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Later this year, 13 accomplished alumni will be honored at the 2020 Alumni Achievement Awards in the following categories: Distinguished Alumnus, Visionary and Rising Star. These distinctions recognize alumni who display leadership and innovation in their career fields as well as a personal dedication to philanthropic endeavors. Congratulations!
Nazneen Razi, Ph.D. ’99 - Organizational Development, MBA '84 - Human Resources and Operations Management
Nazneen Razi is a two-time graduate of Benedictine University. She received her MBA in Human Resources and Operations Management in 1984 from Illinois Benedictine College. She later returned in 1999 to receive her Ph.D. in Organization Development.
Nazneen worked as a Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a federation of 36 separate United States health insurance companies that provide health insurance in the United States to more than 106 million people.
After years of amazing contributions to the executive leadership team at Blue Cross Blue Shield, she became President and Principle for NRHR Talent Consulting. NRHR Talent Consulting is a leadership, culture, and human resource consulting service. Through her leadership, NRHR Talent Consulting is positioned to help their clientele, consisting of companies the likes of Blue Cross Blue Shield, JLL, CNA and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, just to name a few, deliver value through innovative and high impact HR strategies and talent solutions that drive exceptional business performance and create positive employee experience and engagement.
Through Nazneen’s Leadership, NRHR Talent Consulting has worked with start-ups, not-for-profits, and small to mid-size companies, as well as fortune 500 organizations. With her more than twenty years as a CHRO at large, Nazneen has utilized her experience in various industries such as healthcare, technology, real-estate, and insurance in both public and private sectors to provide unmatched leadership in the field of Human Resources and talent acquisition. She has also pursued her passion of sharing her wealth of experience teaching both graduate and undergraduate Human Resources courses.
Michael earned his bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and history from Illinois Benedictine College in 1979. He also met his wife, Pam (Zitnik) Abernathy ’78 at IBC. He received his juris doctorate from DePaul University College of Law in 1982. He is a partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a 2,200-lawyer law firm with 31 offices worldwide. In addition, he has been a member of President's Planning Advisory Council of Benedictine University since 2018.
Kevin received a master of business administration degree from Benedictine University in 1992 and holds a juris doctorate from George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. He is an accomplished executive with more than 25 years of experience guiding and implementing investment strategy across public and private companies. Currently, he is chief investment officer and senior vice president, treasury and private investments, at the Katz Group.
Sister Afra earned her bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from Benedictine University in 2009, followed by a master of education degree in leadership and administration and a master of arts degree in curriculum and instruction. Since 2013, she has overseen the creation of a now-thriving Catholic elementary school in the bustling city of Sumbawanga, in western Tanzania. She strives to ensure girls have the tools they need to lead productive lives.
Michael received his bachelor of science degree in mathematics at Illinois Benedictine College in 1989. He later obtained his master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees from Northwestern University. He is a professor and department chair at Towson University in Maryland. He has written a book, “Cyber Operations – Building, Defending, and Attacking Modern Computer Networks.”
Mike earned his bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Illinois Benedictine College in 1982, which was where he met his wife, Colleen Collins, B.S. ’82. He launched a start-up, MAS Consulting, an accounting software business in Chicago. After leading it for 20 years, Mike merged his business upstream with Sikich LLP, a regional CPA, technology and advisory firm. He is now retired but continues to be involved in new start-ups.
Ayayi received both his master of public health and master of business administration degrees from Benedictine University in 2017. He is an epidemiology and surveillance fellow with the Public Health Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a native French speaker, he supports Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) projects in various French-speaking countries.
Dr. Cartolano earned his bachelor of science degree from Benedictine University in 2004. He later attended the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, completing his medical degree in 2008. He is currently a trauma surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
He is also a clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Midwestern University, and president of the Chicago Metropolitan Trauma Society.
Dr. Gallos earned his bachelor of science degree in health science from Benedictine University in 1996. Then, he attended the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, where he earned both a bachelor of science degree in dentistry and later, his doctor of dental surgery degree. He is skilled in all areas of dentistry. Dr. Gallos is currently on staff at Rush Copley Hospital in Aurora, Illinois, and teaches in the dental practicum at Benedictine University.
Anthony earned a bachelor of science degree in social science secondary education from Benedictine University in 2008, as well as a master of science degree in educational technology and leadership in 2017. Anthony has spent his 11-year career teaching at Nazareth Academy, a college prep high school in La Grange Park, Illinois. He earned a nomination for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership in 2019.
Kimberly was a stay-at-home mom raising her three children for 15 years before entering into college. She completed her master’s degree in clinical psychology at Benedictine University in 2009. She became a licensed clinical professional counselor and works with court mandated anger management clients. She wrote a monthly column, “Dear Counselor,” for the Chicago Sun-Times, and later published a book using the same title.
Dr. Konkel is vice president of property management for Home Partners of America, a company that is committed to making home ownership a reality for more people. She has more than 20 years of real estate expeience as well as extensive training and development background. I addition, to her Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Benedictine, Nicole earned a B.A. in Communications from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Communication and Training from Governors State University.
Peggy completed her bachelor of science degree in nursing at Benedictine University in 2008 and became part of the inaugural cohort of BenU’s master of science in nursing program, graduating in 2010. She is now a full-time professional instructor at BenU, serving as the RN to BSN program director since 2017. She is honored to guide students as they seek to advance their education and professional development through BSN completion and beyond.