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Alumni Relations
Bldg B, Room B230.16, ECC Campus
Tel: 847-214-7746
eccalumni@elgin.edu

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  • Alumni sports day
  • Brick dedication ceremony
  • Distinguished alumni award & founders' day brunch

Alumni 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

Call for 2015 Nominations
Submit completed nomination form by Friday, October 3, 2014 at midnight CST.

  • Nominees can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else
  • If self-nominating, at least one letter of recommendation must be submitted

2014 Distinguished Alumnus

Alan Ladwig photo

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.

Prior to 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 Space.com’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.

Past Recipients

Gloria Johnston, PhD photo

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 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 photo

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.


Delegate Michael Smigiel photo

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 in 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 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.