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 honored at the annual Homecoming & Reunion celebration on Friday, Oct. 1. Winners are also promoted on social media, via a press release, on our web page, and featured in the university’s Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine.

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

Alumni Association Board President Award – presented to alumni that have earned their doctorate degrees and established themselves as nationally known professionals in the field of higher education.

2009 Donald D. Maier, Ph.D., P. Log. ’89

2008 Patricia (Forsythe) Campbell, Ph.D. ’70

2007 Joanne Hostrander, Ph.D., M.S., RN ‘89, ‘98

2006 Daniel M. Merkle, Ph.D ‘87

2005 Wayne Hochwarter, Ph.D. ‘86

Award of Merit – presented to alumni who exemplify the spirit of St. Francis by demonstrating continual understanding and support of the university’s educational and service mission.

2009 Angela DeCraene ‘06

2008 Jodi (Zier) Ackeret ’96, ’02

2007 Dorothy Resh ‘64, ‘84

2006 Diane Nilan ’73

2005 LCDR Frank Slattery, USN ’80

2004 Mary Kay Softcheck Blake ’70

2003 Linda Archambeau Kilroy ‘72

2002 Sister M. Clare Edward Whalen, O.S.F. ‘45

2001 Anna Louise Louis Masching ‘46

2000 Anne Von Esch (Posthumous) ‘50
2000Maryellen Hutchings Groznik ‘45

1999 Marcia Burchardt Bianco ’64

1998 Frances Tures Naal ‘58

1997 No Reunion. Double Reunion in 1998 due to the split of Homecoming and Reunion

1996 Mary Ann Rill Chevigny ‘56

1995 Anne Hutchings Webster ‘50
1995 Phyllis F. Adams ‘55

1994 Mary Jane Dilger Fudacz ‘49
1994 Shirley Vescovi Hayes ‘49
1994 Jeanne Dunn Gasvoda ‘44
1994 Sr. Catherine Pesche ‘39

1993 Janine Lukowski Hicks ‘73
1993 Mary Ann Bonkowski Duderstadt ‘68
1993 Frances Lucas Roger ‘63
1993 Nancy Ward Skuta ‘58
1993 Frances Bergold Waranius ‘53
1993 Jeanne Hodgin Hampson ‘43
1993 Margaret McAuley Probst ‘38
1993 Charlotte Haas Puzzo ‘33

1992 Coletta Fitzgerald Schomburg ‘42
1992 Joyce Klinger ‘67
1992 Marian Masters Fairbairn ‘47
1992 Sr. Margaret Duffy ‘47
1992 JoAnn McDonald Barber ‘52

1990 Judy Pavell DeMint ‘60

1989 Sr. Loretta Tures ‘38

1987 Charles Szoke ‘78

1986 Sr. Ambrose Didier ‘38

1985 Lois Bydalek Johnson ‘57

1984 Gloria Sergen Wilson ‘63

Joann Placher Award – presented to alumni who exemplified the Franciscan spirit through contributions to society and have a value-centered professional and/or family life.

2009 Arlene Franz ‘84

2008 Sally Rundquist, RN  ’95

2007 Anne-Marie Udell ’04

2006 Frances Waranius ’53

2005 Mike Brennan ’81 and Ron Kenny ’81

2004 Vincent Cornelius ’86

2003 Bernice Borek Leracz ’62

2002 Anne Agnes Ludrovec Mergen*  ‘42

2002 Sr. Loretta Wagner, O.S.F. ‘40

2001 Sr. Mary Kathryn Himens ‘51

2000 Eugenia Austin Bank ‘40

1999 George Block ‘79

1998 Sr. Marie Grunloh ‘42

1997 – No Reunion. Double Reunion took place in 1998 because of the split between Homecoming and Reunion.

1996 Alice Davies Wirt ‘66

1995 Lois Miller Kingsbury ‘45

1995 Sr. Elizabeth Marie Klepec ‘50

1994 Jeanette O’Donnell D’Arcy ‘49

1993 Margaret McFarland Haley ‘40

1992 Mary Lou Lapasso Schuster ‘67

1991 Dr.  Barb Watters ‘80

1990 Sr.  Clare Edward Whalen ‘45

1988 Sr.  Vivian Whitehead, O. S. F. ‘50

1986 Carolyn Tomecek Murphy ‘65

1985 Margaret Donovan Moser ‘36

1984 Josephine Dominik Smialek ‘80

Outstanding Young Alumni Award – presented to alumni who graduated within the last 10 years and have excelled beyond their peers in the areas of leadership and professional success and/or served their community or the university selflessly.

2009 David Wildebrandt ‘97, ‘02

2008 Margaret Covelli ‘03

2007 Erica Lucik ‘01

2006 Debra Rogan ‘98

2005 Daniel Koch ‘02

2004 Yvonne Lees ‘92

2003 Steven Vanisko ‘86

Professional Achievement Award – presented to alumni who demonstrated professional achievement and leadership as well as continued support of USF. This award honors alumni who achieved personal success and made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields that were widely recognized and lauded by their colleagues.

2009 Sheri Matter ‘90, ‘07

2008 Karla Perez ’92

2007 Steven Randich ’79

2006 Michael McGreal ‘01

2005 Virginia Matthews ’72

2003 Dr. Jill Richard Kickul ‘91

2002 Karen Wilken ’92

2001 Dolores Torres Kenney ‘56

2000 Leona Kowalski Laouras ‘64
2000 Sr. M. Peter Didier, O.S.F. ‘43, ’52

1999 Dr. Rosemary Lucas ’49

1998 Sandra Lawrence Miesel ‘62

1996 Sandra Novak Montrose ‘61

1995 Dr. Patricia F. Campbell ‘70
1995 Mr. Elmer Eddy ‘80
1995 Mr. Stephen Meehan ‘80

1994 Jeanne Anne Sweeney ‘54
1994 Sr.  Joan Preising ‘39
1994 Virginia Cronin Pitts ‘54

1993 Dr.  Therese Southgate ‘48
1993 Charlotte Ginnetti Ponto ‘63
1993 Valerie Gambino Weilmuenster ‘78

1992 Gayle Yoksas Altur ‘72
1992 Jan McCoy ‘84

1991 Dr.  Greg Thomsen ‘85
1991 Dr.  Gail Jamieson ‘61
1991 Dr.  Maria Patterson ‘61

1990 – Juanita Kinder Martin ‘54

1989 Sr.  Mariarthur Hamann ‘45

1988 Debora Lazorik ‘77

1987 Jeanette Snyders ‘76

1986 Dr.  Bernadine P. Branchaw ‘64
1986 Margadette Moffatt Demet ‘47 
1986 Sr.  Jean Lenz ‘52

1985 Jean Latz Griffin ‘65
1985 Joanne McCure ‘76
1985 Sr. Mary Frances Seeley ‘64

1984 – Ruth Kerper Tofanelli ‘39
1984 – Fred Rundlet ‘83
1984 Genevieve Wisniewski Buck ‘54