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CAST Academy of Achievement Recipients

Induction into the College of Applied Science and Technology Academy of Achievement is an honor bestowed on graduates of the College of Applied Science and Technology. The Academy attempts to bring together "thought leaders" in their fields who, through their life work, serve as an inspiration to others to pursue similar career paths.

  • Heather Gieske

    Heather Gieseke

    2008 BS, Agriculture

    Heather Gieseke graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Agribusiness in 2008. Since December 2021, Gieseke has held title of Vice President Carbon Commercial at Indigo Ag, Inc. She leads a dynamic team focused on creating climate positive solutions through the sequestering of carbon in U.S. croplands and generating new commodity premiums for crops with sustainable characteristics.  Her career at Indigo Ag, Inc. has included the roles of Head of Crop Marketing Operations, Head of Commercial Marketplace Strategy, Director of Grain Marketing, and Director of Business Strategy and Implementation.

    Previously, Gieseke held the position of Senior Director Business Development at American Farm Bureau Federation Inc. Before this, she held the position of National Account Manager, while working at Meredith Corporation. Prior to that, Gieseke held the positions of Strategic Marketing Manager and Farm Marketer, while working at Cargill, Incorporated.

    Gieseke is a passionate change agent in the agriculture industry.  Starting her career in commodity trading and risk management and expanding to advertising, farm research and industry affairs, she has consistently been drawn to supporting mutual benefit of sustainable agriculture and farm profitability.  She believes that the connectivity of science and data between farmers, the supply chain and consumers is where we win for the planet and the future of a safe and plentiful food supply.

  • Dr. Raleigh Blasdell

    Dr. Raleigh Blasdell

    2003 BA, 2008 MS Criminal Justice Sciences

    Dr. Raleigh Blasdell holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in criminal justice sciences from Illinois State University. She completed her Ph.D. in criminology at the University of South Florida (2015), where her studies focused on victimology and gender-based violence. Blasdell was employed as a faculty member at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (2009-2012), and subsequently Southeast Missouri State University (2013-2019). Prior to landing in academia, she worked as a victim advocate (with women and children who had been abused) and as a terrorism intelligence analyst.

    Currently, Blasdell is an associate professor of criminology and sociology, and the department chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminology, & Anthropology at North Central College (NCC), where she has been employed since 2019. Since her arrival at NCC, she developed, proposed, and implemented the undergraduate major in Criminology, as well as new study abroad courses for criminology and sociology students. 

    Blasdell has an impressive record of research and scholarship, most recently publishing her first book, “Invisible Victims & the Pursuit of Justice,” and being recognized as NCC’s distinguished senior faculty researcher for the 2021-2022 academic year. However, it is teaching and mentoring students about which she is most passionate. Blasdell has instructed over 150 sections of 26 distinct courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, which has earned her numerous teaching awards and accolades, and she is frequently a speaker and consultant regarding community engaged learning and the incorporation of technology in- and outside of the classroom. She is also passionate about and deeply involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, both on campus and in the community.

  • Jennifer Mangers-Dean

    Jennifer Mangers-Deans

    2007 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

    Jennifer Mangers-Deans graduated from Illinois State University in 2007 with a Masters in Family and Consumer Sciences with a focus in Child Life. Upon graduation, she was offered a Child Life Specialist position at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. While there, she collaborated with multidisciplinary staff to create a bereavement program for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, an adolescent support group for inpatient, and a NICU parent group. She also worked with Neonatal, Cardiac, and Pediatric Intensive Care Units and was a member of the Pediatric Palliative Care Team.

    Mangers-Deans returned to Illinois in 2010 to start the first Child Life Program in Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care in the state. She moved into management of Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care, and served as Director of Pediatric and Serious Illness Services for a northern Illinois hospice.  She is actively involved in state legislation and advocacy of pediatric hospice and palliative care programs in the state of Illinois, including participation in a recently passed legislation that creates accessible care for patients and families and reimbursement for pediatric palliative care. She assisted with writing in the recommendation of having Child Life staff within any pediatric palliative care program. 

    While Mangers-Deans has moved on to a leadership role, her passion for Child Life has continued. In 2010, she created a small group for child life specialists in hospice and palliative care. This specialized group offered support and an opportunity to share resources, education, and career opportunities. In 2021, the group became an international organization called the Child Life in Hospice and Palliative Network (CLHPN). The organization focuses on educational needs for child life specialists in this specialized area, while offering opportunities for specialized certification, research, and advocacy for the role of Child Life in hospice and palliative care.

    An active alumna, Mangers-Deans has frequently returned to ISU to provide education to future child life specialists. She earned her MHA in 2021 from Colorado State University  and currently works for an organization called Cure SMA where she focuses on education for healthcare providers and advocacy for pediatric patients diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.

    When she is not working, Mangers-Deans can be found hiking and rock climbing in the mountains with her husband and two dogs, or spending time with friends and family.

  • Steven Smeets

    Steven Smeets

    2014 BS, Medical Laboratory Science

    Steven Smeets, originally from Ottawa, Illinois graduated with honors from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science in the Spring of 2014. Since then, Smeets has been employed at Mayo Clinic where he has held several positions of increasing responsibility.

    After completing a summer internship in the Hematopathology Morphology Laboratory at Mayo in 2013, Smeets went on to begin a full-time post-graduation role as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in the Hospital Clinical Laboratory. This lab is tasked with accurately producing STAT diagnostic test results in support of critical care areas at Mayo Clinic’s two large hospital campuses in Rochester, MN. In the years to follow, Smeets advanced to the positions of Technical Specialist, Assistant Supervisor, and Laboratory Supervisor. In the role of Laboratory Supervisor, he helped lead the team through the tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the clinical practice by implementing rapid PCR testing to support the pre-surgical and pre-procedural areas as well as the Emergency Department.

    In 2022, Smeets started his current position as Operations Manager for Laboratory Clinical Support Services in the division of Supply Chain Management. In this role he leads a new team that supports Mayo Clinic-Rochester’s fifty clinical laboratories in all supply chain related activities ranging from receiving and inventory management, to cost control and supplier communication.  The team is part of a larger enterprise effort to standardize laboratory supply chain practices with Mayo Clinic sites in the Midwest, Florida, and Arizona.

    Smeets earned a master’s in business administration from St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN in 2019.  He currently resides in Byron, MN, with his wife, Lindsey, and their three children.

  • Pete Lamonica

    Pete Lamonica

    2007 BS, Computer Science

    Pete Lamonica started his software development career working on web applications for ISU’s Office of Residential Life. While working on his computer science degree, Lamonica filled his spare time performing in the Gamma Phi Circus and with the Encore vocal jazz ensemble. He also competed as a member of ISU’s ACM-ICPC competitive programming team, building the problem solving skills he’s used throughout his career.

    Following his graduation in 2007, Lamonica went to work for AT&T in St. Louis, eventually finding himself working on the content management system behind In 2011, after leaving AT&T, Lamonica developed an open source project to customize Apple’s “Siri” digital assistant to make it do cool stuff like set his thermostat. His project was featured in Popular Science, Cnet, Engadget, The Verge, and other popular tech publications.

    After a short stint at Edward Jones Investments working on their equity trading tool, in 2013 Lamonica headed to Seattle for a job as a software engineer for While he was there, he helped build Amazon Go — Amazon’s cashier-less convenience store.

    In 2019, Lamonica took on a senior software engineering role at Google, where he currently leads development of an application tracking and troubleshooting the deployment of millions of computers to Google’s data centers worldwide.

    Lamonica continues to stay involved in education, performing curriculum development and teaching Google’s internal course on Angular to hundreds of software engineers each year. Each summer, he serves as an interview mentor for students through Google’s Software Product Sprint program, which identifies promising students from diverse backgrounds and gives them an opportunity to work with Google software engineers to build their professional skill set.

    Outside of work, Lamonica mentors new software developers through his work as a moderator on the Commit Your Code! Discord server, where over 12,000 developers from around the world come to learn about software development and obtain career guidance.

  • Nick Frangella

    Nick Frangella

    2004 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

    Nick Frangella is the Head Athletic Trainer for the Chicago Cubs. He has spent his entire career within the Cubs organization, beginning as the Major League intern during the 2004 season. He was hired full-time by the organization at the start of the 2005 season and has spent time as Head Athletic Trainer of the Boise Hawks, Peoria Chiefs, Tennessee Smokies, and Iowa Cubs. He earned Athletic Trainer of the Year honors in 2009 while working with the Tennessee Smokies. Following the 2011 season, Nick covered the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.  The 2014-2017 seasons were spent leading the Minor League Athletic Training staff as the Head Minor League Athletic Training and Performance coordinator. It was in 2018 that he was promoted to the Major League staff as Assistant Athletic Trainer. He was a member of the 2018 and 2020 playoff teams and is a recipient of a 2016 World Series Ring. Entering the 2023 Season, Nick will begin his first year serving as the Head Athletic Trainer. 

    Frangella earned his master’s degree in 2007 from California University of Pennsylvania in Exercise Science and has been a lifelong learner. He holds many certifications in functional screenings, manual soft tissue techniques, and exercise prescription. He was honored in 2008 by the Illinois State University School of Kinesiology and Recreation as a Distinguished Alumni and has guest lectured for multiple athletic training classes. He presented in 2016 at the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer’s Society Spring Training Seminar: “An Integrated Approach to Hamstring Prevention, Treatment and Return to Play.” Frangella has mentored multiple Illinois State students as interns throughout his career, some of which are still actively working in Major League Baseball.  He is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Society, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, and the Illinois State University School of Kinesiology and Recreation Alumni Council. 

  • Jerrit

    Jeritt Williams

    2007 BS; 2012 MS, Technology and Engineering Education

    Jeritt Williams is a 2007 Illinois State University graduate with honors in Technology and Engineering Education. After graduation, he began teaching middle and high school in central Illinois, ultimately serving as department chair at Normal West High School. He joined the adjunct faculty in the Department of Technology in 2009 and received his Master’s degree in Technology in 2012 with a concentration on training and development.

    Williams returned to Illinois State to continue his career in 2014 at the former Center for Renewable Energy. He served as the STEM Energy Education Coordinator, supporting state and federal-level educational and workforce development initiatives such as the Illinois Pathways Energy Learning Exchange. Williams also collaborated with ISU’s Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (CeMAST) to co-develop the “Smartgrid for Schools” project, which sought to provide educational outreach regarding features of Illinois’ modernized electrical systems, smart home technologies, and the economics of energy use.

    Williams is currently a faculty member in the Department of Technology at Illinois State, where he teaches Engineering Technology courses related to industrial systems, automation, and robotics. He was recognized for outstanding teaching at the department and college levels in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Williams continues to support career and technical education through his service and leadership with the Illinois Design Educators Association and Technology Education Association of Illinois, which hosts an annual conference and student competitions in Turner Hall.

Past Recipients

  • 2022
  • Sean Arians

    Sean Arians

    2004 BS, Agriculture

  • John Navarro

    John Navarro

    2014 MS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Dana Jeske

    Dana Jeske

    2015 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Nicole Eisenrich

    Nicole Eisenrich

    2006 BS, Health Sciences

  • Jon Locke

    Jon Locke

    2011 BS, Information Technology

  • Ryan Lammle

    Ryan Lammle

    2005 BS, Technology

  • 2021
  • Matt Ginder

    Matt Ginder

    2006 MS, Agriculture

  • Bethany Smith

    Bethany Smith

    2006 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Lori Granich

    Lori Granich

    2007 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Logan Frederick

    Logan Frederick

    2005 BS; 2017 MS, Health Sciences

  • Jolanta Pomiotlo

    Jolanta Pomiotlo

    2001 BS, Information Technology

  • Katie Varnadoo

    Katie Varnado

    2003 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Timothy Bassett

    Timothy Bassett

    2009 BS, Technology

  • 2019
  • Andrew Thoron

    Andrew Thoron

    2002 BS, Agriculture

  • Sami Anderson

    Sami Anderson

    2000 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Laura Bowman

    Laura Bowman

    2011 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Kelli Parker

    Kelli Parker

    2012 BS, Health Sciences

  • Joanette McBounds

    Joanette McBounds

    2008 BS, Information Technology

  • Keith Thraen-Borowski

    Keith Thraen-Borowski

    2001 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Donald Whitman

    Donald Whitman

    1999 BS; 2001 MS, Technology

  • 2018
  • Brian Greenenwald

    Brian Greenenwald

    2007 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Nina Sittler

    Nina Sittler

    2003 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • RoDina Williams

    RoDina Williams

    2002 BS, Health Sciences

  • John Kuk

    John Kuk

    2000 BS, Information Technology

  • Scott Krapf

    Scott Krapf

    2009 BS; 2011 MS Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Shannon Fulton

    Shannon Fulton

    2011 BS, Technology

  • 2017
  • Kevin Johnson

    Kevin Johnson

    2004 BS, Agriculture

  • Garrett Anderson

    Garrett Anderson

    2010 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Jamie Leonard

    Jamie Leonard

    2005 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Jennifer Harris

    Jennifer Harris

    2000 BS; 2003 MS, Health Sciences

  • Mark Walcott

    Mark Walcott

    2002 BS; 2007 MS, 2014 Ph.D., Information Technology

  • Michelle Jacobs

    Michelle Jacobs

    2011 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Mark Hibner

    Mark Hibner

    1996 BS, Technology

  • 2016
  • Dustin L. Pendell

    Dustin L. Pendell

    2000 BS, Agriculture

  • Rebecca Larson

    Rebecca Larson

    2006 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Jennifer and Kimberly Gennace

    Jennifer and Kimberly Gennace

    2005 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Brent DeMichael

    Brent DeMichael

    1999 BS, Health Sciences

  • Brandon Dewitt

    Brandon Dewitt

    2005 BS, Information Technology

  • Delores Balogun

    Delores Balogun

    2008 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Bobby Pillot

    Bobby Pillot

    1999 BS, Technology

  • 2015
  • Mac Condill

    Mac Condill

    1999 BS, Agriculture

  • Brad Lauer

    Brad Lauer

    2005 MS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Molly McGuigan Polk

    Molly McGuigan Polk

    2005 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Sara Griesemer

    Sara Griesemer

    2003, Health Sciences

  • Cory Douglas

    Cory Douglas

    2002 BS, Information Technology

  • David Perry

    David Perry

    1997 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Kyra Tillman

    Kyra Tillman

    1999 BS, Technology

  • 2014
  • Dori Byard

    Dori Byard

    1996 BS, Agriculture

  • Cara Rabe-Hemp

    Cara Rabe-Hemp

    2001 MS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Carrie Carlson

    Carrie Carlson

    1998 BS, 2000 MS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Anthony Shelton

    Anthony Shelton

    2004, Health Sciences

  • Eric Chandler

    Eric Chandler

    1994 BS, Information Technology

  • Erin Kennedy

    Erin Kennedy

    1999 BS, 2011 MS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Shane Tredup

    Shane Tredup

    2001 BS, Technology

  • 2013
  • Curtis Oldfield

    Curtis Oldfield

    1997 BS, Agriculture

  • Andrew Verdun

    Andrew Verdun

    2001 BS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Kimberly Smoot

    Kimberly Smoot

    1992 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Jedediah L. Cantrell

    Jedediah L. Cantrell

    2001 BS, Health Sciences

  • Paul Haisman

    Paul Haisman

    1995 BS, Information Technology

  • Allan Van Every

    Allan Van Every

    1994 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Russ Pande

    Russ Pande

    1996 BS, Technology

  • 2012
  • Aimee Wertz-Lutz

    Aimee Wertz-Lutz

    1994 BS, Agriculture

  • Alex Holsinger

    Alex Holsinger

    1993 MS, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Christina VanDeVelde

    Christina VanDeVelde

    2002 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Todd Macumber

    Todd Macumber

    1995 BS, Health Sciences

  • Antonio Amorin

    Antonio Amorin

    1994 BS, Information Technology

  • Laura Payne

    Laura Payne

    1989 BS, 1992 MS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Steve Parrott

    Steve Parrott

    1995 MS, Technology

  • 2011
  • Dean Kopsell

    Dean Kopsell

    1992 BS, Agriculture

  • Randall Wikoff

    Randall Wikoff

    1985 BA, 2007 MA, Criminal Justice Sciences

  • Denise Cabrisas

    Denise Cabrisas

    2000 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences

  • Paul Wojcieszak

    Paul Wojcieszak

    1997 BS, Health Sciences

  • Nick Percoco

    Nick Percoco

    1997 BS, Information Technology

  • John Quindry

    John Quindry

    1994 BS, 1996 MS, Kinesiology and Recreation

  • Darren Gondry

    Darren Gondry

    1993 BS, 1997 MS, Technology