Suha Abunijmeh

Operations Manager
Class of 2006
Suha Abunijmeh works for Amazon as an operations manager at the Monee facility.

She earned her Associate in Science degree from Moraine Valley in 2006. Suha was on the Dean’s List and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois Chicago in mathematics and later earned an MBA in administration, innovation and entrepreneurship and business analytics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Suha has worked in corporate, nonprofit and higher education sectors. She worked for the Nonna’s Pizza Restaurant Group, handling payroll and accounts payable for seven years. She also simultaneously worked as an English language learner specialist at Moraine Valley, providing academic advising to foreign students. From 2012 through 2016, she was the director of the Support Center for the DIY Restaurant Group, developing business strategy and improving workflow. In 2018, she gained global experience working with the Jerusalem International YMCA as director of operations and AMIDEAST, a leading American nonprofit engaged in international education, training and development activities as an ESL instructor. She also has served as an adjunct faculty member at Moraine Valley.

After returning to the United States, she began working at Amazon as an area manager and moved up through the ranks, securing her current position in 2021. She uses data analysis to drive improvement and coaches new leaders, while overseeing program strategy, stakeholder management, end-to-end delivery and software utilization.

Suha has received multiple awards at Amazon, such as the Amazon DEI Leader recognition and the Leader Raising the Bar Amazon Robotics 2023 recognition.

She serves as a board member of the North America Chapter of the Amazon Affinity Group Arabs at Amazon and is a sustainability ambassador at Amazon. She previously served as the co-president of the Amazon Warriors at Amazon Affinity Group. These groups promote an inclusive culture and participate in community outreach and sustainability efforts. Suha was instrumental in starting $1,000 Moraine Valley Foundation scholarships for veterans and Arab students that were funded by these groups. In addition, she secured a donation of Amazon household and food items that were distributed to Adult Education students and backpacks for middle school students participating in the college’s STEM Expo.

Suha has done extensive volunteer work for organizations such as the Seeds Center of Maple Park, Respond Now Food Pantry, Manteno Veteran’s Home and the Special Olympics of Illinois.

She has two daughters, Zaina, 12, and Serene, 8, and has six siblings, along with her father and mother.


Kristen Amato

Detective with the Naperville Police Department
Class of 2008
Kristen Amato is a detective with the Naperville Police Department, where she has served on the force since 2021.

She began college at a university but was not acclimating the way she hoped, so she began taking classes at Moraine Valley in 2006. The following year, Kristen took her first criminal justice class and found her calling. She excelled academically and played on the college’s softball team. She also held a student job at the Photo ID desk, which she enjoyed because she met so many people. After earning her Associate in Arts degree from Moraine Valley, she pursued a bachelor’s degree from Governors State University, where she majored in criminal justice.

Kristen’s passion for helping others led to her decision to serve her country in the military and later to pursue a career in law enforcement. Kristen was a correctional officer at the Federal Bureau of Prisons for two years and then took a position at the Bellwood Police Department. She worked there for six years, where she helped new recruits become police officers as a field training officer and held the position of detective for 18 months before moving to the Naperville Police Department. During her career, she has served as a lead homicide investigator, sexual assault investigator, narcotics investigator and evidence technician.

She always found helping others fulfilling and says she has the best job in the world because she can assist people on their worst days, but she often interacts with people in parks, stores or on the street and builds positive relationships in the community.

Kristen has received commendations such as the Looking Beyond the Safety Belt Award from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Chief ’s Commendation from the Naperville Police Department and recognition of commendable DUI enforcement from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.

Kristen has been an advocate for equal opportunities for the LGBTQ community. She developed a presentation to help elderly people avoid becoming victims of identity theft. And she enjoys participating in the Shop with a Cop Program, which pairs low-income children and teens with law enforcement officers for a holiday shopping experience.

Kristen has been married to her wife, Jennifer Burns, for five years. Her family also includes parents Frank and Deanne Amato; two brothers, Joseph and Robert; and her 13-year-old niece Grace.


Brian Kelly

Volunteer at Children’s Nebraska Hospital in Omaha
Class of 1997
Brian Kelly volunteers at Children’s Nebraska Hospital in Omaha, where he has clocked more than 2,000 volunteer hours since 2017.

Brian attended Moraine Valley after graduating from high school and participated in numerous extra curricular activities. He was elected the student trustee and had the opportunity to meet with former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, who invited him to be the first community college student to serve on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

He later participated in a White House internship as part of President Bill Clinton’s advance staff. He was responsible for advance preparations for presidential domestic and international visits. Brian was later named to head national media logistics for the Gore-Lieberman 2000 campaign.

He then worked as a network researcher for NBC News in New York, where he researched breaking news, planned stories, and assisted senior editors and news staff. Brian realized he needed additional education to move ahead in the industry, so he returned to Illinois to complete his bachelor’s degree.

On Dec. 26, 2001, he was involved in a serious car accident that changed the trajectory of his life. Brian was not expected to survive due to his extensive injuries. After emerging from a coma, he had to relearn everything because he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

After several years of intensive therapy, Brian moved to QLI, a world-renowned rehabilitation center in Omaha, Nebraska. He made incredible progress and moved into the center’s assisted living facility, where he continues to reside and helps train new staff members.

He began volunteering at Immanuel Medical Center in 2007 and volunteered for nearly 6,000 hours over several years before he began volunteering at Children’s Nebraska Hospital, where he now helps families with children requiring medical attention.

As a strong advocate for traumatic brain injury awareness, Brian has spoken on the topic at QLI, Northwestern Medicine’s Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and the 2005 Illinois Trauma Doctors Conference. He recently returned to Moraine Valley to speak to a communications class about his experience.

Brian and his family’s Muldowney Foundation have raised over $330,000 to send people to brain injury camp and help families with mental health-related expenses. They also have worked with the Silver Ribbon Coalition to promote mental health awareness, and Brian met with Sen. Ted Kenndy about the mission to have a Silver Ribbon postage stamp created.

The Ronald McDonald House in Omaha recognized Brian for collecting over 1 million pop tops to help the facility.

Brian’s large family includes his father, two brothers, a sister, many extended family members, his Little Flower High School family and members of his QLI family.


Jason Knade

Creative director of Behold and a self-employed director and cinematographer
Class of 2008
Jason Knade is a successful filmmaker who has worked on hundreds of films, music videos, commercials and documentaries all over the world. He currently is the creative director of Behold and is a self-employed director and cinematographer who also works with other production companies, including Studio 2253.

Jason did not originally plan to attend Moraine Valley. However, when his father became critically ill, he chose to start at the college to stay close to his family during this difficult time.

He was part of the college’s first Honors Program and made lifelong friends in his honors classes. He wasn’t sure what to major in, and he explored fields ranging from business to astronomy to literature while at the college.

After transferring from Moraine Valley, Jason received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois Chicago. He later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in independent film and digital imaging at Governors State University.

He has filmed famous people and dignitaries, including the Pope, a sitting president, famous actors and athletes, congressmen and business leaders. He has created content for Nike, Canon, The Joffrey Ballet, Amtrak, Zelle and countless others. His work has been featured on CNN, ABC News, Fox News, Good Morning America, ESPN, among other media.

Jason has received two Emmys and has won film festival awards, including Best Film, Best Feature, Best Music Video and Best Short. He was twice named the Best Filmmaker in Chicago by The Chicago Reader.

He has created work that helps celebrate underrepresented communities. His debut film was nominated for the Iris Prize, which is the biggest LGBTQ award in the world. “Hogtown” won Best Picture at the Los Angeles Black Film Festival and was named a Top 10 Film of the Year by The New York Times.

Jason has shared his professional knowledge as an adjunct instructor at Moraine Valley, Governors State University, Saint Xavier University and Trinity Christian College.

He and his wife, Marcelina, live in Palos Park and have two young daughters.