JJC Foundation to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in Downtown Joliet

The Joliet Junior College (JJC) Foundation is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a celebration at the Rialto Square Theatre in downtown Joliet on Friday, Sept. 15. 

"I am so excited to celebrate the JJC Foundation's 50th Anniversary at the historic Rialto Theatre,” said Kristi Mulvey, executive director of the JJC Foundation. “What a perfect location to showcase our wonderful fine arts department and honor the donors that have supported the college with their generous donations.” 

The golden anniversary celebration will include entertainment from the JJC fine arts department, hors d’oeuvres and dessert from JJC alumni, an awards program and a cash bar. 

The awards program includes what is typically awarded at the annual Night of Stars event. Honorees include: 

  • J.D. Ross Extraordinary Service Award: Michael Clark (posthumous) 

  • Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame Award: John H. Weitendorf Jr. 

  • Dr. Judy Mitchell Alumni Achievement Award: Jen Howard 

  • JJC Foundation Distinguished Partners in Excellence Award: ExxonMobil 

The J.D. Ross Extraordinary Service Award was established in 2004 by the JJC Board of Trustees in honor of JJC President Emeritus J.D. Ross. The award recognizes outstanding community service performed in Illinois Community College District 525.  

Michael Clark served the JJC community in various positions with numerous organizations, including the African American Business Association of Will County, the Joliet Area Historical Museum, Joliet Public School District 86, Joliet Township High School District 204 and more.  

The Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame Award recognizes a non-alumna/alumnus of the College who is a current or former faculty member, administrator or friend who has served Joliet Junior College in an exceptional way. The award is named for Susan H. Wood, who organized and fostered the growth of the Joliet Junior College Alumni Association. 

Son to John Weitendorf Sr., for whom JJC’s Weitendorf Agricultural Education Center is named, John H. Weitendorf Jr. has continued his family’s commitment to the College as a member of the Foundation board and by growing the endowed scholarship in his father’s name. 

Now named for President Emerita Dr. Judy Mitchell, the Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a JJC graduate by the JJC Foundation. The award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated outstanding success in their chosen field and provided humanitarian service to society. 

A 1984 alumna of the College, Jen Howard has served as president of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce since 2020 but has been part of many area organizational boards, including the JJC Foundation, Greater Joliet Area YMCA, Rialto Square Theatre Foundation and Silver Cross Hospital. With her husband, Vic, Jen has pledged ongoing support to education at JJC through the Vic & Jennifer Howard Annual Scholarship, which is awarded through the Foundation. 

The Distinguished Partners in Excellence Award recognizes an exemplary employer, business or industry group that has demonstrated decisive involvement and firm commitment to advancing the mission of both Joliet Junior College and the JJC Foundation. 

ExxonMobil has been a long-time partner of Joliet Junior College, collaborating on program and curriculum development, building a pipeline for existing workers to develop new skills in manufacturing and investing in the future of manufacturing through internships, scholarships and financial support for technical programs,” said Amanda Quinn, director of institutional advancement at JJC. “We are excited to celebrate them during our golden anniversary.” 

To further celebrate half a century of leadership, vision and the generous support of alumni and friends, the JJC Foundation established a 50th Anniversary Endowed Scholarship. 

“JJC is extremely fortunate and honored to have been supported by the Foundation for 50 years and counting,” said JJC President Dr. Clyne Namuo. “The College is proud to have a great team in the Foundation, its board, its donors and its partners who will continue to make an impact on our students for generations to come. This golden celebration is well-deserved and is a testament to the Foundation’s success.” 

The anniversary celebration will be from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are available online for $50 per person through Sept. 8. Tickets will not be available at the door.

The JJC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1973 to support the mission and goals of Joliet Junior College by raising and managing private dollars for scholarships, new buildings and equipment, the expansion and enrichment of academic programs, endowments and other priority needs. 

In 2022, the Foundation awarded $870,000 in scholarships and is on track to award $1 million for the 2023-2024 school year.