gilo Logan, an educator, consultant, and writer, who realized education is as much about personal transformation as it is professional development.

Alumni Offer Expertise on Mosaic Panel ............................................ 5 Beyond 30 Over 30 .................................. 5 Leadership Connections™ ..................... 6 Looking Beyond the List.......................... 6 Advancing Writing and Literacy ............. 7 Years of Expertise From NCE Advisory Council ............................. 8 The Best Possible Teacher Training ....... 8 Introducing the Alumni Board............... 10 Opportunities for Regular Old Folks.... 11

Institutional Advancement Staff Karen Galea, Director of External Funding & Grant Development Danielle LaPointe, Director of Advancement Services Kimberly Michaelson, Director of Alumni Relations Sandy Rai, Institutional Advancement Coordinator Brian Russell, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Carey Smith, Special Events Manager

We would love the opportunity to hear about your stories and accomplishments. Please feel free to drop us a note at about your successes and endeavors since graduation.

Managing Editor:

Contributing Photographer:

Nicholas A. Love

James Richards IV

Best regards,

Alumni Relations Contact Kimberly Michaelson at 312.261.3159 or

Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., President

Support the NLU Annual Fund


The First Word WHAT DOES A PRINCIPAL DO ALL DAY? By Chad Weiden ‘07 M.Ed. Educational Leadership and Administration

Recently overheard in a 7th grade science classroom: Student A: “What does Principal Weiden do all day?” Student B: “I bet he sleeps all day under his desk.” Student C: “No. I think he plays video games. I heard he is pretty good.” This interaction above was recently reported to me by one of my middle school teachers. To say there is some misunderstanding regarding the role of the principalship would be a significant understatement. I frequently find myself clarifying the crucial and pivotal role the principal plays in a school. Sometimes, I have to clarify that we are more than the archaic authoritative figure, chained to a desk, who revels in the disciplining of children. Other times, I have to clarify that principals are not ancient elders with a single skill set of school operations and finance. But when someone really asks me what the role of the principal is, the answer is very simple: to ensure that our children have the best teacher in front of them everyday. Although the answer may be simple, the task is complex, challenging and deeply fulfilling. So, how does a principal ensure that every student has the best teacher? They teach. As a teacher, I was constantly thinking about my students’ needs and how I could best adjust my instruction to better fit their needs. To my surprise, I find myself also doing this as a principal. However, I now think of my teachers’ needs and how I can best adjust my instruction to support their growth. Then, I design experiences and activities, in

the form of professional development, to support that growth. Outside of our professional classroom, I have to observe instruction. I give feedback. I coach. I teach. And, a principal is constantly teaching. The days of the omniscient leader, alone in an office, are long gone. As a principal, I see the classroom as my “office.” How can a teacher “teach” from a desk? In order to ensure that students have the best teachers, I have to be in the classroom, watching them teach, celebrating their successes and guiding their reflection when a lesson could have gone better. When I get to school, I grab my laptop and get right to a classroom. As a graduate of National Louis University’s National College of Education, I remain extremely grateful that I am able to engage in the work of the principalship each and every day. It is particularly rewarding when one of your teachers is recognized for their outstanding contributions to the profession as a Golden Apple Awardee, such as NLU graduate Ms. Rozy Patel. Like any good teacher who learns from their students, I am humbled to learn from my staff and watch as they defy the odds by consistently getting better at the work of teaching and learning. So, the next time you see a principal, thank them for persevering in the work of ensuring an excellent teacher for every child. And what about my students above? It looks like I have some more teaching to do.


NLU Alumni Magazine

A Different View

Events planner uses NLU program to change careers, launch local history movement By Nicholas A. Love

Lisa Zimbler ‘14, M.S. in Written Communication , entered the special events industry in 1989, directing more than 500 weddings and celebrations during her career. She built her experience managing event catering for restaurants and hotels, experience that blossomed into her own business, Lisa Zimbler Events. In 2010, Zimbler started looking for a way to bring writing, an early love, back into her busy life. An NLU ad featuring Marjie Killeen, a National Louis University alumna and graduate of the Written Communication program, sparked her interest. As Zimbler advanced through the Written Communication program, she was offered an internship with 22nd Century Media. Zimbler enjoyed writing hyperlocal news stories that made a difference in her own community, and when the internship came to a close, she knew she was ready for more. She approached Joanne Koch, Ph.D., director of the M.S. in Written Communication program, who connected her with Marjie Killeen. Because of this relationship, Zimbler was offered an internship with “Make It Better” magazine, and an invitation to contribute as a freelance writer.

Zimbler knew how to write a script, but had little experience behind a camera. Partnering with 12 students from Glenbrook South High School’s Advanced Television class seemed to be the perfect partnership to get the film made and have the chance to educate students in the community on their own local history. The “Wings Over Glenview” production team was formed and the group had only a semester to film and conduct seven hours of veteran interviews, turning that raw footage into a 30-minute video. “It was a very aggressive project,” she admits. “It was like cutting pieces of your body off. There were so many good parts that had to be cut to tell the story well within the time frame.” Zimbler was able to parlay her experience with script writing and oral histories at NLU, and after hours of hard work and an important collaboration with a local historical advisor, the video was finished before the film’s premiere deadline.

After working to profile a local resident working with veterans to promote the historic achievements of the Naval Air Station in Glenview, Zimbler was inspired to help. She expanded on a public relations class assignment to produce her thesis project “Wings Over Glenview,” a documentarystyle oral history film chronicling the legacy of the naval air station.

The documentary has been given repeat viewings in the community and Zimbler’s hope is that it may assist in inspiring the community to consider a more suitable location to showcase the Naval Air Station museum than the one currently operated solely by Glenview veterans themselves. “As a community we have to honor these service men and women for what they have done for our country,” Zimbler said. “If my film contributes to this effort in some small way, then I will feel good that I have done something to help.” The Glenview Public Library has added the documentary to its collection and local schools have incorporated it as a companion piece for local history curriculum. Zimbler is working to connect with even more schools and libraries in the future. “I still have a lot of work to do,” Zimbler insists. Yet many will agree her work has already taken flight.

Watch “Wings Over Glenview” 4

NLU Alumni Magazine ALUMNI OFFER EXPERTISE ON MOSAIC PANEL The unveiling of Mosaic, the annual literary magazine of the M.S. in Written Communication Program, featured readings of poetry and flash fiction as well as words of wisdom from alumni panel members Jim Szczepaniak ’05, Kay Severinsen ’09, Lisa Zimbler ’14 and current student Rojah Wilkerson. The panel discussion was facilitated by alumna Marjie Killeen ’09 and overseen by faculty member and program director Joanne Koch, Ph.D. Jim Szczepaniak ’05 Community Relations Director, Niles Township High School District 219

Marjie Killeen ’09 Independent Writing and Editing Professional

M.S. in Written Communication

Szczepaniak had a long career as a reporter before taking on his role as Community Relations Director for District 219 in Illinois. He co-founded “Mosaic,” NLU’s first literary publication for students and alumni of the Written Communications program.

M.S. in Written Communication

Killeen is best known as the author of the “Sex & the Suburbs” column for “Make It Better.” Killeen has won a number of awards for her work and speaks on a variety of topics, drawing from her expertise in interpersonal communications, and marketing and relationship building.

Kay Severinsen ’09 Blogger and Columnist, Dream Town

M.S. in Written Communication

Severinsen is a communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in storytelling, public relations, marketing and messaging, print and web content strategy and project management. Severinsen’s writing and communications experience extends from work in journalism to teaching English and writing courses. A limited number of the 2014 edition of “Mosaic” are available at $24.95 for non-contributors. To order, please include a return address and a check made out to National Louis University and send to:

Watch the Mosaic event

Joanne Koch, Ph.D. National Louis University 5202 Old Orchard Road Skokie, IL 60077


Stephanie Wallace ‘02, M.Ed. in Technology in Education, was featured in the Daily Herald for her work as an Instructional Technology Specialist at Glenbard South High School in Illinois, helping teachers creatively incorporate technology in their lessons.

With so many NLU alumni doing so many interesting things, it’s always a challenge to select the list for our 30 Over 30 feature edition. Here are a few more outstanding examples of our alumni.

Lynn San Filippo ‘11, B.S. in Management, has been promoted to Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager for Central Florida Educators’ Federal Credit Union (CFE) in Oviedo, Florida. San Filippo credits her promotion to years of experience at credit unions and the business management knowledge she gained at NLU.

Rev. Glencie Rhedrick ‘86, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development, was featured in the November 2014 Charlotte Observer for her contributions to the Charlotte, North Carolina, community as a hospital chaplain, associate minister and real estate agent who helps single mothers.


NLU Alumni Magazine LEADERSHIP CONNECTIONS™ The 15th annual national leadership conference of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University gives attendees the opportunity to build specialized leadership skills and to dialogue with peers and thought leaders in early childhood education. This year seven of the early childhood education leaders featured at the conference are NLU alumni. (Not included below: Alumni Association Board member Georgia Bozeday)


Barbara Doyle ‘92, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development, learned American Sign Language at nine years old, thanks to a deaf friend who lived on her street. Doyle’s father, president of a retail chain in Chicagoland for over 30 years, regularly employed adults with disabilities and started an endowment to ensure special services for a Catholic high school in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. Doyle’s husband is blind and hard of hearing, and a fantastic blues piano player. It’s no wonder that Doyle works to promote inclusivity for people who have disabilities. As a clinical consultant, Doyle specializes in autism spectrum disorder. She has a simple mantra that guides her consulting work: “see a competent human.” Her strategy is found in “the old ripple effect” as she works to educate those without a disability to see a whole person behind a list of disabilities. The goal for Doyle is a more inclusive world, where

Heidi Kay ’97 Library Media Specialist, Schaumburg School District 54

people with disabilities are seen as fully human and integrated into everyday communities. “Separate is not equal. Separate is not the same. Separate does not promote a society of harmony,” she says. Doyle strongly believes that quality of education makes a huge difference in a person’s life. As she tells it, her master’s degree from NLU was essential to all of the work she has done over the years. Her thesis work gave her the confidence to present herself to service providers as an informed and competent expert. And Doyle had quite a bit of fun getting to know the diverse students in her cohort, but the work was no joke. “It was a lot of work, it wasn’t easy. I spent every Saturday or Sunday working.“ She’s still working, tirelessly, to promote a better world for people living with disabilities. “They haven’t signed a waiver saying, ‘it’s OK for me to have a crummy life,’” she observes. Rob Bowe ’96 // ‘10 Technology Director, Brookfield/LaGrange Park School District 95

M.Ed. in Technology in Education

Kay is a Library Media Teacher in Schaumburg, Illinois, where she develops lessons and activities that integrate multimedia and Web 2.0 tools in her classroom. She also offers ongoing assistance to teachers, principals and others in the school to develop effective technology integration strategies to support their curriculum goals. Molly Branson Thayer ’12 Director of National P-3 Center, University of Washington

M.Ed. in Technology in Education, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Social Inquiry

Bowe is the Director of Technology at Brookfield LaGrange Park School District 95 in Illinois. He past experience includes 12 years as a technology director in Chicago area schools and an additional 13 years serving as the Technology Coordinator at the National College of Education.

Ed.D. in Reading and Language

Branson Thayer is an expert in early literacy, teacher training, and theories of teaching and learning. She led development and implementation of a PreK-3rd literacy assessment, professional development and data management system now used around the country.


NLU Alumni Magazine Learn more about Leadership Connections™ Susan Neustrom ’04 President, Leading to Action

Terrissa Hein ’07 Education Liaison, Contra Costa County

B.S. in Business Management

Neustrom worked in the banking industry for 22 years before she transitioned to nonprofit leadership, providing critical services to people who experience barriers to success. She is a leadership coach specializing in guiding leaders to identify their greatest strengths and achieve deeper meaning and satisfaction in their life’s work.

M.Ed. in Early Childhood Administration

With over 35 years in the early childhood education field, Hein has been a proponent of administrator supports for early childhood educators for the past 10 years. She currently facilitates a Professional Learning Community through online and face-to-face discussions, assignments and professional growth.

ADVANCING WRITING AND LITERACY The Illinois Writing Project is a nationally-recognized teachers group that advances writing and literacy in schools across the City of Chicago and provides professional development and networking opportunities for Chicago area educators. Illinois Writing Project Advisory Board members work towards the long-term sustainability of the Project by providing input and giving advice. Two NLU alumni give back to their community by volunteering for this important initiative. Gilo Logan ’93, M.A.T. in Elementary Education and ’11 Ed.D. in Adult and Continuing Education, is an expert on working and living in a global society. Drawing from a 16-month cultural excursion throughout the South Pacific and Southeast Asia and 18 years in the field of education, Logan serves as a diversity educator, consultant, writer and speaker through Logan Consulting Services, LLC.

Akilah Bradford ’03, M.S. in Human Resources Management and Development and ’06 MBA, chose NLU after looking for a school that catered to a fulltime working professional. She appreciated classes that were taught with a practical focus and the cohort model that helped her build peer relationships that have lasted over a decade. Bradford, Director of Human Resources for The Hotel Chicago, has a deep-rooted focus on reinvesting. With a passion for both the field of human resources and the field of education, she spends her time away from Hotel Chicago facilitating human resources courses at colleges in the Chicago area and serving as a member of the Illinois Writing Project Advisory Board. Bradford describes the advisory board as a fantastic group to be part of.

Following his cultural excursion, Logan began his studies at NLU, an experience that was as much about personal transformation for him as it was about professional development: “Learning about social justice education, different learning styles, and the impact of culture on teaching and learning taught me so much about human beings – especially myself.” Logan uses his experience and community connections to help advance the Illinois Writing Project. And of course, he also brings his experience as a writer himself. His book, “How to Talk about Race and Racism with Children,” will be published this year.


NLU Alumni Magazine YEARS OF EXPERTISE FROM NCE ADVISORY COUNCIL Founded in 1886, the National College of Education (NCE) at National Louis University is one of the oldest and most respected schools of education in the country. Building on a tradition of excellence, NCE takes an active role in the continuing effort to improve the education system in the U.S. by developing new methods of reaching students and equipping those in the teaching profession. Meet the NCE Advisory Council, a team of seasoned, high quality leaders in education, who help achieve NCE’s goals by providing direction and support for NCE programs and initiatives.


Janis Jasper ‘77, B.A. and ‘86 M.Ed., wanted to be a teacher “from the beginning.” Jasper reached for excellence in teaching, and so she wanted the best possible teacher training she could get. Jasper says she found what she was looking for at National Louis (National College of Education at the time). NLU set her on a course that directed her for the rest of her career.

And what’s the piece of advice this veteran teacher has for teachers still working in the trenches? Model appropriate behavior to students, but don’t hold a grudge when they don’t live up to expectations. “They’ll change and you just have to have faith that they will.” Jasper is recently retired from teaching, but didn’t retire from helping future teachers. She recently joined the NCE Advisory Council at NLU, giving back to the program that set her on the track to success.

You’ve felt the support here at NLU as you worked toward your degree and developed the skills needed to advance in your career. Now you can share this transformative experience. And with the Alumni Choice Scholarship, your eligible referral can receive up to 10% off his or her total tuition for any degree program.

Refer a friend or family member to NLU and help them take the next step in attaining their own goals.

Visit today to get started The Alumni Choice Scholarship is only open to first-time undergraduate and graduate students and not open to currently enrolled students. Recipients must meet all eligibility requirements, which can be found at


NLU Alumni Magazine Chris Clark ’11 Superintendent, Zion-Benton Township High School District 126

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

As a committed member of her community, Clark has spent six years on the Board of Directors for the Zion (Illinois) Area Chamber of Commerce and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Healthy Communities, serving Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor and Zion areas.

Glen Giannetti ’93 Retired Superintendent

M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction

Giannetti worked at a number of positions in the Bloom Township High School District in Illinois including coach, teacher, assistant principal and assistant superintendent, until he retired in 2011 as Superintendent. In 2010 Giannetti led students from the district in a University of Chicago study, featured in “Freakonomics: the Movie.” Matthew King ’07 Executive Director and Principal, EPIC Academy

Lois Zoller ’62 Philanthropist

B.A. in Elementary Education

Zoller is known for her commitment to giving back, and her generosity was formally recognized in 2011 with an award from the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Recently Zoller hosted education leaders from the Chicagoland area for a discussion about the future of their field. Alexandra Nicholson ’06 Superintendent, West Northfield School District 31 Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

With nearly 40 years of experience in the education field behind her, Nicholson is in the process of leading a team of District 31 stakeholders through the development of a five-year strategic plan. This is the second time Nicholson has led the five-year strategic planning process for her district, in north suburban Chicago. Charlene Blockinger ’07 Adjunct Faculty, Northwestern University and DePaul University Ed.D. in Adult and Continuing Education

Blockinger designs and teaches classroom, online and hybrid courses that focus on intercultural communication, leadership and global leadership, and the role culture plays in understanding attitudes, values and behaviors in social and business interactions. She also presents workshops and training programs in developing intercultural competence.

M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision

Prior to his work at EPIC, a charter school in Chicago, King was a teacher and administrator. King is also co-founder and Chicago board member of OneGoal, a teacher-led organization that trains and supports teachers in underperforming high schools in an effort to increase student college acceptance and graduation rates. Guy Schumacher ’91 Superintendent, Libertyville School District 70 Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

In addition to his work as a superintendent in Illinois, Schumacher is also an Associate at B.W.P. Educational Leadership Search Consultants, a firm that specializes in leadership search assistance to school boards. He assists with identifying and recruiting outstanding education professionals that fit clients’ particular needs. Sandra Stringer ’82 // ‘03 Retired Assistant Superintendent

M.A. in Management and Human Resources Ed.D. in Administrative Leadership

Stringer made a long career out of education leadership. She spent eight years as an elementary school principal and a decade as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for Park Ridge-Niles District 64 in Illinois. Stringer leverages her years of experience as an adjunct faculty member at NLU.


NLU Alumni Magazine Georgia Bozeday ‘83 // ’05 Director of Educational Services, Rush NeuroBehavioral Center

Ziomara Perez ‘97 Preschool Teacher, Nettelhorst School

M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education Ed.D. in Education, Curriculum and Social Inquiry

B.A. in Early Childhood Education

Perez, a Chicago Public Schools magnet school teacher, was a Golden Apple Award winner in 2006 and garnered a Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award in 2011. She is the co-founder of SwaziKids International, providing supplies and raising money to send children in Swaziland, a small country in southeast Africa, to school.

After 38 years in teaching and administration, Bozeday became Director of Educational Services at Rush NeuroBehavioral Center in Chicago, a section of Rush University Medical Center’s Department of Behavioral Sciences. The department’s focus is on helping children develop executive function skills for success in the classroom.

Ursula Pawlowski ’09 Governance and Operations Manager, American Hospital Association


M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development

The Alumni Association is proud to unveil the newly formed Alumni Association Board. This is a committed group of professionals who have shown deep dedication to their NLU community and a desire to support their alumni peers. This board sat for its first official meeting in January to set the 2015 agenda for NLU’s alumni offerings and opportunities.

In addition to over 20 years of experience in the Human Resources field, Pawlowski is the Governance & Operations Manager at the American Hospital Association. She recently served as a panel expert for the NLU Career Academy event. Janice Pratt ’93 President, JP and Company Marketing and Communications

Ben Greer III ‘04 // ’06 Associate Director for Adult Education and Family Literacy, Illinois Community College Board

B.S. in Management

Pratt is the President of her own marketing business, JP and Company Marketing and Communications. Backed by Pratt’s 20 years of marketing experience, JP and Company specializes in flexible marketing solutions that fit a variety of client needs and budgets.

B.S. in Management, M.Ed. in Adult, Continuing and Literacy education

In his role as associate director for ICCB, Greer serves as a liaison between the state office and local programs. Ben brings over 30 years of adult education and literacy experience to his work at the ICCB.

Joan Fedota ’00 Social Work Program Chair, George Williams College of Aurora University

Kathy Bromme ’06 Senior Human Resources Consultant, Chicago Board Options Exchange

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Fedota has a long history working in school social work and as a leader in education. After working many years as a school social worker and managing her own private practice, Fedota sat as Assistant Dean at National Louis until June of this year, when she joined Aurora University in Illinois.

B.A. in Business Administration

Kathy Bromme is a human resources professional with over 16 years of experience that spans a range of human resources topics, including benefits, employee relations, compensation and wellness. Last year Bromme was invited to give the Alumni Welcome at NLU’s 128th Annual Commencement Ceremony.



Michael Cobb ‘92, B.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences and ‘98 M.S. in Management, is the executive director of Hesed House in Aurora, the second largest provider of homeless services in Illinois. In addition to beds and meals, Hesed House has an array of services to address key barriers to self-sufficiency faced by its clients.

originally jumpstarted by his bachelor’s degree and then further propelled by his master’s degree. After Cobb graduated with his master’s degree, he was offered his first senior level administrative opportunity. “It was because of that National Louis degree,” Cobb says. Cobb is grateful for the opportunities opened to him because of his degrees from NLU. He is just one of the many “regular old folks” who have an NLU degree or certificate hanging on their wall in the Fox Valley area. As the newly appointed President of the NLU Alumni Association Board, Cobb said he’s excited to rally alumni colleagues to give back to an institution that had such a meaningful impact on his life.

Before his position as executive director, Cobb spent many years in the social services field. His career was Russ Riendeau ‘96 // ‘99 Executive Vice President, Chicago Jobplex B.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences M.A. Psychology

Riendeau, a 2004 National Louis University Reach Award recipient, recently joined Jobplex, Inc. as Executive Vice President, Chicago, after the strategic acquisition of his company East Wing Group, Inc., which he founded in 2000. He is the author of seven books on talent acquisition and holds a doctoral degree in Behavioral Psychology.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2015 1:00–4:00PM NLU Lisle Campus • 850 Warrenville Road • Lisle, IL 60532

NLU Alumni Magazine Winter 2015  

NLU Alumni Magazine Winter 2015