Friday, March 23, 2012

Alumna Nia Gipson Honored at ISBA'S Law and Leadership Program

Remember Nia Gipson, who we profiled in our very first alumni success story? We're back with an update for you about this remarkable young woman!

Gipson, who plans to major in political science in the hope of being a lawyer or writer, was a Moot Court Finalist this past June at the Illinois State Bar Association's Illinois Law and Leadership Institute, a three-week pilot program designed to assist minority students in pursuing careers in the legal field. The program was held at John Marshall Law School in Chicago and, in 2012, will expand to include a downstate location in Carbondale, Ill.  in addition to Chicago.  

You can check out the full story about the Law and Leadership Institute in the Spring 2012 issue of Illinois Lawyer Now Quarterly, the newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Congratulations, Nia! We continued to be inspired by all you've accomplished--and look forward hearing about your achievements for many more years to come!



The awards ceremony from last summer's ISBA’s Law and Leadership Institute. From left: Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Moot Court winner Danielle Coker, Moot Court finalist Nia Gipson and ISBA 2nd Vice President Paula H. Holderman. Photo credit: John Wheeler and Illinois State Bar Association.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

UIC Chancellor to be Honored at Making College Real Luncheon

Image courtesy of UIC.
Ada S. McKinley proud to announce that it will honor Dr. Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, at its 2nd Annual Making College Real Luncheon, to be held on May 3rd, 2012 at the University Club of Chicago. Dr. Paula Allen-Meares, who is the first African American to serve as UIC Chancellor, will receive McKinley Gold Medallion for Leadership in Education for her distinguished scholarship in social work and education. 

Along with Chancellor Allen-Meares, Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country, will also be award the McKinley Gold Medallion for Leadership in Education and will provide the luncheon's keynote address. Dr. Hrabowski was recently profiled on 60 Minutes for his extraordinary contributions to the field of higher education. 

The luncheon celebrates the work of McKinley’s College Preparation and Placement Program , which has helped more than 50,000 low-income, minority students attend and graduate from some 400 colleges and universities across the country. Dr. Timothy Knowles, the John Dewey director for the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI), will also accept the McKinley Gold Medallion for Excellence in Education for his experience and innovation in urban schooling. An outstanding College Prep student will also be recognized with the McKinley Gold Medallion for Student Achievement.  

Individual tickets for the luncheon are $100 each; alumni of the College Preparation and Placement Program receive a discounted ticket rate of $75 each. 

To purchase tickets, please visit our event registration page. You can also find full details about the luncheon--including sponsorship opportunities--on the Upcoming Events page on the blog.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Albert Grace, President of Loop Capital, Shares His ASM Story

Editor's Note: This year marks the 45th anniversary of McKinley's College Prep program! To celebrate, we're featuring current student and alumni success stories on the blog and our ASM Alumni Club facebook page.  You can find all our previous alumni success stories here. This week, we're delighted to feature Albert Grace, the co-founder and president of Loop Capital.

Albert Grace. Image from Loop Capital.
Not only is Albert Grace the co-founder and president of Loop Capital, a global investment services firm based in Chicago, he is also a proud McKinley College Prep alumnus.

Grace was kind enough to share his own success story with us--and to discuss the special role that College Prep Program founder Silas Purnell played in inspiring him and his fellow classmates to attend college.

"Silas Purnell came to my high school in the spring of 1968 to recruit 30 to 40 students to attend a college tour. During this era there were not many blacks thinking of attending college," he recalled.

"Mr. Purnell gave us an educational foundation by opening the doors of opportunity. He showed us it was possible for anyone to obtain an education. Mr. Purnell was instrumental in putting our current youth's parents and grandparents through college. Thanks to his efforts, educational advancement will have a generational effect."

Grace received his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Prior to founding Loop Capital in 1997, he served as as vice president at Northern Trust and the president and chief operating officer of Selected Financial Services.  

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If you or someone you know is a McKinley College Prep alum, we invite you to join the ASM Alumni Club. Join today to reconnect with other alums, learn about today's program and find out about the latest McKinley events. To join call Kikanza Harris, Office of Development, at 312-385-2013 or visit our Facebook alumni group.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First African American on Wisc. Supreme Court Recalls McKinley Ties

Editor's Note: This year marks the 45th anniversary of McKinley's College Prep program! To celebrate, we're featuring current student and alumni success stories on the blog and our ASM Alumni Club facebook page.  You can find all our previous alumni success stories here. This week we're honored to feature a trailblazer in the legal field, lawyer and former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Louis B. Butler, Jr. 

Louis B. Butler, Jr.
McKinley College Prep alums can be found in thriving careers everywhere from the boardroom to the courtroom--just ask Louis B. Butler, Jr., a McKinley alumnus and distinguished legal mind who holds the distinction of being the first African American to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Butler presided as a justice on Wisconsin Supreme Court for four years between 2004 and 2008. Following that, he served as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Law School before joining the law firm of Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP as a partner in August 2011. The recipient of numerous awards for his commitment to justice and civic involvement, Butler has also held roles as a city and state court judge and a law professor at Marquette University. 

But long before Butler was racking up his prestigious legal resume, he was just another young man in Chicago looking for guidance on how to get into college. He credits the late Silas Purnell, the founder of the McKinley College Prep Program and a tireless advocate for minority education, with helping him gain admission to Lawrence University:

"I believe I was in the first year of this distinguished program to place African-American students in colleges--then throughout the Midwest and now nationally. Silas Purnell helped me fight for my admission to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His impact, and the impact of Ada S. McKinley's programs, cannot be underated. A young, skinny, light-skinned, good-looking, black man with a dream was able, with the help of this program, to become the first African American in Wisconsin to become Supreme Court Justice. I think that says a lot."
--Louis B. Butler, Jr.
After receiving his B.A. from Lawrence University, Butler earned his J.D. at the University of Wisconsin Law School. In celebration of his accomplishments, his alma mater, Lawrence University, also awarded him an honorary doctorate in humanities. Ada S. McKinley would like to salute Louis B. Butler, Jr. for his trailblazing path--your example speaks to the transformative power of education and we are honored to count you as one of our McKinley alums. 

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If you or someone you know is a McKinley College Prep alum, we invite you to join the ASM Alumni Club. Join today to reconnect with other alums, learn about today's program and find out about the latest McKinley events. To join call Kikanza Harris, Office of Development, at 312-385-2013 or visit our Facebook alumni group.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Join a Great Cause: Tag Day Coming Up on April 13-14

Calling all McKinley volunteers! Ada S. McKinley is participating in the Children's Benefit League Tag Day on Friday April 13th and Saturday April 14th.

Proceeds from Tag Day support McKinley's  two after school programs, which provide a safe place for more than 50 kids to go each day after school in South Chicago. We're looking for volunteers to sell tags at 58 Tag Day sites throughout Chicago.

Volunteering is easy and fun--our locations are conveniently spread throughout the city, from the Loop all the way down to 118th Street, so there's sure to be a spot that's close by you. So join up and invite a few friends to "tag" along  in support of a great cause. 

Don't have time to volunteer? You can still support Tag Day by buying a few tags of your own. Every tag sold provides much-needed funds for McKinley's programs. This year our goal is to raise $20,000--and every tag sold gets us one step closer to our goal.

To volunteer or donate, please call Miguel Alvarado at 773-375-1999. All volunteers must be 16 years or older to partipicate. We're looking forward to working together to make Tag Day 2012 a great success!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Coming Full Circle: From College Prep Student to Leading AT&T Executive

Editor's Note: This year marks the 45th anniversary of McKinley's College Prep program! To celebrate, we're featuring current student and alumni success stories on the blog and our ASM Alumni Club facebook page.  You can find all our previous alumni success stories here. This week we're proud to feature AT&T executive Kimberly E. McCullough-Starks.

AT&T's Kimberly E. McCullough-Starks
When Kimberly E. McCullough-Starks reflects on her life these days, she can’t help but marvel how her high-powered career as an AT&T executive has led her right back to her start as a high school student.

In the early 1980s, McCullough-Starks was helped along her path to college by the McKinley College Preparation and Placement Program, where she worked closely with a counselor to narrow down her top school selections, complete her college applications and navigate the tricky financial aid system. Nowadays, she is responsible for helping others find pathways to success through her role as the director of external affairs at AT&T in Chicago.

“There’s such intrinsic value in helping people. It makes me feel like I’ve come full circle,” said McCullough-Starks, who oversees AT&T’s philanthropic partnerships and community outreach in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The telecommunications giant, which counts education as one of its core philanthropic priorities, recently awarded Ada S. McKinley Community Services a $5,000 Investing in Illinois Grant to support the College Prep Program. Naturally, it’s a cause that McCullough-Starks considers near and dear to her own heart.

“It’s so meaningful for me to be able to support McKinley. I know firsthand the important work they do—not only am I the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college, I am also the very first person on my mother’s side of the family to graduate from college.” 

It was McCullough-Starks’ mother who was responsible for propelling her daughter to enroll in higher education. “My father passed away when I was a sophomore in high school,” recalled McCullough-Starks, who grew up as the youngest of three children on the South Side of Chicago.

“My mother didn’t have the money to send us away to college—my two older brothers hadn’t gone—but she heard through friends about Ada S. McKinley and she encouraged me to talk with a counselor there.”

McCullough-Starks, who was a high school student at Percy L. Julian High School at the time, soon got the help she needed. Through the McKinley College Prep Program, she was able to narrow down her list of target schools and, more critically, get a financial aid package to help make college a reality. Following her graduation from Julian in 1984, she enrolled at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale.

But always one committed to charting her own course, the independent-minded McCullough-Starks soon came to feel that SIU didn’t allow her enough freedom to flex her creative muscles. Sensing that the school wasn’t a right fit for her, she returned home to Chicago before the start of her sophomore year in 1986.

She soon began working in then-Governor Jim Thompson’s office, the start of a seven-year stint in state government before she joined Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), the municipal corporation that owns Chicago’s McCormick Place and Navy Pier, as its director of business and workforce diversity.

Yet as her career at “McPier” (as MPEA is colloquially known) took off, McCullough-Starks never lost track of her college ambitions. “When I was at McPier, I drafted a tuition reimbursement program for the company,” she remembered with a wide smile. “I really wanted to go back to college myself, so when it was passed, I took advantage of it.”

In 1998, she enrolled in DePaul University in Chicago and, by 2000, she had finished her undergraduate degree in public administration, all while juggling her full-time job at McPier and supporting her mother who was suffering from stage-4 metastatic breast cancer.

McCullough-Starks is most proud of the work that she did to ensure that minority and women owned businesses received access to opportunities at MPEA. She worked tirelessly to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBE) received their fare share of contracting opportunities for the organization's $882 million expansion project, resulting in actual M/WBE participation that far exceeded the projects minimum participation goals. At the time, McCullough-Starks reported, "This was the largest public works project in the country." 

Following 11 years at the corporation, she accepted her current position at AT&T in 2007, bringing her strong managerial skills to the world of corporate philanthropy and allowing her to put her passion for helping others center stage. At AT&T she has embarked on important public safety awareness campaigns, including the state-wide launch of the company's national no texting while driving campaign titled "It Can Wait." The campaign has had significant inroads in high schools across the state of Illinois, educating young people about the dangers of distracted driving.

Beyond her impressive business pedigree, there’s much for McCullough-Starks to celebrate on the home front as well. This past Valentine’s Day she marked her one year wedding anniversary with husband Alvin Starks. They are proud parents of a blended family including their son Alexander, who is nearly three, Justin, 16, and Eric, 19, a sophomore at Eastern Illinois University.

These days when she isn’t busy helping to run AT&T’s many community outreach initiatives across Chicago, McCullough-Starks enjoys reading, watching movies or partaking in family activities with her sons and husband.

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If you or someone you know is a McKinley College Prep alum, we invite you to join the ASM Alumni Club. Join today to reconnect with other alums, learn about today's program and find out about the latest McKinley events. To join call Kikanza Harris, Office of Development, at 312-385-2013 or visit our Facebook alumni group.