The Triton College Alumni Association is dedicated to fostering and encouraging lifelong connections between alumni and Triton College through programs and initiatives that serve alumni and engage them in the future success of Triton College. The Alumni Association Council conducts the business of the Alumni Association and supports any and all initiatives set forth by Alumni Relations.
Executive Committee Officers
Chief Andrew Hock
Elmwood Park Chief of Police Andrew Hock
Class of 2003
Andrew Hock was born, raised and resides in Elmwood Park, Illinois. He attended and graduated Fenwick High School in 1983. He continued his education and graduated from Triton College with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.
In 1990 he began his career with the Elmwood Park Police Department. He is a graduate from the Illinois State Police Training Academy. Throughout his career he worked his way up through the ranks. He proudly served as a Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, Commander and Deputy Chief before being appointed Chief of Police in 2023. During his career he has been a recipient of the Cook County Sheriffs Law Enforcement Award of Merit, Elmwood Park Police Chief Award of Merit, and Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorist, (A.A.I.M.), awards.
He is a 2007 graduate of the prestigious Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He has been a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Association Chiefs of Police, West Suburban Chiefs of Police, West Suburban Detectives Association and West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. He currently serves on several boards and committees that tie law enforcement to the community.
He is involved in many civic and alumni organizations in his private life. In 2019, Andrew Hock received the Grand Corridor Chamber of Commerce Community Advancement Award. He currently serves as President of the Triton College Alumni Association Board and a Foundation Board member. When Andrew is not fighting crime he enjoys golf and photography. Chief Hock and his wife Heather have two children, Brian, 36, is a current Elmwood Park Police Detective, and Ashley, 32, works in the finance industry.
Council Vice President
Class of 1980
Jim Renella grew up in Franklin Park, Illinois and graduated from West Leyden High School in Northlake, Illinois. Jim attended Triton College to pursue a Certificate in Photo Offset. He worked full time at a printing company called Form Service, Inc. in Schiller Park, Illinois while going to Triton College part time at night. His career goal was to be a general manager of a printing company. After graduating from Triton College in 1980 with a Certificate in Photo Offset, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration degree from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. All of the college classes Jim attended were exclusively at night because he worked full time during the day. His educational journey lasted more than nine years, during which he attended night classes all year long. While attending classes at night, his work responsibilities increased as he was promoted to senior management roles. Jim has held various positions in the printing industry throughout his career including Pre-Press Supervisor, Plant Manager, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President/General Manager and Vice President Sales and Marketing. Jim ended up working for Form Service for 29 years, which grew to a $50 million organization. When he left in 2003, Jim held the position of Chief Operating Officer.
Today, Jim has been with Diamond Communication Solutions for over 14 years. During his tenure with the company, he has held several senior management positions. As the Senior Vice President/General Manager, he led a migration team that was integral in implementing ink jet technology that eliminated over 400 preprinted forms and developed a white paper environment for digital printing throughout the Diamond Communication Solutions organization. In his current role of Senior Vice President Quality Operations at Diamond Communication Solutions, Jim is responsible for total quality management and employee education for all of Diamond Communication Solutions’ facilities. He is a member of various professional organizations in his industry and has been recognized for his many contributions to the field.
As he looks back on his career and educational journey he credits Triton College for laying the foundation for a successful 40-year plus career in the printing industry. Jim also recognizes that the instructors he had for classes were more than just teachers, they were mentors that took the time and interest in his career path and offered him valuable guidance. Jim believes embracing technology is a way of life and a large part of one’s career. The industry he has worked in for more than 40 years has been impacted by technology in the last 20 years and ironically the same fundamental principles Jim was taught at Triton still hold true with this new digital technology.
Class of 2002
Mr. Justiz became an Adjunct Faculty member in March of 2002. He has served as the coordinator of the Emergency Medical Technology program, and is the current coordinator for the Fire Science program at Triton College.
Mr. Justiz has been a licensed Emergency Medical Technician-Basic since June 1997 and a licensed Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic since January 1999. He has also been a National Registered Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic since February 1999. In addition, he has been a certified firefighter in Illinois since 2000.
Mr. Justiz has completed an Associates of Applied Science degree in Fire Science & Paramedic Leadership from Triton Community College, Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Service Management from Southern Illinois University and is currently completing a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Mr. Justiz is a Firefighter/Paramedic for the Chicago Fire Department and is also a part-time Firefighter/Paramedic/Fire Investigator with the River Grove Fire Department.
Dr. Kennedi Dixon
Dr. Kennedi Dixon
Class of 1992
Dr. Strickland-Dixon is currently the Special Education Divisional Director at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
Prior to transitioning to Oak Park and River Forest High School, she served as the first African- American Director of Special Education in Maywood District 89 for 8 years. As a product of Irving Elementary and Proviso East High School, this is an honor that Dr. Strickland- Dixon holds very near and dear to her heart.
After her tenure in Maywood District 89, she served as the Director of Special Education and Student Services in Bellwood District 88 for 3 years. The passion to help students with special needs was developed and cultivated while attending Triton College. Dr. Strickland- Dixon worked in the office that provided support to students with disabilities. She served as a mobility aide, scribe, and Peer Counselor for first generation college students.
In addition to her current position as a Special Education Director, Dr. Strickland- Dixon is heavily involved in promoting professional development that explores the needs of African-American students in the educational setting. She has presented at several professional conferences and is a guest lecturer at DePaul University the institution in which she received her doctorate in Educational Leadership. She is on the Board of Directors for the Mary E. Smith Foundation, which works to advance brain tumor research.
Dr. Strickland- Dixon became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated on the campus of Western Illinois University and is currently active with the Glen Ellyn Area Alumnae Chapter.
Despite her tremendously busy schedule, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teenage boys.
Current Alumni Association Council Members
Class of 2007
My name is Lawanda Agnew, I graduated from Triton College in 2007 with an Associate Degree in Applied Science. I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in Nursing through a new partnership with Triton and Benedictine University in 2008. I furthered my career by obtaining my master’s degree in Leadership at Benedictine 10 years later in 2018. I credit Triton for preparing me for a 4-year degree and continuing education.
I currently work for Molina Healthcare and am a mother of three, two daughters, 24 and 12, and an 18-year-old son. My daughter also attended Triton and has earned her degree in Early Childhood Education my family and I still live in the Triton community.
After becoming a single teenage mother at the age of 18, I didn’t feel I could go away to a University and still work and support my daughter. I also needed the support of my family. Triton was my community college, I was impressed that it wasn’t a one-story building and that I could still have that university feel and get a good education. I was immediately impressed with the faculty, I quickly got a work-study position at the Center of Disabilities. I was now also a part of the staff and felt welcomed and supported by another at-risk group, which made me proud.
Triton was a beacon of hope for me, it provided a steppingstone at a time when I felt I no longer had opportunities being a single mother at 18. Triton became my life. I not only went to school there but also worked in the work-study program making Triton more like a family. I felt extremely supported at Triton and encouraged. Triton also provided an education for my daughter who tried going away to college but it wasn’t the right fit for her, I encouraged her to give my alma mater a try, and she also felt welcomed.
I am honored to be among this council and support students who will benefit from the same opportunities Triton offered me.
Class of 2017
Lou Badame of LaGrange Park is a project manager at a commercial mechanical company. Badame believes that Triton College gave him the tools he required to achieve success in his life and career.
“Triton College and IUOE Local 399 gave me the confidence and ability to pursue my dream career,” he said. “Triton truly cares about their alumni and their students. I always felt welcome and accepted.”
Badame grew up in Elmwood Park and the Northwest Side of Chicago. He graduated from St. Francis Borgia School and St. Patrick High School. After high school, he attended Triton College because Triton offered a facilities engineering technology (FET) program, something that Badame was interested in pursuing. During his time as a student, Badame felt that Triton’s faculty and staff were very informative, and very supportive, helping him succeed in reaching his academic goals.
“Triton inspired me to continue my education after graduation and to continue on to a four-year institution,” he noted.
After earning his Associate of Applied Science degree from Triton in 2017, Badame attended Illinois Institute of Technology and went into the Industrial Technology and Management (ITM) Program.
Badame is currently a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council and wanted to join this group so he could advise individuals about the benefits of attending Triton. He feels that recent high school graduates are not aware of the many different pathways community colleges have to offer, as well as the multiple available programs.
“When I was in high school, I wasn’t informed of how much money I would save by attending Triton or all of the great academic and social opportunities that existed then,” he explained. “It is truly a great option for students who are undecided in their career or those who want to get an affordable head start, like I did.”
When Badame is not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife Raquel and two children. He especially enjoys going to the ice rink with his son, who plays hockey. Badame feels passionate about serving his community and making it a better place.
Class of 2016
Class of 2010 and 2017
Class of 1996
Katie Muellner of River Grove is proud to be a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council. Her membership contributes to her already impressive resume of community service and support of River Grove and Triton’s surrounding communities.
“The River Grove community means everything to me,” she said. “Since Triton College is a huge part of that, it just felt natural to get involved. I think that volunteering in your community is the way we each can make our town a better place to live.”
Growing up in River Grove, Muellner attended River Grove Elementary School and graduated from East Leyden High School in 1994. Following high school, she knew she wanted to stay so close to home, so she decided to attend Triton College.
After she earned her Associate of Arts degree in science from Triton in 1996, Muellner went on to graduate in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Dominican University.
During her school years, Muellner began working at Quasthoff’s Flowers in River Grove. What started off as a part-time job, became a full-time job, and after many years of dedication, eventually she acquired the business where she has been the owner since 2019.
Besides being busy as a local business owner, Muellner holds many positions within the community. She was elected president of the Chamber by O’Hare (since 2021) and director of the Grand Corridor Chamber of Commerce (since 2016). She also serves as the recreation director for the village of River Grove.
River Grove Elementary School, important to her since her son Sonny is a current student, has motivated her to become a member of both the River Grove School PTA and the River Grove Education Foundation.
In previous years, Muellner served as a River Grove trustee and has taught religious education at St. Cyprian Parish (1996-2002). Muellner also volunteered with the Village Beautification Committee and the River Grove Tree Board.
Clearly for Muellner, there aren’t enough ways to support the town she adores so much. However, she thinks becoming a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council is simply another great way to serve.
“Triton is a great place for students to earn a quality education at an affordable price,” she said. “Anybody can benefit from Triton College.”
Muellner resides in River Grove. Her son, Sonny, is in fifth grade. Unsurprisingly, Sonny is involved in many recreational activities.
Gina M. Pesko
Gina M. Pesko
Class of 1985
A lifelong Elmwood Park resident, Ms. Pesko attended Elm School, Elmwood Park High School and Triton College. She graduated from Triton in 1985 with an Associate’s Degree in Radiologic Technology. She did her X-Ray internship at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and worked at various clinics in the suburban area. She also was previously employed by United Airlines at their corporate headquarters for 11 years in their onsite employee health clinic. She is currently employed by the Village of Elmwood Park in their Code Administration Department and was elected to the position of Village Clerk in April of 2013.
Ms. Pesko has been married to Chris Pesko for 22 years. He is the Global Head of Investment Technology at Aon/Hewitt in Lincolnshire and current Elmwood Park library board President. She and Chris have two children, Sydney, a student at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana where she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Tyler, a senior at Elmwood Park High School.
Ms. Pesko has always been very involved in the Elmwood Park community and gives freely of her time whenever she can. Besides being very active in her children’s schools, she also served as a Girl Scout troop leader and Elmwood School representative to the Elmwood Park/River Grove Girl Scout Council. She has been a parent advocate volunteer for Cochlear Corporation, maker of Cochlear Implants for deaf children and adults. She served as an active member of the Elmwood Park Rush youth football program for seven years.
She is a founding member and former secretary of the Elmwood Park Garden Club, member of the Keep Elmwood Park Beautiful committee as sell as secretary of the Arts and Special Events Commission. She and her family are lifelong parishioners of St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest.
Her hobbies include gardening, baking and spending time with family and friends.
Class of 1976
Mr. John Saccomanno graduated Triton College in 1976 with a degree in Restaurant Training and from FIU (Florida International University, Miami FL) in 1978 from the School of Hospitality Management & Tourism. Mr. Saccomanno went on to work for Marriott Corporation following graduation from FIU at the Lincolnshire Resort, where he was seriously introduced to the game of golf; a game that he continues to enjoy today. After some time in the hotel business, which included rising to Director of Catering at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, he worked in club management at Medinah Country Club and Short Hills in the Quad Cities.
He has two grown daughters that have blessed him with three adorable grandsons. Mr. Saccomanno is currently retired from being a wine consultant with the largest wine distributor in the country and now assists charitable organizations at their signature events with wine pulls, wine silent auctions and wine raffles. Over the last few years Mr. Saccomanno has been traveling to golf tournaments around the country and to the wine countries of Italy, Spain and Napa Valley.
Carmia A. Stanovich
Class of 1995
Carmia Stanovich of Riverside heard a calling to give back to the Triton College community, which led her to become a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council.
“Triton College gave me a strong foundation of knowledge in my field of study, which was hotel/motel management,” she said. “I want to influence and encourage the next generation of aspiring students to attend Triton.”
Stanovich, who grew up in Berwyn, graduated in 1993 from Morton West High School. After high school, she attended Triton College because Triton offered a Hospitality Management Program. She felt the program offered truly hands-on training that helped her achieve her academic goals and get needed experience.
“The small class sizes were perfect for me,” she noted.
After earning her Associate of Applied Science from Triton in 1995, Stanovich went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in hotel/motel management from Roosevelt University in 1998.
As a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council, Stanovich hopes to create greater awareness of all that Triton has to offer prospective students.
“Triton has so many unique opportunities for a large variety of students,” she said. “My son graduated from Triton in 2022 and my daughter is currently enrolled. Triton College has truly impacted our lives for the better.”
Stanovich serves as a board member for Pink Divas & Gents (a local breast cancer awareness organization) and is a member of the Bellwood Chamber of Commerce. When she’s not working or serving the community, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and traveling.
Class of 1996
Michelle Thibodeau is excited and proud to be the newest member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council. Driven to work with other like-minded people, Thibodeau wants to assist the Alumni Association in its mission to support current Triton students and alumni.
“Triton has so much to offer our community. I feel honored to serve,” she said.
Thibodeau, who grew up in Chicago, moved to Elmwood Park with her family when she was 9 years old. She has fond memories of attending John Mills Elementary School and then Elmwood Park High School, graduating in 1994.
After high school, she knew she wanted to attend a college that was close to home and had smaller class sizes, so she chose Triton. She was thrilled when she was accepted into the Triton Scholar’s Program.
“I had the opportunity to take smaller and more rigorous classes that prepared me well for the transfer to a four-year university,” Thibodeau said.
As a member of the Scholar’s Program, Thibodeau remembers enjoying great relationships with her instructors. Additionally, the Scholar’s Program allowed her to visit Michigan State University, museums, plays and musicals.
“The program introduced me to so many opportunities I hadn’t experienced before,” she noted.
Thibodeau graduated from Triton College in 1996, receiving an Associate in Arts degree.
Always an avid learner, Thibodeau then attended Eastern Illinois University and majored in history with a teacher certification, graduating in 1998.
Furthering her education, Thibodeau earned additional endorsements from Northern Illinois University, the University of Phoenix and Dominican University. She earned her master’s degree from Concordia University of Chicago in curriculum and instruction in 2015.
With a drive to serve and help others, Thibodeau has also been an advocate as much as a “parent partner” of the international adoption community, specifically in Ukraine. One of her greatest appreciations is that two of her three children were born in Ukraine.
“Besides my advocacy, I have volunteered at church and for service organizations, such as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,” she said.
As a member of the Triton Alumni Association Council, Thibodeau hopes to foster young minds through Triton College. Her goal is to further guide recent graduates who are seeking advice and mentorship.
“I hope to foster an inclusive environment and to maintain a strong Triton alumni community relationship,” she said.
For the past three years, Thibodeau has taught eighth grade civics at Elm Middle School in Elmwood Park, (District 401). She serves as an adjunct professor at Triton College in the Adult Education Department.
Dr. Tammara Trice
Dr. Tammara Trice
Chef Manny Uribe
Chef Manny Uribe
Class of 2009 and 2010
Mr. Uribe is a Melrose Park resident and graduate of West Leyden High School. He first enrolled at Triton as a senior in high school as part of a dual credit program. He went on to enroll full-time at Triton, earning an associate degree in culinary arts, as well as certificates in restaurant management and baking.
Mr. Uribe worked in a variety of positions at restaurants and hotels throughout the Chicagoland area, before returning to Triton to serve as a full-time faculty member of the Culinary Arts Program. He currently teaches food prep and garde-manger classes, helping aspiring chefs and food industry workers to reach their goals. In addition to teaching at Triton, Mr. Uribe currently serves as a menu consultant at Terzo Piano restaurant, located inside of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Notable accomplishments include participating in the 2018 Barilla Pasta World Championship in Milan Italy, where he helped a fellow faculty member capture the title of International Pasta Champion. He also traveled to Pennsylvania College of Technology in 2019, where he mentored students as part of the Visiting Chef Series. Mr. Uribe serves as the co-chair of Triton’s Greening the Campus Committee, leading efforts to reduce waste on campus and implement the use of recyclable products. He conducts community outreach programs throughout Chicagoland, educating community members on sustainability practices and food waste reduction techniques.
Mr. Uribe and his wife, Jackie, have two daughters, Alexa and Elisa.
Alesha R. (Young) Whisenton
Alesha R. (Young) Whisenton
Class of 1995
A double Triton graduate in 1995 (Hotel Mgmt) and 2006 (Nursing), Ms. Whisenton currently working as a staff RN at the University of Chicago Medical Center as a telemetry nurse.
Ms. Whisenton has been a nurse for 9 1/2 years and truly loves caring for patients. Since leaving Triton, she has gone on to receive her BSN and MSN in education from Benedictine and my MSN with focus in Family Nurse Practitioner from Olivet Nazarene.
"I'm currently studying to take my board exam and credit Triton as my foundation to where I am today. Triton is truly a great place to start pursuing your degree and I'm honored to serve on the Alumni Council."
Class of 2022
During the COVID pandemic, Gina Gallo Zivojnovic of Elmwood Park found inspiration to reach her academic goals. Like so many other Americans, she thought it would be a great time to finish her associate degree while at home with her two sons, Dominic and Carmine.
“I knew that Triton was the perfect place to help me reach my academic goal,” said Zivojnovic.
Three years later, Zivojnovic is a Triton graduate and now proudly serves as a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council.
Zivojnovic grew up in Chicago and attended the George Rogers Clark Elementary School. As a teenager, her family moved to Berwyn where she graduated in 1999 from Morton West High School. After high school, she started taking classes at Triton College, but never obtained her degree.
“I always knew that I wanted to finish my associate degree, but never felt like it was the right time,” she noted. “During the pandemic, I felt I had a real opportunity to go back to Triton. It was a wonderful experience.”
Zivojnovic received her Associate in Arts degree in English, graduating in September 2022. She feels grateful for her time at Triton and the many opportunities it provided for her.
“As a member of the Triton College Alumni Association Council, I want to meet others who have had similar experiences,” she said. “I want to stay involved in the Triton community. Triton has given me a great opportunity and I want to share that opportunity with other people.”
Zivojnovic works at Elmwood Park High School as a library aide. Both Zivojnovic and her husband are very involved in the Elmwood Park community and participate in many village events.
Alumni Association Council Nomination
To nominate yourself or an individual for appointment to the Alumni Association Council, complete the Alumni Association Council Nomination form. All nominations will be reviewed by a Selection Committee before appointments are made. All nominees must meet the following criteria and be able to meet expectations of a Council member to be considered for appointment.
Alumni Association Council Membership Criteria and Expectations:
- Nominee must be an active member of the Alumni Association
- Nominee must hold a degree or certificate from Triton College
- Nominee shall serve for a term of three years and may be elected for successive terms
- Council member must attend at least 50% of Council meetings and Council subcommittee meetings (to be held quarterly) and are expected to attend annual Alumni Association events when available
- Council member must participate as a member of 1 Alumni Association subcommittee annually
- Council member must abide by the expectations outlined in the Roles and Responsibilities of the Alumni Association Council
Alumni Association Council Nomination
Alumni Association Scholarships
The Triton College Alumni Association is committed to supporting student success. To assist students and alumni in the pursuit of academic goals, the Alumni Association is offering two scholarship opportunities for students and alumni.