2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners Announced

Sept. 22, 2018 | Joliet, Ill.

The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, will honor six outstanding alumni with an annual Distinguished Alumni Award as part of the university’s Homecoming & Reunion festivities on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The most prestigious award, the Presidential Alumni Award, is selected by the university. In addition, one alum from each of the university’s four colleges is honored each year, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university. Nominations were submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. The recipients were then selected by the USF Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors based on outstanding professional and personal successes, as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities.

Award winners will be honored at USF’s Distinguished Alumni Dinner & Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at 6 p.m. in San Damiano Hall at the main USF campus in Joliet. To attend, please contact alumni@stfrancis.edu. Reservations are required.

Presidential Alumni Award

William “Bill” ‘82 & Patricia “Trish” (Banks) ‘83 Bellah
(Bill – B.A., Journalism/Communications)
(Trish – B.A., Political Science)

Bill is Retired Founder/CEO of
Compass Chemical International, LLC and
current member of USF’s Board of Trustees

Bill and Trish both started at the College of St. Francis (CSF) in the fall semester of 1979. After graduating in 1982, Bill found work within the chemical distribution industry as an industrial chemical salesperson while Trish completed her studies the following semester. Over the next 17 years, Bill worked his way up in the chemical arena working for manufacturers, distributors, and chemical traders to hone his management and business skills before starting his grass-roots chemical business, Compass Chemical International, in 1999. Trish also made her mark after graduating in 1983 by working in the banking and mortgage industry and rising to the level of National Builder Accounts Mortgage Accounts Manager before deciding to focus on raising the three children they now had while Bill built his chemical business. Bill grew Compass at an astonishing rate, and after weathering the 2008/2009 recession, decided to sell Compass Chemical to a Private Equity Group out of NYC in 2015 when the markets reached new highs once again. Bill and Trish then decided to turn their efforts towards philanthropy, with the University of St. Francis as their number one beneficiary, so that they could give back to where it all began for them both. Since then, they have added numerous charities to their list of giving, including CASA of Kane County, Akron’s Children Hospital, St. Cecilia Foundation and many other deserving causes. They have now also taken an active interest in some of these by organizations by getting intimately involved on various boards so they can utilize their skills and gifts to affect change for the new generations to come. Bill and Trish reside in Franklin, Tenn.

College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award 

Lillian (Doleshek) Buckley ’72 (B.A., History)
Development Director of Bridgeport Catholic Academy

From the time of her graduation from the College of St. Francis until today, Lillian (Doleshek) Buckley has spent a lifetime devoted to children and Catholic education. Her career has spanned 45 years of dedicated service to Catholic education. Her career began with a nine-year tenure as a grade school teacher at Holy Cross Grade School in the Back of the Yards and St. David Grade School in her Bridgeport community. Lillian next served for twenty years as Principal of Saints Cyril and Methodius Grade School in Lemont. She next became principal at Bridgeport Catholic Academy at her home parish of Nativity of Our Lord in Chicago’s Bridgeport community. She was very proud to serve as Principal of the grade school from which she graduated in 1964. Lillian continues to serve her community in many ways. For eighteen years, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Propagation of Faith for the Chicago Archdiocese. She has also served for nine years on the Board of Directors of St. Laurence High School, been on the Woman’s Board at Mercy Hospital the past fourteen years, a member of the Chicago Near-South Rotary. Lillian serves Nativity Parish as a Eucharistic Minister and this year she completed training for and now serves as a Minister of Bereavement. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Lillian has been very active in supporting cancer causes and support groups. She has helped many women who have faced cancer with empathy, encouragement and support. Buckley resides in Chicago, Ill.

College of Business and Health Administration Award

Brian Bain ’02 (BBA, Management)
President of Tri-City Wolverines Youth Football & Cheer

USF has always been an important part of Brian’s life, as it gave him the opportunity to be the first person in his family to earn a college degree. Brian has been a proud Local 174 Carpenter since 1999. He graduated from USF in 2002 and has worked at Citgo Refinery as a Union Carpenter since 2009, following ten years of working in residential construction. His degree in business management has allowed him to follow his true passion: making a difference in the lives of children through youth sports.  Brian took on the position as president of the Tri-City Wolverines Youth Football and Cheer program and credits USF for giving him the training and knowledge he needed to make this non-profit organization successful. This year, the program has grown to include over 200 athletes. Brian has also partnered with USF Head Football Coach Joe Curry to offer USF/Wolverines Youth Football & Cheer Camp for the past three years. The camp is run by USF football players/coaches and Wolverines coaches. This past Spring, Brian partnered with Plainfield Central High School to start the Under Armour “Under the Lights” Flag Football League as a way to prepare Wolverines players for the fall tackle football season.  The league is already the largest of its kind in the State of Illinois. Brian hopes that he can continue his passion of coaching and developing young athletes in sports, while also preparing them for the real world. He takes great pride in knowing that everything he has put into the organization provides an opportunity for his own kids and hundreds of others young athletes to have a successful youth sports experience. Brian resides in Joliet, Ill.

College of Education Alumni Award

Holly Bontkowski ‘93 (B.A., Elementary Education)
Curriculum Project Manager at Naperville School District 203

Holly Bontkowski had the calling to be a teacher from her earliest memories. Coming to College of St. Francis, though, made this the clearest decision she ever made, and solidified that there was nothing else she would ever do. Holly began her career teaching 4th grade at Troy Craughwell, and then followed her students to 5th grade. After several years at Troy and learning from many wonderful mentors, Holly moved on to Indian Trail Middle School in Plainfield School District 202, where she intensely worked in a team setting to address literacy issues. This work led to consulting opportunities surrounding Standards and Assessment with and for the Illinois State Board of Education. In 2008, Holly won the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, and was fortunate enough to attend a sabbatical at Northwestern University, where she met an instructor who got her involved with the Partnership for 21st Century, and then the development of the Common Core State Standards. In 2010, Holly took a position with Naperville School District 203 teaching Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies, and continued to develop her passion in literacy and authentic instruction. Currently, Holly serves both as an adjunct and a Program Coordinator at UST, and as a Curriculum Project Manager in Naperville School District 203, where she now leads other teachers in their own loves of education and their students. Holly resides Plainfield, Ill.

Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award

Dayna (Bernstein) Jaynstein ‘09 (M.S., Physician Assistant Studies)
Assistant Director, PA-C at Red Rocks Community College

Dayna graduated from the USF physician assistant program in 2009. Since graduation, she has worked clinically in Emergency Medicine in several Denver-area emergency departments. In 2012 Dayna was the recipient of the Peak Performers Award for the Top Hospital-Based Physician Assistant, an award that recognizes the efforts of inpatient providers in the Rocky Mountain Region.  In 2014, Dayna transitioned into academia and her current role as the assistant director and associate professor at the Red Rocks PA program in Arvada, CO. Since 2015, Dayna has been involved with the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, the only national Emergency Medicine PA organization, and currently serves as the organization’s president-elect. Dayna resides in Denver, Colo.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 4,100 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu. University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.