Awards & Honors

Alumni who have been outstanding in their professional field and provided service to the community may be honored through the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award

 unveiling of alumni plaque at ECC

The Elgin Community College Distinguished Alumni plaque honors all current and past receipts of this award and is located in the hallway of Building B across from the Admissions Office.

Past Recipients

Ron Krivosik headshot
Ron Krivosik
Vice President Regional Chef, Levy Restaurants

A 1984 Graduate of ECC's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, Chef Ron Krivosik has more than 30 years of experience in his position with Levy Restaurants. Krivosik has overseen the premium dining and general concessions at some of the most exciting venues around the country including the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament and Barclays Center in New York; Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago; American Airlines Arena in Miami; and Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Krivosik has also trained and mentored numerous chefs. His community service includes volunteering and supporting local fundraising for Special Olympics as well as working with underprivileged Chicago school children to promote healthy cooking and snacks. He enjoys speaking to schoolchildren about opportunities in the hospitality business and always encourages them to dream big. Krivosik has also volunteered his time at a local women’s shelter to promote healthy cooking options for women with HIV.

Connecting with fellow ECC Culinary Arts Department alumni is a priority for Krivosik who seeks opportunities to help graduates find success in the hospitality industry. He has been the featured chef at two Visiting Chef Dinners at ECC, spending the day on campus, lecturing and working with culinary students before leading the preparation of a four-course meal. Krivosik has also invited ECC culinary arts classes to work at his side during event planning and execution at the Kentucky Derby.

Krivosik credits ECC with helping him lay a solid foundation for his career, from learning the fundamentals of cooking to the finer points of fine dining. Whether menu planning for 250,000 people at a golf tournament or a private party for 25 people in a high-end restaurant, Krivosik says the foundation of technique and taste he received at ECC always serve him well.

Julie Lichtenberg headshot
Julie Lichtenberg
AA, AAS-Nursing ‘80, MSN, MA, RN, FACHE

Julie Lichtenberg came to Elgin Community College just out of high school eager to accomplish the goal of becoming a nurse. She earned an Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science in nursing from ECC, setting a foundation to grow in her profession and become a transformational, servant leader in the community where she grew up.

While raising her three children and working full-time, Lichtenberg earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. She graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Master of Science in nursing, Roosevelt University with a Master of Arts in training and development, Judson University with a Bachelor of Arts in leadership and management. Currently, as Director of Patient Engagement for the West Region of Northwestern Medicine, Lichtenberg’s influential leadership inspires caregivers to deliver an exceptional healthcare experience.

Lichtenberg’s numerous recognitions include the 2007 Altrusa International Woman of the Year and the 2000 YWCA Marie Grolich Social Service Leader Award. Her passion for nursing facilitates new knowledge, the use of research, and evidence-based practice to deliver excellent patient care.

As a member of the Elgin Community College Nursing Advisory Board, Lichtenberg has attended annual meetings to collaborate and share best practices with healthcare leaders and members of the board from surrounding hospitals. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a board-certified nurse executive-advanced. Her professional memberships include the American College of Health Care Executives, American Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Lichtenberg has a public spirit that can inspire children, adolescents, and adults to make a difference. For over a decade she led the Elgin Caroling and Caring holiday event created as a member of Elgin Leadership Academy to collect clothing for the underserved. Lichtenberg has educated schoolchildren to help increase self-esteem and helped lead efforts to raise funds for United Way. Lichtenberg has served as a mentor to many professionals, encouraging them to further their careers in nursing and pursue advanced degrees.

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Kenneth S. Hawkinson

Kenneth S. Hawkinson, PhD is a native of Carpentersville. A first-generation college student, he earned his associate degree from Elgin Community College in 1976. 

Hawkinson earned both a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in Speech Communication from Western Illinois University (WIU). He later earned a PhD in Speech Communication and Performance Studies from Southern Illinois University.

Hawkinson began his tenure as the 12th president of the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 2015. Under his leadership, the institution has made strides in academic excellence, student success, and expanding educational access.

Hawkinson began his academic career at WIU as an assistant professor of communication and advanced to full professor. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor of African-American studies, an instructor in the honors program, and leader of the faculty senate and the faculty union. As a Fulbright scholar from 1990 to 1991, he taught American studies at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and researched African folklore and oral tradition.

After serving in several roles at WIU ranging from the chair of the Department of Communication to associate provost, in 2012 Hawkinson was named provost and academic vice president, with responsibilities including fiscal and enrollment management, curriculum, and contract negotiations.

Hawkinson was a member of the Illinois National Guard, then joined the U.S. Army as an infantry officer for three years. In Germany, he served as a platoon leader, weapons platoon leader, and public affairs officer. He spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali.

Hawkinson volunteers extensively in his community and has been recognized for his support of diversity. His interests and creative pursuits include storytelling, oral tradition, and performance of literature.

James L. Baustert headshot
James L. Baustert

James L. Baustert was born and raised in Elgin. He began his college journey at Elgin Community College from 1955 to 1956. 

He later earned a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota and a master’s degree from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska.

Mr. Baustert spent the first half of his career working in advertising, sales, promotion and public relations for Elgin American, Inc., Elgin National Watch Company, The Kendall Company, Orange Crush, Hires Root Beer, and W. T. Rawleigh Co. The second half of his career was focused in medical products with Medtronic Inc., Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc., AudioScience, Inc., Aequitron Medical, Inc., EMPI Inc., Angeion, Inc. and Derata Corp.

He has served on the Board of Directors of 17 public, private and religious organizations including, the Frescoes for Assisi Board of Directors, the Board of the Guadalupe Area Project of Saint Paul, MN, and the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN. He received the Cross of Merit in 1992 from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and is a member of American Mensa.

Richard Alberding headshot
Richard C. Alberding

Richard C. Alberding was the first graduate of the college in 1951 and went on to earn a degree in business administration/marketing in 1953 from Augustana College. 

Drafted into the U.S. Army, he graduated from Army Counter Intelligence Corp School, acquired German language skills and agent training, and was assigned as an undercover agent at the Darmstadt Technical University in Germany to assist in countering espionage. Leveraging interest in the high-tech industry explosion and the GI Bill, Alberding earned a degree in electrical engineering at DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago in 1958.

Mr. Alberding was recruited by the Hewlett Packard Company in 1959. His business, engineer, and European market background lead to rapid promotions, including leadership positions in five continents. While living in Switzerland, he received an Associate in Arts degree at INSEAD University (Fontainebleau, France). Alberding returned to lead the Medical Products Group in Boston and served as Senior Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Sales, Support and Administration for all test, measurement and computation products in California before retiring in 1991.

Mr. Alberding has served on the Board of Directors of 18 public and private companies across seven industries.

We are proud to honor Richard C. Alberding as the 2015 Elgin Community College Distinguished Alum.

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Alan Ladwig

Alan Ladwig has a lifetime of experience working in the Space Industry. He is Chief of To Orbit Productions providing consulting services on space policy and creating art based on space themes. 

He recently retired as a political appointee of the Obama Administration serving in the Office of Communications as Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach at NASA Headquarters. His office was responsible for the History Program, Speakers Bureau, Exhibits, Public Inquiries, Strategic Partnerships, Public Engagement, Guest Operations, and management of the Communications Coordinating Council.

Before returning to NASA Ladwig was the Manager of Space Systems for WBB Consulting and had been Sector Lead Executive for NASA business development at Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems. He served as Chief Operating Officer during the start-up phase of the Zero Gravity Corporation, a privately held space tourism, and entertainment company. As Vice President of Washington Operations and Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, he established and managed the’s Washington Bureau and was responsible for business development, NASA relations, strategic planning, and authored stories for the web, a regular opinion column, “Are We There Yet?” for Space Illustrated magazine.

Ladwig completed two previous tours at NASA. As a political appointee of the Clinton Administration from 1993 to 1994 Ladwig established and managed the Office of Policy and Plans at NASA Headquarters. From 1981 to 1989 he was a civil servant at NASA Headquarters and managed a variety of programs for the Office of Education, the Office of Space Flight and the Office of Exploration. He managed both the Shuttle Student Involvement Program and the Spaceflight Participant Program.

NASA awarded Ladwig the Distinguished Service Medal, the Exceptional Achievement Medal, two Exceptional Service Medals, and the Outstanding Leadership Medal. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society.

He served in U.S. Army with the 558th Artillery Group, stationed in Athens, Greece.

Ladwig received a Masters in Higher Education and a Bachelors in Speech from Southern Illinois University. He received an Associates degree in Business from Elgin Community College in 1969.

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Gloria Johnston, PhD

Dr. Gloria Johnston has devoted over 40 years to a career in education and has been an invited speaker at local, state, and national conferences. 

Dr. Johnston currently coaches, mentors, and provides professional development for superintendents, school boards, and central office administrators. The focus of her work is on systemic strategies that lead to improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap. Her years of service in pre-kindergarten through university included roles as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, university dean, and superintendent of schools (for 13 years). She worked in urban, suburban, and rural school districts in Illinois, California, and Caracas, Venezuela.

Throughout her career, Dr. Johnston has been an invited speaker at local, state, and national professional conferences, served on state and national educational and research panels and committees, and been awarded major professional development grants. She has served on community boards, supported civic groups, and currently facilitates and participates in several superintendent professional organizations. She is the co-author of three books:

  • Eight at the Top: A View Inside public Education - a collection of stories about the work of school district superintendents.
  • Effective Superintendent-School Board Practices: Strategies for Developing and Maintaining Good Relationships With Your Board - a practical, experience-based look at the most important role the superintendent has in leading a school district.
  • The Superintendent’s Planner: A Monthly Guide and Reflective Journal - a yearlong look at the work of the superintendent in managing the day-to-day operations of the school district.

Dr. Johnston earned her PhD in public policy analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago, her MS in multilingual/multicultural education and BS in education (magna cum laude) from Northern Illinois University, and her AA from Elgin Community College. She currently lives in San Diego, California, close to her two children, three grandchildren, and the beach.

Sandro Miller headshot
Sandro Miller

Internationally known photographer Sandro has been photographing people for over thirty years. He became interested in photography at the age of sixteen upon seeing the work of Irving Penn and has since devoted his life to creating expressive images. 

With numerous award-winning campaigns to his credit, Sandro is one of today’s foremost photographers. He has photographed many national advertising campaigns for a long list of clients including Allstate Insurance, American Express, Anheuser-Busch, BMW, Dove, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nikon, Microsoft, Miller/Coors, Nike, Adidas, Pony, Champion, and the US Army.

Sandro's editorial work has been featured in The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Russian Esquire, Time, Forbes, Details, Stern, Wired, Newsweek, Vibe, Communication Arts, Graphis, Eyemazing, and ESPN Magazine.

Sandro continues to be on the top of awards lists year after year. Archive Magazine has named him one of the 200 Best Advertising Photographers the past 4 years running. He’s been included in the Graphis: Best 100 in Photography in 2010 & 2011. At an award ceremony in Cannes in July 2011, Sandro was selected to be included in the Saatchi & Saatchi Best New Directors Showcase for his short video “Butterflies” featuring John Malkovich.

Sandro has exhibited extensively in the US and Abroad. Some of his major exhibitions include a retrospective in Verona, Italy; solo shows of his American Bikers series in Munich, Germany and his Imagine Cuba series at the Chicago Cultural Center.

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Michael Smigiel

Delegate Michael D. Smigiel, Sr. always wanted to be a U.S. Marine, become a lawyer and get involved in politics. He has accomplished all three of his goals. Learn how he persevered from an impoverished childhood to getting elected as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Michael D. Smigiel, Sr. was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He came to Elgin as a recruiter for the U.S. Marine Corp. After serving as a Marine, he enrolled at ECC (ECC) to begin his 10-year plan that included his Associate in Arts from ECC and his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor Degree from Northern Illinois University.

After fulfilling his 10-year plan, he returned to Baltimore, where he enjoyed a successful law practice for the next 21 years. He generously gave his time and talents to his community in countless ways, and 2003 was elected as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He is currently in his third term and was named “one of the up-and-comers to watch” by The Montgomery County Gazette (Maryland’s leading political publications.)

Michael has been nicknamed the “people’s lawyer” because he listens to and stands up for countless groups without a significant legislative voice. He has helped the State of Maryland pass some of the strictest sex offender laws in the nation.

Michael set his goals early in life, accomplished those goals with the assistance of a community college and other higher educational institutions, and continues to gain national recognition as a compassionate legislator. The ability to focus on the core of an issue serves the institutions he supports and the students he inspires. It marks him as one of ECC’s outstanding alumni.