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.

2017 Distinguished Alumni

Lisa Gaye Dixon, Centennial ’82

Lisa Gaye Dixon has acted professionally both nationally and internationally, worked as a professional acting coach, directed numerous stage productions and recently appeared in two independent films.  Through her work, Ms. Dixon explores the topics of race, culture, economic class and gender.  Since 2005 she has served as an Associate Professor of Theater at the University of Illinois and in her nominator’s words, “has helped the Theatre Department move from a relatively obscure department to one that is graduating students who are nationally recognized in theatre, film, and television.”  In 2014 and 2015 she played the part of the Ghost of Christmas Present, in A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago where she drew rave reviews.

Dr. Robert C. Mock, Jr., Urbana ’84

Dr. Robert C. Mock, Jr. spent the last 20 years of his life working in various capacities in higher education.  He currently serves as the President of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC and is the owner of RBM & Associates, Ltd., a professional consulting firm. Dr. Mock stands out as a remarkable servant leader.  Inspired by the events of 9/11, at the age of 36, he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army National Guard and served honorably as an Officer for eight years.  Throughout his life he has consistently given his time to various community organizations including Urban League of Lexington, KY, Goodwill Industries Arkansas Statewide Board, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee in Northwest Arkansas, and Charlotte Regional Partnership Inc.

George Shapland, Champaign ’49

After graduating from Champaign High School, George Shapland, attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1955, after serving in the Army Corp of Engineers during the Korean War. Mr. Shapland then started his own construction company in Champaign and has left a positive mark on our community through his business leadership.  His nominator wrote, “What is most incredible to me is the kind, unassuming way George leads and offers his advice.”  Currently he is the President of Shapland Management Company, where he has been involved in numerous residential and commercial developments. He has served as chairman of both the University of Illinois Foundation and Carle Foundation boards and as a director of First Busey, Corp and News Gazette Inc. among many others.

 Local Business Community Impact

Spencer Atkins of The Atkins Group and 1987 graduate of Central High School will be recognized with the Local Business Community Impact Award.  The Atkins Group strives “to always be committed to the success of Champaign County and actively give back to our community.” They have been instrumental in working with both Champaign and Urbana’s public school districts to ensure quality facilities and fiscal responsibility.

Local Hero

Erin Grace, Urbana High School graduate, class of 2002, will be awarded the Local Hero Award. After graduating from Florida State, Ms. Grace returned to Champaign and started a YoungLives Chapter, which offers support and essential service to teen moms. By providing resources and information about healthcare, jobs, housing and preparing children for school, the organization has positively impacted many young lives.


List of Recognized Alumni through 2017


Thanks to our 2018 Title Sponsors!