2014-2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
Parkland is proud to confer its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus title on the Honorable Charles Smith, Mayor of the Village of Rantoul, Illinois. Having served this northern Champaign County community for more than a decade as a village trustee, Mayor Smith took the helm of the village in 2013, where he directs budgetary planning and facilitates economic development for the area. During his 14 years of village leadership, Mr. Smith, himself an Air Force veteran, was a voice of support to U.S. soldiers fighting the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns, addressing more than 35,000 military personnel at public speaking events.
Our outstanding alumnus earned Parkland College Associate in Applied Science degrees in Food Distribution and Marketing Mid-Management between 1972 and 1977. A lifelong learner, Mr. Smith went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2007, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society.
Besides his service in village government, Mr. Smith served seven years as Senior TRICARE Community Representative and Provider Relations liaison for Health Net Federal Services, a contractor for the Department of Defense. In this role, he provided training for physicians, nurses, and office staff regarding medical claims, operational policies, and reimbursement coding procedures. He also worked as a senior account executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois from 1998 to 2004.
Mr. Smith and his wife, Linda Schluter-Smith, have three children, Michael Smith, Christine DeBeau, and Jana Dalton.
My most memorable moment at Parkland was the day that I was asked to join the Parkland College affiliate faculty by the Department chair of Bus-Agriculture.
2013-2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
JEFFREY B. HETTLER
Local entrepreneur Jeffrey Hettler combines a drive for excellence with the desire to serve. In an unassuming yet generous manner, he has shown longtime dedication not only to producing outstanding work professionally, but also to giving back, both to his community and to Parkland College. It is for this dedication that we proudly name him our 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.
After graduating from Parkland in 1982 with an associate’s degree in business administration, Mr. Hettler went on to earn the Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1984. He would ultimately use his Parkland business degree to become an entrepreneur in the merchant wholesale food brokerage industry, selling a wide range of grocery items to retailers and independent wholesalers. He would put his SIU marketing skills to work as well, earning numerous awards for national merchandising displays that he developed.
Our Distinguished Alumnus gives back to his community by helping to feed its members in greatest need. Mr. Hettler is a regular contributor both to local food banks in Illinois and to a local senior assisted living facility. In addition, he is involved in fundraising statewide for the educational not-for-profit sector and has organized local golf outings in support of middle grades education.
Parkland College and its students also benefit from Mr. Hettler’s support. He has served as past president of the college’s Alumni Association and currently serves as a board member. In 2008, he established the Frank and Priscilla Hettler Scholarship in honor of his parents; this award has since helped many students from large families improve their lives through higher education. Finally, he is a charter member of the Parkland Proud/IGA Program, which dedicates a portion of sales at IGA stores to provide scholarships to deserving Parkland students.
Mr. Hettler is a member of the American Marketing Association and Independent Food Broker Associations.
2012-2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
A native of Champaign, Mark Pelafos loved cars at a young age, from the go-karts he used to ride in the neighborhood as a kid to the collector cars he owns today. It was no wonder he would follow his passion and become involved in the automotive industry.
Mark studied Business Administration at Parkland. Upon completing his studies in 1983, he joined the Worden-Martin Automotive team as salesperson. His keen ability to relate to people and his knowledge of the products he was selling made him successful in his career. Over the next 30 years he advanced in the company and now holds the title of Chief Operating Officer for the business that operates seven automotive franchises, (Buick, GMC, Ford, Lincoln, Subaru, and Nissan locally and Chevrolet in Tilton, IL) and employs 240 people.
He is a graduate of the National Automotive Dealer Academy, participated in Dealer 20 Groups, and is versed in all aspects of running automotive dealerships.
In addition to his work schedule, he serves on the board of Bank Champaign, Parkland College Alumni Association and has been on the School Board and Marketing committees for his kids’ school. He and his wife, Diane have two children, Allie and John.
2011-2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
DR. STUART KING, MD, MBA
loyalty to his native roots and a commitment to excellence in the
medical field, Dr. Stuart King holds an impressive track record of
service in east central Illinois and beyond. A specialist in painful
disorders of the spine and back, Dr. King has practiced medicine at
Christie Clinic in Champaign since 2006, where he is former head of both
the Anesthesiology & Ambulatory Surgery unit and the Department of
Spine and Pain Management. He is also a clinical assistant professor of
surgery at the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine and a past
chair of Anesthesiology for Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City,
This outstanding Parkland College alumnus (Associate in
Arts, 1987) and Champaign native attended the University of Illinois,
earning Bachelor of Science (1990), Doctor of Medicine (1995), and MBA
(2010) degrees. He served a doctoral residency in general surgery at
the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1996-1997) and a doctoral
residency in anesthesiology and pain at the University of Missouri at
Kansas City (1997-1999). Additionally, he holds a medical license with
the state of South Carolina, having practiced at the McLeod Regional
Medical Center (Florence, SX) from 1999 to 2005.
Dr. King served
in the US Army Medical Corps until March 2012, having obtained the rank
of major. He has a commercial pilot’s license as well as a prolific
lecturer on advances in pain intervention, with publications in the
Journal of Military Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine,
among others. He is a Fellow of Intervention Pain Practice; a Diplomate
of the American Board of Pain Medicine and the American Board of
Anesthesiology; and an affiliate in several national medical societies
for anesthesiology and pain treatment. Locally, Dr. King serves as a
board member of the Christie Cline Board, the Charles W. Christie
Foundation Board, the Carle Foundation Board, the Provena Foundation
Board, and the University of Illinois MBA Advisory Board. He is a
former board member of the Champaign County Medical Society. He is an
avid Illini fan and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of
2010-2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
more than a decade of talent and hard work into the wireless
telecommunications industry, Darrin Peters has seen the fruit of his
creative, energetic, and entrepreneurial labor, making him a
well-deserved recipient of Parkland’s 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Mr. Peters is founder and president of Midwest Underground Technology,
Inc. (MUTI), recognized by INC Magazine as one of America’s fastest
growing private companies for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. He is also
co-founder and CEO of CITCA, LLC; president and CEO of Vertical Tower
Partners, LLC; and co-founder and vice president of Sky Enterprise, Inc.
his professional career, Mr. Peters’s adept service in domestic and
international telecommunications has supported numerous Fortune 500
companies. He developed and authored the premier industry-related site
inspection software program being used by major telecommunications
companies across the nation, and he pioneered innovative methods and
procedures that have improved efficiencies in telecommunication tower
construction and maintenance. He is a strong advocate and practitioner
of mandatory company-wide superior safety and health programs for all
Mr. Peters earned a degree in agricultural business
management from Parkland College in 1996. He and his family presently
live in Mahomet, Illinois, where they are active in outdoor sports and
in civic and community volunteer service organizations.
2009-2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
KRYSTAL L. FITZPATRICK
a county sheriff’s advice to enroll at Parkland College, Kris
Fitzpatrick (’75, A.A.s., Criminal Justice) made the most of the degree
she earned. She was hired at the University of Illinois as a police
officer in 1977, one of the first female officers in Champaign County.
She advanced over an illustrious 30+ years in law
enforcement, serving as Assistant Chief of Police in 2002 and Executive
Director of Public Safety and Interim Chief from 2005 through 2007.
Fitzpatrick also earned a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois
University and was selected for training in the FBI National Academy.
in her third year as director of the University of Illinois Police
Training Institute, Fitzpatrick leads the state’s largest certified
academy responsible for training Illinois police and correctional
officers. She has co-authored various articles for professional
journals including Campus Law Enforcement Journal, a publication of the
International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators
(IACLEA), of which she is a member. Fitzpatrick is also a member of the
International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Association
of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Directors of Law
Enforcement Standards and Training, FBI National Academy Associates and a
statutory member of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards
Board. She is a frequent presenter on law enforcement topics within
Among her numerous honors are University of Illinois
Division of Public Safety Commendations (1989, 1997, 2002); the Eastern
Illinois University School of Technology’s Distinguished Graduate Award
(2001); the University of Illinois Mother’s Association Medallion of
Honor (2000); the University of Illinois Chancellor Distinguished Staff
Award (1999)’ the University of Illinois Division of Public Safety
Director’s Award (1997); University of Illinois Division of Public
Safety Merit Awards (1984, 1987); and the University of Illinois
Division of Public Safety Officer of the Year Award (1978).
2008-2009 Outstanding Alumnus Award Recipient
SANDRA W. REIFSTECK, R.N., M.S., FACMPE
Community service and volunteerism form the hallmark of Sandra Reifsteck’s stellar career. An administrator for The Communication Training Group, a healthcare consulting agency, Reifsteck (’70, A.A.S., Nursing) spent 28 years as an administrator with Carle Clinic, including as vice president of Nursing and Professional Services. She is currently an adjunct clinical associate with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Medicine and serves as regional consultant for the Institute for Healthcare Communication.
Reifsteck’s service within her professional includes roles as chair of the Medical Group Management Association’s board of directors (1996); past president of the American Academy of Ambulatory Nursing; and parish nurse coordinator for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Champaign. A prolific author in health care journals, Reifsteck is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Other honors include the national Harry A. Hartwick Outstanding Administrator Award and the UIUC College of Nursing Sage Award.
Reifsteck was a member of the first nursing graduating class at Parkland College, going on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively. A former Parkland College Foundation Board member and Parkland College Alumni Association president, Reifsteck is also a 30-year member of the American Nurses Association. Carle Clinic and Carle Foundation Hospital established the Sandra W. Reifsteck Nursing Scholarship in 1998 to honor her years of service.
2007-2008 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
DENNIS R. RIGGS
and Sidney small business owner Dennis Riggs (’77, AAS, Engineering
Science/Electronics Engineering) is a Parkland College alumnus with
impressive civic involvement, business savvy, and community service.
The 2008 News-Gazette Farm Leader of the Year, Riggs serves on the
boards of the Champaign County Farm Bureau, the Champaign County Chamber
of Commerce (past president), and the CU in the Morning Networking
Group (president), among others. He is co-founder of the Prairie iNet
wireless broadband internet company; helped implement the Rural House
Numbering System for Champaign County; and helped develop a national
Farm Bureau policy supporting yellow gas caps on E-85 vehicles.
his illustrious service on the Parkland Foundation Board of Directors
in the mid-1990s, Riggs helped develop both a program within the
Parkland Electronics curriculum for visually impaired students and the
college’s Agricultural Training Institute (1995). Host of the cable TV
program “Champaign County Agriculture Today,” Riggs is a recipient of
the Public Relations Society’s Silver Anvil award and is a Heritage FFA
Honorary Chapter Farmer. He volunteers for numerous civic organizations
including the Broadlands/Longview Fire Protection District and the
Sidney Lions Club and is an on-farm host for Earth Partners, where he
provides agriculture informational tours to school children.