Alumni Relations Advisory Committee

The Alumni Relations Advisory Committee is an important component in establishing a true connection between College of DuPage and its alumni. To increase alumni engagement, these volunteer committee members are a voice for alumni from their communities and serve as ambassadors for the College of DuPage.

Alumni Relations Advisory Committee Members:

  • Riyas A. Ali (2010)
  • Liz Dong (2009)
  • Rita G. Haake (1983)
  • Thomas A. Keiser (1970)
  • Jolene M. Kremer (1978)
  • David W. Morton (1969)
  • Susan E. Neustrom (2002), Chair
  • Meri L. Phillips
  • Thom Skibbie (2009)
  • Tony D. Venezia (1972)

 

Riyas A. Ali

Class of 2010

Riyas is currently an Expediter for the South Division of US Foods and aspires to become a Cost Analyzer. Riyas has worked for Coca-Cola as both a sales representative and warehouse management team.

Riyas was born in Somalia and raised in America. Earned a Criminal Justice degree from COD and is still taking more classes to this very day. He was highly involved in Student Life and several clubs on campus. He is working on getting his Bachelors in Legal Studies and his Masters in Conflict Resolution. Riyas is interested in promoting COD and encouraging young people to enroll at the College.

 

Riyas Ali

 

Liz Dong

Class of 2009

Liz Dong is a passionate COD alumna. As a student, Liz was involved with Student Leadership Council and Alpha Beta Gamma and credits COD for providing her with a well-rounded education. She is grateful for the many COD staff and faculty members who supported her throughout her time at COD and later transfer to Northwestern University. Liz received the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship and graduated from Northwestern in 2011.

Upon graduation, Liz worked in small business development for a year before being called to immigration advocacy at World Relief, where she works to educate others on immigration as a justice issue. Liz is also currently pursuing her MBA at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

  Liz Dong 
 

Rita Haake

Class of 1983

Not only is Rita Haake a COD alumna, she has worked for COD for over 25 years, with primary focus on the development and growth of small business since 1997. Rita has been the Center Manager for the Center for Entrepreneurship at College of DuPage since July, 2011. The Center for Entrepreneurship houses the Illinois Small Business Development Center program (SBDC), Illinois International Trade Center program (ITC) and the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center program (PTAC). These programs are grant funded through federal and state dollars and the College of DuPage has been a strong host since 1985.

Her varied responsibilities include running the operations of the centers while still counseling small business in government contracting. She is proud that her team has been able to substantially increase annual performance measures of all programming year over year. Rita is certified as a Contracting Assistance Specialist (CCAS), US Veteran Administration Federal Contracting Certification Mentor (FCC), US Veteran Administration Verification Certification Counselor and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Northwood University, Michigan. She is passionate in her mission to be a part of building better businesses.

She is a member of many professional organizations and has been actively involved in leadership within many of those organizations. Associations include National Contract Management Association (NCMA), North Central Regional Council (NCRC), Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Center (APTAC), Midwest Small Business Liaison Officer Group and the Illinois Entrepreneurial and Small Business Growth Association (IESBGA).

  Rita Haake 
 

Tom Keiser

Class of 1971

Born and raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois Tom graduated from Glenbard West High School in 1968. While working full time, he attended College of DuPage the fall of 1968 through the spring of 1971. Tom went on to graduate from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. in Accounting, 1974. 

Tom started at Western Contractors Equipment, Inc. 1974. He left in 1978 after attaining the position of CFO and Treasurer. In 1978, Tom co-founded Temco Machinery, Inc., distributor of specialty trucks and equipment. In 2003, he co-founded Global Emergency Products, a distributor of fire apparatus.

During his career, Tom maintained exclusive distribution rights for Oshkosh Truck Corp. and Pierce Manufacturing for Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. He sold interest in both companies at the end of 2012 after celebrating his 35th anniversary. 

Currently, Tom splits his time among various consulting and investment opportunities, and between his homes in Wheaton, Illinois and Bonita Springs, Florida. Since 2007, he has sat on the board of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, currently as Treasurer of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Finance Committee. Tom is also a member of various property and homeowners association boards.

Tom and his wife Pamela actively participate in various charities and community groups including Bridge Communities, Lions Club and the College of DuPage scholarship program.

  Tom Keiser 
     

Jolene Kremer

Class of 1978

The journalism skills Jolene Kremer honed at COD have taken her far. The former Courier student newspaper editor completed an associate in arts degree at COD and a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Northern Illinois University.

She worked for more than 20 years as an award-winning reporter and editor at various northern and central Illinois newspapers. Then Jolene took her talents in a new direction, serving as creative services editor at Learning Point Associates as well as superintendent of marketing and communications for the Fox Valley Park District, where she garnered the top marketing award from the National Recreation and Park Association. Currently, Jolene is the PR, communications and marketing director at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, where she led the effort to launch a national award-winning branding campaign, new web site design and the Society’s first-ever Annual Reports, earning numerous honors for her work.

  Jolene Kremer 
   

David Morton

Class of 1969

Dave Morton is a retired Sales Executive for Fortune 500 corporations. He served as Sales Manager and Independent Software Sales Consultant in the Greater Chicago Area (November 2012 – 2015). Previously, he was Key Relationship Manager at CargoWise in Schaumburg, IL (June 2011 – November 2012). Dave has also held positions at LLamasoft, Inc., IBM / ILOG / LogicTools, Baan, Logility, Glovia Internalional Inc., and System Software Associates. He earned a BS in Business Administration from Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL, where he was involved in Varsity Football and Music Theatre. 

Dave was enrolled at COD during the College’s very first year. He was on COD’s first football team and met his wife Linda while attending the College. Dave’s two daughters both attended COD and won Championships on the school’s softball team. 

  Dave Morton 
   

Susan Neustrom, Ed.D.

Class of 2002

Susan Neustrom, Ed.D. is the author of “The Comfort Zone Illusion-Leaving Your Comfort Zone is Not so Hard After All”, Executive Director of Community Adult Day Center, and is a professional speaker. She is also an adjunct professor at National Louis University for the College of Professional Studies and Advancement and at Argosy University for the Graduate School of Management and Business. Susan has over twenty-five years of experience in leadership positions as Executive Director of a nonprofit, delivering educational programs to incarcerated men and women in the county jail, as Director of Human Resources for a nonprofit agency, working with adults with development disabilities, and as Assistant Vice President for a community bank. 

She holds an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University, a M.A. in Organizational Leadership with a training and development concentration from Lewis University, a B.S. in Management from National Louis University, as well as an AAS in Management and a AAS in Retail Marketing from College of DuPage. Susan has served on the Board of Directors for the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, Family Shelter Service, The American Cancer Society, as a member of the National Louis University Adjunct Council, and as a pro bono HR consultant and coach for Taproot Foundation.

  Susan Neustrom 
   

Meri Phillips

Meri Phillips was the COD Director of Student Activities, from 1990 – 2009. She retired with 31 years of service as a Student Activities professional – and when she did, students said that she was one of their strongest proponents on campus. Meri remains in contact with many alumni to this day! 

While at COD, Meri worked to ensure that the student perspective was heard and considered in the governance of the College. She created the Student Activities Fund Advisory Committee (SAFAC) to ensure that student leaders in the funded organizations were informed and responsible for the funds allocated to the groups they were part of, including the Student Government Association/Student Leadership Council, the Student Activities Program Board, Prairie Light Review, Courier, Forensics Team and Phi Theta Kappa. She worked to support the Child Care Services through the last half of her time at the College, while during the first half the management of the Alumni Association was within her purview. Her work also included ensuring new buildings from the SRC North through the Student Services Center, as well as renovations like the BIC, provided spaces to support the life of students while on campus.

  Meri Philips 
 

Anthony D. Venezia

Class of 1972

Tony Venezia is a 2015 COD Distinguished Alumni honoree and a Hollywood star in his own right. His special visual effects work has been featured in commercials, television and blockbuster films, including Twister, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Total Recall, When a Man Loves a Woman, among others. A professor in COD’s Motion Picture/Television program since 2005, Tony launched his notable career studying animation at COD. He completed his bachelor’s degree in filmmaking at Illinois State University before heading west, to the University of California in Los Angeles, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in animation. Before returning to COD, he worked on the West Coast for 23 years.

He spent 15 years as co-founder of Electric Filmworks Inc., a company that specialized in creating and producing digital film optical effects, motion graphics, motion-control model shots and second-unit photography. He also taught at California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, Columbia College and Illinois Institute of Art. Tony initiated COD’s Associate in Applied Science degree in animation. He runs Venezia Arts and Design in Wheaton and received his full professorship this fall.

  Tony Venezia 

College of DuPage Alumni Relations
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Phone: (630) 942-2462
Email: alumni@cod.edu

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