Shining on stage

Central Illinois audiences saw rising star Leslie Ann Sheppard ’07 perform in many faculty and student productions, as well as the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, while she completed her undergraduate degree in acting. Now she is impressing Chicago theatre patrons. Sheppard has been on Windy City stages since graduation. She appeared in Harriet Jacobs at the Steppenwolf Theatre, and also had a leading role in the musical The Hundred Dresses with Chicago’s Children’s Theatre. Her work has earned her mention as one of 10 actors to watch on Chicago-area stages, as chosen by the Chicago Tribune in the summer of 2010.

Chicago win benefits blind

William Burfeind ’95 has many titles, including business development manager with Turner Construction in Chicago. A recruiter on campus for his employer, which is one of the largest construction companies in the world, Burfeind’s a member of two advisory boards in ISU’s College of Applied Science and Technology. He serves on the Chicago Loop Alliance Board of Directors, which nominated him for the One Man Chicago charity competition. He was chosen in 2010 as the young man who embodies the best of Chicago from community involvement, intelligence, personality, and fitness. He donated his $10,000 win to Prevent Blindness America.

Fighting for women

While on military duty in Afghanistan, Michelle Johnson ’05 saved the life of a 13-year-old pregnant girl by helping the teen deliver her stillborn baby. The experience inspired Johnson to start Afghanistan Midwifery Project. The Chicago-based nonprofit organization provides midwife training and medical kits, as well as health education classes to ensure women in Afghanistan have medical care and safe childbirth. Beyond the supplies and training, the organization is empowering women in the war-torn country that has a high maternal mortality rate. Johnson’s mission has put her in the national spotlight, with Glamour magazine chronicling her story in the August 2010 issue.

Making the grade

Daniel Traeger ’70 majored in political science at Illinois State, but found his calling to be education. Initially a teacher and basketball coach at the high school level, he is now principal of West Broward High School in Pembroke, Florida. Traeger is passionate in mentoring students and staff, exemplifying the school’s slogan of “Educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world.” Traeger’s commitment to students has him involved not only in their classroom efforts, but their extracurricular activities as well. His excellence and efforts are noted and appreciated, as the Florida PTA named him Outstanding Principal of the Year in 2009.