2013 UIC Alumni Five Awards

2013 Alumni Achievement Awards: Axel Strotbek, Rajaa Alsanea, Ertharin Cousin

Alumni Award winners, L-R: Axel Strotbek, Rajaa Abdullah Alsanea and Ertharin Cousin.

The University of Illinois Alumni Association will honor these outstanding graduates at the 2013 Alumni Five dinner and awards ceremony Oct. 11.


Alumni Achievement Awards

Rajaa Abdullah Alsanea, ’08 MS Dentistry

Rajaa Abdullah Alsanea is a consultant endodontist and researcher in the stem cell therapy program at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Her debut novel, Girls of Riyadh, an international bestseller, drew critical notice and death threats for its candid portrayal of women struggling with Islamic traditions and the realities of modern life.

She was listed among the Power 500 Arab figures in the world in 2012.


Ertharin Cousin, ’79 LAS

Ertharin Cousin is the executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization. She was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and head of the U.S. Mission to U.N. Agencies in Rome, Italy.

Cousin was White House liaison to the State Department in the Clinton administration. In 2012, she was named to Forbes Magazine’s List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.


Axel F. Strotbek, ’91 MBA

Axel F. Strotbek joined the Volkswagen Group as an assistant in 1991. By 2007, at age 43, he was chief financial officer of Audi AG, where he successfully steered the company through the world financial crisis and invested in its work force, new products and technologies.

Strotbek is a frequent participant in the World Economic Forum.


Humanitarian Award

James E. Jennings ’88 PhD LAS

James E. Jennings is founder and president of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization. He is executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace, which establishes dialogues among professors, politicians and religious leaders around the world.

Jennings, who worked with global health-related programs at UIC in the mid-1990s, is a fellow at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California at Los Angeles.


Distinguished Service Award

Linda Rae Murray ’73 LAS, ’77 MD, ’80 MPH

Linda Rae Murray is chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health and Cook County Health and Hospital System. For four decades, she has been a physician, mentor, teacher and activist, advocating for health care as a basic human right.

Murray sees public health as the glue that unites community influences such as transportation, sanitation, education, labor and recreation.


City Partner Awards

Cassandra J. Francis, ’91 MUPP

Cassandra J. Francis is a principal of Kariatid Inc., specializing in real estate, construction project management and strategic planning issues.

She led master planning efforts for Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. At U.S. Equities, she helped develop the MetraMarket in the West Loop and the New Mississippi River Bridge at St. Louis.


Alison R. Perona, ’03 MA, LAS

The first inspector general of the Chicago Park District, Alison R. Perona was deputy director of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and inspector general of the Chicago Transit Authority.

In her 18 years in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Perona supervised its Child Advocacy and Protection Unit and helped establish the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center.

Alumni Award winners Allison Perona, Cassandra Francis, James E. Jennings, Linda Murray

Alumni Awards, L-R: Allison Perona and Cassandra Francis, City Partner Award; James E. Jennings, Humanitarian Award; Linda Murray, Distinguished Service Award

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