Every year CAST recognizes some of its most successful alumni.
BS 1970, Department of Agriculture
William Lyle Roberts, Jr. received a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education in 1970, where he participated in livestock and dairy judging teams and was a member of Alpha Tau Alpha. Upon graduation, Roberts worked as a chief underwriter at Country Companies, where he helped to help establish rates for nontraditional farms and farm enterprises. At Growmark, Roberts was a product manager for animal health. While at Illinois Agricultural Service Company, he exported breeding livestock around the world to improve livestock efficiencies in recipient countries.
His work included the first shipment of breeding swine from the United States to China, the assistance of repopulation of swine in the Dominican Republic after the destruction caused by African Swine Fever, and the largest shipment of breeding pigs and goats to the government of Mexico. Roberts helped establish and was the first secretary of the USDA's cooperator program of Livestock Exporter’s Association and represented U.S. livestock exporters on the USDA secretary’s mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
As the CEO of Illinois Soybean Association, Roberts helped to coordinate the Food and Drug Administration’s health claim for soybean protein in human diets, helped the National Biodiesel Board bring biodiesel to the market place in the U.S., and assisted in starting the soybean aquaculture effort to increase aquaculture production around the world using soy protein instead of fish meal in the diets of fish. In 2000 he assisted in establishing and was the first chair of the World Initiative for Soy and Human Health, which focused on improving nutrition in the world’s least developed countries.
Roberts has helped to establish strategy endowments and several agricultural scholarship programs at all four agriculture universities in Illinois—University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, and Illinois State University. Roberts was a founder and first chair of the Illinois Council for Food and Agricultural Research, which was established to assist in prioritizing and increasing funding for public research through Illinois universities, as well as the founder and first chair of IBio, the Illinois biotechnology industry group. Roberts also worked on the legislative committee and helped to bring the first meeting of the National Biotech Conference to the Midwest. After retiring in October 2010, Roberts received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Soybean Association in August 2011, and he now spends time with his daughter, Renee, and son, B.J., while seeking to expand and continue any kind of humanitarian service.
BS 2003, Department of Criminal Justice Sciences
Mike Emery has served in the McLean County Sherriff’s Department since 1981 and was elected sheriff in 2006. He received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Sciences from Illinois State University in 2003, and is a 1996 graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (186th session, Quantico, Virginia). His experience in law enforcement includes work as a patrol shift commander, Patrol Division commander, chief deputy, Support Services command Lieutenant, and his election to sheriff. Emery has been a member of many different organizations throughout his career, serving as a board or executive member in some instances.
Some of the professional organizations he works with include the Illinois Sheriff’s Association; Legislative, Training, Budget, and Finance Committees; the National Sheriff’s Association; and Illinois Association of the FBI National Academy. He has also served as an executive board member and vice chairman for the McLean County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the vice chairman of the Law and Justice Commission and Illinois Local Governmental Law Enforcement Training Board, and president of the McLean County Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.). He is also the member of numerous training organizations and is a community education instructor at Heartland Community College.
Some of the training programs Emery has participated in include programs on terrorism, identity theft and cyber stalking, campus public safety, response to weapons of mass destruction, computer forensics, and other northeast multiregional training. He has also earned several awards. Emery was the 2009 recipient of the Illinois State University Criminal Justice Services Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2002 winner of the State of Illinois M.A.D.D. Outstanding Volunteer Award, numerous Life Saving Awards from the American Red Cross and United States Veterans of Foreign War Post 454. He also received a Certificate of Appreciation from the United States Marine Corps and the United States Marshall’s Service Letter of Appreciation. Emery served honorably in the United States Marine Corps from 1975–1979 and has been married to his wife, Becky for 29 years; they have two sons, Ryan and Chad, and a family pet named Duke.
MS 1984, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Connie Mueller earned her master’s degree from Illinois State University in 1984, after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois. She was an instructor in the food/nutrition-dietetics program at Illinois State University. For 13 years, she served as preceptor for the ISU dietetics internship program hosting five-week internship rotations in her department. She retired after her 16th year as director of food and nutrition services for Bloomington District 87 schools. Mueller is a member of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and has served on the executive board as the Midwest regional director and is chair of the SNA Governing Council. She has been active in the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group (DPG) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and serves as chair for that DPG.
She is a past president of the Illinois School Nutrition Association and media spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association. She also represented the Illinois Dietetics Association on the Illinois School Wellness Policy Task Force. She served a three-year term on the National Advisory Council of the National Food Service Management Institute. She is a member of the Speakers Bureau for the National Dairy Council. She is the School Nutrition Association author for the Joint Position Paper of the American Dietetic Association, the School Nutrition Association, and the Society for Nutrition Education on Comprehensive Nutrition Services.
She served a one-year term on the ADA Legislation and Public Policy Committee. Some of Mueller’s honors and awards include the 1998 SNA FAME Award for Silver Rising Star; the 2004 Award of Excellence for Outstanding Management, Leadership, and Innovation from the School Nutrition Services Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association; and the 2005 Award of Excellence in Management Practice from the American Dietetic Association Foundation. She was honored as the Outstanding Alumna for the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State University in 2010. She also is a past participant in the American Dietetic Association Leadership Institute. Locally she serves on the board of the American Red Cross of the Heartland as chair of the Services Delivery Committee. Mueller is married with three daughters. She also has five grandsons and two granddaughters.
BS 1982, Department of Health Sciences
Dr. Mark Loafman is an assistant professor of family and community medicine at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and is the chief clinical integration officer at Norwegian American Hospital and director of inpatient services for the recently developed Northwestern Family Medicine Residency Program. Loafman graduated with honors from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental health. He went on to study environmental and occupational health at the University of Illinois, earning a master’s degree in public health, before completing his medical degree at Rush University Medical School, where he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the field of medicine’s highest honor society.
Following residency, Loafman joined the faculty at Brown University to help lead development of the country’s first Maternal Child Health Fellowship Program, serving as the inaugural fellow. Returning to Chicago, he founded the PCC Community Wellness Center through an affiliation with West Suburban Medical Center. He established PCC as a federally qualified community health center dedicated to caring for the underserved neighborhoods on Chicago’s west side, and served as chief medical officer from 1992 to 2007. Loafman led PCC in the development of comprehensive primary care services with social services, outreach, and its own family medicine training program, growing from a single three-room clinic to multiple sites and serving more than 100,000 patient visits each year.
While at PCC, he founded the Maternal Child Health Fellowship Program in family medicine, which has successfully grown to be the largest program of its kind in the country with more than 100 alumni caring for underserved patients all over the world. Loafman is chair and a founding member of the Board of Certification in Family Medicine-Obstetrics, dedicated toward helping to meet the local and global physician workforce needs for women and children.
He is a member of Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) National Quality Faculty and was appointed National Faculty cochair for the HRSA Patient Safety in Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative. Loafman was inducted to the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health, has been the recipient of the Illinois Clinician Devotion Award, and was nominated for the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians Teacher of the Year Award and for the 2011 Institute of Medicine Gustav Lienhard Award. Loafman lives in Oak Park with his wife of almost 30 years, fellow ISU alum, Mary Anne Loafman ’81, and their three sons, Nicholas, Ethan, and William.
BS 1984, School of Information Technology
In fall of 1983, Barb O’Malley signed up for an internship interview for a company she had never heard of. That decision led to an internship in the spring of 1984 and a more than 27-year career at Northern Trust. O’Malley graduated from Illinois State University with a major in applied computer science and a minor in economics. She joined Northern Trust as a programmer upon graduation in 1984 and was one of the first developers working on a brand new client reporting application, utilizing the hottest technology of the day—a relational database.
In 1988 she became team leader for the securities lending application team, where she led the globalization of that area. From 1992 until 2005, O’Malley returned to the client reporting world, leading the development of Northern Trust’s client facing tools. Technology capabilities were evolving quickly during this period, with the initial offering being a client server implementation, then moving to the web, then to client portal technology, and finally to Web 2.0. She managed all application development for Northern Trust’s institutional and personal clients from 2005 to 2009.
In 2009 O’Malley returned to her solution consulting roots, creating an internal consulting organization that provided IT consulting services to the various business lines. In 2011 she took on the additional responsibility of leading a newly formed research and development group. In addition to her official roles, O’Malley spends any spare time providing mentoring through Northern Trust’s “Mentoring Matters” and “Women in Leadership” forums, as well as a variety of informal forums.
BS 1974, MS 1977, School of Kinesiology and Recreation
Jeff Sunderlin serves as a program manager with the YMCA-USA Healthier Communities Initiative—Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities, a position he has held since 2009. Prior to accepting this position, he served as a public health administrator in the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control with the Illinois Department of Public Health for 18 years and with the Office of the Governor for four years prior to that. Before entering state government service, Sunderlin was the director of Sports Medicine, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Adult Fitness at Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria and held a concurrent position as head athletic trainer at Bradley University.
He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation in 1974 and 1977 respectively. With more than 35 years of experience in the fields of exercise science, sports medicine, cardiac rehabilitation, and exercise, and sports marketing, Sunderlin has served on a variety of local, state, and national task forces and committees specific to these fields. Most notably, Sunderlin has served as a state liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Workgroup, as a steering committee member of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, and as a member of the External Advisory Committee for the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. Sunderlin has also received a number of gubernatorial appointments to commissions on after-school programming, gangs, and alcohol and substance abuse targeting youth.
He has a passion for issues surrounding developmentally appropriate physical activity in preschool populations and was instrumental in the creation of the Y-USA’s early childhood assessment component of the Community Healthy Living Index, a tool used by community coalitions throughout the country. Sunderlin has authored or coauthored numerous papers ranging from sports injury surveillance to innovative physical fitness programming initiatives for at-risk youth. He has made more than 300 presentations at national, regional and state meetings. Married for 37 years, Jeff and his wife, Karen, a 1977 alumna, have three daughters: Becky, Rachel, and Brooke, who is a 2006 alumna. They also have four grandsons. In his spare time, Sunderlin enjoys running, pheasant and quail hunting, landscaping, home improvement projects, and spending time with the grandkids.
BS 1991, Military Sciences
Kelly P. Donna retired in 2011 after 26 years of service in the Army and is working in the Middle East as a Counter Insurgency Instructor for a company called MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc), where he instructs U.S. forces and our allies how to defeat terrorist networks. Lieutenant Colonel Donna received his master’s degree in health sciences in emergency management/disaster relief from Touro College, New York, in 2004, and prior to that, his bachelor of science in agriculture/ aquaculture from Illinois State University in 1991. Under the guidance and support of LTG David Petraeus, Donna worked with Special Forces Groups in order to learn how to train an indigenous population.
As part of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, Georgia, and Iraq he was responsible for the recruitment, formation, housing, arming, and training of more than 4,400 Iraqi Army Soldiers. At the age of 39, Kelly was selected and competed on the 2007 U.S. Army Olympic triathlon team and was promoted to LTC. He was selected as the professor of military science for the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2008, which includes six partnership universities totaling 16,000 full-time students. Donna holds a top secret clearance and has the following distinctions:
BS 1962, MS 1966, Department of Technology
Jerry Wright was born and raised in Farmington. He attended the University of Illinois for two years, and then transferred to Illinois State University, where he graduated in 1961. Upon graduation, he became a teacher of electricity and electronics at Bremen High School in Midlothian, near Chicago. In 1964 he obtained a graduate teaching position at Bradley University, teaching electricity and electronics, while working toward his graduate degree. He graduated from Bradley University in 1965. He joined Caterpillar in February 1965 and worked in various management positions in training, manufacturing, technical operations, human resources, and service development.
He retired in December 2000 after 36 years of service. Wright has served as a member of the Balance of State Private Industry Council for the Governor’s Office of Commerce and Community Affairs. He was a vice president and member of the Board of Directors for the Tri-County Industrial Education and Labor Council in Peoria and has served on several state committees related to the education for employment efforts in Illinois. He also served as a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Schools Advisory Committee. He has been a member of the American Foundry Society, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the American Society of Training and Development. He was elected as a trustee to Illinois Central College in Peoria and served on the board for 18 years and as chairman three times.
Wright was also elected to the ISU Alumni Board and is serving as chair of the Development Committee. His wife, Norma, is also a graduate of Illinois State and has a master’s degree from Bradley University. They met at ISU and were married shortly after they both graduated. She has now retired after a teaching career. They have three grown children—Doug, C.J., and Jane—and seven grandchildren. Jerry and Norma live on a small farm near Trivoli and enjoy traveling, spending time with their grandchildren, and participating in various hobbies.
CAST is always looking for its next Hall of Fame honorees. If you know of anyone, or would like to nominate yourself for this distinguished honor, please fill out the CAST Hall of Fame Application.