50 Notable Alumni

Stacey Cole

Director of Development, University of Illinois, College of ACES, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Associate in Arts

General Studies


Stacey was working full-time with two part-time jobs when she decided to go back to college as a teenage single mother. She said that “The odds of earning a college degree were certainly stacked against me, especially in the 90s before online classes became what they are today. From the very beginning, I was set up to succeed by everyone I encountered at Parkland.”

And succeed she did, in a variety of roles and endeavors.

After graduating with an Associate’s degree in General Studies at Parkland, Stacey graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2004 from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. Before getting her UI degree, she started working at the university in 1999 and has continued to pursue her career there, now serving as Director of Development in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).
Stacey has won several awards, is an active volunteer, and continues to be a motivational speaker, in addition to being a mother to three children.

In 2015, Stacey was named Central Illinois Business Magazine 2015 Forty Under 40 “Woman of the Year;” was part of the 2016 “That’s What She Said Project;” was a Chambana Mom to Know in 2016; and was the “brainchild” behind the “I Pay It Forward: Students Helping Students Scholarship Campaign” at the University of Illinois - a month-long campaign that in its first year raised over $17,000 - that was awarded the “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award” from the East Central Illinois Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2015.

Stacey is a campaign co-chair for the United Way of Champaign County;, volunteers for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and has been since 2005; member of Cunningham Children’s Home Advancement Committee; is an active community advocate for children’s mental and behavioral health; a member of the Executive Club of Champaign County; is on the Board of Directors for “Hear My Voice,” a registered organization for the College of Media at UI; and served as Grand Marshall in 2015 and 2016 for the Parade of Lights and Labor Day Parades.

Stacey’s most memorable moment at Parkland was having “…a professor that I will absolutely never forget: Donna Giertz. In her business class, I learned skills that no textbook could teach; skills that would be applicable – and important – in the real world. I am deeply indebted and forever grateful for the amazing people I met and the experience and skill set I acquired during my time there.”