2012 Recipients

Maria E. Wynne

Class Year: 1977
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2012

Maria E. Wynne ’77 oversees the world’s largest Girl Scouts council and is a leader and role model who influences the lives of nearly 86,000 girls in Chicago and Northwest Indiana. As CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Maria led the merger of seven independent councils in 2008. The reorganized council has experienced an increase in members, launched a new staffing structure and improved other systems for delivering services. These achievements have been recognized with several prestigious awards from area organizations, and Maria was named Chicago Executive of the Year 2011 by the Public Relations Society of America and included among 100 Women Making a Difference by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine in 2011.

Prior to the Girl Scouts, Maria was senior director for the office of citizenship and innovation for the U.S. Public Sector for Microsoft Corporation. Before that, she held other executive positions with Microsoft, Xerox and Ameritech.

At North Central, Maria majored in art. Working on the stage crew of Pfeiffer Hall fostered a passion for theatre and her role as a trustee at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. A North Central College Trustee since 2009, Maria is also active in the Donors Forum, as a board member for the National Taproot Foundation and as an advisory board member for the Chicago Innovation Awards.

Maria holds an M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University and furthered her education at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Harvard Business School through the Center for Creative Leadership. 

Priscilla Ferch Gallagher

Class Year: 1980
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2012

Priscilla Ferch ’80 Gallagher is one of Illinois’ top lawyers, well known for her work in the area of intellectual property law. Registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Priscilla specializes in preparing patent applications involving chemicals, chemical processing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and mechanical arts. She has negotiated patent licensing and technology sharing agreements in such diverse fields as wellbore gas detection systems, plasma treatment processing and polymeric films; counsels clients on patentability, infringement and validity issues; and has prepared opinions in a wide range of technologies. She manages all aspects of the trademark portfolios for several clients, including clearing trademarks, and obtaining and maintaining registrations on a worldwide basis.

As a litigator, Priscilla has been a member of several successful litigation teams and has developed a unique niche as a strategist and case management specialist. She has extensive legal writing experience at the trial, appellate and Supreme Court levels, including being a principal author of many successful summary judgment and appellate briefs.

At North Central, she majored in chemistry and biology and went on to law school at Loyola University, graduating in 1984. She has been an active supporter of North Central, serving on the Alumni Board and speaking on intellectual property law to graduate students.


Fredric Janzen

Class Year: 1985
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2012

Fredric Janzen ’85, Ph.D., is widely known in the field of evolutionary biology and herpetology as an outstanding teacher, researcher and author. A professor in the department of ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State University, Fred teaches evolutionary genetics, herpetology and field biology courses to advanced undergraduate and graduate students and has mentored 100 postdoctoral fellows. He has authored 135 scientific articles and book chapters since 1986 and holds editorial positions with two academic journals. Dedicated to global conservation and ecology causes, which resulted in visiting professor posts in Costa Rica and China, he is frequently invited to deliver talks in a variety of academic and science-related settings worldwide and has garnered millions of dollars in grants to support research and education in biology.

Closer to home, Fred is involved in groups that are devoted to amphibian and reptile conservation and studying climate change. He is a member of the Sound Science Initiative, which helps to promote rational U.S. science policy involving the societal impacts of climate change and invasive species.

Fred’s numerous awards for his teaching and research included recognition as an ADVANCE Professor in 2007 by the National Science Foundation. Fred majored in biology at North Central and was inspired to pursue an academic career in zoology by traveling to Arizona and New Mexico for undergraduate research on desert ecology and reptiles. He completed a master’s degree in zoology at Colorado State University, a doctorate in ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California-Davis.


Eric McLaren

Class Year: 1986
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2012

Eric McLaren ’86, Ph.D., has devoted his career to advancing the mission of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), most recently as its principal and vice president for academic programs. In that role, he has been responsible for ensuring quality instruction and the integrity of the overall academic and residential program. A charter staff member, Eric began as a resident counselor in 1986 and was subsequently promoted to head resident counselor, coordinator of residential life, assistant principal/coordinator of community learning and principal. He was named vice president for academic programs in 2004.

His leadership style is characterized by his ability to motivate others by building a shared sense of purpose. In fall 2010, Eric was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Find something that feeds your sense of purpose and be willing to look low for that purpose as well as high,” Eric said to IMSA students in a video revealing his diagnosis. “It’s one way to learn how to be more fully human as you press beyond ‘being good’ to ‘being good for something.’”

He has continued in his leadership role at IMSA for an extended time as vice president for academic programs and has helped establish a connection between the academy and ALS research efforts. In 2011, he and his family, along with IMSA, hosted an ALS Awareness Night Gala to advance a partnership between IMSA and Project ALS that will focus on programs and research. The proceeds went to the McLaren Family Research Fund at Project ALS and to a fund at IMSA called Cure A Dreaded Human Ailment (CADHA). “If I have to have a disease, then I want something good to come from it,” Eric has said.

Eric majored in psychology at North Central College and went on to receive his master’s and doctoral degrees from Northern Illinois University.


Matthew S. Brill

Class Year: 1997
Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2012

Matthew S. Brill ’97 has achieved outstanding success in the business world after graduating from North Central with a degree in international business and as a National Champion in cross country and eight-time All-American in track and field. Matt is currently an equity and derivatives broker for Tourmaline Partners, which is based in New York. Prior to this position, he spent 11 years with Susquehanna International Group (SIG), first in Chicago, and then outside Philadelphia.

A Presidential Scholar at North Central, Matt excelled at both academics and athletics, graduating as a National Academic Athlete as presented by GTE Corporation. In addition to placing first at the national cross country meet in 1996, Matt was part of North Central’s 1993 NCAA III Cross Country national championship team that set a record for the lowest team point total (32 points), which has never been matched. He was also a member of the 1998 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field national championship team and still holds the freshman record at North Central in the 10,000 meters.

Matt was inducted into the North Central College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 and became a North Central College Trustee in 2012. 

Wayne Duehn

Class Year: 1961
Wall of Witness Award Winner 2012

Dr. Wayne Duehn ’61, Ph.D., has focused his career on advocating for the health of families and the prevention of child abuse. Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, Wayne developed a child abuse prevention program for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, which has been implemented across the globe, and has conducted training seminars for medical personnel serving in the Air Force, Navy and Army in the United States and abroad.

Throughout his career, Wayne has been a lecturer, trainer and consultant for such organizations as The Casey Family Programs, National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA), Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association and National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. 

After joining the University of Texas faculty in 1970, Wayne developed one of the first research-oriented, evidence-based practice curriculums in graduate social work education. He continues to be engaged in clinical research on sexually abusive parents and juvenile sex offenders and is a recognized authority and educator in the treatment of sexually abusive families. Wayne is also a published author and presenter at international conferences. He is a co-founder of Praesidium, Inc., an abuse risk management firm for organizations.

At North Central, Wayne majored in psychology and sociology and went on to earn his master’s degree in social work from Loyola University, followed by a doctorate in psychology and social work from Washington University in St. Louis. He was a research associate at the Masters and Johnson Institute in St. Louis and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Hawaii.