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.

Previous Award Winners

2021 Awards & Honors

Elgin Community College Distinguished Alumni Award

This award recognizes the success of a graduate who has completed a recognized program of instruction at ECC and has gone on to have outstanding success and distinction in their chosen field, displayed humanitarian service, and continued to support the mission of community colleges.


Portrait of Darryl Tyndorf 

Darryl Tyndorf, PhD ('99)
Lead Economist and Lead Data Scientist, Equifax

Watch Darryl's story.

Tyndorf, Jr. focuses on the small business economy, helping understand market patterns and developing products that improve access to capital and bridge socio-economic gaps. Previously, Tyndorf was a professor teaching research methodology, higher education, and economics, and he continues as an adjunct professor of economics at American University in Washington, D.C. He has worked at multiple community colleges leading research, analytics, assessment, and evaluation. He has also traveled internationally, seeing and learning the value of all levels of education on individual and societal growth.

Tyndorf grew up with dreams of the Olympics and a competitive athletic career. After suffering a neck injury, he attended Elgin Community College, where he reassessed his life direction. His instructors helped him learn to be a student and not just an athlete. He attained an associate degree which built the Foundation to receiving his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. His education included research on the role of International Monetary Fund loans on developing countries and the impact of higher education on economic development, which he has published and presented. Tyndorf continues to explore the impact of education on economic development.

Elgin Community College Esteemed Recent Alumni

This award features a rising star that recently graduated from ECC.


Portrait of Adrian Bautista 

Adrian Bautista ('17)
Managing Partner Inside Sales for SMB (Small and Medium Business), Verizon

Watch Adrian's story.

Bautista was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to the United States at 19. He has lived in the Chicagoland area most of his life. Bautista earned an Associate Degree in accounting at Elgin Community College and a Bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Judson University. The 42-year-old Bautista is married and has two sons. He enjoys spending time with his family, volunteering at church, and playing or watching sports.

Elgin Community College Friend of Education Award

The Elgin Community College Board of Trustees bestows this award in recognition of the exceptional support and partnership provided by an individual, a business, an institution, or a corporation within District 509 that has greatly advanced the college in terms of growth, educational quality, workforce development or other key areas.


Portrait of Mark Hacker Mark Hacker

Motorola Solutions represented by Mark Hacker and Jim Companik

Mark Hacker and Jim Companik.

Since 1928, Motorola Solutions has revolutionized communications – creating innovative mission-critical communication solutions and services that help public safety and commercial customers build safer cities and thriving communities. Motorola Solutions connects people through technology. Public safety and commercial customers around the world turn to Motorola Solutions innovations when they want highly connected teams that have the information they need throughout their workdays and in the moments that matter most to them.


Portrait of Jim Companik Jim Companik

Motorola Solutions Foundation represented by Mark Hacker and Jim Companik

Mark Hacker and Jim Companik.

At Motorola Solutions, our work makes a difference in the critical moments that shape lives, business, and the world, but our contributions don't end there. Our company gives back to the communities where it operates through the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

The Motorola Solutions Foundation, which has donated $100 million over the past 10 years, prioritizes support for the first responders, technology and engineering education, and underrepresented groups.

Exceptional Friend of the Foundation

Each year, the Elgin Community College Foundation recognizes an individual, a business, or an organization that exemplifies the spirit of giving that propels the Foundation and the college toward a promising tomorrow.


Gretchen Hoffer-Farb & Charlotte Channing, The Hoffer Foundation 

The Hoffer Foundation

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It's not just plastics; it's personal. When the Foundation for Hoffer was laid, both by brick and by thought, Robert Hoffer kept his local community top of mind. He didn't just claim to believe in Integrity, Service, Family & Trust; he lived it—and encouraged others to follow.

Since 1966, the Hoffer Foundation has donated and raised millions of dollars for local charities, organizations & families in need. We've built lasting partnerships with organizations like Sherman Hospital, Judson University, Fox Valley Hospice, the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Elgin Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, and United Way, to name a few.

This Foundation promised to give passionately towards education and faith to grow opportunities for generations to come. In this community, Robert Hoffer knew that getting into this business would be more than just manufacturing—it was his mission to build a legacy that would give back tenfold.

Lasting Impact Awards

Dr. Sam established the President's Lasting Impact Award in 2010 to recognize outstanding leadership and service by a District 509 citizen whose actions, over a long period of time, have positively impacted the community as a whole and strengthened the mission and shared values of the Elgin Community College, in particular.


Portrait of Karen Fox 

Karen Fox

Watch Karen's story.

Fox began her career in education as an English teacher. She moved on to roles as an adult education instructor and then a resource developer at the Community Crisis Center, where she volunteers. Later, as an Elgin Area School District U-46 administrator, Fox coordinated competitive grants, school-business partnerships, and special projects. She later joined the U-46 superintendent's staff and retired in 2012 as the chief of family and community engagement.

Fox represented U-46 in many local and state collaborations, including those resulting from federal grants acquired by the school district and university partners. Some were multi-year projects and included Elgin Community College.

Fox moved to Elgin in 1975 with her husband, Dan. There were many reasons to get involved in the community, and she met people with a vision of what Elgin could be. She has volunteered with the City of Elgin, Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, ECC, Gail Borden Public Library, YWCA, and others. She chaired Elgin's 150th Commemoration Commission in 2004 and worked with the teams that won Elgin's All-America City Award and two Governor's Hometown Awards. Fox helped lead Elgin's Census 2020 campaign and was a long-time volunteer for the United Way of Elgin.


Portrait of Cherie Murphy 

Cherie Murphy

Watch Cherie's story.

Murphy moved to Chicago in 1971 and began a career in marketing and sales with some major consumer products companies. She married Glenn Murphy in 1975, and they moved to Elgin in 1988. After volunteering for many local organizations, she began working for the City of Elgin. Murphy became one of the city's greatest community advocates, seeing all that the community could become and working to make it happen.

Murphy worked in various capacities with the city and focused on building community partnerships and special projects over the years. Murphy served as the City of Elgin's representative on many projects, including organizing a new neighborhood outreach program and establishing the Elgin Community Network. She was a charter member of the Chamber of Commerce Enhancing Elgin Committee and served on the United Way Board of Directors for several years. Murphy was an integral part of the successful Elgin Artspace project, bringing 55 live/workspaces for local artists to Elgin's downtown. She acted as the point person for helping create the Alignment Collaborative for Education. In her third term on the alignment board, Murphy has been an active volunteer in city and civic groups.


Portrait of Carolyn O’Neal, EdD 

Carolyn O'Neal, EdD

Watch Carolyn's story.

O'Neal is a long-time educator who worked in Elgin Area School District U-46 as a high school math teacher, a high school dean of students, and an elementary school principal. After serving as principal, she retired, ending her 38-year career in education. O'Neal's years of professional and service experience have steered her to volunteer and support various community organizations. In addition to supporting local causes, she has shared her skills and knowledge volunteering at schools, working on committees, and serving on boards of nonprofit organizations in the community. She served on the Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Board and currently serves on the Hamilton Wings Board.

O'Neal annually provides for multiple scholarships in memory of her late husband, Ronald O'Neal, Sr., who shared her passion for education and service. Among their shared passions was family. The O'Neals' three children, now grown, have blessed them with eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. O'Neal prepared for her career by earning Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and her doctorate from Loyola University Chicago. She plans to spend the rest of her life giving and serving.


Portrait of Ray Rogina 

Mayor Ray Rogina

Watch Ray's story.

Rogina began his college education at his local community college, Joliet Junior College. He went on to earn Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in business education from Illinois State University. He taught Law and Economics at St. Charles East High School for three decades while also serving as union president, department chairperson for business education, and coach of the school's mock trial team. Rogina was recognized for outstanding and influential instruction and leadership by numerous organizations, including the National Education Association, Illinois Education Association, Kane County Regional Office of Education, School Districts 303 and 204, and the University of Chicago. He received the Liberty Bell Award from the Kane County Bar Association for promoting a better understanding of the rule of law, civic responsibility, and good government. Rogina was an adjunct instructor of School Law at Aurora University for 19 years.

Rogina served on the City Council of St. Charles and in 2013 was elected as mayor of the City of St. Charles, where he served two terms. Rogina and his wife Diane have a son, Matthew, an Elgin Community College graduate, daughter-in-law, Anna, and Henry's grandson.


Portrait of John Steffen 

John Steffen

Watch John's story.

Steffen is a lifelong resident of Elgin. He attended Elgin Area School District U-46 schools and graduated from Larkin High School in 1982. Steffen currently practices law as an attorney in private practice in downtown Elgin. He has been involved in numerous volunteer and service groups, including Kiwanis, a past president.

Steffen and his wife Kerry have four kids. Two of their children attended ECC, and one is returning this fall to complete an internship. Steffen's father attended ECC in the 50s and served as a District 509 trustee in the 90s.

Steffen co-founded Elgin's Downtown Neighborhood Association and served on its board and as president. He currently helps coach the Elgin River Rats, a high school rugby team, and contributes his time organizing the Dennis Jurs Memorial Bike Race.


Portrait of Pastor and Mrs. Willie Tate 

Pastor and Mrs. Willie Tate

Watch the Tate family's story.

Reverend Tate is married to the lovely Patricia Crumbley Tate. He was installed as Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Elgin in September 1986. He received his spiritual training from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He has training in theology/religion and counseling and completed the Young Pastoral Training Classes at the National Baptist Educational Congress. He trained in family and youth counseling at the Chicago Bible Institute and early childhood development in Toronto, Canada.

In 1998, he retired from the City of Elgin as a supervisory Manager of Parking Operation. He is the president of the African American Christian Ministers Alliance, was past Vice President of the Bethesda Community Development Center and past Elgin Police Department Chaplain, and held several other leadership roles.

Reverend Tate is a member of the board of directors for South Elgin's Boys & Girls Club, Chaplain at the Elgin Mental Health Center, and a Sponsor of The United Black Scholarship Fund. He is a man of vision and faith, devoted to the work of the church, and dedicated to the mission of winning souls for Christ. He believes the church should be an outreach ministry for all.

Elgin Community College Community Crisis Leadership Award

ECC is also honoring the hospitals and health care systems in District 509 for their heroism throughout the pandemic.


Portrait of  Fernando Gruta 

AMITA Health St. Joseph Hospital – Represented by: Fernando Gruta, Administrator

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For more than 100 years, AMITA Saint Joseph Elgin has brought top medical care to the Fox River Valley. Our 184-bed, the full-service hospital has been recognized for excellence in multiple specialties. We are known across the nation for our heart and vascular institute, which offers the latest high-tech minimally invasive cardiac care. And our Cancer Care Center brings together board-certified doctors and specialists to provide the region's most advanced cancer treatment and rehabilitation. Whatever your needs, our caring doctors are here for you. In sickness and health.®


Portrait of Sheri De Shazo 

Advocate Sherman Hospital – Represented by: Sheri De Shazo, MBA MHA RN, FACHE, President

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An acute care facility in Elgin, Advocate Sherman Hospital, highly skilled physicians and clinical professionals offer a comprehensive range of healthcare services. Since 1888, Sherman has provided quality, compassionate care to its patients and communities and is a leader in delivering the most advanced technologies and services available in the northwest suburbs. Sherman Hospital is part of Advocate Health Care, one of the top 12 not-for-profit health systems in the country and the largest health care delivery system in Illinois.


Portrait of Michelle Evans, DSW 

Elgin Mental Health Center – Represented by: Michelle Evans, DSW, Hospital Administrator

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Elgin Mental Health Center (formerly Elgin State Hospital) is a mental health facility operated by the State of Illinois in Elgin.




Portrait of Robert M. Tanner 

Greater Family Health – Represented by: Robert M. Tanner, President, and Chief Executive Officer

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"Greater" represents access to more services and higher quality care. "Family" supports the diverse patients we serve and the organizational culture we value. "Health" emphasizes the future we envision for our patients and community.

Greater Family Health offers a comfortable, welcoming, inclusive, and personal approach to health care for all. Our doctors and staff will take the time to understand your physical, emotional, and financial needs.


Portrait of Gina Reid Tinio

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital – Represented by: Gina Reid Tinio PhD, MS, MPH, NPD-BC, Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive

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An acute-care facility in Geneva, Illinois, Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital is regionally known, a state-of-the-art cancer center and breast health center.

As part of Northwestern Medicine, Delnor Hospital offers patients access to leading-edge clinical trials through Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This integration also fosters an environment of world-class patient care, academic inquiry, and innovative research. More than 600 physicians working in 80 medical specialties practice at Delnor Hospital, providing compassionate and comprehensive care to patients. Delnor Hospital has also earned Magnet® recognition*, the gold standard for nursing excellence, from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


Previous Award Winners