***Watch it LIVE May 12 on PCTV or online
Local software engineering entrepreneur Lori Gold Patterson will deliver the keynote address during Parkland College's 2016 Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.
Patterson is co-founder of Pixo, a software engineering consulting firm in Urbana. Since its inception in 1998, Pixo has grown from a staff of three to 33 people. The company designs and builds custom systems, mobile apps, enterprise websites, and cutting-edge hardware and software integrations.
A Parkland College pre-engineering alumna and University of Illinois mechanical engineering graduate, Patterson spent the first 15 years of her career in corporate America, first working for Andersen Consulting (now called Accenture) in Chicago before moving to Caterpillar to head up a 20-person product development team. She later worked for Solo Cup, where she re-engineered processes and products throughout the company.
Patterson has served as chair of both the Urbana Business Association and the board of the Economic Development Corporation. She has received the Woman on the Rise Award from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award, and the Athena Award. The Parkland College Foundation will honor her as its 2016 V. Dale Cozad Entrepreneur of the Year in June.
Other honored guests at commencement will include retired Parkland Nursing faculty member JoAnn McGrain, who will receive an honorary associate's degree, and local automotive entrepreneur Peter B. Alexander, who will be honored with the college's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
McGrain grew up in Northern Illinois and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from DePaul University in Chicago. She joined Parkland College in 1968 as one of four faculty to begin the school's Associate Degree Nursing program, remaining there for 30 years until her retirement in 1998.
During her faculty tenure, McGrain served as coordinator of the nursing program for eight years and actively served on community committees related to the program. Today, she continues her commitment to Parkland through the Parkland College Foundation as a strong supporter of student scholarships. In March 2013, the Parkland College Foundation honored McGrain and retired faculty colleague Dr. Joanne Huff by naming the college's high-fidelity simulation laboratory, located in Parkland's Health Professions wing, after them.
Alexander, an Urbana native, is founder and CEO of Peter B's Automotive of Urbana. He graduated from Parkland in 1979 with an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology and a certificate in Farm Power and Equipment Service. Just four years later, he would begin his own full-service automotive business.
Alexander has been a master Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technician since 1980, is a master ASE medium/heavy truck technician, has earned 66 credits toward the industry's Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation, and has factory automotive training from Subaru, Jeep, Renault, and Robert Bosch Corporation, along with many aftermarket company certifications. He was honored as the NAPA/ASE Technician of the Year in 1990.
A proud Parkland alum, Alexander is a past president of the Parkland Alumni Association and is a member of its automotive advisory board, where he keeps the college updated on innovations in the industry. He has participated in numerous procedures that help the Automotive Technology program remain current in National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) certification, and he has employed many Parkland graduates over the years.
Parkland’s 49th commencement also will feature remarks from college President Thomas Ramage and Board of Trustees Chair Dana D. Trimble. Graduating-student presenters will include Megan V. Counter, an All-USA Academic Team nominee and vice president of Parkland’s Phi Theta Kappa international honor society chapter; and Kelly L. Lean, a Parkland honor student and captain of Parkland’s reigning NJCAA-DII championship volleyball team.
Rev. Dr. Claude E. Shelby Sr. of Salem Baptist Church in Champaign will provide the invocation/benediction, and the Parkland College Wind Ensemble will perform several selections. A reception will be held in the Krannert Center lobby after the recessional. Tickets are required.