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2017 Inductees

During their return to the Illinois State campus, each inductee was paired with a student host, which provided an opportunity to connect with current students and learn more about today's Redbird experience.

Michael Schermer

Mike Schermer

Michael chose to attend Illinois State University (ISU) because his best friend had enrolled the year before. He was one of the few in his class at Limestone Community High School in Bartonville, Illinois, to pursue a college degree.

Michael earned a B.S. and M.S. in education in 1973 and 1978, respectively. He was employed at ISU in 1974, as the Assistant to the Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, by Dr. Neal R. Gamsky. He worked with Associate VP, Judith Boyer, to recreate the Office of Student Affairs. Michael continued in that role and other assignments until his retirement in 2010. Michael was appointed as the Director of the Office of Student Life from 1978 to 1998, and as the Student Government Advisor.

As an undergraduate Theater Major, he appeared in a graduate one-act play, after which he changed his Major to Special Education and then Political Science and Sociology. During that time, he participated in the United Nations, “Seminar in Peace” as well as an experience with low-income neighborhoods in Peoria, Illinois. His Master's Degree was in Educational Administration. He was elected as Vice President of the Student Body in 1973-74, and worked to revise the Student Fee Allocation Process.

As the Director of Student Life, Michael founded the LeaderShape Program, which was funded with student activity fees, and he transitioned the Spring Break Experience Program from the Campus Religious Center to the Alternative Spring Break Program in the Office of Student Life with student activities funding. He supported Jen Cowsert, Student Body President in transitioning the Women's Transit Authority from the Red Tassel Mortar Board to Nite Ride, utilizing the Bloomington/Normal Transit Authority. Michael co-founded the Safe Zone Program for Faculty/Staff, a program to educate Faculty/Staff about being an ally to LGBT students through posting a sign on their offices. He supported Charlie Biondolillo, Student Body President, in reinstituting the Homecoming Student King and Queen.

During the period of 1978-2010, Michael served the Division of Student Affairs in a number of other positions while continuing to serve as the Assistant to the VP of Student Affairs. He served as the Associate Director of the Bone Student Center/Braden Auditorium; Director of Campus Recreation Services; Director of the Multicultural Center; and, Director of Student Counseling Services. In 1974, he served in leadership for services for students with disabilities, prior to the creation of the Office of Disability Concerns and the passage of Title IX.

Michael served as the Director of the Career Center from 2002 until his retirement in 2010.

He served the local community as a member of the Miller Park Zoo Advisory Board as well as the Normal Theater Board, working on the renovation and operations of the historic theater.

Perhaps Michael's most notable service is with his Fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma, a social fraternity, from 1978 to present. He was the local campus advisor from 1978-2008. On a national basis, Michael served as National President from 1994-1996 and on the National Board from 1988-2000. He also served on the National Foundation Board of Trustees from 1984-1988 and 2000 to present; and, was the Foundation President from 2008-2014.

Michael and his married spouse, Douglas Lichtenberger, continue as generous contributors to Student Affairs through the ISU Foundation. Their efforts include support to the Student Leader of the Year, a four year scholarship to a Freshman committed to leadership and community service, the LGBT Support Fund, LeaderShape, and Alternative Spring Break.

Michael A. Donahue

Michael A. Donahue

Mike Donahue is Co-Founder of Dynamic Growth Mavericks Consulting, LLC, bringing nearly 40 years of understanding what inspires consumer loyalty to brands. His obsession with customer centric brand communications has been recognized throughout his diverse career of helping to build great brands, increase awareness, and grow sales in multiple industries.

Prior to DGM Consulting, Mike excelled working in the restaurant, hospitality, sports, entertainment, political, and legislative arenas. Previously, he launched LYFE Kitchen Restaurants, as Co-Founder/Chief Brand Officer, and subsequently, he helped launch one of the most ambitious new professional sports programming models returning it to live television. As the Chief Brand Maverick, Donahue will help develop, launch or grow businesses of all sizes, and take their brands to the next level.

Working to bring a company’s vision to life, Mike will help create or build on the brand essence, positioning and key messaging to the most critical audiences including consumers, media, influencers, investors and all relevant stakeholders. His deep connections and relationships are vital to entities looking to grow market share and sales through multi-dimensional channels.

Mike is also a former senior management team member at the Global McDonald's Corporation where he served asChief Communications and External Relations Officer for McDonald’s USA. During his 20 years at McDonald's he held several domestic and international managementpositions where he focused on building, enhancing and protecting the brand.

In a dynamic era of increased government intervention at the state, local, and federal levels, Mike led the McDonald’s Government Relations department for eleven years. He was also responsible for managing the external relations functions and his accomplishments include creating the first McDonald's SocialResponsibilitydepartment and managing Customer Relations, Communications, and Public Relations departments.

Mike has developed and implemented practical brand and reputation management solutions for other Fortune 500 corporations, business leaders, high-profile political leaders and celebrities. His understanding of a company’s vision and how dramatically execution can be impacted in today’s ever-changing world is a unique skill required to mitigate unplanned, unbudgeted, and unforeseen business disruption by external forces.

Mike serves on several advisoryandcharitable boards, is a popular speaker in the areas of Brand Development, Anticipatory (to avoid Crisis) Management, hospitality, and food service related topics.

In accepting the Student Affairs Hall of Fame Award, Mike is effusive discussing the life changing education he received in the ISU School of Communications, crediting the enlightened faculty leadership that helped him create the first comprehensive Public Relations Major, before an official program was developed. He acknowledged several savvy professors (Dr.’s Semlak, Cragen, Shelly, Light, Hazelton and others) with teaching the Communications students how to think and engage in meaningful ways to be organizational leaders. Mike contends that ISU Communications students enter their professions with a strategic advantage through the “active learning education” received at ISU.

He commends ISU for building the ISU culture of “Shared Governance”. For years, ISU Presidents have supported the concept of including faculty and students on committees, including the Academic Senate comprised of all stakeholders in the University. As a former Student Body President, Donahue worked closely with then ISU President Lloyd Watkins, as Vice-Chair of the Academic Senate, the universities primary policymaking board, learning the importance of true democratic leadership in his student leadership capacity.

The ISU internship program propelled Mike into his career in a profound way, allowing him to serve as the first intern in the school’s history for an elected official representing the ISU community, Senator John Maitland. Once again, with strong avuncular coaching from his faculty mentors regarding ramifications of his representing ISU, Mike and Senator Maitland formed an important bond and relationship demonstrating ISU’s commitment to providing engaged educational experiences at all levels. Mike is grateful to Senator Maitland and his family for introducing him the world of politics, government and integrity filled leadership in the Illinois General Assembly. His internship with Senator Maitland was a profound culmination of his multi-dimensional educational experience at ISU.

Mike hastens to add that his greatest accomplishment is as the father of two sons, Patrick Michael (19) and Keaton Ryan (16), both fine young men and as avid lacrosse players, he loves watching and observing the trend of lacrosse changing the face of American sports as the fastest growing high school sport nationally.

Robinzina "Zina" Bryant-Felton

Robinzina Zina Bryant

Attorney Robinzina "Zina" Bryant-Felton received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Illinois State University in 1988 and 1990 respectively, and earned her Juris Doctorate from Drake University Law School in 1994.

Upon arriving at ISU she worked in the dish room “busting suds” in Tri Towers her freshman year and then moved on to working at the campus theater as a sophomore. Zina finished out her Junior and Senior years working as a Resident Assistant in Haynie Hall and also served as a Preview Guide. Zina started graduate school working as a Residential Life Graduate Assistant in Watterson Towers. However, the death of her mother during the summer after completing her first year, compelled her to adopt her then four-year-old sister, Marsa. Subsequently, she began working full-time for the University as an Academic Counselor for the High Potential Students Program (HPS) and finished up her graduate degree part-time.

Some of the extra-curricular activities Zina enjoyed while at ISU included singing with the Interdenominational Youth Choir (IYC) where she served as the Alto Section Leader, Judson Fellowship where she participated in a Mission Trip in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, Intramural Sports where she incurred many battle wounds, participation in the Minority Professional Organization (MPO) program, which required academic excellence, and pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Immediately after law school, Zina was selected to serve a Public Service Fellowship sponsored by Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. As a Public Service Fellow, she worked at New Detroit - The Coalition, an organization devoted to community, social and economic empowerment. She was hired full-time upon the completion of the fellowship program and worked there until joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Zina joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1997 and served her country in this capacity until 2007 working White Collar investigations in St. Louis, Missouri and Counterterrorism investigations in Chicago, Illinois in addition to serving as the Chicago Division Recruiter.

In July 2009, Zina formed Law at Last, Incorporated and currently practices law in Homewood, Illinois. Her practice is focused in the areas of Probate and Estate Planning with the goal to assist individuals in making their transition from this life smoother for the loved ones they leave behind as well as assisting those left behind to settle their deceased loved ones affairs with dignity.

Zina’s community involvement included serving as the inaugural Chairperson of Illinois’ Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board, membership in the National Council for Negro Women, serving as a board member for Kappa Alpha Psi’s Foundation, and as a member of the board of directors for Breakthrough Urban Ministries, an organization serving East Garfield Park in Chicago which partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity.

Sadly, Zina passed away in 2021.

Twanna Hines

Twanna Hines

Twanna A. Hines is an award­-winning educator and media personality. Recognized for her areas of expertise, she hasappeared on CNN, NPR, Sirius, CBC (Canadian National Radio), Paris Première (French Television) and in documentary films. She has written forThe Guardian, Al Jazeera, Time Out New York, Lifetime, Mashable, Nerve, New York Press, Fast CompanyandThe Huffington Post.

Raised in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Twanna attended Bloomington Junior High School and Bloomington High School. At Illinois State University, she was a resident assistant in tri-towers and was heavily active in the Sociology Club, Student Government, and many campus groups. She participated in ISU’s Alternative Spring Break program, traveling to New York City to volunteer with the United Nations. For study abroad, she traveled to Canterbury, England. While living there, she visited Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, France and many other countries.

Inspired by her time living abroad, after graduating with honors from Illinois State University (B.S. in sociology, cum laude), Twanna obtained a Master’s degree at Florida State University. She wrote her master thesis on immigration in Europe and later contributed a chapter to a book published by ISU professor, Dr. Maura Toro-Morn, “Migration and Immigration: A Global View (A World View of Social Issues).”

After finishing her Master’s, Twanna moved to The Netherlands and began working for the U.S. Department of State at the American Embassy in The Hague, supporting compliance with international entertainment law to protect U.S. entertainment companies. Returning to the U.S. from Holland, she began working in international education. While at The University of Chicago, she managed professional education and training programs taking students to film festivals and theater programs around the globe, using the arts to promote lifelong learning. She partnered with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and she also created study abroad programs that took Illinoisans and other students to Greece to study the works of Homer, the author of the “Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”

After living in Chicago for a few years, she moved to New York City to chase her dream of becoming a writer. After all, her first published work was a letter to the editor, penned at age 17, about why sports are good for girls. It was printed in her hometown paper, Bloomington-Normal’s The Daily Pantagraph, in 1992. She primarily writes on sexual and reproductive health, and her column for Metro international newspapers was printed in three major markets — New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. She was also selected to participate in one of The Guardian newspaper’s competitive programs for writers.

In addition to freelance writing, throughout her career, Twanna has worked directly for organizations promoting social good and on a freelance basis under the auspices of FUNKY BROWN CHICK®. In New York City, Twanna worked for Newsweek magazine and BBC Worldwide. At Planned Parenthood, she led edutainment programs toreduce teen pregnancy. Her programs won the organization’s award for Outstanding Efforts Serving Teens. At Land O’Lakes, she led information and communications technology efforts to reduce global hunger by integrating food security messaging into television and community radio programs in Africa. During her time with the organization, she had the opportunity to travel to Africa to see programs in person in Malawi.

She is currently the director ofAndACTION, a project sparking social change by connecting nonprofits to important issues reflected in film and TV. She is also on the board of Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and organization promoting sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. Having lived inNew York City, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, The Hague, and Washington, D.C., she is fluent in Dutch and English.

Adam W. Ghrist

Adam Ghrist

Adam W. Ghrist began his legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office in August of 2007. In March of 2015, Adam was named First Assistant State’s Attorney where he supervises the criminal division of the office, which includes over 20 attorneys and more than 20 staff members, overseeing all felony indictments for McLean County. During his career, he has handled various types of criminal cases including white-collar financial crimes, murder, sexual assaults, weapons offenses, major drug crimes, child exploitation crimes as well as post-conviction litigation.

In 2012, Adam was assigned to the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) where he was in charge of all prosecution of child sexual abuse crimes, serious child physical abuse and death as well as child pornography. During his time in the CAC, Adam tried multiple bench trials and jury trials to verdict with survivors of abuse as young as 4 years old. Adam prosecuted the first case in McLean County to allow children to testify via closed circuit television. Adam also established an effective working relationship with federal agencies to prosecute serious child pornography cases at the state level, and coordinated the first child-trafficking operation in McLean County to utilize trained forensic interviewers and advocates to rescue survivors. Prior to the CAC, Adam was assigned to the Drug Unit for four years where he specialized in vice narcotics investigations and prosecuted felony drug offenses including multi-kilogram drug trafficking and historical drug conspiracy. Adam also practiced civil litigation as the lead attorney within the Asset Forfeiture Division where he was in charge of all of the drug and money laundering asset forfeitures within McLean County.

In 2010, Adam was recognized for outstanding accomplishments in narcotics prosecution by receiving the Illinois M.E.G. Directors and Task Force Commander’s Association Award. In 2014, Adam was among the first prosecutors to be awarded the Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault, Moxie Award for “Inspiring Change: Ending Sexual Assault in our Lifetime.” In 2016, Adam was named Young Lawyer of the year by the McLean County Bar Association.

Adam has taught law and criminal justice courses at Illinois State, Lincoln College, and Heartland Community College. Adam has presented multiple times throughout Illinois including the 2016 Champions of Children’s Conference and the 2015 National Association of Attorneys General Conference. In 2015, Adam coordinated the implementation of radKids, a child and family abuse prevention and education curriculum, as a pilot program at Oakland Elementary School. He is actively involved in the McLean County Bar Association. With his wife, and college sweetheart, Tracie '04, M.A. '09. He is actively involved in his church including leading small group Bible study and as a marriage mentor. Together they are raising three children McKenna (7), Brooklyn (5) and Abram (22 mo.).

Adam received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in ’04 where he was involved in a number of activities and organizations including being a two-year member of the Mock Trial team where in ’03 he was named an All-American Attorney as ISU won the National Championship Tournament. He was a member of the Student Code and Enforcement Review Board (SCERB), now Student Conduct and Community Responsibilities (SCCR); as well as campus government and in 2003-04 was a Student Trustee participating in the presidential search that resulted in the selection of now retired Illinois State University President Al Bowman. In ‘07 Adam received his Juris Doctorate from Southern Illinois School of Law where he gave the commencement address as the John S. Randleman Award winner - chosen by peers as the student most likely to make the greatest difference in the law.