Chicago Illini of the Year

Celebrate your Illini pride at the
2015 Chicago Illini of the Year Awards

You’re invited to join fellow alumni at the 19th annual Chicago Illini of the Year reception and dinner honoring the best of Chicago and the University of Illinois.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
University Club of Chicago
76 E. Monroe Street

  • 5:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. dinner
  • Cost: $125 per person; $850 per table
  • Please register by March 3.

Register online

2015 Recipients

Pedro J. Cevallos-Candau MS ’77 ENG, PHD ’80 ENG (Civil Engineering)
Co-founder, CEO, and President of Transportation & Infrastructure at Primera Engineers, Ltd.

Dr. Pedro J. Cevallos-Candau Dr. Pedro J. Cevallos-Candau is a co-founder, CEO, and President of Transportation & Infrastructure at Primera Engineers, Ltd. His primary responsibilities include overseeing Primera’s infrastructure and transportation projects. During his 30-plus-year career, he has been involved in more than 400 engineering projects. Primera Engineers is a diversified, full-service engineering design and consulting firm with offices in Chicago and Lisle, Illinois as well as Munster, Indiana. With nearly 200 employees and close to $30M in annual sales, Primera ranks nationally among Engineering News-Record’s prestigious Top 500 Design Firms. Prior to starting Primera, Dr. Cevallos-Candau served as a faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Dr. Cevallos-Candau received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a Registered Engineer in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas and Michigan.

Dr. Cevallos-Candau has long been a leader for the empowerment of Hispanic professionals in the Chicago area. He was a founding member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) and was involved in the formation of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE). Additionally, he is an active member within many engineering professional societies and has subsequently served on the Board of Directors of several of them, including President of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (2010 to 2011). Dr. Cevallos-Candau is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) and President of the Rotary Club of Chicago.

Jeanne K. Gang’86 FAA (Architecture)
Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects

Jeanne K. Gang Architect and MacArthur Jeanne Gang is Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects, an award-winning practice based in Chicago and New York. Internationally recognized for her visually striking work and environmentally sensitive approach, Jeanne explores the role of design in revitalizing cities. Through projects ranging in scale from community anchors and cultural institutions to tall mixed-use buildings and urban design, she engages pressing contemporary issues and their impact on human experience. Guided by this approach, Jeanne has produced some of today’s most innovative and compelling architecture, including the recently completed Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, and Aqua Tower.

Photo by Jenny Hueston

Howard T. Griffith’91 LAS (Speech Communication)
Football analyst, Big Ten Network; Radio Host, ESPN-Radio Chicago

Howard T. Griffith Howard T. Griffith regarded as one of the NFL’s best blocking backs, is currently a lead in-studio analyst for the Big Ten Network. He is the recipient of the 2010-2011 Emmy Award for outstanding sports broadcast. With a career spanning over a decade, Griffith was a star Full Back for the Denver Broncos, and helped lead his team to Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII championships. As an unrestricted free agent, Griffith signed with Denver for the 1997 season, and soon after, made a name for himself as the man who assisted the team’s star Tail Back, Terrell Davis, to achieve over 2000 rushing yards in a regular season. Griffith’s athletic ability, as well as his leadership skills on and off the field, captured the attention of the national sports media and the respect of his peers.

Many of Griffith’s other league affiliations made headlines throughout his career. With the Carolina Panthers expansion team, he became the first player in their team’s history to score a touchdown, both, rushing and receiving. He also played an integral part in leading the team to their first NFC Championship Game. Griffith has been named “Offensive Player of the Week” seven times during his football career.

Griffith attended the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana). He became the football team’s captain and proceeded to break several football records. To date, he continues to hold one of the top five receiving records at the University. Griffith graduated in 1991 receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communications.

Upon his retirement from the NFL, Griffith began working as a football analyst. In 2005, he was an analyst for the NFL and NFL Europe football leagues, providing sports commentary for games that were broadcast by FOX and the NFL Networks. In 2001, Griffith published his sports memoir, LAYING IT ON THE LINE (Sports Publishing Inc: 2001) that chronicles his football journey from the South Side of Chicago to the Super Bowl. He continues to spend his time on various entrepreneurial and charitable ventures. Most recently, he co-founded Turbo Athletics, a first class “Sports Academy”, where young student-athletes, through camps and workshops, are motivated and trained to excel athletically and academically. He is a former board member of the National Able Network and has volunteered with the March of Dimes. He is the founder of the Hyde Park Jr. Spartans Youth Football League. He and his wife Kim live in Chicago with their two sons, Griffith II and Houston.

See the past Chicago Illini of the Year recipients

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