Leadership award for outstanding full-time faculty

The Parkland College Leadership Award for Outstanding Full-Time Faculty is presented each year to a faculty member who has been with the college for a minimum of five years and has demonstrated excellence in teaching, drove innovation in their program, served on committees, and provided leadership.

2024 Leadership Award for Outstanding Full-Time Faculty


Amanda Briggs is the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Director and one of the Assistant Chief Flight Instructors at Parkland College, where she teaches both manned and unmanned aviation courses.  In her current role, she is also a check airman and flight instructor. Her teaching philosophy centers around encouraging her students to become lifelong learners and strives to create a learning environment where students are challenged, engaged, and excited about course material.  Seeing a need within the community, she developed and implemented the unmanned aviation program, making Parkland one of the first higher education institutions to offer credentialed drone training.

Mandy has been active on several committees at Parkland College including the scholarship and curriculum committees. On a national level, she was recently elected as an Educator Trustee on the executive board for the University Aviation Association and is serving on the planning committee for the Federal Aviation Association’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative program.  She has also served as both PI and Co-PI on multiple National Science Foundation grants focused on updating or creating curriculum as well as program development.  A member of the Parkland faculty since 2014, Mandy has a bachelor’s degree in General Engineering from the University of Illinois, where she also completed all of her flight training.  

Past Winners

2023 Winner: Julie Weishar

2023 Leadership Award for Outstanding Full-Time Faculty


Julie Weishar, Professor of Communication in the department of Arts, Media, and Social Sciences, is the recipient of the 2023 Parkland College Leadership Award for Outstanding Full-Time Faculty.

Julie’s career includes many years of dedicated service and leadership to Parkland College as well as contributions in professional organizations at the state and national levels. Julie has been a panel member and co-chair of the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) and a part of the IAI Theatre Majors panel. While serving on the IAI General Education Communication panel she helped draft the policy that provided guidelines for offering online oral communication courses. She has also served on the executive board of the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association in various roles. Julie has presented at conferences and participated on conference panels and round table discussions.

The list of leadership roles she has embraced at Parkland College is long and includes becoming the coordinator for the Higher Learning Commission Steering Committee to help Parkland prepare for and attain re-accreditation this past fall. Julie has been the program director for Communication since 2008, the program director for Theatre Arts since 2017, and served as the department chair for Fine and Applied Arts from 2015-2022, advocating for the arts in each of these positions. She has been the chair of several college committees at different points in her teaching career, including Sabbatical Leave Committee, Curriculum Committee, and Academic Assessment Committee.

Julie has been a member of Parkland faculty since 1994, becoming full-time faculty in 2001. During that time, Julie has displayed a commitment to supporting student success, a desire to grow as an educator, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Julie’s teaching philosophy includes four goals for students. She has always worked to help students build competence and confidence in communication. After seeing the isolation and uncertainty that students experienced during the pandemic, she added goals to help students build community and make connections. She gives her students opportunities to get to know each other and her in and out of the classroom as well as to make connections with the course material. She states, “I believe that confidence and competence flourish in a supportive community where students feel connected.” Julie has also helped to develop innovative programs at Parkland and in the state to better support student learning. She led efforts to obtain two Parkland IDEAS grants that support an annual High School Choir Festival and the Actor’s Studio productions. In 2008, Julie was the co-developer of the Speech Lab (now called the Presentation Center and located in the Learning Commons).

Julie’s service and leadership have had a profound impact on Parkland College and the lives of many students.

2022 Winner: Heidi Leuszler

Heidi Leuszler 


A member of the Parkland faculty since 1995, Heidi shifted to teaching environmental biology almost two decades ago after a stint coordinating the biology majors course series. Heidi has a Certificate of Advanced Study from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree from Utah State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in biology from Knox College.

Heidi served on the General Life and Physical Science Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) Panel for more than 15 years. Heidi has embraced the evolution of instructional technology and has continuously worked to ensure students have access to quality educational opportunities whether it is through lab kits for online courses, learning communities, or synchronous classroom activities using the newer flex tech systems. 

A founder and member the PCA Sustainable Campus Committee, Heidi is also a founder and trainer for Parkland Community Education’s training center working group for the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program. She was invited to be part of a green infrastructure workforce development program in the Chicago area through a cooperative grant program.  She is a founder and member of the Institute for Science Education and a member of the International Education Council; the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, Sustainability Planning Committee; and the Champaign County Pollinator Coalition.

2020 Winner: Dr. C. Britt Carlson

Dr. C. Britt Carlson

2020 ICCTA Outstanding Full-Time Award Winner

Illinois Community College Trustees Association


Dr. Britt Carlson has been chemistry faculty at Parkland since 2013. She has a BA from Earlham College and a PhD in biomolecular chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In addition to her involvement in various student-centered initiatives at Parkland, Britt Carlson has received a competitive National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant, in collaboration with UIUC, which has recently been renewed. To date, this program, named PRECS, has hosted 32 community college students from across the country to conduct research at Parkland and UIUC. Demonstrating the ability of PRECS to open new pathways to careers in science, several PRECS alumni have found employment in research labs or have started graduate school in the sciences. Britt’s efforts have been recognized at the national level, including being selected to serve on NSF grant review panels and to participate in an NSF-AACC Summit on undergraduate research experiences at community colleges, as well as being chosen for the AAWCC’s 40 Under 40 award. In addition, Britt has been recognized for excellence by her students, as evident in this student’s statement: "Britt is an amazing instructor. She's passionate and personable, and it shows in her teaching! Her enthusiasm is infectious. … She's absolutely wonderful, and she's the reason I enjoy chemistry now!"

Past Award Winners (1995 – 2019)

2019 – Jody Littleton

2018 – Kaizad Irani

2017 – Steven Rutledge

2016 – Peggy B. Shaw

2015 – Erin Wilding-Martin

2014 – Charles A. Larenas

2013 – David M. Wilson

2012 – Randi Collins Hard

2011 – Amy Penne

2010 – Julie Weishar

2009 – Paul W. Sarantakos

2008 – Kaizad Irani

2007 – Laura F. Jamison

2006 – David Bock

2005 – David Leake

2004 – Marsh Jones

2003 – Heidi Leuszler

2002 – Tod Treat

2001 – Chuck Beetz

2000 – Kelly Sellers

1999 – Bruce Henrikson

1998 – Barb Gentry

1997 – Michael Vitoux

1996 – Earl Creutzberg

1995 – Kathy Lewis