Alumni Achievement Award

The University of Illinois Alumni Association bestows the Alumni Achievement Award on alumni of the University of Illinois at Springfield. Recipients of the award are chosen in consideration of the following criteria:

  1. graduate of the campus as either Sangamon State University or University of Illinois at Springfield;

  2. exemplary career achievement and accomplishment in his or her chosen business, profession or life's work;

  3. demonstrated commitment to his or her community through service projects and/or volunteerism; must be a person of such stature, demonstrated ability and renown that alumni, students, faculty and staff of the University of Illinois will take pride in and be inspired by his or her accomplishments.

2014 Recipient

Ralph Blackman

When Ralph Blackman MA ’76 PAA
was named president and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility in 1996, he knew it could be the most important position he’d ever hold in a career that included stints at the White House.

“Working for the foundation was an opportunity to marry policy, politics and business,” Blackman says.

The Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit was created in 1991 by the distilled spirits industry to reduce drunk driving and underage drinking. Since then, its efforts have helped decrease alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by 32 percent.

Prior to joining AAR, Blackman served as the associate director of the White House Conference on Small Business during the Reagan administration, and as the assistant administrator for private enterprise within the U.S. Agency for International Development during the George H.W. Bush presidency. In addition, Blackman founded Public Access Inc., a Washington, D.C., corporate-relations firm that provided assistance to clients interested in business ventures abroad.

“I’m honored to think that some of the work I’ve been doing all this time matters to people at the University of Illinois Springfield and that it reflects highly on the University,” Blackman says.

Previous Recipients

Fred Parsons ’81 CBM
Founder, Southern Illinois Railcar Co.

Don Johhson ’82 CBM
Retired President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Aftermarket Technology Corporation

Lin N. Ezell ’74 LAS
Director, Marine Corps National Museum

Gordon Heddell, MA ’75 PAA
Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense

Raju L. Indukuri, MA '92 CMB
Entrepreneur and founder of Reachnet International

Cheryl Alters Jamison, MA ’77 PAA
Author, teacher and entrepreneur

John D. Blackburn MA '79 EHS
Chief Executive Officer; COUNTRY Insurance and
Financial Services Company

Donna Sollenberger '71 LAS, MA '74 LAS
President and CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Phillip T. Zeni Sr. '72
Executive Vice President, COO of Orban/CRL, San Leandro, Calif.

Randy Schilling, MA '89 CBA
President, CEO and founder of Quilogy, St. Louis, Mo.

LeRoy Walker Jr., MA '81 PAA
Owner/operator of 15 McDonald's Restaurants
Vice President of Events, National Black McDonald's Operator's Association

Linda Renee Baker '85 EHS, MA '87 EHS
Humanitarian, volunteer, public servant
Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services

Richard G. Austin '73 LAS
Deputy Director of Aeronautics, State of Illinois
Former Administrator, U.S. General Services Administration

Prior to 1999, the UIS campus awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award. Recipients include:

Philip C. Bradley '72 CBM
President and CEO, Family Health Network

W. Robert Felker '74 PAA
Senior Vice President, First National Bank of Chicago
President and CEO, First Chicago Futures, Inc.

Richard L. Adorjan '88 CBM
Director of Public Affairs, Illinois Department of Transportation

Bill Lambrecht MA '73 LAS
Washington Bureau Reporter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Two-time Raymond Clapper Award winner

Julie Barrow MA '81 PAA
Director, Office of Federal Planning
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX

Karen Hasara '72 EHS, MA '92 EHS
Mayor, Springfield, Ill.


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