Dr. Sandra Biedron

Dr. Sandra Biedron

Research professor, University of New Mexico
Class of 1992
Dr. Sandra Biedron is a research professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico as a managing member of Element Aero in Chicago, a technological consulting company.

She has made significant contributions to several areas of science and engineering in accelerator science and technology, theory, simulation and experiment of several genres of particle accelerators. Biedron, who holds a patent in the field and has several patents pending, has participated in research and development, and the build-up and operation of facilities around the globe, including at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, for the U.S. Navy, and in Australia and in Italy.

While at Argonne National Laboratory, she was an associate director of the Argonne Accelerator Institute as a senior physicist and director of the Department of Defense Project. Biedron is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has held leadership roles at Sincrotrone Trieste in Italy, and is a member of the administrative committee for the Nuclear Plasma and Sciences Society.

Upon completing her classes at Moraine Valley in 1992, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry and biology from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, and a Ph.D. in accelerator physics from Lund University in Sweden. She is a decorated member of the scientific and engineering international community; has authored countless books, reports and periodicals; and holds the highest level of membership (Fellow) in several professional societies.

Sandra was an invited delegate and speaker for the U.S. State Department’s dialogue on U.S.-European extreme light infrastructure; received a Particle Accelerator and Science and Technology Award from the Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society; was appointed as Government Relations chair for the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and received the George T. Abell Outstanding Mid-Career Faculty Award in the College of Engineering at Colorado State University. She also was a District 230 Foundation Legacy Hall Inductee for her contributions to science and technology, and she continues to mentor students.

Forest Reeder

Forest Reeder

Fire Chief, Village of Tinley Park
Class of 1999
Forest Reeder started his career in fire service in 1978, working for the Palos Fire Protection District, the Des Plaines Fire Department, the Pleasantview Fire Protection District and the Tinley Park Fire Department, where he now serves as the fire chief.

As the chief, Reeder is responsible for day-to-day operations and management of the Tinley Park Fire Department. He also serves on the Senior Staff team for the village and has served on State Fire Marshal ad hoc committees.

He received his Associate in Science degree in fire science technology from Moraine Valley, a Bachelor of Science degree in fire science management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public safety administration from Lewis University.

Reeder has remained connected to Moraine Valley as an adjunct teacher for nearly 30 years and as a curriculum advisor. He also oversaw the college’s Fire Science Program and is credited with updating the program and bringing it to the forefront. He currently serves as the program’s curriculum coordinator, ensuring the fire science courses meet national fire protection standards and state fire marshal’s objectives. He holds nine Illinois Fire certifications, among them fire officer, instructor, incident safety officer, hazardous materials operations and fire apparatus engineer.

As an instructor both locally and nationally, Reeder’s expertise is sought on a variety of topics, including training, safety and officer development. He received the George D. Post Instructor of the Year award by the International Society of Fire Service Instructors and was named Instructor of the Year by the Illinois Society of Fire Science Instructors. For the past 20 years, he has been a board member on the Illinois Fire Chiefs Education and Research Foundation where he serves as coordinator of fire officer programs and manages 30 staff members. In addition, Reeder has authored several books, and created and instructed classes for the Illinois Fire Chief’s Association and the Illinois Society of Fire Service Instructors.

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Executive director, Channahon Park District
Class of 1990
Michael Leonard is the executive director of the Channahon Park District. Previously, he was the director of Parks and Recreation in Palos Heights, and the Recreation Program and Services administrator for the Lemont Park District. Upon receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Moraine Valley, Leonard earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Illinois State University and a Master of Science degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University.

Leonard, who was an adjunct faculty member from 1998 to 2005 for the Recreation and Sport Management program at Moraine Valley, continued his education through conferences, state and national associations, and as a member of several professional organizations, including the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, and the South Suburban Parks and Recreation Professional Association.

Among his accomplishments and honors is the Eugene Simpson Award for Outstanding Community Leadership in recognition of outstanding contributions to the enhancements of Palos Heights, a South West Special Recreation Award of Excellence, and a Jim Berousek Distinguished Alumnus Award from Western Illinois University.

He served as a Moraine Valley student trustee from 1989 to 1990, is a guest speaker for the Recreation Management Program and is a past member of the Recreation Management Advisory Committee at Moraine Valley. He also has been a volunteer youth baseball, softball and basketball coach in Lemont, served as a board member of the South West Special Recreation Association and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House at Hope Children’s Hospital.

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Founder and executive director of the Syrian Community Network
2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient
Class of 1991
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder and executive director of the Syrian Community Network, a nonprofit established as a voice for immigrant and refugee rights. She began this organization to support incoming refugees by providing social services and a community welcome, bringing awareness and advocacy for refugees transitioning to their new home, and bringing a voice and recognition to those resettling regardless of their background.

She received an Associate of Arts degree from Moraine Valley, a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Lewis University. She also completed a Nonprofit Management certificate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Her service to the community throughout the past decades ranges from work with the Syrian Community Network to volunteering for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Illinois Muslim Action Day, the Universal School in Bridgeview, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the SAMS Midwest Foundation, and the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. She also has served as a board member with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

She has been a speaker at a number of events, including those at Moraine Valley sponsored by the Arab Student Union, and at a refugee camp in Jordan, as well as received invitations to join local politicians in press conferences and fundraising activities. In addition, Akhras Sahloul has contributed to the scholarship fund started by the Arab Student Union.

Recognition for her efforts has come from SAMS, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and the Refugee Rights, as well as a UNICEF Humanitarian Award, a SAMS Service Award and a Trailblazer award from Adler University for the Syrian Community Network’s After-School program.