National Louis went all out when it awarded five alumni its Reach Award at the Field Museum on May 19. The gala Reach reception, dinner and awards ceremony took place under the watchful gaze of “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.
But it hasn’t always been gourmet food and fancy place settings for the five honorees. They have persevered in the real world to make things better for local people and communities.
Evelyn Chenier ’03 and ’11, the Executive Director of Family First Center of Lake County, has helped rein in the influence of gangs through social service programs she created. One of them tracks gang resistance techniques and the perception of gangs to at-risk youth. Family First provides its community with parenting classes, violence prevention programs, youth engagement efforts and a free neighborhood gym, among other services.
Elizabeth Dozier ’08 is principal of Fenger Academy High School, where she helped increase student attendance, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates. Fenger, which has also seen significant reductions in dropout rates and misconducts, is located in Chicago’s far South side Roseland neighborhood. Dozier has advocated tirelessly for her students.
Rebecca Estrada ’12 is the Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance at Chicago’s Erie Neighborhood House, a social services agency. She oversees programs, which include preschool, after school, youth, adult education, workforce development and health and leadership. Ms. Estrada began her career as a domestic violence counselor at Cook County Hospital. She has a deep commitment to her community and to the broader concerns of Chicago.
Josh Fine ’04, a graduate of the P.A.C.E. program, has served as a valued member of Glenbrook North High School’s cafeteria staff. He has spent more than six years working with P.A.C.E students who intern at Glenbrook North. In 2011, Fine married a fellow P.A.C.E. graduate, whom he met while serving as an ambassador. An active member of his community, Mr. Fine also volunteers at Temple Beth Israel.
Darrell Williams ’03 is the Chief of Military Personnel for Operations for the Defense Information Systems Agency. He serves as a senior advisor on all military matters, supporting more than 450 joint-service military personnel at 13 field commands and offices in 28 locations across nine countries. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Williams was part of a five-person team responsible for providing emergency communications for the Vice President.
Many congratulations to the five honorees from the entire NLU community!