Distinguished Alumni Awards Program

College Awards: Do you know, or are you, a USF alumnus/a with outstanding professional and personal successes and/or involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities? Consider nominating a worthy alum candidate!

  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of Business & Health Administration
  • College of Education
  • Leach College of Nursing

Presidential Award Winner: In addition to the above awards, each year, our president selects someone who has made an impact at the university or within their profession or community. This deserving individual will be honored along with the college award recipients.

Nominations: Click here to access the online nomination form. Anyone can nominate and nominations are due by July 31. Recipients are selected by the Executive Board of the USF Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Distinguished Alumni Awards Highlight: Distinguished Alumni Award winners will be promoted on social media and via a press release. They will also be featured on our website. Check back here for the features!

Questions: Contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

Centennial Alumni Award
Winners 2020

2020 Presidential Alumni Award

image of cheryl stepney

Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ‘70 (B.A. History)
Retired President & Chief Technology Officer at Empowerment Associates, LLC. She resides in Bloomington, MN.

2020 College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award

julie mccabe sterr portrait

 Julie McCabe-Sterr ’75 (B.A. Social Work)
Problem Solving Court Coordinator at the Office of the Will County State’s Attorney. She resides in Plainfield, IL.

2020 College of Business and Health Administration Award

teresa andrea portrait

Teresa Andrea ’15 (M.S. Health Administration)
Vice President, Chief Information Officer at Silver Cross Hospital. She resides in Tinley Park, IL.

2020 College of Education Alumni Award

peter sullivan portrait

Dr. Peter Sullivan ’15 (Ed. D. Educational Leadership)
Assistant Regional Superintendent at the Will County Regional Office of Education. He resides in Lockport, IL.

2020 Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award

raquel prendkowski portrait

Raquel Prendkowski ’02 (BSN Nursing)
Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Mount Sinai Hospital. She resides in Homer Glen, IL.

Previous Award Recipients

2019 – Margaret (Kennedy) Benoit ‘69 (B.A. English)
Retired Educator at Joliet School District 86. She resides in Joliet, IL.

2018 – William “Bill” ‘82 & Patricia “Trish”
(Banks) ‘83 Bellah
Bill is retired founder/CEO of Compass Chemical International, LLC and current member of USF’s Board of Trustees

2017 – Wilhelmine Vidmar ’68 (B.S., Biology)
Adjunct Faculty at Joliet Junior College, Bridal Seamstress at White Satin Bridal, and Alumni Board Member (and past president) since 1973

2016 – Brendan ’05 and Jessica (Saraga ’05) Walsh
Brendan is co-owner and camera freelance operator and Jessica is co-owner and producer at Great Lakes Media in Joliet, Ill.

2015 – The Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
Founders and Sponsoring Congregation of the University of St. Francis

2014 – Roniece Weaver ’89
Partner & Executive Director at Hebni Nutrition Consultant (M.S. Health Services Administration)

2013 – Candice Rosen ’88
Owner & Health Counselor at Candice Rosen Health Counseling, LLC in Chicago, Ill.

2012 – Jo Ann (McDonald) Barber ‘52
Retired Teacher

2011 – Craig Herkert II ’81
President/CEO, Supervalu Inc.

2019 – Julius Patterson ‘13 (BSW Social Work)
MTSS Behavior Specialist and Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Thorton Township High School. He resides in Harvey, IL.

2018 – Lillian (Doleshek) Buckley ’72 (B.A., History)
Development Director of Bridgeport Catholic Academy

2017 – Robert Obrohta ’88 (B.A., Political Science)
Executive Director of the Tennessee College Access and Success Network

2016 – Robert Zak ’83 (Journalism/Communications)
Radio Personality, Marketing Executive in Plainfield, IL

2015 – Kasia Wereszczynska ’06 (Psychology)
Crisis Worker at Ada S. McKinley Community Services in Chicago, IL

2014 – Dr. John Harper ’81
Principal of Providence Catholic High School, New Lenox, IL. (B.A. Political Science)

2013 – Mary Jo Moran ’69
Executive Director of the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators in Cincinnati, OH

2012 – Sr. Jeanne Bessette OSF, Ed.D. ‘77
President of DePaul Cristo Rey High School in Cincinnati

2011 – Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ’70
CEO, Empowerment Associates

2019 – Caroline Portlock ’02, ‘04 (B.S. Professional Arts, MBA Business Administration)
Director of Workforce Investment Board of Will County. She resides in Shorewood, IL.

2018 –Brian Bain ’02 (BBA, Management)
President of Tri-City Wolverines Youth Football & Cheer

2017 – DeWitt Buchanan ’89 (BBA, Finance)
Managing Director at Safe Harbor Retirement Consultants, LLC

2016 – Lisa Nichols ’07, ’09
Administrator at St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital in Pell City, Ala.

2015 – Laura (Dunlap) Messineo ’11, ’15
System Manager TeleHealth Operations at Presence Health Hospitals across Illinois

2014 – Alan Randolph ’07
Director of Sustainability at DNV GL Energy

2013 – James Ostrom ’07
Executive Director at OSF HealthCare System in Peoria, Ill.

2012 – Roger Forgey ‘96
President and CEO of Erlanger medical Center at Hutcheson

2011 – Kathleen (Hettiger) O’Neill ’90
Senior Director of Quality Initiatives, American Heart Association

2019 –Patricia Arias ’08, ‘11 (B.A. Elementary Education, M.S. Teaching & Learning)
Bilingual Teacher at Joliet School District 86. She resides in Joliet, IL.

2018 – Holly Bontkowski ‘93 (B.A., Elementary Education)
Curriculum Project Manager at Naperville School District 203

2017 – Timothy Reilly ’11 (M.S., Educational Leadership)
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum at Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210

2016 – Suzanne Knoelk ’05, ’10
Reading Specialist at New Lenox School District 122 in New Lenox, Ill.

2015 – Daniel Markun ’13
Academy Coordinator of the Health and Medicine and Human Services Academies at Joliet West High School in Joliet, IL

2014 – Mary Jane Papesh ’93
Teacher at Valley View School District 365 U

2013 – Rita Guzman ’02, ’10, ’11
K-5 Lead ESL/Bilingual Teacher at Valley View School District 365U in Romeoville/Bolingbrook, IL

2012 – Cheryl McCarthy Ed.D. ‘86
Superintendent, Joliet Township High School District

2011 – Kathleen (DeGeus) Barker ’86
Principal, Troy Craughwell School

2019 – Lisa Pittman ’00, ’10, ‘13 (B.S. Health Arts, M.S. Health Administration, MSN Nursing Administration)
Assistant Vice President (AVP) Patient Care Services at Cancer Treatment Centers of America – Chicago. She resides in Naperville, IL.

2018 –Dayna (Bernstein) Jaynstein ‘09 (M.S., Physician Assistant Studies)
Assistant Director, PA-C at Red Rocks Community College

2017 – Annette Mattea ’13 (DNP, Nursing)
Associate Professor in the Leach College of Nursing at the University of St. Francis

2016 – Sheri Pieroni ’09
Vascular Access Specialist at Presence Health in Joliet, Ill.

2015 – Dr. Mary (Lauric) Petrella ’78
Nurse practitioner for Edward Hines VA Hospital at the Joliet community-based outpatient and home-based primary care clinic

2014 – Dr. Jean Mau ’80, ’12 
Advanced practice nurse at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

2013 – Jacqueline Edmonson ’63, ’88, ’94
Retired director of Surgical Services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill.

2012 – Cheryl Brubaker ‘04
Nurse Practitioner, Albuquerque School District and USF faculty

2011 – Madeline (DePodest) Golobitsch ’64
Retired Nurse, Joliet Area Community Hospice