Alumni Achievement Awards

District 128 Foundation for Learning Alumni Achievement Awards, established in 2014, are presented annually to individuals who graduated from a District 128 high school at least five years prior to nomination, and who have made significant contributions, and demonstrated leadership and character in his/her field and to his/her community. Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis and remain active for three years. The Foundation for Learning Board of Trustees comprise the selection committee.

Online Nomination Form

2018 Honorees

Foundation Names Chris Bryant and Raghu Mirmira

5th Annual Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Chris Bryant and Raghu Mirmira

The District 128 Foundation for Learning is proud to announce this year's recipients of the Alumni Achievement Awards: Chris Bryant, Vernon Hills High School Class of 2004, and Raghu Mirmira, Libertyville High School Class of 1982. They will receive their honors at THE BIG EVENT, Nov. 9 at White Deer Run Golf Club in Vernon Hills.

Chris Bryant has spent most of his adult life in the Carolinas. He attended Duke University School of Law, where he was elected the first African American Editor in Chief of the Duke Law Journal. While in law school, Chris volunteered as an intake intern for Legal Aid of North Carolina, represented clients as a student attorney in the Start-Up Ventures Clinic, participated in Moot Court, and won 1st place in the Louis Jackson National Student Memorial Writing Competition in Employment and Labor Law.

After law school, he clerked for Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Richard M. Gergel on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. He initially planned to work for a large law firm in Los Angeles after his clerkships, but after his experience clerking for Judge Gergel during United States v. Dylann Storm Roof he decided to stay in South Carolina and represent individuals and small businesses harmed by the actions of others.

Chris serves on the board of Charleston Legal Access, a nonprofit law firm representing modest-means clients who do not make enough to pay standard rates for an attorney. Chris is also on the Duke Law Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Chris is a member of the bars of South Carolina, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and he passed the July 2016 California Bar Exam.

Before law school, Chris attended Duke University as a Reginaldo Howard Scholar, where he received an A.B. in Economics. Upon graduation, Chris joined Teach for America (TFA) and worked in Durham Public Schools as a 7th-grade special education teacher and an assistant baseball and soccer coach. After completing his two-year TFA commitment, Chris worked for a year at a K-8 public charter school in Durham, where he managed a small special education caseload and founded and ran the school’s first music program for its 300+ students.

Dr. Raghu Mirmira graduated from The University of Chicago in 1986 with Honors in Chemistry. He then entered the MD-PhD program, also at The University of Chicago. During his Ph.D. training, he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Howard Tager studying insulin-receptor interactions. His work during this time set the foundation for the development of ultra-rapid- and ultra-long-acting insulins that are widely in use today to treat all forms of diabetes. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1991, followed by his MD degree in 1993. Raghu subsequently completed his residency in Internal Medicine and subspecialty training in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of California at San Francisco. During his subspecialty training, Raghu did his research in the laboratory of Dr. Michael German, where he studied the regulation of genes in the insulin-producing β cell. During this time, he held the prestigious Physician Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a JDRF Career Development Award, and later a Research Career Award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Mirmira then joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 2000, where he continued his studies on the regulation of genes in insulin-producing cells. For his work, he received the prestigious Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award from the American Diabetes Association and was honored in Washington, DC in 2004 with the Discovery Channel Medical Honor, along with Surgeon General David Satcher.

Raghu moved to Indiana University in 2008 to assume directorship of the burgeoning Diabetes Center. He is currently the Eli Lilly Professor in Pediatric Diabetes, Director of the Indiana University training program for MD/ Ph.D. (MSTP) students, the Director of the NIH (P30)-funded Indiana University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Disease, and Director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research. He is a dedicated researcher, clinician (still seeing patients with diabetes), teacher, and administrator. He is also a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, Cellular and Integrative Physiology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and has a National Institutes of Health-funded research lab of 12 scientists. He has published over 120 scientific papers in prestigious journals and is an international thought leader in the field of diabetes. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, an elite group of U.S. physician-scientists recognized for their contributions to medical research and patient care.

2017 Honorees

2017 Honorees Steven Breitenfield and Brett Butler

Steven Breitenfield

Vernon Hills High School Class of 2002

Steven Breitenfield is a speech-language pathologist with Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon, Iowa. His position provides evaluation and treatment of speech, language, voice, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in individuals birth to elderly.

Steven has a wide variety of professional experiences including assisting in a Videofluroscopic Swallow Study, and providing therapy to patients with cognitive impairment, brain injuries, and dementia. He also has worked with children with expressive and receptive language disorders. Steven has treated tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aphasia, neurological impairments and brain injuries. Steven worked as a pathologist intern at Northwestern Medicine Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton with a wide variety of patients. He worked with patients with aphasia, dementia, dysarthria, dysphagia, dysphonia, Guillain-Barré, mild-cognitive impairment, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Parkinson’s disease, right hemisphere disorder, spinal cord injury and tracheostomized patients. Steven also performed a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), provided thermal-tactile stimulation and used the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (IOPI).

In addition to his professional work, he has volunteered as a GED Tutor with YouthBuild of Lake County and a tutor with the American Indian Association of Illinois.


Brett Butler

Libertyville High School Class of 1975

Brett Butler was a two-time All-American at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he graduated from with a bachelor of science degree in education in 1979. An outfielder, he went on to play Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and again with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He is the author of an autobiography titled, "Field of Hope," that chronicles his major league career and his battle with cancer.  He has been the recipient of the Lou Gehrig Award, the Arte Award of Courage, the Branch Rickey Award, the True Value Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award, the Baseball Writer's of New York "You Gotta Have Heart Award," and the American Cancer Society Award.

Brett is one of 26 players in Major League History to compile at least 500 stolen bases (558) and 2,000 hits (2,375) for a career. He retired in 1997 with a lifetime batting average of .290.

After retiring as a player he held a variety of managing and coaching positions including minor league coaching positions, manager positions and major league positions that included 1st base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and 3rd base coach for the Miami Marlins. Butler is now a motivational speaker who speaks nationally to corporations, ministries, churches, schools and other organizations.  


2016 Honorees

2016 Honorees Ralph Chu and David Margules


Y. Ralph Chu, M.D.

Libertyville High School Class of 1986
Y. Ralph Chu, M.D., Founder and Medical Director of Chu Vision Institute and Chu Surgery Center, is recognized as an international leader in cataract and refractive surgery. Dr. Chu received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as part of their Honors 6 year BS/MD program where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He completed an internship at Evanston Hospital and an ophthalmology residency at Duke University Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Chu then completed a fellowship in cornea and external disease, refractive, cataract and lens implant surgery and glaucoma in Minneapolis.

Following his passion to help end blindness around the globe, Dr. Chu formed the Chu Vision Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing education, vision correction surgery, technology and resources to underserved communities locally and abroad. He has traveled to Myanmar, Thailand and many other countries bringing his surgical talents to educate and train other physicians.

Dr. Chu is Past President of the Ophthalmic Outpatient Surgery Society as well as a member of many other ophthalmic organizations.  He has become a sought after resource for numerous broadcast media outlets both locally and nationally. Dr. Chu has lectured and taught physicians on nearly every continent including Asia, Australia, and Europe, and is a highly respected speaker, nationally and internationally, on cataract and refractive surgery.

Dr. Chu lives in Edina, Minn​., with his wife and daughter. He is an accomplished violinist and as a young person performed for the Vatican, at Carnegie Hall and the Oprah show to name a few.  He enjoys music and the arts, traveling, biking and serves on the Board of The Minnesota Orchestra as well as the Walker Art Center and The Children’s Theatre Company.

David Margules

Vernon Hills High School Class of 2004
David Margules currently serves as the Africa and Middle East Mission Manager at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. David has worked at DIA since 2010. In that time, David has completed a rotation with the Joint Staff Directorate for Analysis and twice deployed to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force- Afghanistan operations, at the Kandahar Intelligence Fusion Cell and Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Center. There he provided intelligence support to ISAF leadership, facilitating the establishment of a regional intelligence fusion cell and regularly briefing senior officials, including the ISAF Commander.

David maintains and leverages foreign relationships to determine topics of mutual interest to the United States and allied governments, particularly within the Five Eyes Community. His efforts have increased efficiencies and cooperation between the United States and its closest allies and he recently returned from an analyst exchange to the United Kingdom.

​His a​wards include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, and the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award.

David earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict and Security and a minor in Spanish as well as a Masters in Security Policy Studies with dual concentrations in Transnational Security Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction from the George Washington University. After twelve years in Washington, David is pleased to announce he remains a lifelong and unrepentant fan of Chicago sports teams.

2015 Honorees

2015 Honorees Allyson Bain and Gwynne Rowley Shotwell

Allyson Bain

Vernon Hills High School Class of 2008

Allyson Bain is a 2016 candidate for Juris Doctor from the Northwestern University School of Law. In addition to her many academic honors, Bain was the originator and advocate for the passage of the Restroom Access Act, 410 ILCS 39/1 et seq., known as Ally's Law. She collaborated with Illinois legislators on the language of House Bill 0834 and testified in support of the bill, which was signed into law in 2005, allowing anyone with a medical emergency access to an employee-only restroom in a retail establishment. She was an advocate for the passage of similar legislation in other states as well as on a federal and international level.

Allyson is also a patient representative and special government employee with the FDA Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. In that role, she represents gastrointestinal disease patients nationwide as the patient voice during committee meetings.

Allyson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Lake Forest College. She recently completed a legal internship with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. As a student at Northwestern School of Law, she is currently the senior articles editor for the Journal of Law and Social Policy, president of the Disability Law Society, mentor for the Women's Leadership Coalition, and a teaching assistant.

In 2011, Allyson was named to Glamour's Top Ten College Women, for her work as an activist for the passage of Ally's Law.


Gwynne Rowley Shotwell

Libertyville High School Class of 1982

As President and COO of SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., Gwynne Rowley Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations and for managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth. She joined SpaceX as vice president of business development and built the Falcon vehicle family manifest to more than 70 launches, representing nearly $8 billion in revenue. She is a member of the SpaceX Board of Directors.

Prior to joining SpaceX, she spent more than 10 years at the Aerospace Corporation in space systems engineering and technology as well as project management. She was promoted to the role of Chief engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA's future investment in space transportation.

In 2014, Gwynne was appointed to the United States Export Import Bank’s Advisory Committee and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council. She has been awarded the World Technology Award for Individual Achievement in Space, has been inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, and was elected to the honorable grade of Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Through leadership in both corporate and external programs for SpaceX, Shotwell has helped raise over $1 million for STEM education programs reaching thousands of students nationwide.

Gwynne received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, and currently serves on the advisory council for Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. She has authored dozens of papers on a variety of space-related subjects. She is #90 on Forbes 2015 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.


2014 Honorees

2014 Honorees Dale Eggert and Matt Nuernberger

Dale Eggert 
LHS Class of 1974

Dale is a life-long Libertyville resident who is known not only for his outstanding wresting achievements while at Libertyville High School, in college and post-college, but also for his long-time dedication as a coach for Wildcat Wrestling. Dale taught Health Education, Driver Education, and Physical Education at LHS for 33 years and, in 2007, was named the LHS "Teacher of the Year." In the 2014-15 school year, Coach Eggert began his 37th year coaching in the LHS Wrestling program and his 28th year as the Head Coach. In addition to wresting, Dale has also coached 23 years of Freshmen Football, 16 years as the Freshmen Head Coach, 8 years of Boys' Soccer, 6 years of Freshmen Baseball, and 6 years of Freshmen Softball. He has also served as a faculty sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes since 1996. Dale's wrestling coaching honors include the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials (IWCOA) "Assistant Coach of the Year" in 1987, the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) "Illinois Coach of the Year" in 2008 and 2014, being named to the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2000 and to the Lake County High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, named a State Tournament Grand Marshal in 2014 by the IWCOA, and was a top five finisher for the IWCOA Illinois Coach of the Year in 1995, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2014.

Matt Nuernberger 
VHHS Class of 2007

Matt was active in all areas of performing arts while he attended Vernon Hills High School, holding lead roles in numerous musical and theatrical productions. After graduating from VHHS, he attended Carnegie Mellon University. While at Carnegie Mellon, he met and became friends with five classmates who would ultimately join him in founding the theatre troup and band, PigPen Theatre Co. PigPen Theatre Co. began creating their unique brand of music, film, and theatre as freshmen at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007. They have since produced their original plays Off-Broadway and toured the country - earning them critic's picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, and many more, ranking them in the top 10 theatrical events of 2011, 2012, and 2013. They were the first group to win the NYC Fringe Festival's top honor for a play two years in a row (2010/11) and have gone on to win IRNE (2012) and Jeff Awards (2014) for their touring productions. The group's debut indie-folk album, "Bremen," was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post's 2012 Grammy preview. Their follow up EP, "The Way I'm Running," was premiered by American Songwriter and released on Oct. 8, 2013. PigPen is currently working with Writers House, one of the world's leading young adult literary agencies, to develop its debut children's novel.