North Central College - Naperville, IL

Mironda Heston

Class Year: 

Wall of Witness Award Winner 2009

Mironda Heston ’02 is honored for her deep devotion to human service and commitment to social justice during a remarkable but all too brief life of 24 years. Her values and beliefs embodied the purest form of humanitarianism. While majoring in political science and theology at North Central, Mironda completed an eight-month independent study in Haiti, an experience that led her to seek a master’s degree in sustainable international development at Brandeis University. Called to continue her life’s work in Haiti, Mironda returned in 2004 to help rural workers write grants that would ultimately fund a much-needed medical clinic. Tragically, she developed dengue fever, and after medical evacuation to Chicago, died September 21, 2004. A measure of the impact of her life and work is that the people she served in Haiti named their clinic the Mironda Heston Medical Clinic in her honor.

At North Central College, Mironda’s legacy lives on through the Mironda K. Heston Scholarship for Public Service. Every year, one student is awarded a stipend for the implementation of a short-term project to benefit the needs of people either in the United States or abroad. The goal is to encourage other students to embrace the rewards of service and, in doing so, consider a lifelong vocation in humanitarianism.


James Will

Class Year: 

Wall of Witness Award Winner 2011

The Reverend Dr. James Will ’49 has focused his ecumenical witness on peace and justice issues in the United States and around the world. He’s taken on leadership roles in his local community, in denominational organizations, in the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches and Christian Peace Conference. During his career, he has served as a youth director, pastor, professor of religion at North Central, professor of philosophical theology at Evangelical Theological Seminary and professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he was also director of the Peace and Justice Center.

Jim has been a visiting professor/lecturer at nine universities or colleges worldwide including Israel, Poland and Zimbabwe. His writings include 40 articles published in various journals and four books: “Must Walls Divide?,” “The Moral Rejection of Nuclear Deterrence,” “A Christology of Peace” and “The Universal God: Justice, Love and Peace in the Global Village.”

After graduating with high honors from North Central College with majors in psychology and sociology, Jim studied theology at Evangelical Theological Seminary (now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary). In 1951 he was named Seminarian Preacher of the Year in a national contest sponsored by the “The Christian Century” and the “Chicago Sunday Evening Club.” He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Columbia University in 1962.

Jim and his wife Hannah reside in Arlington Heights, IL.

Watch the video below to see how North Central helped Jim unite his commitment to Christianity with a strong education.

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Ryan Dowd

Class Year: 

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2011

Ryan Dowd ’00 is a devoted worker and advocate for social justice causes locally and internationally. At age 13, he became a volunteer at Hesed House in Aurora, IL, and his mission to help individuals in poverty continued throughout his years at North Central. While a student, he joined the Hesed House staff as assistant program director in the overnight emergency shelter. During his law degree studies, Ryan was an intern with the organization, and in 2004 he was appointed executive director.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the organization has grown to serve 1,000 individuals with the help of 6,000 volunteers, including many North Central students. Hesed House sets a high standard for delivering human services, becoming one of only five organizations in the country to combine a comprehensive array of services like job training and counseling with a homeless shelter. The goal of the organization is to not just manage homelessness, but to end it.

Ryan’s passion for international causes has taken him to Africa to work with churches confronting governments that perpetuate human rights abuses.

After majoring in religious studies at North Central, he went on to complete a law degree and master’s degree in public administration at Northern Illinois University.

Ryan, his wife Krissie and their children live in Sugar Grove, IL.

Watch the video below to see how North Central’s faculty helped Ryan connect his intellectual pursuit to his passion for service.

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Esther T. Benjamin

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2011

Esther T. Benjamin ’90 is associate director for global operations for the Peace Corps. In this capacity, she oversees programs in nearly 80 countries. Following the 2008 presidential election she participated in the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, focusing on foreign assistance.

Esther previously served as executive director for resource development at the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), a global biotechnology organization focused on the health of women in developing countries. She also worked at the International Youth Foundation as chief financial officer and then as vice president of business development responsible for global programs and partnerships supporting children and youth initiatives.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed her a White House Fellow, one of the nation’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. In this capacity, she worked with Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman on international policies and programs. Esther had previously coordinated humanitarian aid in Somalia as a United Nations humanitarian affairs officer. In the private sector, she has experience in management consulting with Grant Thornton and Arthur Andersen.

Esther is a fellow with the U.S.-Japan Foundation and the U.S.-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values. At age 13, she and her family moved to the United State from Sri Lanka due to civil unrest. She later graduated from North Central with majors in political science and English. Esther holds master’s degrees in international affairs and applied economics from American University, which honored her in 2009 for her accomplishments. Esther has been a Trustee of North Central College since 2006 and a recipient of an Alumna Recognition Award, which honors successful young alumni.
Esther and her two children reside in Ellicot City, MD.

Watch the video below to see how North Central’s extracurricular activities contributed to Esther's success after college.

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Stephen P. Taylor

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2011

Colonel Stephen P. Taylor ’75 had a distinguished career in the U.S. Marine Corps, which reached a pinnacle in his service for President George W. Bush as a presidential helicopter pilot and commanding officer. He led more than 700 personnel in support of presidential and Marine Corps missions. He flew more than 150 presidential helicopter flights from 2001 to 2003. Steve previously served as presidential command pilot in 1985 and as officer in charge of several detachments that supported presidential travel.

In addition to his time in Washington, D.C., during his career Steve was deployed to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Guam, to Saudi Arabia for combat operations in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm and to central Norway in support of Exercise Strong Resolve 95. In 1998, he was promoted to the rank of colonel and assigned to the chief of staff of Naval Operations as the head of the Amphibious Aviation Division.

After obtaining his political science degree from North Central, Steve attended U.S. Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1975. He was designated a naval aviator in 1977. He attended Amphibious Warfare School in 1982 and the Naval War College in 1995, where he earned a master of arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Steve retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 and joined Augusta Westland Inc., where he was involved in the program to replace the presidential helicopter fleet. In 2005, he accepted a position with Lockheed Martin and continued to work on the presidential helicopter program. Steve has also been active in establishing the Vertical Lift Consortium, a group of more than 90 companies working with the U. S. Department of Defense to advance the field of vertical lift aviation.

Steve and his wife Suzette currently reside in Lexington Park, MD.

Watch the video below to see how Steve’s experiences at North Central contributed to his success in the military and beyond.

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J. Charles Eldridge

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2011

Dr. J. Charles Eldridge ’65 is distinguished for his expertise in endocrinology, pharmacology and medical education. He is currently professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he conducts laboratory research and is principal instructor of endocrine physiology and pharmacology.

His laboratory research in recent years has become focused on mechanisms underlying “endocrine disruptors,” which are environmental contaminants that affect the endocrine system, particularly reproduction functions. His findings have been presented at seminars and published as manuscripts, book chapters and in the 480-page book, “Endocrine Toxicology.” Charles is frequently invited as a consultant on endocrine matters for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, various corporations and legal counsel.

He has held a variety of leadership positions at Wake Forest and was the architect for a new medical and graduate school curriculum that utilizes small-group, case-centered tutorials. Charles has received a number of teaching awards from his students, was a Macy Foundation Scholar at Harvard Medical School, a Ciba-Novartis Researcher of the Year and honored by the Medical College of Georgia.

After graduating from North Central with a B.A. in biology and chemistry, he attended Northern Illinois University for a master of science, and, in 1971, earned a doctorate in endocrinology at the Medical College of Georgia. He completed post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Bordeaux, France, and at the Medical College of Georgia. He joined the faculty of Wake Forest in 1978.

Charles and his wife Pat live in Winston-Salem, NC.

Watch the video below to see how one class at North Central had a profound effect on Charles' life.

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Richard J. Honer

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2010

Richard J. Honer ’75, M.D., has distinguished himself as a physician, medical humanitarian and tireless community volunteer. In addition to his busy medical practice as a surgeon, he has been generous with his donation of time, performing surgeries in the Dominican Republic—as many as 90 in four days—for people who otherwise would not receive care. His generosity extends to personal donations of much-needed medical and surgical supplies. He and his wife, Andrea, prepare for the trips by visiting churches in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando to explain their ministry and ask for donations.

His extensive community commitment has involved sponsoring a high school scholarship, coaching girls sports teams, furnishing supplies to the school clinic, providing physicals and dispensing advice and referrals. He also donates one weekend a month to a prison ministry and his family has hosted foreign exchange students. His latest endeavor is becoming the medical director of Angel Care, which is a free health clinic serving a low-income area.

After graduating from North Central College in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Richard attended medical school at the University of Illinois. Affiliated with Gessler Clinic, he has been on staff at Winter Haven Hospital since 1985.

In 2002, he received the Florida Medical Business Physician Humanitarian Award and the Community Mission Award. He has been awarded recognition as among America’s Top Surgeons every year from 2002 to 2010. In addition, he has been a loyal supporter of North Central College.
Richard and his wife live in Winter Haven, FL.

Richard L. Easterday

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2010

Dr. Richard L. Easterday ’60 enjoyed a distinguished career in the pharmacology industry. His expertise in biochemistry, nutrition and corporate leadership led to increasingly responsible positions in research and development, marketing and executive management for Pharmacia Fine Chemicals, later known as Pharmacia Biotechnology Group.

A chemistry major at North Central College, Richard received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry and nutrition from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA, in 1963 and 1967. While attending school, Richard was inducted into the Phi Lambda Upsilon chemistry honors fraternity. He also completed the executive management course at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University in 1984.

Richard joined Pharmacia in November 1965 and held various positions, including manager of technical service, director of research and development, director of marketing and general manager. In November 1983 he was appointed executive vice president of Pharmacia Inc. and president of the Pharmacia Biotechnology Group. As president of Biotechnology, he was responsible for the laboratory separations, process separations and molecular biology product lines and was president of Pharmacia P-L Biochemicals, Inc., located in Milwaukee, WI.

Richard was named to the strategic planning group and biotechnology management group boards of Pharmacia in Uppsala, Sweden, and to the board of Biolink, which supplied equipment and systems for the large-scale manufacturing of biotechnology products.

Richard also served on the boards of directors of several industry groups and has written numerous technical papers and articles for publication. He has been a long-time supporter of North Central College and served as a College trustee from 1987 to 1994. He and his wife, Cathy, maintain homes in Martinsville, NJ, and Wisconsin.

Katheryn Agne Dutenhaver

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2010

Katheryn M. Agne ’60 Dutenhaver, Esq. is a recognized expert in the field of mediation, arbitration and dispute resolution. She is co-founder and director of the Center for Dispute Resolution at the DePaul University College of Law where she has been a law professor for more than 35 years teaching courses in real estate, remedies, mediation and dispute resolution. She also conducts training courses in mediation for lawyers, judges, corporate counsel, executives, managers and school administrators. In the dispute resolution field she designs dispute resolution systems, facilitates the resolution of large group conflict and serves as a consultant. Her experience practicing law includes transactional work and litigation.

As an experienced mediator in complex business disputes, her cases involve business, financial,  nonprofit, religious, educational, governmental and health care organizations. She mediates disputes involving individuals with issues in employment, insurance coverage, professional liability, disability, health care, real estate, personal injuries, wrongful death claims, clergy-abuse cases, estate planning and estate settlements.

Katheryn has published articles on mediation and lectures frequently in this field. In 1990, she co-founded the DePaul University College of Law Interfaith Family Mediation Project and continues to serve as director and volunteer mediator. She has been an officer or member of alternative dispute resolution committees for the Mediation Council of Illinois, Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, American Bar Association and the Illinois Supreme Court.
Katheryn earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from North Central College in 1960 and, in 1965, served as an adult chaperone for a North Central student trip to Selma, AL, to march with Martin Luther King Jr. She graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 1972 and earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 2007.

Dane T. Scag

Class Year: 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2010

Dane T. Scag ’41 put his name on a product that continues to be so successful that the name Scag stands for quality, reliability and innovation in the landscaping industry. After earlier careers in academia and industrial design and research, Dane invented a commercial lawn mower that set the standard in the industry because of its advanced and efficient design for negotiating tight areas around landscaping. He holds more than two dozen patents in the field. Dane launched his own business and served as president of Scag Power Equipment, Inc., from 1982 to 1991. He sold the company to Snapper in 1991. A few years later, he founded Great Dane Power Equipment, which he sold to John Deere in 2001. Dane also became an avid pilot and airplane owner, flying frequently to call on customers and demonstrate his mowers.

Dane received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from North Central College and completed a master’s degree in physics from the University of Illinois in 1942. He later joined the teaching and research staff at Princeton University. Princeton offered Dane tenure and he was also offered the opportunity to be director of the newly opened Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL. Instead, he accepted a position with Allis-Chalmers, a diversified manufacturing company based in Milwaukee, where he designed high-energy X-ray machines with military applications. Dane later was named vice president of research at McGraw-Edison Co., where he first tinkered with commercial lawn mowers.

He has remained a loyal supporter of his alma mater, establishing a scholarship fund for students in the sciences and donating his Colorado home and 75 acres to the College. He is a resident of Elm Grove, WI.


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