Every year CAST recognizes some of its most successful younger alumni. This year the Academy of Achievement Induction Ceremony will take place on April 21, 2017 from 9:30-10:30 am in the Hancock Stadium Club Room. There will also be a coffee hour from 8:30-9:30 am. The public is invited to attend.
2004 BS, Department of Agriculture
A 2004 graduate of the Department of Agriculture, Kevin Johnson is responsible for carrying out the legislative and regulatory policy objectives for the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) and fostering positive working relationships with federal and state legislators and agency officials, as well as with other industry organizations.Since becoming the Director of Government & Industry for the IFCA, Johnson has worked on major legislation such as federal and state GMO Labeling, Clean Water Act(WOTUS), Illinois’s new Anhydrous Ammonia Rules, and the recently released Illinois Nutrient Loss Strategy.
From 2001 to 2012, Johnson served as the agricultural liaison for Congressman Tim Johnson and the US House Agriculture Committee from 2008 to 2012, assisting the Congressman and constituents with policy issues including agriculture, energy, water and environmental regulations before the House Agriculture Committee. He worked on three farm bills, two energy bills, the annual agricultural appropriation bill, trade issues, clean water act and the food vs. fuels debate. Johnson still farms in the Champaign and Vermilion counties with his father and two brothers. In addition to agriculture, Johnson also studied political science during his time at Illinois State University. Johnson and his wife Anna live in St. Joseph, Illinois.
BS, Criminal Justice Sciences
As a US Army Veteran from Central Illinois, Garrett Anderson ’10, has taken his service for his fellow veterans beyond the battlefield. He strongly believes that “a soldier never leaves a fallen comrade” applies beyond a combat setting. Anderson has dedicated his service to his fellow veterans in many ways.
After graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in Criminal Justice Sciences, Anderson began working for US Congressman Rodney Davis as a constituent services representative to assist veterans in the 13th congressional district writing difficulties and challenges dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Military.
After leaving the U.S. Congressmen's office Anderson began his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at the University of Illinois. Concurrently during his educational process Anderson was fundraising and raising awareness for the Chez Family Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. The center is a one-of-a-kind facility that assists veterans in their academic aspirations to be the next great generation. The center offers multiple services to the veterans, including: psychological counseling, career counseling, academic counseling, resume writing, and many other services to assist the veterans and their families.
Anderson is a motivational speaker educating schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses about his story and the challenges and successes that he's had, and outlining the challenges that current military veterans face.
Anderson volunteers his time in many ways, including as a board member of the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White Veteran’s Advisory Council, a board member of the student-led organization DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring). He also volunteers his time as a coach for his daughter’s basketball, volleyball, and track teams.
Anderson lives in Champaign with his wife, Sami ’01, and his daughters, Skyler and Alex.
2005 BS, Family and Consumer Sciences
Jamie Leonard received her B.S in Interior and Environmental Design in 2005 from Illinois State University. Her career started at the residential interior design firm, Fredman Design Group, as an intern. After preforming well at her three month internship, she was asked to stay on board as an assistant. Hard work and training under one of the firm’s most accomplished designers lead to a design position at the firm. Throughout her career there she has been published multiple times in magazines such as Cooking Light, Small Room Decorating, Kitchen Trends, Chicago Home and Garden, and CS. She has also been the recipient of multiple awards, including three ASID residential design awards, Trends magazine Top 50 American Kitchens, and Chicago Home and Gardens Best Before and After Kitchen award. She continues to develop her design career, and now runs the firms Cabinetry division and is training an assistant of her own.
She believes charity work is important and tries to fit it in whenever possible. She does work with the firms non-profit company, Designs For Dignity, which transforms the existing spaces of other non-profit companies in need through pro bono design work, as well as participating in several years of the DIFFA Dining by Design Event.
Leonard was born and raised in Bloomington-Normal. She met her husband Matthew while attending ISU. They now live on the North side of Chicago with their three month old Miles and two dogs, Murphy and Koda.
2000 BS; 2003 MS, Health Sciences
Jennifer Harris earned both a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and a Master of Science in Environmental Health & Safety from Illinois State University in 2000 and 2003, respectively. After completing an internship at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and graduating in 2000, she began working at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health as an Associate Sanitarian. In late 2001, she was hired by Memorial Medical Center (MMC) in Springfield, Illinois to serve as the Safety Officer for the organization.
In 2004, Harris then took on additional responsibilities and became the Director of Operations & Quality at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital (ALMH), an affiliate critical access hospital of Memorial Health System. She is currently serving as the Administrator of Perioperative Services at Memorial Medical Center, and has been in this role since 2013. As a healthcare administrator, she is responsible for ensuring that high quality, safe, efficient, equitable and fiscally responsible surgical care is provided to the more than 20,000 patients served each year.
Harris has been a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives since 2010. Harris and her husband, Blake, live in Springfield, Illinois with their two children, Evan and Annabelle.
2002 BS; 2007 MS, 2014 Ph.D., Information Technology
Mark Walcott, ’02, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ‘14 is a three time graduate of Illinois State University. Walcott’s bachelor’s degree is in network and telecommunications, and his master’s is in project management. He completed his doctoral studies in the College of Education examining “Predictive Modeling and Alumni Fundraising in Higher Education”. Walcott’s passion for using information technology to advance higher education and the community remain a cornerstone of his career and volunteer activities.
Upon graduation in 2002, Mark began working in Intercollegiate Athletics where his innovation and technical expertise led to the development of academic software resulting in over 200 hours in recovered labor, approximately $10,000 in annual costs, and used by multiple institutions. These accomplishments honed his ability to leverage emergent technologies into actionable results and led to his career in University Advancement. Mark has continued to create software, systems, and processes that have facilitated digital polling, virtual alumni cards, and scoring systems that identify high net worth and engaged alumni that benefit development, alumni, and non-profit operations. As the Director of Advancement Information Systems & Reporting, Mark is leading teams focused on Predictive Modeling, Data Architecture, Training and Development for the entirety of University of Houston System.
Always seeking ways to utilize technology as a catalyst for change. Mark has volunteered in a multitude of leadership and volunteer roles that have predominately found ways to leverage his technical expertise towards a social change. In 2009, Mark served as a trip advisor and volunteer for two weeks in Guatemala rebuilding their computer lab and constructing their website, while also building their first library. He continues to speak at community events and volunteer in support of various STEM related activities with organizations such as Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Boys and Girls Clubs, and the United Way of America where he was the recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” in 2005.
Mark remains engaged with Illinois State University through the IT mentorship program and ensuring that he and his wife Cavell Walcott, ’02 participate in alumni activities in Normal and Texas. So, that their son Liam Walcott will become a proud Illinois State alum of the class 2036!
2011 BS, Kinesiology and Recreation
Michelle Jacobs graduated in 2011 with a degree in recreation management from the School of Kinesiology and Recreation at Illinois State University. In her final semester of school, Jacobs took an internship at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville where she developed strategic incentive and membership programs for tourism sales.
Upon graduating, she began in the Sales & Marketing department at Hard Rock Café in Nashville, promoting live events, creating group sales programs, and managing the venue’s social media channels.
In 2012, Jacobs joined the Strategic Partnerships team at the Country Music Association, securing brand partnerships for the CMA Music Festival and CMA Awards. Each year, her team hosted CMO’s from America’s top brands to experience the Awards and introduce decision makers with artists, record labels, agents, and more. Over the years, partnership income increased due to new business development, and additional resources became available for the Music Festival and industry, further expanding the reach of the artists and brands. While at CMA, Jacobs worked with AT&T to launch their Country Deep program, Anheuser-Busch on their Country Club initiatives, and other brands including Pepsi and Intel.
Jacobs is currently a talent agent at WME working with artists on branded programs ranging from tour sponsorships to endorsements to television commercials to licensed product lines. Some of the clients she works with are Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, and Garth Brooks.
1996 BS, Technology
Mark Hibner graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing from the Department of Technology.
Upon graduation, Hibner was hired by ProMold & Die as a Computer Numerical Control machine operator and plastic injection mold design engineer.
In 2001, Hibner received his teaching certificate in Technology Education from the Department of Technology at Illinois State University. Upon graduation, he was hired by Township High School District 211 as a Technology Educator at Palatine High School. In 2005, Hibner became the Applied Technology Department Chair and obtained a Master of Arts in Education from Olivet Nazarene University. In 2006, he became the District Chair for the Applied Technology Department. In 2011, he completed a Type 75 Certification in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.
In 2013, Hibner was instrumental in implementing an Advanced Manufacturing Technology program in District 211. He collaborated with educators and business leaders on local, state and national level to build a Manufacturing program that would close the skills gap and prepare students for the 21st Century workforce. Curriculum was based on national manufacturing standards that helped establish alignment with Harper College where students may obtain 21 hours of dual credit. To ensure alignment with industry, Hibner collaborated with organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Technology & Manufacturing Association and the Golden Corridor of Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Several graduates of the program have obtained careers in manufacturing while receiving full scholarships.
In 2016, Hibner was awarded an Illinois Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction award and a Those Who Excel Illinois State Board of Education Award of Merit. Hibner is a veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard. He is married to Kori Hibner who is also an educator at Palatine High School, and they have two beautiful children Brooke and Ryan.