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 was paired with a student host, which provided an opportunity to connect with current students and learn more about today's Redbird experience.
Craig Gilmore ‘73 is the retired Zone Director of Multi-cultural Markets for State Farm Insurance Companies. He began his career in the insurance and financial services industry more than 35 years ago.
In 1998, Gilmore was asked to create and lead State Farm’s ethnic marketing initiatives for the state of Illinois. He held this position until he was promoted to Director of Multi-cultural Markets for the North Central Market Area. In this position, he was responsible for multi-cultural marketing in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. In 2012, Gilmore and his team helped to produce double-digit production increases in the African-American and Latino markets.
Since leaving State Farm in 2013, Gilmore has consulted for both profit and non-profit organizations. He also devotes his time to support various causes. Gilmore is very active in his community, having served on numerous boards such as the board chair of 100 Black Men of Chicago, vice president of strategic planning for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, board chair of the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs, and vice president of the National African-American Insurance Association (NAAIA).
Gilmore has also been involved with the Loretto Hospital Foundation, and served on many committees, including the Cook County State’s Attorney African-American Advisory Council, DuSable Museum of African-American History Capital Campaign Planning Committee, I-Heart Media Advisory Council, Black Creativity Advisory Council, Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Advisory Committee, and the Chicago Housing Authority Springboard 2 Success Advisory Board.
As a proud lifetime member of the Bloomington, Illinois chapter of the NAACP, Gilmore received the chapter’s highest honor, the Roy Wilkins Award in 2004. He is also a member of the Chicago Urban League, receiving their “Beautiful People” Award for community service in 2002.
In 2007, Gilmore was selected to be a member of the inaugural class of the Chicago Defender Newspaper’s 50 Men of Excellence. He was also featured in Who’s Who in Black Chicago in both 2011 and 2012. Gilmore was also honored with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National African-American Insurance Association.
Gilmore is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is a 2004 recipient of the Monarch Award for public service, presented by the Chicago Alumni chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 2010, his fraternity honored him by naming him one of the Seven (7) Corporate Brothers “making a difference.”
During his time at Illinois State, Gilmore served as a Preview Guide and as a mentor to other students through the High Potential Student (HPS) program. He was a member of the winning team of the University’s first HPS Black History Contest, and also represented Illinois State at the first Congressional Black Caucus Conference, in the 1970s. In 2012, Gilmore was honored by the Illinois State University Black Colleagues Association (ISUBCA) with its Vanguard Award for his support of ISUBCA activities.
Gilmore’s interests include community revitalization, and he maintains his passion for physical fitness and cycling. He and his wife Judy are South Shore residents.
Daniel Wagner ’89, M.S ‘94 is senior vice president of government relations for The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies. He has been a licensed real estate broker since 2004, and holds Series 7 and Series 63 security licenses.
Wagner serves on numerous real estate industry and governmental boards and committees. He currently serves as the Illinois REALTORS® 2018 president-elect. Previously, he served as treasurer of the Illinois REALTORS® in 2017, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® in 2016, and was the 2016 Commercial Liaison for the National Association of REALTORS®. Wagner was named 2017 REALTOR® of the Year by the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and received the 2017 Commercial Award from the National Association of REALTORS®. He is also a commissioner on the DuPage Airport Authority and serves as the Chairman of the Authority’s Capital Development Committee. Wagner is Chairman of the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce and is also a Trustee for The Conservation Foundation.
As a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Wagner has been a significant advocate for the Marketplace Fairness Act. He is also a member of the Investment Program Association’s Public Affairs Committee and part of the Real Estate Roundtable’s 1031 Like-Kind Exchange Coalition. He is a board member for the Civic Federation of Chicago and active in the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
In 2014, Wagner received the Advocacy Award from the Illinois Park and Recreation Association for his work on behalf of special needs children in his community. He is a longtime volunteer for the Conservation Foundation and the Wellness House.
Wagner obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University. He was frequently elected to leadership roles, serving as vice president of the Association of Residence Halls from 1986-1987, and then as president from 1987-1988. He also became a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, serving as his pledge class president from 1985-1986. Wagner served as an Academic Senator each year he was an undergraduate and was always working on issues important to students. In 2015, the Illinois State University Political Science Department honored him at the University’s Annual Homecoming Alumni Event.
Wagner is married and has four children, three of whom are triplets.
Rachel Spangler ’05, M.S. ‘07 never set out to be an award-winning author. She just looked for creative and affordable ways to entertain herself during college, and her first novel, Learning Curve, was born out of one such attempt. She was sincerely surprised when it was accepted for publication, and even more shocked when it won the Golden Crown Literary Award for Debut Author. She also won a Goldie for subsequent novels Trails Merge and Perfect Pairing. Since writing is more fun than a real job and so much cheaper than therapy, Spangler continued to type away, leading to the publication of The Long Way Home, LoveLife, Spanish Heart, Does She Love You, Timeless, Heart Of The Game, Perfect Pairing, Close to Home, and Edge of Glory.She is a two-time Lambda Literary Award Finalist and the Alice B. Reader Award winner for 2018. Her twelfth novel, In Development, will be released in May of 2018. She plans to continue writing as long as anyone, anywhere will keep reading.
During her time at Illinois State, Spangler always displayed a passion for helping students of marginalized populations. As an undergraduate, she served as the president of Pride, and then worked as a graduate assistant in Diversity Advocacy in the Dean of Students Office.
Spangler and her partner, Susan, are raising their son in western New York, where during the winter they make the most of the lake effect snow on local ski slopes. In the summer, they love to travel and watch their beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Regardless of the season, Spangler always makes time for a good romance, whether she’s reading it, writing it, or living it.