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Alumni Events and Awards

Upcoming Events Heading link

50th Year Celebration Heading link

Class of 1973

JACSW Celebrates Class of 1973


Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” was the number one song in 1973. The Exorcist, at $193 million, was the number one grossing movie that same year, and The Godfather won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson died in 1973, the same year the U.S. ended its participation in the Vietnam War. And 131 students graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work.

The Class of 1973 celebrated its 50th anniversary on Nov. 9, 2023, by reuniting at a luncheon hosted by JACSW Dean Creasie Finney Hairston. Some were old friends, others made new friends, and during the day they shared stories about former professors, their courses, and how their lives were impacted by the field of social work.

Following the luncheon, the classmates were treated to a video presentation highlighting activities that occurred while they were students – on campus, in Chicago, and worldwide. Each attendee shared stories from their professional and personal lives.

Before the day ended, classmates presented Dean Hairston with a gift, and she returned the gesture, giving each former student a keepsake commemorating the 50th anniversary of their graduation from the Jane Addams College of Social Work: a box containing two wine glasses and a carafe etched with “JACSW Class of 1973.” The gift, and college, will forever be in their hearts.

The 2021 Luminaries and Awardees Heading link

Jim Williams

Celebration Host

Jim Williams is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. He anchors the station’s weekend evening newscasts, and also produces and hosts the documentary series Stories 2 Tell.

Williams began his broadcast journalism career more than 40 years ago at WGN TV and WGN Radio. He was Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s press secretary, supervising media relations throughout city government. For four years, he was a correspondent for ABC News, reporting for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Good Morning America and Nightline.

He has won several journalism awards, including an Emmy for investigative reporting. In May of 2018, he was inducted into the National Television Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Silver Circle for his lifetime of work in Chicago television.

A native Chicagoan, Williams was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and serves on the board of the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

Congressman Davis

Guest Speaker and Jane Addams Social Justice Ally Awardee

Honorable Danny K. Davis, Member of Congress, 7th District. Congressman Davis has distinguished himself as an articulate voice for his constituents and as an effective legislator able to move major bills to passage. He has developed a unique and energetic style of communication and interaction with his constituents setting up dozens of advisory task forces to consider significant questions of public policy.

He hosts several weekly television and radio shows which feature audience call in and produces regular written reports to every household in the district. In addition, he maintains weekly office hours in the district and is widely sought after as a speaker at conferences and events.

In the 116th Congress, Representative Davis is resolutely committed to preserving our democracy, protecting social security, maintaining our nation’s gains in civil and human rights, women’s rights, voting rights, protection of the environment, consumer and labor protections, reducing inequality, and ensuring quality, affordable health care for all, while maintaining his long-time focus on issues of job creation, poverty, health care, education, youth and criminal justice reform.

Maureen Rigney

Jane Addams Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awardee

Maureen Rigney, MSW ’94, has been with the organization now known as GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer since 2004. Currently Director of Support Initiatives, Maureen works to identify and meet evolving community needs through devising strategies, developing collaborations, and leading initiatives. She has a special interest in lung cancer stigma and has collaborated on a number of stigma studies, many of which are published and all of which have been presented at national and international conferences.

GO2 Foundation has also given Maureen the opportunity advocate for issues at the macro-level, through presenting at Congressional Briefings and guiding advocates on Capitol Hill visits with their elected representatives. She represents GO2 Foundation and the lung cancer community on a variety of boards and committees, including the Global Lung Cancer Coalition. She is a member of the Association of Oncology Social Workers and serves on their advocacy committee.

Lissette Lucero Lopez

Jane Addams Rising Alumni Award

Lissette Lucero Lopez, LCSW, CADC, MSW ’14, has worked at Cook County Jail for six years, where she has applied her clinical skills and her passion for justice in working with incarcerated women, providing needed services and structure within the jail, and reducing recidivism within the community.

In 2019, Lissette was promoted to the role of Clinical Program Manager of a women’s residential substance use treatment program, working with detainees who are pregnant and establishing contact visits between incarcerated mothers and their children. The program was originally run by a contract agency, but under her management has developed into a source of genuine treatment and support for women caught between criminal activity and drug addiction.

5-Year Graduation Anniversaries Heading link

Additionally, there was special recognition for alumni with these graduation anniversaries:

Years ending in 0 Years ending in 1 Years ending in 5 Years ending in 6

Highlights from the 2019 Celebration Heading link

  1. Following was the evening’s program, with coffee, dessert and a very unexpected surprise. Esther Franco-Payne, Executive Director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid and recipient of the Jane Addams Social Justice Ally Award, gave her heartfelt presentation “What is Your Revolution?” Ms. Franco-Payne enjoined the audience to remember the passion that originally fueled their entry into social work and community advocacy.
  2. The program continued with the presentation of the Jane Addams Rising Alumni Award to Stephanie J. Schmitz Bechteler, PhD ’15, Vice President and Executive Director of the Research and Policy Center at the Chicago Urban League.
  3. Rounding out the program were brief remarks from MSW student Daniel Talley, who received the 2018 Alumni & Friends Celebration Scholarship. He spoke about how much the scholarship meant to him, how it helped him focus on and complete his studies, and that he was recently hired by Thrive Counseling Center in Oak Park, where he has been working for his field placement.

Karen J. Honig Memorial Lecture Heading link

image of Katherine Kaufka Walts, JD

Karen J. Honig received her Master of Social Work degree from Jane Addams College of Social Work in 1986. Her family and friends established the Karen J. Honig Memorial Lecture to honor her memory and to focus on her commitment to inner city children and youth, as well as their families. Every spring, JACSW alumni, faculty and students, as well as community partners of the college are invited to attend the lecture, which features a prominent speaker in the field of child welfare and well-being.

The 2021 lecture was Strategies to Address Trauma, Anxiety and Violence Interruption Among Black Males, featuring a panel discussion about mitigating violence and trauma among young Black males, a crucial topic for the advancement of racial justice in marginalized communities.

CEUs (continuing education units) may be available for the Karen J. Honig Memorial Lectures.

Doctoral Student and PhD Alumni Reception Heading link

Photo from the 2023 reception

Every fall, JACSW doctoral students, faculty and alumni of the PhD program are invited to network and learn from one another. The event opens with a reception with hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, and culminates in a presentation by a PhD alumnus on choosing a research topic, writing a dissertation or career success after graduation. The 2023 speaker was alumnus and JACSW Associate Professor Charles Hounmenou, PhD ’09.

Alumni Peer-to-Peer Consultation Group Heading link

The consultation group provides a welcoming, open format for social workers to reconnect with fellow grads and network with other Chicago social work professionals for discussion of common clinical issues, case presentations and sharing of resource information with the group. JACSW Lecturer Lisa Salvadore LCSW, LCPC, CADC facilitates the group and would love to see you at the next virtual meeting!

Special thanks to JACSW Lecturer Lisa Salvadore and alumni Cece Sykes, MSW ’82 and Rosanne Adams, MSW ’91 for their work in conceiving and planning this new professional development opportunity for our alumni.

Questions?  Contact Lisa Salvadore at

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