Rising through the ranksAppears In
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Neely ’89 has proudly served as a military officer for 30 years, including deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. A national leader in cyber security, Neely is director of the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. He is commander of the Illinois Army and Air National Guard. He is responsible for training, preparing, and deploying soldiers and airmen to support combat operations worldwide. Neely has overseen National Guard deployments in response to civil unrest, historic flooding in Illinois last year, and more recently COVID-19 outreach through testing and vaccination sites across the state.
Working his dream
From watching animated Disney films as a child, Yohannes Yamassee ’16 desired to develop such talent. He has reached that goal, operating his own animation studio and being recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Art and Style. The magazine ranks the world’s top 30 innovative creatives who are not yet 30. An art and technology graduate who was on ISU’s track and field team, Yamassee earned a master’s at UCLA. He completed an internship at Walt Disney Imagineering before opening Yohannes Studios in 2019. Based in Los Angeles and Chicago, the avant-garde studio specializes in 2D and 3D animation.
A powerful pen
Dasha Kelly Hamilton ’91 opens minds and bridges gaps through the written and spoken word. She does both as Wisconsin’s poet laureate. The first Black woman to receive the honor, Kelly Hamilton has a national and international presence. As an Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy, she has led community-building initiatives in Beirut, Botswana, and Mauritius. Her production Makin’ Cake creates a dialogue on race, class, and equity. She has authored two novels, taught at colleges and in prisons, and is a national Rubinger Fellow. While at Illinois State, she was Miss Black ISU and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority chapter president.
Living on a high note
Timothy Loest ’85 has gone from his studies in music education at ISU to achieve international acclaim as a composer and arranger of instrumental music for young musicians. Beyond his work as director of bands for Itasca School District 10 in Illinois, Loest is an exclusive and award-winning writer for the FJH Music Company Inc. He coauthored with Illinois State Professor David Collier Measure of Success: A Comprehensive Musicianship Band Method, which has sold more than a million copies. A guest conductor across the country, Loest’s compositions are performed worldwide. His pedagogical teaching impacts performers as well as audiences.