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2021 Inductees

As Redbirds and former student leaders, our inductees share some common experiences, a passion for making a difference, and a commitment to excellence. They exemplify the values of the Division of Student Affairs and Illinois State University, not only in their professional careers and community involvement, but while they were Illinois State students. During their return to the Illinois State campus, each inductee is paired with a student host, which provides an opportunity to connect with current students and learn more about today's Redbird experience.

Linda Kingman

Linda Kingman

Linda Kingman ‘81 is an award-winning leadership, communications, and employee engagement expert. For more than two decades, she has served in executive communications roles at both corporations and agencies. As Senior Vice President and Senior thoughtpartner™ at The Grossman Group, a Chicago-based consultancy, Kingman works with and advises leaders across industries to help them, and their organizations, improve their leadership communication capability to drive meaningful change. She develops innovative strategies and helps leaders hone clear, concise messages to communicate corporate initiatives in a way that internal stakeholders can relate to and act upon.

Before joining The Grossman Group, Kingman spent 13 years leading corporate and employee communications practices at the global public relations firm Golin (formerly Golin Harris). Prior to that, she served for seven years as chief communications officer for Kemper Insurance Companies. During her time at Kemper, Kingman played a central role on the executive management team’s response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, where 225 Kemper employees worked. Kingman was also an executive in the Chicago office of Hill and Knowlton, an international public relations firm.

After graduating from Illinois State, Kingman started her career as an intern with the Illinois Senate. During her decade with the senate, she became a key advisor to the president of the Illinois Senate, rising to the position of chief of staff, overseeing operations for the senate majority in Springfield and Chicago. In 1993, she was inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Legislative Staff Hall of Fame.

Kingman is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Arthur W. Page Society. She serves on the Strategic Communications advisory council for Northwestern University's Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program and is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Kingman is an active volunteer with RefugeeOne in Chicago, a resettlement agency for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution. Together with a group of friends, she and her husband, Jim, co-sponsored a family of 11 from the Democratic Republic of Congo as they began their new lives in the United States.

Kingman is a past president of Kenilworth Union Church, the oldest non-denominational church in the United States, and of Illinois Women in Government, a bi-partisan organization she helped found that encouraged women to run for public office.

She and Jim enjoy sailing their boat on Lake Michigan, traveling the world, and reading. They are the proud parents of Spencer, who lives in Philadelphia and works for the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Karyn L. Aguirre

Karyn Aguirre

Karyn L. Aguirre ‘86 is a native Chicagoan and proud mother of her son, Miles. Raised by her mother alongside her older brother Scott, Aguirre attended public and private schools on the west and south sides of Chicago, graduating from Whitney M. Young High School. She received her bachelor of science in mass communications from Illinois State University, her master of social work with honors from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois Chicago, and a master’s in educational leadership from the American College of Education.

Aguirre holds a Professional Educator License in the State of Illinois with school social worker and general administrative endorsements, and the National Association of Social Workers’ School Social Work Specialist certification.

At Illinois State, Aguirre served in various leadership positions including as president within the Theta Delta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., vice president of the Black Student Union, and a member of the 1985 Homecoming Committee. In addition, she interned with the Office of Student Affairs in her senior year. From this work, she was selected for the 1986 Edition of “Who’s Who” Among Students in Colleges and Universities.

Upon graduation, Aguirre began her professional career with MCI in July of 1986 and was unfulfilled.She sought to become an attorney and began a new career with the Cook County State’s Attorney. After eleven years with the State’s Attorney, she came to realize through ardent prayer and some deep soul searching that this was not her calling either. Aguirre recognized that her true calling and passion was, and still is, shaping, molding, and impacting the lives of others.

In November of 2004, Aguirre found that calling, a career that would allow her to engage her passion of service to others, by working as a school social worker with the Chicago Public Schools. Finally, she had found a place where she could utilize her skills to positively impact lives. To date, she has assisted at-risk juveniles and students with profound and severe emotional disorders, behavioral challenges, and Low Incidence Disabilities.

Aguirre has served as a guest lecturer and presented workshops for several professional organizations. In addition, she serves on two community advisory boards with the Community Outreach Intervention Project at University of Illinois Chicago. Aguirre has received numerous awards and recognition in the education field and in her community, including being selected as a Chicago Defender “Women of Excellence” in 2017.

Aguirre models her personal and professional life through inspiring, mentoring, and empowering others, deriving great satisfaction in giving her time and talents over the three decades that she has unselfishly given to various organizations and causes. Aguirre is most proud of her work as the immediate past president of the Illinois State University Black Colleagues Association, and has also served as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts of America Troop 534, and as an ambush team member of Different Shades of Pink, a cancer ministry that addresses the immediate needs of fighters and survivors.

Aguirre credits valuing an education, assisting others, and all that she has accomplished and aspires to be, to her deceased mother Barbara J. Aguirre, the most extraordinary woman she has ever known. Aguirre prays she has and continues to model the gifts of lessons and examples her mother taught her, honoring the memory of the woman who also gave unselfishly to others.

Eric and Karin Burwell

Eric and Karin Burwell

Eric Burwell

Eric Burwell ’90, is principal and an owner of Burwell Management Company, a Lincoln, IL-based property management company investing in variety of real estate, private equity, venture capital, and liquid investments.

Burwell arrived at Illinois State University in the fall of 1986 and graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, in finance and business administration.

In the spring of 1988, Burwell joined the Theta Theta chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, America’s leadership development fraternity, and served as sentinel or sergeant-at-arms and was responsible educating members on the fraternity’s ritual and maintaining order during chapter meetings and initiations. He also served as an alumni relations officer where he oversaw the planning of the chapter’s 15th anniversary of its founding in the spring of 1990.

Upon graduation from Illinois State, Burwell attended Loyola University of Chicago where he earned his master of business administration with a concentration in finance. After graduate school he returned to Bloomington, IL, and re-engaged with Alpha Tau Omega, serving on the board of directors for their housing corporation for more than 23 years, as a chapter advisor, and as a member of the chapter’s board of trustees since 2000. He currently serves as an alumni scholarship advisor and oversees numerous academic scholarships given annually by ATO to its members. ATO has given more than $10,000 in scholarships to ISU students during the past 20 years.

In the fall of 1991, Burwell began work in his family’s business Burwell Oil Service, Inc., which owned and operated gas stations and convenience stores throughout central Illinois and western Indiana. While there, he embraced technology and implemented a companywide accounting system to consolidate financial reporting between the stores and corporate office, and installed one of the industry’s first open-architecture personal computer-based point-of-sale systems.

Burwell earned his Illinois real estate license in 2004, his broker’s license in 2005, and his managing broker’s license in 2011, focusing exclusively on commercial real estate sales and development.

Burwell has served on and volunteered with numerous industry and community organizations including the Phillips 66 Marketer’s Technology advisory board, Children’s Discovery Museum board, Central Illinois Regional Airport Master Plan advisory council, Heartland Bank and Trust Company board of directors, and HBT Financial, Inc. board of directors. Additionally, he has served as a member of the board of directors for the Illinois State University Foundation since 2003, where he served as chair of the investment committee from 2009 to 2016, vice chair, and in 2017, was elected chair of the board, a position he still holds.

Burwell is a licensed airplane private pilot with single, multi-engine land and instrument privileges and has more than 1,200 hours of flight time. He enjoys boating, taking an occasional class in the State Farm Hall of Business, and spending time with his family and friends at Illinois State basketball and football games. While at Illinois State he met his wife, Karin ‘90, M.S. ‘94, a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. They have four children and reside in Bloomington.

Karin Burwell

Growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, Karin (Struck) Burwell ‘90, M.S. ‘94 was inspired by her parents and their volunteer work in their community. She embraced that lifestyle and was involved in many service activities throughout high school and college.

At Illinois State University, Burwell pledged Alpha Gamma Delta in the spring of 1987.

After graduation from Illinois State, Burwell returned to the Chicago suburbs and taught in special education while pursuing a master’s degree at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. In the fall of 1992, she returned to Bloomington-Normal to complete her master’s degree at Illinois State, graduating in December of 1994.

Burwell was called upon to serve the Beta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta, as an advisor in the fall of 1992, initially serving as their recruitment adviser. Since then, she has served in numerous advisory capacities, ultimately being appointed chapter adviser in 2016. She currently wears the honor of Arc with Diamonds for her years of service to the fraternity.

In the fall of 2014, Burwell began working at Rader Family Farms. She leads the field trip team by educating thousands of children each season through the pumpkin patches. Burwell shares that developing this sense of wholesome down time in youth can be the best of times.

Giving to the community where she is placed has been the heart of Burwell’s devotion. In the past, she has served on the Trinity Lutheran Church Board of Lay Ministry as curriculum and instruction chair, the Trinity Lutheran School Board, a guild member of the Children’s Discovery Museum, and a volunteer reader in the reading program at Trinity Lutheran School.

The foundation of Burwell’s past 27+ years has been her family, her husband Eric ‘90, and their four children: Elizabeth, Christopher, Caroline and Julianna. With them, she has been blessed to commit to additional duties such as cheering, teaching, chauffeuring, and parenting.