North Parker Summer 2013

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Creative Collaboration: North Parkers in Africa

On the cover: Amy Russell C’10, top photo, was named a “Traveler of the Year” by National Geographic Traveler. (Photo by Carlos Litulo/National Geographic Traveler)

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

North Parker Staff

The cover story for Life magazine on December 4, 1964, began with these words:

David L. Parkyn President

Everywhere Dr. Carlson went, the Congolese called him Monganga Paulo—“my Dr. Paul.” He was a missionary doctor serving 100,000 people, and he did so with a genuine love of God and God’s people. His patients responded to his warmth. And then he was caught up in a burst of wanton savagery that stunned the civilized world—and he paid for his work with his life. Dr. Paul Carlson graduated from North Park in 1949, completed his undergraduate degree in 1951 at Stanford University, and subsequently became a physician through studies at George Washington University School of Medicine. In 1961 he traveled to Africa for six months with the Christian Medical and Dental Society, serving on a medical team to Congo. Deeply moved by this experience, he returned again to Africa for a longer term assignment, this time with his family, in 1963. By the end of the following year, civil unrest had erupted in the country and Monganga Paulo was caught in the crossfire. The primary academic building on North Park’s campus is named in Paul Carlson’s honor and memory; the significance of his dedication to medicine and his life-giving service to the people of Congo has long been a familiar story for our students. This dedication to serve the people of Africa, and this commitment to learn from the people of Africa, continues to be a strong and shaping focus in the education of many at North Park. This same context for serving and learning is highlighted in this issue of North Parker through the contemporary stories of North Park alumni. Monganga Paulo carried a New Testament with him each day as he visited patients in his hospital, and cared for the health and well-being of all he met each day. On the day before he was killed, he wrote the date and a single word in the margins of his Bible. The word? “Peace.”

David L. Parkyn President, North Park University

Editorial Board

Nate Mouttet Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing Mary K. Surridge Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Marcia Mawe Director of Marketing Melissa Vélez-Luce C’04 G’12 Director of Alumni Relations

Editorial Staff

John Brooks Editor

Rebecca Dangel Managing Editor Megan Gilmore C’05 S’13 G’13 Web Editor John Potter C’05 Copy Editor Emily (Wulff) Anderson C’10 Lead Designer

2 Campus News 8 Winter and Spring Commencement 10 Creative Collaboration: North Parkers in Africa 12 One Step at a Time: Amy Russell and Walking4Water by John Brooks

16 Standing with Zambia: Spark Ventures by Kami Rice

20 Because of the Women: Operation My People by Christine Scheller

24 Home Away from Home: My Nigerian Experience

Faculty Essay by Nnenna Okore

26 Innovation Unleashed: Alumni in the Technology Field

by Lindsay Beller

28 North Park’s Servant Leaders

Joan C’65 and Bruce A’61 Bickner by John Brooks

29 Alumni Notes

North Parker is published twice a year for alumni and friends of North Park University, 3225 West Foster Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625-4895. For mailing list adjustments and address changes, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (773) 244-5273 or Questions, letters, or suggestions for the editor should be directed to John Brooks, University Marketing and Communications, at (773) 244-5522 or

Enjoy North Parker online, too, with back issues for reading or download at

Campus News

University Offers New Academic Programs and Majors for 2013 North Park University will offer new or enhanced academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students beginning this fall. For undergraduates, the School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM) will offer two bachelor’s degree programs in nonprofit management. The Department of Communication Studies will offer majors in communication studies, media studies, and theatre and performance studies. For graduate students, the School of Education will offer a program for certified school teachers leading to a principal endorsement and a master of arts in educational leadership.

SBNM offers nonprofit management major

North Parker Summer 2013

Undergraduate students can pursue either a bachelor of arts degree or a more in-depth bachelor of science degree in nonprofit management. The new degrees replace the academic concentration in nonprofit management offered by SBNM, said Dr. Wesley E. Lindahl, professor and dean of SBNM.


North Park will be the only higher education institution in the Chicago area offering a nonprofit major for undergraduates. Previously, University students interested in nonprofit management were business and economics majors, and took extra courses in the nonprofit area. The new major, with expanded coursework, enables the University to take advantage of a growing area of interest for incoming students. “The change was mainly driven by student feedback, but also driven by our school’s strategic plan to be a fully engaged educational institution in the nonprofit area,” Lindahl said. The nonprofit major is expected to bring about 15 new students per year to the University.

North Park will be the only higher education institution in the Chicago area offering a nonprofit major for undergraduates. Students majoring in nonprofit management will learn about fundraising, building relationships with donors, working with boards, managing volunteers, understanding nonprofit budgets and accounting, and marketing in nonprofit organizations, Lindahl said. They will also take classes in sociology, and develop leadership and management skills. Undergraduate students can also declare a minor in nonprofit management.

Communication arts to offer three majors Students can now pursue specific undergraduate degrees in three disciplines in the Department of Communication Arts: communication studies, media studies, and theatre and performance studies. The three majors previously were academic concentrations. The recommended changes resulted from a three-year departmental process of study and discussion, and are expected to strengthen the department’s academic offerings. Offering the majors is expected to help potential employers understand the particular degrees and expertise offered by the University, and help future students identify specific academic programs offered by the department, faculty members said.

Campus News

News Highlights Communication arts focuses its academic programs on helping students think, speak, and write effectively. Currently, there are more than 100 undergraduate communication arts students who benefit from faculty and staff with academic experience, technical expertise, and multiple professional connections throughout Chicago, said Dr. Robert Hostetter, chair and professor of communication arts. “We also graduate cross-trained students, with expertise in more than one communication discipline,” Hostetter added.

Principal endorsement, MAEL approved by State This summer, North Park will begin preparing certified school teachers to “think like a leader, act like a leader, and be a leader,” a phrase that appears throughout its new academic program for aspiring principals. The University will offer a program that enables a certified teacher to earn a principal endorsement as well as a master of arts in educational leadership (MAEL) degree. The new educational program is a successor to the Type 75 general administrative certificate program, which is being phased out by the State of Illinois. The first cohort for the MAEL begins July 13. Students will learn through classroom instruction taught by educators and other professionals, plus an internship experience. While other colleges and universities may offer similar programs, North Park offers smaller cohorts and individualized support for students. “Small class sizes during the coursework sessions allows us to have a lot of dialogue, interaction, and feedback,” said Dr. Sally Pryor, MAEL program coordinator and associate professor of education. “During their internships, we go to their schools and meet with them on-site, and in our classes, we discuss what they’re learning through their internships experiences.”

Earlier, the University announced a new sports management concentration for 2013, to be offered through SBNM, as well as new academic concentrations in fine arts, curatorial studies, and graphic design. The art department also revised its traditional fine arts program, and created a checklist for students interested in a pre-professional educational program in art therapy.

The University is among 26 Illinois colleges and universities named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for making their communities better through service. University initiatives included Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities, a spring neighborhood cleanup, an annual block party, a holiday gift program, plus volunteer work with neighborhood organizations and Chicago public schools. North Park was also cited for teaching people who work in neighborhood nonprofits through classes offered by the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, and for students who are interns at local organizations.

Grant Addresses Economic Challenges for Ministers

North Park Theological Seminary was one of 16 seminaries awarded grants to address ways to reduce student debt, to develop financial education programs, and to explore creative ideas to finance theological education. The three-year, $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., Indianapolis, will help the theological schools examine and strengthen their financial and educational strategies and practices to improve the economic wellbeing of future pastoral leaders. High educational and personal debt, limited earning capacity, and lack of financial knowledge are serious problems, said Rev. David Kersten, seminary dean. “The integrity and credibility of the pastoral leadership office is a real issue when these skills are not present,” he said.

Financial Milestones Announced, Annual Fund Donors Grow

Commitments to Campaign North Park now total more than $60 million, said Mary Surridge, vice president for development and alumni relations. She told the board of trustees in February that $39.8 million had been committed for the Johnson Center, $12.6 million for endowed scholarships, $2.6 million for academic support, and $5.7 million for the Annual Fund. About 1,600 donors are participating in the Annual Fund, twice as many as the previous year. In addition, the University endowment passed the $70 million mark, said Carl Balsam, executive vice president and chief financial officer, who noted the endowment was $6 million when he joined the North Park University staff nearly 25 years ago.

North Parker Summer 2013

The University is working with three Illinois partner schools in its MAEL program: Mary, Seat of Wisdom School, Park Ridge; East Prairie School District 73, Skokie; and Rhodes School District 84.5, River Grove.

North Park University Honored for Community Service


Campus News

Different Paths, Distinguished Achievement The 2013 Distinguished Seniors came to the University through very different paths, but each found success through academic and extracurricular achievement. Fatima Kukaswadia, of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, and Timothy Ahlberg, of Perrysburg, Ohio, both earned business and economics degrees, concentrating in accounting, through the School of Business and Nonprofit Management.

North Parker Summer 2013

Kukaswadia is a naturalized citizen who came with her family to the United States at age 3 from Pakistan. She is visually impaired, the caregiver in a close-knit family, and achieved more at North Park than she could imagine. Ahlberg, the youngest of three children, excelled in the classroom and on the soccer field. He will work and study in Mexico beginning this fall, thanks to a Fulbright student award from the U.S. State Department.


College was anything but easy for Kukaswadia. She finished her degree in five years, delayed just before her junior year by the death of her 32-year-old brother, Muhammad Tahir, in a traffic accident. The youngest of four children, Kukaswadia was very close to Tahir, a Chicago taxi driver. “My brother meant a lot to me. I was raised by him,” she said. She left North Park for a semester that fall to reflect on the loss, but never forgot Tahir’s encouragement. “He used to say to me, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way.’ I always wanted to go to college. Now, I wanted to fulfill his dream,” she said. Kukaswadia returned to North Park for two more years, and was the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Kukaswadia excelled, earning a 3.8 grade point average, and is grateful for the assistance she received from the Office of Student Enrichment and Support staff, as well as faculty and students. She recorded lectures to learn concepts, and listened to them again at home, reworking her notes. She worked at Brandel Library, and was an intern at the Albany Park Community Center. She earned the North Park Leadership Award, a Chicago Lighthouse Scholarship, was president of the South Asian Student Association, and a member of the North Park Business Club. In addition to her own challenges, Kukaswadia cares for her physically disabled parents at home, neither of whom can do routine household chores.

Fatima is a truly outstanding example of a student who exemplifies significance and service.

Dr. Lee Sundholm, professor of economics, wrote that “she understood that knowledge is the key to a productive life and a successful career, and I hope she goes on to graduate work for an MBA.” Sundholm nominated Kukaswadia because of her academic achievements and his respect for her “as a truly outstanding example of a student who exemplifies significance and service.”

Campus News

Kukaswadia hopes to gain professional experience and earn an MBA or law degree. She also sees herself working in the nonprofit world one day. “One of my dreams is to do nonprofit work, perhaps financial consulting work—anything that would help me help the community,” she said. Ahlberg, president of the North Park student body, was a standout student and soccer goalkeeper, and volunteer with homeless ministries. His choice to attend North Park was influenced by his parents, both alumni, as well as the opportunity to attend a small college in a big city. “There’s something different at North Park, something that I sensed when I was here to visit the school,” he said. “God blessed me with the faith to take the leap to come here.” He also credits many faculty and staff for mentoring him during his North Park years. Dr. Ann Hicks, associate professor of accounting, said Ahlberg, whose grade point average was 3.9, was a classroom leader. “He approaches each learning activity not only with the goal of meeting the requirement of the course, but with the goal of maximizing his educational experience and that of his student colleagues,” she wrote in her in nomination. Ahlberg minored in Spanish, and studied abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico, during his sophomore year. He returns this August for a 10-month business internship in Mexico City, because of a Fulbright Binational Business Exchange Grant, and will take MBA classes at night. “Fulbright is all about building relationships between the United States and other countries, and for me that’s one of the main goals. I think it will be invaluable to have those relationships, and understand a different perspective,” Ahlberg said. He plans on a career in business afterward, and expects to continue work on his MBA.

After graduation, Ahlberg will travel to Thailand through the University’s Global Partnerships program. There, he will work with missionaries to establish a fish farm, help with a youth soccer program, serve in a community center, and stay with a host family in Bangkok. He will return to Chicago to work in the auditing department of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Chicago, before leaving for Mexico.

Student Survey Results Positive

President Parkyn reported results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which asks first-year and senior undergraduate students about their participation in certain student activities, and the activities’ relationship to the students’ learning and personal development. The 2012 results showed University students reported high levels of satisfaction in active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, as well as a supportive campus environment, compared to results from three years earlier, Parkyn told the board of trustees. “We have long held, and now have research to show, that how students interact with faculty makes a difference,” he said.

Graduate Studies Tuition Grants Now Available for Alumni

North Park will offer a 20 percent tuition reduction to undergraduate alumni who enroll in graduate courses, or seek graduate degrees or graduate-level certificates at the University. The grants are available to students who begin coursework for the first time in the fall 2013 semester, and can be used for in-person or online classes. Tuition grants apply only to graduate-level programs, and are available to alumni who do not have other University grants or scholarships to meet the costs of graduate education. Some University schools already offer attractive grants to alumni. “This idea aligns with North Park’s emphasis on lifelong learning,” said Dr. Chris Nicholson, the University’s director of graduate admissions.

North Park University Hosts Bach Week Festival Concert

The University hosted a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat May 5 at Anderson Chapel, part of the 40th annual Bach Week Festival. It featured the Chamber Singers, who performed with the festival chorus and orchestra, only the second time in Bach Week history that a guest ensemble sang with the festival’s own chorus, and the first time for a student group. Margaret Martin, University organist, and Dr. Julia Davids, director of the University’s choral activities and holder of the Stephen J. Hendrickson Endowed Chair in Music, also performed. “This event is a wonderful example of the advantages that North Park music students have to experience the artistic excellence so prevalent in Chicago,” said Dr. Craig Johnson, dean of the School of Music. Professionals from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago also performed.

North Parker Summer 2013

Ahlberg was captain of the North Park men’s soccer team this year, was named an all-conference and all-district player, and was twice named an Academic All-American. He leaves North Park with good memories of the team’s strong fan support and his many international teammates. “North Park soccer is one-of-a-kind for a Division 3 school,” he said.

More News Highlights


Campus News

More News Highlights North Park Theological Seminary Graduate on TIME “100 Most Influential People” List

Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús, a 2006 graduate of North Park Theological Seminary known to many as “Pastor Choco,” was named this spring to TIME’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Writing in TIME, Rev. Rick Warren said, “With Hispanics playing such a large role in the expansion of the evangelical church in the U.S. and their vast influence on the political landscape, Pastor Choco is and will continue to be a strong, ardent voice on the direction of our country.” Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif., and is a prominent U.S. church leader. De Jesús was also featured in the magazine’s April 15 cover story, “¡Evangélicos!,” which noted rising numbers of Latino members in evangelical Protestant churches.

Baseball Players, Coach to Run Chicago Marathon for Charity

Pitcher Matt Peterson, outfielder Zak Worsley, and assistant coach Kevin Tomasiewicz will run the Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon and team up with Children’s Oncology Services and Team One Step to raise funds to send children with cancer to camp. Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. provides opportunities for outdoor activities to children with cancer, such as horseback riding, skiing in Utah, river rafting in North Carolina, and summer camp at Lake Geneva. Through Team One Step, marathon participants will each raise $1,000 to fund each child’s camp expenses. Others with the North Park baseball team will provide a water station on the marathon course, a cheering section for Team One Step, and a post-race party for Children’s Oncology Services. To donate, visit; checks made out to “North Park Baseball” should be sent to Kevin Tomasiewicz at the baseball office.

North Parker Summer 2013

Three Earn 2013 Fulbright Awards, Total Now 11


Three North Park University students earned grants this spring in the prestigious U.S. Fulbright Student Program – combined with previous awards, 11 University students in five years have earned these grants. Sam Auger and Bailey Schwartz, both of Chicago, will be English teaching assistants. Auger, a May global studies graduate, with a focus on Latin America and the Middle East, and a minor in Spanish, will work in a high school in Haskovo, Bulgaria. Schwartz, a December 2012 history graduate with ESL endorsement and secondary education certificates, learned before press time that she is assigned to Turkey. Timothy Ahlberg, Perrysburg, Ohio, earned a Binational Business Exchange Grant, and will work in a business in Mexico City. Ahlberg earned a business and economics degree in May, with a concentration in accounting, and a minor in Spanish.

Faculty Revises Core Curriculum for Fall 2013

The faculty revised the University’s general education requirements for new students entering the University this fall. The revision, now called the Core Curriculum, consists of 46 semester hours, and groups current courses into three tiers: Foundations,

Campus News

Explorations, and Capstones. The curriculum revision places greater emphasis on writing and ethics. “Such an education is essential because most of the time, complex, real-world problems are not solved by one discipline alone, but by people working across disciplines,” said Dr. Karl Clifton-Soderstrom, director of general education and associate professor of philosophy. The Core Curriculum revision took more than two years to develop, involving research into current trends in higher education, post-college employment, and the University’s own academic vision.

North Park Recognizes Minnehaha Academy Centennial

The University recognized the 100th year of Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, a school for students in preschool through 12th grade. Many graduates enroll at North Park, and University graduates are among the school’s faculty and staff. President Parkyn was among the speakers April 28 at the academy’s Centennial Worship Celebration. In addressing the faculty, past and present, he said, “It is because you have been faithful in your calling as teachers that we can be here today. May God bless Minnehaha Academy with great teachers for the next century just as we have been blessed through the century past.” The convocation was attended by Ted Anderson C’37, son of Theodore W. Anderson, the school’s first president and North Park Junior College graduate. The school’s current president, Dr. Donna Harris, is a member of the University board of trustees. Lance Johnson C’83 led the Redhawks’ varsity basketball team to the Minnesota Class 2A championship this year. The University and Minnehaha Academy are affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Biology Major Named Best Student Presenter at Scientific Meeting

Mary Ellis, a junior biology major, was named the top undergraduate student presenter at the 2013 Midwestern Section annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists. Ellis’s presentation focused on her research project involving plant species that attract destructive Japanese beetles, and development of a model that any scientist could use to predict host plants for invasive pests. With competitors from large research institutions, she was one of five undergraduates selected to present her research from among dozens of abstracts submitted. The award was based on knowledge, scientific methods, expression, and creativity, said Dr. Timothy Lin, assistant professor of biology, who said Ellis is an “outstanding student with a passion for research.”

Nursing Major Named Student Laureate

North Parker Summer 2013

Nursing major Shadae Gatlin C’13 was among 52 students from Illinois colleges and universities honored as Student Laureates by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Described as “extremely focused” by Dr. Linda Duncan, professor and dean of the School of Nursing, Gatlin has assisted families at Ronald McDonald House, helped seniors at Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly, and worked with patients as a nurse intern at Lawndale Christian Health Center. The South Side native chose health care because she grew up in underserved neighborhoods in Chicago. “My main interest is in community and public health, and working in prevention through health education in community neighborhoods,” she said.


North Park University presented degrees to 657 graduates during the 2012–2013 academic year. The total includes 412 degrees awarded May 11 at the 120th Spring Commencement ceremonies, and 245 degrees presented at Winter Commencement December 14, 2012. Preceding spring graduation was a baccalaureate service May 10 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago. Dr. David L. Parkyn, University president, drew a comparison between the graduates and the words of Psalm 1. “Once you came to North Park, a sapling asking to be planted by the river, to be tended and nourished, to be pruned and watered,” he said. “Tomorrow you will leave North Park. Tomorrow you will be uprooted—for this is why you were planted. Tomorrow is the day of your transplanting.” More photos at Students celebrated their graduations at an evening Winter Commencement ceremony in North Park Gymnasium.

North Park Theological Seminary awarded 37 degrees May 11, in a ceremony in the University’s Anderson Chapel. 8

Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, was presented the University’s David Nyvall Medallion for distinguished service to the people of Chicago.

The University’s largest graduation ceremony May 11 was for undergraduates, at which 262 students were presented their degrees.

Members of the North Park Academy and College Classes of 1963 were honored on the 50th anniversary of their graduations.

Graduates signed a steel beam to be used in the construction of the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, opening in 2014.

At an afternoon ceremony, 82 students were presented graduate degrees, and the School of Adult Learning awarded degrees to 31 students.



North Parker Summer 2013

Creative Collaboration: North Parkers in Africa

Preparing students for lives of significance and service is a key outcome of a North Park University education. Students live out their values, their principles, and their faith in many ways, and in places throughout Chicago, the United States and the world. This issue of North Parker focuses on students who, along with faculty and staff, have taken up the challenge of being social innovators—people who put imagination and creativity to work and bring creative solutions to pressing social problems. Our storytelling focuses on Africa. One account follows the still-ongoing story of North Park graduate Amy Russell’s incredible journey through Africa on foot. Another tells about the origins of Spark Ventures, and how it has involved students in lifesaving projects in Zambia. A third story describes how students took the dreams of a University history professor and turned them into action in Kenya. We also invite you to read Nnenna Okore’s heartfelt essay about her work as a Fulbright Scholar this year in Nigeria.

There are many more North Parkers in Africa, as well as those who come to the University from Africa. To see how other students, faculty, and staff are involved with Africa, visit Do you have a story connected to Africa? Contact the Alumni Relations office at

North Parker Summer 2013

In addition to Africa, University students are working and studying in places throughout the world. Students can access more than 150 study-abroad sites in 42 countries spanning six continents. They also join bilateral exchange programs, and work and study in universities in Argentina, Finland, Iceland, South Korea, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. Others gain valuable cross-cultural experience in domestic and international Global Partnerships trips. About five percent of the undergraduate student body consists of people who come to North Park from outside the United States, and return after graduation to serve in their home countries.


One Step at a Time:

Amy Russell and Walking4Water

by John Brooks

North Parker Summer 2013

Amy Russell traveled through Mozambique last year as part of her two-year journey. In 2012, she was named a “Traveler of the Year” by National Geographic Traveler. (Photo by Carlos Litulo/National Geographic Traveler)


Carlos Litulo has witnessed many people trying to make it across parts of the African continent by means such as rowing canoes, pedaling bicycles, and riding motorbikes. But until last summer, the young photographer from Maputo, Mozambique, had never met anyone like Amy Russell. Russell, a 2010 University graduate, is attempting to walk the entire length of the African continent, south to north, by early 2014. Her purpose: to call attention to the need for clean water, and raise funds to help build water wells. Litulo met Russell, 24, in June 2012 to photograph her journey for National Geographic Traveler’s “2012 Traveler of the

Year” feature, which included her. What he noticed in the few short days he was with her is that Russell respected the locals, wanted to know about their lives, and preferred to live as they do as she walks among them. For example, Litulo recalled seeing Russell meet a group of hungry children and sharing her food with them. Litulo knows all too well about the importance of clean water, and how precious little there is in some places in Africa. That’s why he’s followed Russell’s journey since meeting her last year. “I couldn’t imagine myself meeting someone who left everything at home, and came from far away just to walk and campaign for

Aaron Tharp, Chicago, filters water. He is walking with Russell.

water. It was quite unexpected.” Litulo’s response is similar to those expressed by many Africans who meet Russell and Aaron Tharp, Chicago, who is accompanying her on this improbable journey.

Thus far, dollars raised by Walking4Water totaled $8,000 in 2012, and the team

hopes to double that total this year. Walking4Water’s funds have helped make possible water projects in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nepal, bringing water to about 500 people, with more projects expected in the coming months, charity:water reports. Jesse Bauer, Walking4Water’s fundraising campaign manager, said the team welcomes small gifts. “A small amount of money can change someone’s life. Just $20. Every dollar, every cent, goes out in the field, and changes lives,” he said.

Creatively seeking change Russell started her walk in January 2012, and will walk about 20 miles per day for at least two years before concluding the 7,000-mile journey in Egypt. Along the way, she and Tharp have been talking with locals about their challenges in getting clean water, and they see for themselves what the local water situation is like. Most are aware that they need to drink clean water, but some don’t have access to clean water sources, Russell said. Like many Africans, she and Tharp have experienced challenges in locating usable water sources.

North Parker Summer 2013

“The need for clean water is something we encounter on a daily basis,” said Russell, speaking by mobile phone as the duo walked at dusk on a rural, paved road surrounded by cassava, corn, and rice farms near Karonga, Malawi. Russell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics with a concentration in nonprofit management, said the Africa walk was inspired by God and the things she learned about poverty while a North Park student. Human trafficking and human suffering result from extreme poverty, and access to clean water is an important factor in ending poverty, she said. Russell founded the organization Walking4Water while she was a University student, calling attention to and raising funds for clean water projects. Walking4Water provides funds to charity:water, New York, which sends 100 percent of its funds to water projects in developing nations.

Russell has done more than just walk—she takes time to meet and talk with local people on her journey.


Her family and friends say it’s just like Amy to creatively seek change by walking across Africa. “She was always interested in social justice issues, and that intensified when she got to North Park,” said her father, Charles, Manchester, Conn. “It made sense that clean water was one of the first hurdles for people to make their lives better.” Amy possesses the administrative capabilities of her mother Joanne, and the spirit of her grandfather, Donald Hundt, Charles Russell said. The family hears from Amy regularly via text messages and phone calls. Friends are amazed when the Russells tell them about their daughter’s African journey. Surprising to many, yes, but to the Russell family, this is the Amy they’ve known for a long time. They witnessed her deep interest in social justice issues as far back as middle school when she would go on mission trips, or spend time in places where help was needed. “She’s capable, and she’s got a great God. When

she was born, I dedicated her to the Lord for whatever his work would be,” Charles Russell said. Amy Russell credits her family, friends— including many North Parkers—a support team in Chicago, and her home congregation, Trinity Covenant Church, Manchester, Conn., for their encouragement and prayer. She has maintained fairly good health in the first year of her journey, though Russell contracted malaria last fall in Mozambique and had to stop for a week to recover. Whenever possible, she and Tharp stay on paved roads where they can get to transportation if necessary. Motorbikes, buses, and trucks can be heard passing by while she speaks.

Determination and passion The Africa journey has resulted in much “personal growth and transformation,” Russell said.

“Sometimes, you get to the point when you feel you’re on the brink of being done. We’ve gotten to that point so many times that we just get over it and keep going,” she said. “I don’t have too many doubts about finishing, unless something totally catastrophic happens.” One of Russell’s best friends, Sarah Van Putten, Omaha, Neb., who attended North Park from 2007 to 2010, quit her job in 2012, and for a month joined the Africa walk with Russell, Tharp, and Marty Yoder, who was with the team in its early months. Yoder drove a support vehicle, but because it kept breaking down, the vehicle was sold. Yoder eventually returned to the United States. “I believe in what Amy is doing, and I wanted to encourage her in what she was doing,” said Van Putten, who has known Russell since their freshman year in 2007, when they both lived on the same floor in Anderson Hall. “She is one of the most determined and passionate people I’ve ever met,” she said.

North Parker Summer 2013

The Africa walk team has experienced its own struggles to find sources of clean water, Van Putten said. They had to do creative things to keep adequate water supplies with them, the kinds of things many Africans have to do regularly. They would get water from rainwater holding tanks at gas stations, or wait until they reached cities to refresh water supplies, Van Putten said. Families they stayed with would often boil water for themselves and the walkers. “We had to carry as much water as we could. The water from streams is so dirty. It’s not anything you want to be drinking,” she said.


Van Putten is part of Russell’s Walking4Water team, working with Evangelical Covenant Church congregations to spread the word about Russell’s quest. For example, at her own congregation, First Covenant Church, Omaha, members arranged a 5K run for Walking4Water, and the topic has been discussed in Vacation Bible School. Finding sources of water has been a constant challenge for Russell and her team.

For more information about Walking4Water and to read Amy’s blog, please visit

Read about Amy Russell’s selection as a “National Geographic Traveler of the Year” at http://travel. travelers-of-the-year/amy-russell

Russell expects to complete her 7,000-mile journey early next year. (Photo by Carlos Litulo/National Geographic Traveler)

modest $39,000, Bauer said. Another $4,000, set aside for possible emergency needs, will be donated to water projects if not used. The Africa team uses ATMs to get money, and they use debit cards to finance purchases, he said.

Still, there are some tricky places Russell and Tharp are planning to walk through in the coming months. Parts of Kenya and Ethiopia may not be friendly places for visitors, Russell said. Bauer is watching the map, too. Getting visas for Sudan is difficult because of the country’s recent division into north and south regions. Ethiopia requires tourists to enter the country through specific international entry points. The team is working to resolve visa issues like these before Russell and Tharp arrive in these countries, Bauer said.

Bauer’s wife, Emily, is a 2011 North Park graduate in nursing, and has known Russell since 2007. She is confident Russell will push on to the journey’s conclusion. Emily Bauer’s work as a nurse and her longtime friendship with Russell are what motivate her to help with the Africa walk. “I knew if I couldn’t talk Amy out of it, I might as well help her as much as I can,” she said. “Plus, health is a really important issue for me, and so is clean water. We have the technology and infrastructure to bring clean water to people. Amy is a person who can really make a difference.” Emily Bauer is Walking4Water’s support team director.

Proving impossible things possible The Walking4Water team has raised funds through sponsors to cover budgeted costs for the two-year journey, set at a

The Bauers keep in regular contact with Russell and Tharp, via text message, marking their progress on Walking4Water’s

website and Facebook page. When he first met Russell, Jesse Bauer said he became a believer in the project, and he’s been inspired by North Park community support for Russell and Walking4Water. After she finishes the Africa journey, and walking nearly every day for at least two years, Russell said she is looking forward to coming home and working, and possibly attending graduate school. She maintains a blog, keeps a journal, and may write a book. Plus, she is planning a speaking tour in the United Kingdom and United States. Given the same conditions, Russell said she would make the decision again to walk across Africa for clean water and is grateful for the experience. And her advice to people with big ideas about changing the world? “There’s no time like the present to prove impossible things are possible. It takes 100 percent of everything you have if you want to do something ambitious. If you are fully committed, go for it.”

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Van Putten said she is confident that the Africa walk will be a success. “God will provide what Amy needs to do this. She is a strong believer. She calls on God enough that I’m not too worried about her,” she said.


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Students at Spark Ventures’ partner school in Zambia prepare for a day of classes. The school boasts an impressive 100 percent pass rate for seventh grade students advancing to secondary school. (Photos provided by Spark Ventures and Julia Styles)

Standing with Zambia: Spark Ventures

By Kami L. Rice

Spark Ventures’ Rich Johnson tours the poultry farm that generates revenue to sustain community programs at Spark’s partner organization in Zambia.

With spray from one of the world’s largest waterfalls misting nearby and a brilliant blue sky peppered with fluffy clouds above, Jaimie Rickards, then a North Park University junior majoring in nursing, was baptized by Pastor Charles Mumba. It was May 2010, and she was in Zambia for the second time with a University Ministries trip, working with Hope Ministries, North Park’s global partner in Zambia. Mumba is Hope Ministries’ executive director. When Rickards came to Zambia the first time, in December 2008, to help with North Park’s medical clinic for Hope Ministries’ children, she arrived as a young woman who was culturally Jewish and skeptical of Jesus. She thought people who believed in a man who rose from the dead were crazy. “I have to put emphasis on this because I was that person who never imagined herself believing in Jesus,” she said.

During her second trip, Rickards arrived in Zambia as a student leader eager to show others an amazing experience, hoping their lives could be changed like hers had been.

While there, she began grasping the importance of baptism, and realized she wanted to be baptized when she returned to Chicago. A teammate encouraged her not to wait. “He was right,” Rickards said. “What better place to get baptized than the place where I first met God, and by the Zambian pastor who preached the sermon which changed my life forever?” So Rickards and two other students were baptized at the head of Victoria Falls on Zambia’s border with Zimbabwe, symbolizing the beauty of the body of Christ coming together. As Mumba said, “It was a humbling experience that made us appreciate the goodness of God. To see our friends be willing to be baptized here with us was a great testimony to our people.” He noted that Zambia has traditionally been a focus of mission work, and it encouraged the people of his church to see that they could be missionaries, too.

Standing alongside The relationship of Mumba and his community with North Park began in 2006 when Rich Johnson, then North Park’s director of University Ministries, asked Mumba a pivotal question. Johnson and two friends were in Zambia on a two-week volunteer vacation. Overwhelmed by the needs he observed while working alongside Mumba and his wife, Margaret, at their orphanage and school— initiatives that began in the early 2000s when the Mumbas responded to needs in their

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Yet, in the Twapia community in Ndola, Zambia, listening to a sermon under a blue tarp covering the wooden shack where the host church met, Rickards became overwhelmed with emotion and felt like God was speaking to her for the first time. She returned to the United States fascinated with Jesus, needing to know why he is spoken of so highly.

Zach Hayes, a current North Park student, reads English with partner students in May 2011.


church—he asked Mumba, “What do you need?” Johnson was already anticipating the answer would be money. Instead, Mumba said they needed partners to stand alongside them until they could stand on their own. Johnson admits he had not previously considered that some grassroots organizations do not want to be dependent on outside money. Spark Ventures was born the next year. Its mission is to partner with high-impact organizations that serve children in impoverished areas. Spark helps them increase their effect by providing human resources, strategic guidance, and financial capital. Spark also assists them with the launch of businesses whose profits provide sustainable and long-standing support for their work with children. Hope Ministries is Spark’s first partner. Recently, Spark welcomed a partner in Nicaragua. The organization’s vision is to use this model to help vulnerable children in four continents in the next 10 years.

Helping hope expand

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Since the launch of the Spark-Hope partnership, Hope Community School has grown from 75 children to nearly 350 children who fill the new seven-classroom building that increased the school’s capacity, reduced class sizes, and improved the quality of education. Teachers working essentially as volunteers are now paid regular salaries, and have access to more classroom resources.


New homes for the orphanage have increased capacity to 30 vulnerable children. Twenty children, many of whom lost their parents and caretakers to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, are presently receiving food, clothing, and education, along with support for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. More children will be welcomed when funding is available to care for them. Most of the original children cared for by the Mumbas are now in high school. In 2011, Spark invested $100,000 in the development of Hope Ministries’ poultry

Clarisa Johnson C’12 performs health screenings for Hope students in May 2011.

farm in Lusaka, Zambia. Built and operated by Hope Ministries, the farm will raise nearly 200,000 chickens per year when it reaches capacity, generating more than $100,000 in income for Hope Ministries and providing local, sustainable revenue that will ensure long-term nutrition, education, and health care for all children served by Hope’s school and orphanage. Hope Ministries now employs more than 25 community members who work as teachers, social workers, and office staff, as well as in other roles. Additionally, the percentage of children Hope serves that test positive for malaria has declined dramatically since the beginning of the twice-a-year medical clinics offered by North Park and Spark Ventures.

Deep relationships continue after the trip For many North Park students, a Spark Ventures trip to Zambia is just the beginning. They become attached to Spark’s model and continue to volunteer with the organization in Chicago or seek ways to live out what was modeled for them in Zambia. Sara Blumenshine, a 2010 University graduate in elementary education, returned to Zambia for six months as a Spark global

intern. She worked alongside a Zambian educator, teaching reading, English, and science to students in sixth grade. She also ran a reading program after school. “I fell in love with the people and the culture and the mission of Spark and Hope,” she said. In addition to serving on Spark’s junior board, she is a paraprofessional teacher at a Chicago charter school that serves immigrants and refugees. While she was working as a resident director at North Park, Nilwona Nowlin, now earning dual degrees in nonprofit administration and in Christian formation from North Park Theological Seminary and the School of Business and Nonprofit Management, traveled to Zambia with two student teams. Afterward, she began volunteering at Spark to stay connected to the work in Zambia. She now works for Spark part-time as accounting manager. “The thing that is special about Hope is that it’s an organization started and run by people who are native to Zambia,” she noted. “They’re doing what they set out to do, and it’s being done well.” Following her dramatic spiritual experiences in Zambia, Rickards sponsored a Zambian child for two years. “I am both happy and sad he no longer needs my help,” she said.

Model partnerships Following Johnson’s lead, North Park teams have traveled to work alongside Hope Ministries one to two times every year since 2007. They also recommended adding a medical component. Normally, half of each 17-person team is comprised of nursing students. Students earn academic credit toward their community health clinical programs by running the clinic that assesses about 400 Hope House and Hope Community School children. As Assistant Professor of Nursing Heather Duncan notes, these clinics are the only health care available to area children. Efforts are underway to open the clinic to students’ families, expanding the sustainability of the clinic’s investment in improving community health. Duncan traveled to Zambia for the fourth time in May. In addition to reading to Hope Community School children, and helping with cleaning and other jobs, Mumba says North Park teams also inspire the children when they tell about themselves, their studies, and how they view the future. It helps children consider careers and a university education. Also significant are North Park students’ testimonies of how God answered their prayers for money to come to Zambia.

Johnson, now CEO of Spark Ventures, said he loves North Park’s emphasis on significance and service. “That certainly influenced me during my time on staff there, but more importantly it influences students. North Park seems to attract students who care about issues of social justice, and that’s a big part of the experience for students who go to Zambia.” Students learn about privilege and feel a responsibility to use it to benefit others, he said. Duncan adds, “We want students to have a Christ-centered worldview, have compassion, and have a passion for bettering the world ... and [the partnership with Hope Ministries and Spark Ventures] just embodies that.”

Eye on the future “The reason Spark started is because we saw that these grassroots organizations are looking for something people aren’t providing. That’s the sustainability piece,” Johnson explained. “Our philosophy is that you don’t go in as the savior, but go in and work alongside of [our partners], collaborate with them, and mostly work under their leadership because it’s their country.” In addition to helping facilitate North Park teams in Zambia, Spark leads other trips

to expose participants to its partnership model of development. Last year, Spark partnered with Groupon Grassroots to offer an “Africa Volunteer Vacation” through Groupon Getaways. The new venture for both Spark and Groupon was a grand success, selling out and requiring the addition of an extra trip this past February. Hope’s impact in providing children with nutrition, education, and medical care increases as Spark helps them develop their leadership team and gain skills in writing good job descriptions, establishing accountability structures, fundraising, and more, Mumba said. He has watched many development efforts in Zambia die out when outsiders initiating an enterprise leave without seeing locals adopt ownership. For Mumba, it is not only about Hope Ministries’ continuation during his lifetime. Finding generational successors is also necessary for the school and orphanage to continue when he other current leaders are no longer there.

For more information about Spark Ventures, please visit

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Global Partnerships teams travel regularly to Zambia to work with Hope School students, as did this team in May 2011.


North Park Alumni visit the home of Professor Theodora Ayot, fourth from left, in 2010 on Rusinga Island, Kenya. With her are, from left, Gayle Hammer, Miriam Wachara, Peter Morris, Matthew Peterson, Beldina Wakiaga, Luke Bruckner, Marren Ojode, and Heidi (Hjelm) Jensen. (Photos provided by Soul Source)

Because of the Women:

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Operation My People


“When you support a woman or you work with a woman, you see how that develops an entire community,” said Gayle Hammer C’03, as she described her passion for Operation My People (OMP), the girls’ scholarship program in Kenya that she and a group of other North Park alumni founded in 2010. In its first year of operation, OMP funded two secondary school students from Rusinga Island in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. The program now funds 40 scholarships there under the direction of the Soul Source Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization that supports

By Christine Scheller education and women’s empowerment in Kenya and South Africa. Soul Source was founded in 2008 by North Park University history professor Theodora Ayot’s friends, the late Rev. Carleton Peterson S’70 and his business partner, Elaine Millam, after Ayot invited them to go to Africa to meet “her people.” Ayot affectionately uses this phrase for both her students and friends in the United States, and for “her people” back home on Rusinga Island. “Ingrid, when are you sending my people to Kenya?” she asked North Park alumnus Ingrid Johnson

C’01 S’08 G’08 “out of the blue” one day in 2009. When Johnson, Hammer, and other alumni began planning a project to support Ayot’s education and empowerment goals there, Operation My People was the obvious choice for a name. “As the students graduate, they remain my people, and some stay in contact,” said Ayot. “Indeed, Ingrid and Gayle were the two individuals who mobilized my people.”

Entrepeneurial empowerment It was in 2009, over traditional African meals at her home, that Ayot began expressing her desire for more of her people in the United States to meet her people in Kenya, said Luke Bruckner C’05. Before the year was out, he, Hammer, Peterson, Heidi (Hjelm) Jensen C’03, and Peter Morris C’02 S’08 traveled to Rusinga Island, too. OMP also pays for one woman each year to attend an empowerment training certification program at the Empowerment Center in New York City, said Bruckner. In conjunction with Soul Source, it supports women’s groups on Rusinga that help women gain independence from husbands who may have multiple wives, Hammer said. These groups operate small businesses, pool resources to pay school fees for themselves and their children, and fund new entrepreneurial efforts.

things that we believe is super-important and super-simple, is oversight,” said Peterson. Grades from the most recent term show a “slight improvement” over 2011, with one student earning direct entry into the public university, said Hammer. “We expect a slightly bigger jump in 2013, but we are patiently waiting to see what happens with the class of 2014 who will have had full access to scholarships and facilities.” The current crop of graduates didn’t begin receiving aid until their third year of secondary school, Hammer said. Prior to that, their attendance may have been sporadic, because education is often not prioritized for girls, and because there is a scarcity of feminine hygiene products, so girls often miss school.

A profound experience “Professor Ayot’s faith had an impact on my faith, the way I view God, and the way

I view the world,” said Bruckner. “She has a certain aura of wisdom that I sense comes from the richness of her culture and also from a deep faith in God and a deep understanding and knowledge of the Bible. That very much came across to me as her student and her friend.” For Bruckner the Kenya trip was a “profound experience.” He had never been to a developing country before and had never seen the depth of poverty he witnessed there. And yet, he was moved by the rich anthropological history of Rusinga Island (where many early human fossils have been found) and by the vibrant hospitality of its people. The group’s host was Sabina Otieno, a leader in one of the women’s groups that grew from work Ayot’s sister, Marren Ojode, had begun years earlier. Bruckner recalled approaching Otieno’s home at dusk after a particularly long day. “There were about 20 girls out in front of the house. They had prepared four or five songs to sing for us. They even included

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“Girls who go to high school are far more likely to live healthy lives and not get married at a young age,” Hammer explained. “Women and girls begin to see themselves as valuable parts of their community and valuable parts of society, and I think that is a value that is underrated. We are so much more capable of fulfilling our potential when we see our potential, and we have some sort of way to gauge that.” OMP scholarship students earned an average grade of D+ on their final exam in 2011, said Soul Source board member Matt Peterson C’00, Carleton’s son. He visited Rusinga Island in January to evaluate student progress and meet with school staff about ways to improve it. “One of the Scholarships are funded by OMP through the Soul Source Foundation, benefitting students in schools such as this one in Kamasengre.


our names in the songs. We sat on the porch as the sun was setting. It was an extremely powerful, memorable moment,” he said. Ayot’s passion for her homeland was transferred to her American friends through relationships like these. The North Park alumni listened as leaders from the Kamasengre Mixed Secondary School talked about the needs of their students. They saw the strength of Rusinga’s women as they worked with them to build a fence around a shamba, or small farm, that the Kamasengre West Women’s Group operates to help feed and support its members’ families. This fence was a godsend, said Ojode, because the women had long been frustrated by the devastation that wild and domestic animals would do to their crops. “Now the women have crops in the farm throughout the year. This has improved the income and nutrition of the individual families,” she said.

vital to the school’s success, Hammer said. “What the students will tell you consistently and what I saw is that when students couldn’t pay their school fees, they were sent home … until they could pay,” she said. “When students are consistently in school, more teachers are in school and more teachers in the community are seeking to work at the school, and more students in that community are seeking to go to that school.”

objectives in three areas to retain their funding: performance, discipline, and community service. If they do this, OMP guarantees their scholarships through high school, said Hammer. New recipients are added only when money for longterm support becomes available.

Building long-term relationships

Community attitudes toward female education have changed because of OMP, said Ojode. “A girl from a poor home was helped by OMP and she ended up studying medicine. This has not only encouraged parents, but also girls who look up to this girl as a role model.”

From its inception in 2008, Soul Source has sought to build long-term relationships with the people it serves. Hammer, who spent three months teaching on Rusinga in 2010, said OMP consults with school board members, teachers, and community leaders about how to do this in a way that benefits the whole community.

Peter Okomo Ogweno is Kamasengre Mixed Secondary School’s principal. He said scholarship recipients must meet

Ojode describes the relationship as “a family knit closely together.” So close, in fact, that both a women’s group and a nursery school

Encouraging communities Soul Source raises funds for OMP and determines its budget, said Bruckner, who is the foundation’s treasurer. Monies are transferred directly into the school bank account and are distributed by its administrators. Three-fourths of school fees (approximately $350 per year) are funded, but students must contribute the rest before OMP money is released.

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Scholarship income helps pay teacher salaries and administrative costs that are

Ayot and her sister, Marren, have close ties to Rusinga Island.


have been named in honor of Carleton Peterson. Additionally, the community has given Hammer goats in appreciation for her work, said Millam. Hammer has returned these gifts to the community. “Members of OMP who have visited the Island have been able to identify the peoples’ needs and have integrated into the community in such a way that both will discuss freely any project that is deemed to be useful to the community,” said Ojode. The Soul Source board now considers how new projects will mesh with OMP and the empowerment programs, said Millam, its executive director until Hammer assumes the role later this year. Nursery schools, post-secondary support, and a community center are all in various stages of development. “Everything is starting to have linkages of a thriving community, and we want to keep it that way,” Millam said. Peterson said he’s involved in this work “because Theodora changed my life.” He also wants to carry on his late father’s “legacy of philanthropy and caring for those in need, and especially trying to do that as wisely and respectfully as possible.”

Matt Peterson C’00, right, visited Gunda Nursery School, Rusinga Island.

“The Kenyan people are very much appreciative of the approach the Soul Source and Operation My People have taken, which involves doing together as opposed to being done for,” said Ayot, who, along with Ojode, serves as a key advisor for the work that she herself inspired.

For more information about Operation My People, please visit

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Operation My People, working through the Soul Source Foundation, sponsors several scholarship recipients each year, including these 2013 recipients.



Faculty Essay

Home Away from Home: My Nigerian Experience by Nnenna Okore, Associate Professor of Art

Editor’s note: In 2012, Nnenna Okore, associate professor of art and department chair, was named a Fulbright Scholar, and was assigned to teach at a Nigerian university. Last summer, my family and I flew from Chicago to Lagos, Nigeria, with great excitement and expectation. This was the start of my one-year sabbatical leave and Fulbright assignment at the University of Lagos, and I looked forward to working in a different environment and reuniting with my family members and old friends. On arrival, the dean, staff, and students of the faculty of arts greeted me with keen enthusiasm and a warm reception. I was quickly introduced to upper-level art students who would become part of my first class. My initial encounters with them were nothing but positive and pleasant. I listened carefully as they discussed their lives and educational challenges, and later, they asked questions about my interests and subject area. What became obvious to me was that they strongly desired and were thirsty for knowledge and exposure. Quite unlike my American students who are conscious of being overly inquisitive, my Nigerian students were outwardly curious about everything, including my life in the United States and how my experiences at their institution were different from that at North Park. To satisfy their interests, I carved out a few minutes of every class period for storytelling—sharing tales about my education in the United States, my journey as an artist, and my teaching experiences and career at North Park. In return, I listened to theirs. This story-sharing component of our class period was indeed the highlight of our time together.

Another glaring issue that could not be overlooked was the incredible lack of academic resources and infrastructure in the art department. The problem of small class and studio size to high student-faculty ratio made it practically impossible to have any meaningful class seminars. As a consequence, many students are

Overall, this experience has been invaluable. Though difficult at times, working with these students has made me a better teacher and stronger believer. I am able to better appreciate the opportunities I have had in life, and many wonderful things that one can easily take for granted in American universities. I have become more aware of and empathetic toward the needs of students, whose resilience, willpower, and determination to succeed in spite of the staggering inadequacies and obstacles in the Nigerian system is simply inspiring. When I return to North Park University, I will share my experiences with the community and encourage my colleagues and students to actively participate in collecting, donating, and awarding fairly new or unwanted educational art materials and literature to less privileged foreign students. Provided that funding is available, students, alumni, and faculty members from North Park could benefit from traveling to Nigeria for teaching assignments, residencies, research, or service. Given that life in Nigeria can be extremely tough and expensive, however, an alternative could be to conduct academic activities remotely via the Internet, engaging in online exchanges or other endeavors with Nigerian scholars and artists, for instance. I believe that Nigerian students would benefit greatly from such opportunities. There is no doubt that this has been an amazing journey. Have I accomplished all I set out to achieve? Probably not. But I am very satisfied with the way things have played out. My experiences in and out of the classroom have taught me many life lessons I will share with my students for a long time to come. I am spiritually uplifted in ways I could never have been had I not traveled to Nigeria. Adding to that, I feel rejuvenated, recharged, and reconnected with my roots. I have been blessed to have good friends around me who have been instrumental in helping me settle down much more quickly than I was able to prior to my sabbatical. And unlike years past, my children have enjoyed unlimited access to grandparents, uncles, and aunts for the first time. Who could ask for more?

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Aside from such delightful moments, teaching at my host institution came with lots of challenges and struggles. First, there was the problem of outdated pedagogical practices that did not accommodate curricular changes and development. I didn’t realize this until I tried to introduce new directions and learning outcomes to the existing art curriculum, and failed severely. But rather than despairing, I shifted my focus from trying to change or influence the system completely, to making sure that I exposed each and every student that I encountered to new knowledge and creative ideas.

poorly prepared in their areas of concentration. My temporary solution to this problem was to hold classes outdoors (which only favored me because of the studio nature of my course and the dry climatic conditions). I also had to make concerted efforts to go over fundamental topics in art with my students to ensure that they had the basic knowledge and understanding needed to proceed with my environmental art course.


Brenda Giordano

Alumni Profiles

Innovation Unleashed:

Alumni in the Technology Field by Lindsay Beller

Tom LaPaze

Brenda (Warnberg) Giordano C’83 When Brenda Giordano worked as a nurse in a hospital more than 20 years ago, she cared for a patient who had delivered a baby and needed a blood transfusion. Although two doctors signed off on the blood before the procedure, the new mother received the wrong blood type, a mistake that could have had fatal consequences.

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Greg Dolezal

These days, a hospital could quickly realize this life-threatening error and take steps to keep it from happening again—with software that Giordano manages for Quantros, a Silicon Valleybased health care technology company. The product, called IRIS Executive™, is a reporting tool that allows hospital administrators to manage vast amounts of data they are required to collect, and more easily monitor safety and quality-of-care issues.


As the product manager or “owner” of the software, Giordano has many roles. She makes sure the software meets the needs of the market (in this case, hospital executives). She communicates those needs to the software engineers, and works with business analysts, marketers, and salespeople to ensure the product continues to work for the clients. “Being a product manager is like having a 360-degree view,” she said. “You’re in a seat that swirls, and you can go in many directions.” Giordano brings her clinical nursing background to the job, although she has held several health care and technology-related positions since North Park awarded her a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduation, she worked in a hospital for two years and earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Washington. But always looking for a new challenge, Giordano worked as an occupational health nurse, a case manager, in sales for a health care dot-com, and as a software product trainer before becoming a product manager. Giordano still draws on the reason why she decided to study nursing for motivation in her current work. “The role of being a nurse was appealing to me because I wanted to help people attain the best health possible,” she said. “That still resonates with me.”

Alumni Profiles

Greg Dolezal C’01

There are two kinds of people who work at technology companies—the experts who write the code and those who communicate what the code does for the customer, said Tom LaPaze C’86, who puts himself in the latter group. As director of worldwide marketing excellence at Microsoft, Seattle, he has developed a series of in-house classes designed to help the company’s thousands of marketers become better at their jobs.

It all started as a desire to help the church become more creative.

When he began leading the “marketing academy” more than two years ago after running the business side of, it was in transition. But as part of a companywide strategic shift aimed at moving its focus to the consumer, LaPaze took charge of the professional development initiative. He partnered with top business schools to create a curriculum that better aligned with Microsoft’s marketing strategy. Under his watch, the academy has grown to nine classes, and LaPaze has seen improvements in employees’ marketing skills with customers. “You need to have the ability to generate customer insights in order to best communicate,” he said. “When you don’t focus on understanding the customer, you make mistakes.” LaPaze joined Microsoft 10 years ago from the advertising agency DDB, where he worked on many different accounts, from software and banking to engineering. With such a variety of clients throughout a career of more than two decades, he had to quickly learn about new industries, a skill he attributes to his liberal arts education.

The software—ProPresenter, ProVideoPlayer, and ProVideoSync— has revolutionized the way church-related events are produced, making it simple to add visual elements to live events, such as projecting Scripture on a screen. It’s used at Passion, a live event that draws 60,000 college students per year, and CHIC (Covenant High in Christ), the triennial event of the Evangelical Covenant Church, attended by thousands of high school students. Outside the church, users range from Mercedes Benz to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to the London Olympics, where 30 sporting venues used ProPresenter last summer. “Our secret sauce is making technology that is accessible to a lot of people,” said Dolezal, project manager of software development. “It’s the class of software that the Olympics use but easy enough for a church volunteer to use for Sunday morning services.” Dolezal first became involved in producing live events at North Park University when he chaired Week 26, a week of spiritual activities. Through that experience, he saw how people connected to live events, and also met Tomlin for the first time. “North Park was great for the classroom experience, but what differentiated it for me was what I could do outside the classroom,” he said. The business and communications major was considering law school, but instead moved to Atlanta, where he began traveling with musical acts such as Tomlin. Dolezal continues to serve as Tomlin’s road manager, even after starting his business that has helped many organizations enhance live events through video display. “We’ve got two goals,” he said. “We want to provide tools that are powerful and easy to use, and we want to make the church the most creative place on the planet.”

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At North Park, he designed his own multimedia major and took classes in different subject areas. One particular interdisciplinary class called Traditions of the West included history, art, music, English, and religion, and helped him understand how disparate historical events affected each other. LaPaze “learned how to learn” at North Park, a key factor in his career success. He’s now giving back to the school as a member of the advisory board of the School of Business and Nonprofit Management. “My education has given me the ability to jump into just about any subject and learn fast,” he said.

Greg Dolezal C’01 had started a live-event consulting business in 2004 called Video for Worship, born out of going on the road with musical acts such as Christian singer Chris Tomlin and recognizing how technology could enhance live performances. Within two years, his Atlanta-based company merged with Renewed Vision and developed easy-to-use video display software.

Tom LaPaze C’86


Donor Profile

North Park’s Servant Leaders

Joan C’65 and Bruce Bickner A’61 by John Brooks

Giving their time, talent, and treasure is a way of life for Joan and Bruce Bickner of Sycamore, Ill. They volunteer and share resources, focused where they can help initiate a project and make a difference, including North Park University.

“The Bickners are remarkable leaders for us and many other institutions,” said Mary Surridge, North Park vice president of development and alumni relations. “We are grateful for their example of devotion and encouragement. They have always been great partners in advancing the mission of North Park.” Joan grew up on a Dayton, Iowa, farm, and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University. Her grandmother is a 1904 North Park music graduate. Because of her family’s University history, and roots in the Evangelical Covenant Church, North Park was the place for Joan. “I never thought about another school,” she said. Bruce earned degrees from DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind., and the University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor. But he never forgot the Chicago neighborhood where he grew up, where his family attended North Park Covenant Church, and where he attended North Park Academy.

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Today, the Bickners are Founders’ Circle members, significant contributors to capital campaigns, and sponsors of the University’s affiliation with Working in the Schools, a literacy program at nearby Hibbard Elementary School. Bruce is a longtime member of the University board of trustees, and twice was interim University president. “This school really believes in preparing people for lives of significance and service,” he said. “This is not a motto. It is an expectation. We expect it of students, and they ought to expect of us that we prepare them for such lives.”


Bruce and Joan met in 1965 when she was a registered nurse at Swedish Covenant Hospital, Chicago, and he was attending law school. She moved to Ann Arbor at Bruce’s urging, and became a head pediatric surgical nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital. They married in 1967. Joan devoted herself to a nursing career, family, and volunteering with the kinesiology program at the University of Michigan beginning in 1997, where the Bickners’ daughter, Julie, was a student. Joan dedicated

time to the Swedish Covenant Hospital Nurses Alumni Association, plus Sycamore-area organizations including the Kishwaukee Community Hospital Foundation; Hope Haven, an organization that serves people living with homelessness; a Covenant Church camping ministry; the local humane society; and others. The Bickners also raised three children: Brian, married to Amy, parents of three daughters, Sycamore; Kevin, married to Marcia, parents of two sons, Aurora, Ill.; and Julie, Pasadena, Calif. Brian, Kevin and Julie each attended the University of Michigan. Joan served on the University of Michigan’s Kinesiology Campaign Council through 2011, assisting with developing donor support that helped the department become the School of Kinesiology. Joan was the longest-serving council volunteer, and was presented the first Dean’s Medal in 2011. The school now has more than 800 students, and enjoys a top-five national academic ranking. An auditorium and an endowed professorship both bear their family foundation’s name. In 2007, Michigan presented the Bickners the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership. Bruce chaired the law school’s Michigan Difference Campaign, and in 2012, he was named a distinguished alumnus. After law school, Bruce held a federal clerkship in Milwaukee, and then joined the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin, where he was a partner. He then began a 27-year agribusiness career, joining a Sidley client, DeKalb AgResearch, DeKalb, Ill., a seed company. Bruce became chairman and chief executive officer of DeKalb, advocating for significant investment in the genetic transformation of corn to achieve herbicide and pest resistance. DeKalb was eventually sold to Monsanto, where Bruce was co-president for Monsanto’s global seed business. In Sycamore, Bruce served on the boards of a community hospital and a local bank, and is an advisor to the Kishwaukee YMCA. Joan has served more than a decade on the Hope Haven board of directors. There, she and other members of Hillcrest Covenant Church organize a Christmas party for children of people who are homeless. Joan and her church group provide birthday presents to Hope Haven clients, and she and Bruce have helped others organize dinners for the organization’s clients.

Alumni Notes


Get Connected AlumniConnection events, hosted by the Alumni Association, will give you the chance to create connections with other North Parkers in your area. Join fellow alumni for events across the country.

North Parker Summer 2013 29

Alumni Notes


Quentin Nelson C’40 S’45 recently published a memoir entitled Our Life Story. It features stories about his and his wife’s years spent as missionaries in Congo and his 23 years at North Park.

The Academy Class of 1962 had 40 classmates, plus spouses and significant others, at its 50th reunion celebration on October 6, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Northbrook, Ill. After 50 years, the class has mellowed and matured into a wonderful group of good friends, happy to be together again and share the events of their lives. There were many classmates from all over the country who helped plan and execute the reunion weekend, which included a breakfast and tour of North Park’s campus on Saturday morning. Rev. Ron Magnuson C’52 S’58 (the group’s chaplain and Bible teacher) and his wife, Marlene (Dahlstrom) C’50, and Betty Jane Nelson C’44 (the group’s speech teacher), were honored guests at the Sunday morning coffee hour that concluded the weekend celebration.


1950s Arthur A.R. Nelson A’52 C’55 S’60 was presented with the 2012

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Spirit of Compassion Award at Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Annual Benefit Gala. A lifelong advocate for those who are most marginalized, he has been associated with Swedish Covenant Hospital in some role since the 1940s, including serving as a member of the hospital’s board of directors from 1982 to 2009. Kristin (Anderson) C’91 G’93 and Paul Hawkinson C’92, director and vice chair of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation Board, were among the North Parkers at the event. With them is emcee Micah Materre, center, of WGN-TV News.


John Thomas Swanson C’66 and Donna (Serena) Swanson C’66 make

quilts and wood products (pictured) to help support Young Life in the former Soviet Union. In September, they made their 12th trip to Ukraine and Armenia to encourage and train Young Life leaders.

1990s Craig “C.D.” Dirksen C’90

and his wife, Love, announce the birth of their daughter, Josey Elena. Josey was born September 10, 2012, weighing 8 lbs. 3 oz. and measuring 21 inches. She is a fourth-generation Cubs fan. Love is a registered nurse who works as a senior area business specialist for a pharmaceutical company.

Alumni Notes

Craig is also a registered nurse, and works for a disease management company as a nurse care manager. The Dirksens have spent a great deal of time traveling around the world. Craig’s college band, the Velvet Cadillacs, has reunited and have recently played at House of Blues, Great America, and the Cubby Bear. Craig and Love are thrilled with the arrival of Josey and find every day to be an adventure.

the U.S. Navy. He is pictured at his promotion ceremony with his three children, Leslie, Megan, and Erik, as well as his wife, Beth (McCormick) C’90 and his brother, Pete Nelson C’84.

Jonathan Wilson C’92 S’03 completed a ThM in history at

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago last summer, and is currently working toward his PhD.

of their daughter, Aliana Maria Trabacchin. They are especially grateful to the birth mother who brought Aliana into the world. The Trabacchin family currently resides in Brazil, where Andrea is on foreign assignment.

Jennifer Pope C’98 S’00 is associate director of student affairs at

Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. She earned her Ph.D. in 2011 while serving as director of the international office at North Park.

Chiara Hemsley C’99 and her husband, James, welcomed

daughter Susannah Elyse on May 26, 2012. She joins big sister Norah, age five, and big brother Luke, age two. The Hemsleys are currently living in Italy, in the same town where Chiara’s mother was raised and where James is now working. They are excited for their children to (eventually) be bilingual.

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Ana Retamal C’95 and Andrea Trabacchin announce the adoption

promoted to partner at Nixon Peabody LLP in February. She represents private, public, and foreign sovereign clients in federal court litigation matters involving intellectual property, sovereign immunity, contracts, labor disputes, civil rights, and international property claims. Sarah has authored numerous briefs and motions filed in federal courts (including the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits). In 2011, she was selected by the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to serve a three-year term as an appellate lawyer representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. Sarah clerked for the Hon. Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Hon. Gary A. Feess of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Tom Nelson C’91 was recently promoted to the rank of captain in

Sarah Andre C’96 was


Alumni Notes


Joel Wrobbel G’00, marketing

director at the Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services (OPRS) Westminster-Thurber Community in Columbus, Ohio, and host of the Journey Through Aging radio program, was presented with LeadingAge’s public trust award at the organization’s 2012 Annual Meeting & Expo in Denver last October. He says some of his best interviews have been his older friends sharing their life experiences, which “encourage all of us to live life for today and to live with purpose.” Joel lives in Gahanna, Ohio. Leonard Edwards C’01 G’02 has joined Homestead-Miami

Speedway, the host of NASCAR’s Championship Weekend, as director of corporate partnerships. Leonard will be responsible for all aspects of the sponsorship department, ranging from planning and selling to negotiating and managing a team. He will also assist International Speedway Corporation in its national sales efforts across 13 race tracks. Leonard has held a variety of sales positions within the sports field, and has also worked in collegiate sports and at the team level in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, and the Arena Football League.

North Parker Summer 2013

Ron Guerrier G’01, Torrance, Calif., was recently promoted


to vice president and chief information officer at Toyota Financial Services (TFS). He leads the business technology solutions department, and is responsible for defining and driving an information technology agenda that supports business performance and enhances the customer experience. Ron is an executive sponsor for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Advantage Program, which mentors, prepares, and inspires young women and underserved communities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. He also raises awareness and donations for the reconstruction and self-sufficiency of Haiti, and enjoys volunteering for a variety of organizations.

Quinn Kathryn Knotts was born November 21, 2012, to Luke and Kat

(Magnuson) Knotts C’01 in Evanston, Ill.

Quinn was born at Evanston Hospital, weighing 8 lb. 8 oz, and measuring 21 inches.

Nathan Nordlund C’01 and Barbara (Samuelson) Nordlund C’01

welcomed Nilsa Bea into their family on December 11, 2012. Nilsa is doted upon by her sisters Sanne, age six, and Ivy, age two-and-a-half. The Nordlunds are grateful for another happy and healthy baby girl. Cori (Morse) Reynolds C’02 and her husband, Brian (dad to Brandon, Zach, and Nolan), were married July 10, 2010. They welcomed Elliot in May 2012. The family currently resides in Sauk Rapids, Minn., where Cori is the director of community education and gifted/talented programs for Foley Public Schools.

Alumni Notes

Luke C’04 and Ingrid (Forsgren) Anderson C’04

welcomed to their family identical twin boys, Bjorn Wesley (7 lb.) and Karl Gustav (6 lb. 8 oz.), on September 28, 2012. They joined big brother Lars, age three, and big sister Ebba, age one. The Andersons currently reside in Michigan.

Theodore James Petre, son of Richard Petre C’06 and

in Minneapolis.

Ryan C’07 and Rose Lee-Norman C’06 celebrated the birth of their daughter, Esme Ruth, on December 7, 2012. Esme was born at 8:43 am, weighing 7 lb. 7 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches. The Lee-Normans reside in Minneapolis.

Finley Rose Johnson was welcomed by Susannah (Bagaas) Johnson C’04, Conor Johnson C’04, and big sister Arabella on September 28, 2012. She weighed 6 lb. 4 oz. Susannah and Conor are so blessed by their two little girls. The Johnsons reside in Tuscon, Ariz.

Everly Ocean was welcomed into the world by Nat C’07 and Ellen (Moore) Fondell C’07 on November 16, 2012. The Fondells reside

Anne (Truitt) Petre C’06

Rachel (Ekstrand) Einfeldt C’06, Rachel Farnum C’06, and Abby Nunez C’07.

Anne received her master of science in therapeutic recreation from Indiana University in 2010. The Petres reside in Warsaw, Ind., where Anne works for Purdue University as the extension educator in 4-H/youth development, and Richard is the general manager of the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds.

North Parker Summer 2013

was born February 23, 2012, at 7:23 pm, weighing 3 lb. 10 oz. and measuring 16.5 inches. Richard and Anne were married September 13, 2008, at Hope Evangelical Covenant Church in Indianapolis. The wedding was officiated by Linda Forbes C’87 S’01. North Parkers in the wedding included


Alumni Notes

and Shelby Peters C’13. Many more North

Parkers attended the wedding. The Hendricks met at Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp in Onekama, Mich. Jacob currently works in the construction department for Family Christian Stores. Ruth works as a nanny and is pursuing a career in photography. Ingrid (Johnson) Reep C’10 was named

Stina Peterson C’08 married John Dufour on August 5, 2012, in Chicago. North Parkers in the wedding were Kirstin Bengtson C’08, Jillian Rosich C’08, Krysta Satterstrom C’08, and Kaj Peterson C’11. More alumni were in attendance.

North Parker Summer 2013

Ruth Wise C’09 married Jacob Hendrick at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., on September 24, 2011. North Parkers involved in the wedding included Eric Ek C’06, Carri Behal C’07, Esther (Wise) Ortlund C’07, Evie Peterson C’08, Emily (Tisch) Boucher C’09, Linnea Ek C’09, Ceamona (Hood) Taube C’09, Rachel (Madvig) Zimmerly C’09, Jessica Peters C’13,


Employee of the Year by Native Alaskan Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. She is currently serving as chairperson of a committee directing the hospital in maintaining its magnet status. Ingrid and her husband, Nathan Reep C’10, were married in 2011. India Alexis Ehioba G’12, executive director

of the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation, recently earned the Certified Association Executive credential (CAE). The CAE is the highest professional credential in the association industry, a designation earned by less than five percent of all association professionals. India, her husband, and their five children live in Naperville, Ill.

Alumni Notes

Obituaries Rev. Lars Edward “Ed” Nelson C’39 S’43 passed away

Curt Lau C’92 died at his home in West Burlington, Iowa, on October 25, 2012, at the age of 43. He fought a courageous battle with brain cancer for 14 years. Born August 25, 1969, in Waverly, Iowa, he was the son of Roland and Betty Hartman Lau. On August 17, 1996, he married Christy (Baker) C’94 in Denver, Iowa. Lau was the assistant men’s basketball coach at Wartburg College from 1997 to 2004. He worked as a teacher and coach until retiring in 2010 from West Burlington Elementary. Lau had a remarkable memory, was a “jokester,” and always had a smile ready—except when his sister had a camera in her hand. He enjoyed coaching basketball and playing any type of sport. The Laus enjoyed going to professional sporting events, movies, and dining out. He especially enjoyed being entertained by his son, Parker.

December 30, 2012, in Longview, Wash., at the age of 98. He was born June 17, 1914, in Bessemer, Pa., and married Florence Anderson on June 18, 1944. Nelson served Covenant churches in Malden, Mass., and New London, Conn., before serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1972. He then returned to North Park, where he served as resident director of Burgh Hall, worked in the Office of Development, and served the Edgewater and Austin Covenant churches between 1972 and 1977. He then served Covenant churches in Frisco, Colo., and Ballwin, Mo. In 1987, the Nelsons moved to Longview, Wash. She preceded him in death in 2003. He is survived by his daughter Pris Padilla C’68, son Dr. Tim Nelson C’74, daughter-in-law Linda (Metcalf) Nelson C’75, granddaughters Kerstin McQuaid, Allison Karolak, Katrina Nelson-Phelan C’04, Linnea (Nelson) Welander C’06, grandson Eric Nelson, and eight great-grandchildren.

five children. After graduating from North Park, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Freeman received a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Iowa State University. Prior to his illness, he was an IT manager for Oasis Systems, working on U.S. Air Force Communications Systems installations. In addition to his wife, Freeman is survived by his four siblings and their spouses: William C’47 (Dorothy), Norma (Freeman) Johnson C’52 (Dale), Marilyn (Freeman) Green C’56 (Charles A’53 C’55), and Robert C’69 (Beverly).

Rod Sveiven C’55 S’65 passed away August 6, 2011. He was born November 29, 1934, and was married to Bernita (Peterson) C’62. Memorial services were held for Sveiven in August 2011 in

Rochester Hills, Mich. He is survived by his wife, four children, and eight grandchildren.

2012, after a 10-month battle with a malignant brain tumor. He was the husband of Carol Cassidy and the son of the late Rev. William Freeman S’25 and Ellen Freeman. Freeman was born on September 14, 1945, in Omaha, Neb., the youngest of

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Charles Freeman C’67, Providence, R.I., died November 14,


Alumni Notes

Center for Nonprofit Management, which works to enhance the nonprofit sector through education, service, and resources. He was a founding member of the advisory board for the Axelson Center. Each year, the University presents an award that bears his name: the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence. These awards are presented to two nonprofit organizations at the Axelson Center’s Annual Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers. Jimmie was born in Madisonville, Ky. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws by the University, and served on the board of trustees, completing his term in 2010. He also was a board member at Aurora University, Aurora, Ill., and had been awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters by the school.

Jimmie Alford, 1943—2012 Jimmie R. Alford C’66 died suddenly on December 18, 2012,

North Parker Summer 2013

following an apparent heart attack at his Chicago home. He was founder and chair of the Alford Group, and executive-inresidence at the North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM), where he taught graduate courses and workshops. A memorial service was held December 22 in Chicago.


Alford was well-known nationally. To many in the North Park and nonprofit communities, he was known as “Jimmie.” The Alford Group, which he founded in 1979 to serve the nonprofit sector, quickly grew into one of the premier consulting firms in the United States. It has served more than 3,000 nonprofit clients since its creation. He was twice recognized by The NonProfit Times as “one of the 50 most influential people in the nonprofit sector.” Last October, the Chicago Better Government Association presented Jimmie its lifetime achievement award. Jimmie was also an influential leader with the University’s Axelson

Jimmie served with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago before he founded the Alford Group, and was an early advisor to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Bloomington. He was a longtime member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and in 2009, was the recipient of the prestigious Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service, given to individuals for exceptional service to AFP, the fundraising profession, and the philanthropic community. He was active as a volunteer with Cure Violence Chicago, and was senior advisor to the Better Government Association. Jimmie and his wife, Maree Bullock, received the 2012 “Spirit of Youth” award by the National Runaway Switchboard, a Chicago organization that recognized their work to keep runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth safe. In a letter to Jimmie’s family from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his life was lauded as “one filled with passion and purpose.” Mayor Emanuel went on to say that Jimmie was “diligent… determined…a stellar example of a Chicagoan.” Jimmie is survived by his wife and their three children, Ann (Sean) Reardon, and Joshua, Chicago; Alan, Breckenridge, Colo.; and two grandchildren.

North Parker welcomes updates for the Alumni Notes, including wedding, birth, reunion, and professional announcements. Your updates can be submitted online at or mailed to North Park University, 3225 W. Foster Ave., Box 37, Chicago, IL 60625. Please keep submissions to 100 words or fewer and ensure that photographs are high resolution. Due to space limitations, announcements are subject to editing.

For more information on how to stay in touch with alumni, visit

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ANNUAL GIVING TO NORTH PARK “ I made a senior class gift to the Annual

Joseph Ramirez C’13

Fund as my thank you for the scholarship I received as a junior transferring to North Park. I hope you will continue to support the Annual Fund to make a real difference in the lives of students. God has blessed me with strong friendships at North Park. I look forward to becoming involved as an alum.”

“ As a parent, I was inspired to give to the Annual Fund for the first time this year because North Park exceeds my expectations by providing such an excellent education in an urban environment where students can flourish. I believe that every gift, no matter the size, is needed and appreciated. I know my gift will be put to very good use.”

More than 2,000 donors—50% more than last year—give to North Park’s Annual Fund to support our mission, strengthen our faculty and academic programs, and provide $9 million annually in scholarships and financial aid. Please join us so we can do even more for every student, every day!

Make a gift. Make a difference. Susan Nemcek, parent of John Nemcek C’15

“ I benefitted from alumni who donated while

Christy (Boydston) Jensen C’08

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I was a North Park student. So I’m giving back to those who come after me. I hope my gift will enable students to find what they are passionate about and also to make lifelong friendships. After college, the world gets bigger but my North Park relationships will always remain close to my heart.”


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