Benefit Gala

Distinguished Alumni Gala

Every year, the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation celebrates the accomplishments of five of our public high school alumni at the CUSF Distinguished Alumni Gala.

This year’s event will take place Saturday, April 14th at the I-Hotel and Conference Center. Three different awards will be presented: Distinguished Alumni Award, Local Business Community Impact Award and the Local Hero Award.

Proceeds from the Gala support the mission of CUSF. The event is open to the public with advance ticket purchase. For tickets or sponsorship information, please contact Molly Delaney at 217-398-2873 or We will announce our 2018 Distinguished Alumni Honorees on Monday, January 29th.


2018 Distinguished Alumni

Deborah Frank Feinen, Centennial ’85

Deborah Frank Feinen is the current mayor of Champaign, who began her career in public service soon after graduating from law school. Over the last 22 years, she has served on the Champaign County Board, Champaign City Council, City of Champaign Township Board and Regional Planning Commission, where she has played a pivotal role in shaping Champaign’s infrastructure and increasing the vibrancy of the downtown area. Using an inclusive, collaborative approach to tackling the community’s problems, she has earned the respect of diverse groups and is noted for her ability to work with others to gain group consensus. In addition to her duties as mayor, she practices law with Tummelson, Bryan & Knox, LLP; performs pro bono work with clients from Developmental Service Center, Swann Special Care and Family Service; and makes time for volunteer work including a mission trip to Haiti.

Janelle Johnson, Central ’98

Janelle Johnson leveraged her athletic career at Central into a scholarship to Purdue University, where she graduated with honors in Landscape Architecture. After working as a park designer in the public sector she earned a Masters in Landscape Architecture and Certificate in Historic Preservation from the top-ranked design program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has excelled at Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects in Chicago where she works to create streetscapes, parks and plazas that serve as community hubs and places for cultural and artistic expression. Hoping to foster economic development and cross-cultural understanding through great design projects, she volunteers her time on community design projects in challenging neighborhoods such as Morgan Village in Camden, NJ. In addition, she’s worked with the American Society of Landscape Architects to identify challenges faced by minorities pursuing a career in landscape architecture, and she shares her expertise by mentoring students at several universities including University of Illinois.

Susan Kroll, Urbana ’84

In the years since her graduation from Urbana High School, Susan Kroll has spent time in war zones, met world leaders and won seven Emmy awards for her work as a journalist. She’s covered stories for CNN, ABC and NBC and lived in Iraq, Afghanistan and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. As a coordinating producer for NBC News, her work takes her across the globe, but she maintains her Urbana roots. One of her nominators said, “Despite the demanding schedule of her profession, she strives to maintain personal relationships with her parents, other family members and friends.” In the summer of 2017, Kroll spent a week teaching English to children in an orphanage in Cambodia with a group from Meadowbrook Community Church in Champaign. Kroll left Urbana to attend Oral Roberts University where she majored in telecommunications. She was hired as a video journalist for CNN straight out of college.

 Local Business Community Impact

Susan Jepsen and Greg Reynolds of Reynolds Towing will be recognized with the Local Business Community Impact Award. According to Race Co-Director Mike Lindemann, Reynolds Towing has been instrumental in the success of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, which has donated over 1 million dollars to local charities.  In addition, Ms. Jepsen and Mr. Reynolds are strong supporters of the Urbana Alumni Association and Urbana High School, offering vehicles for the homecoming parade and supplying giveaways for many events. Jepsen and Reynolds are both graduates of Urbana High School. Jepsen was class of ’77 and Reynolds was class of ’79.

 List of Recognized Alumni through 2017

Distinguished Alumni Gala Tickets

Individual ticket

$85 each • Open seat at the Distinguished Alumni Gala


Table Sponsorship

$1,000 • One table reservation (seats 10) at the Gala dinner


Thanks to our 2018 Title Sponsors!