JJC Foundation Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Joliet Junior College (JJC) Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary at the historic Rialto Square Theatre in downtown Joliet.  

The evening commemorated the milestone anniversary of the Foundation and acknowledged the College’s major gift donors and recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Partners in Excellence Award, Susan. H. Wood Hall of Fame Award and J.D. Ross Extraordinary Service Award. Honorees included: 

  • 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 evening of Friday, Sept. 15 was enhanced by performances from the JJC fine arts department, hors d’oeuvres from alumni Kevin Calcaterra and desserts from JJC alumni, culinary arts instructor and master pastry chef Andy Chlebana.  

"This evening would not be possible without our generous donors,” said Kristi Mulvey, executive director of institutional advancement and the JJC Foundation. “When the Foundation was established in 1973 we never imagined almost 50 years later that our total assets would reach over $35 million dollars with $18 million in endowments. Thank you for trusting me to run this amazing foundation."


Dr. Clyne Namuo, JJC president and master of ceremonies for the evening, noted the historical generosity of the Foundation, noting the $870,000 gifted to students in 2022. The Foundation is on track to award $1 million for the 2023-2024 school year.  

“JJC is extremely fortunate and honored to have been supported by the Foundation for 50 years and counting,” said 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 for generations to come. This golden celebration is well-deserved and is a testament to the Foundation’s success.” 

Mulvey also introduced the 50th Anniversary Endowed Scholarship during the ceremony.  

“The heart of what we are able to provide to our students is due to the financial assistance we receive from our valued donors,” she said. “To celebrate a half century of leadership, vision, and the generous support of alumni and friends, the JJC Foundation established the 50th Anniversary Endowed Scholarship. This endowment, which is over $50,000 and growing, will ensure that generations of families continue to be impacted by the work of the foundation.” 


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 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.” 

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