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2023 - The ECC Foundation Gala “Dare to Dream” celebrates community and supports students

Tags: Foundation
Published 10/03/2023
The ECC theatre department put on a short performance from the 2023 spring production of

The ECC theatre department put on a short performance from the 2023 spring production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the ECC Foundation's 2023 Gala: Dare to Dream

The Elgin Community College Foundation’s 2023 Gala: Dare to Dream, presented by OTTO, celebrated ECC students with a night of entertainment and fundraising of more than $115,000 for student scholarships and mini-grants.

“The reach of ECC and its students is felt through the economic impact on the communities and businesses in District 509,” said Susan Taylor-Demming, executive director of institutional advancement and the ECC Foundation. “We are proud of our students making great strides in their fields.”

More than 200 guests attended the event, which began with an ECC student showcase. The night featured a short performance from the 2023 spring production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by the ECC theatre department. Professional ice carver and former ECC student De’Reen Vyleta, ’18, and Assistant Professor of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Patrick Stewart presented on the art of ice carving and featured a sculpted swan. 

“Attendees at this event help us achieve our goal of supporting students, faculty, and programs of this outstanding institution,” said Jenni Betancourt, chair of the ECC Foundation board. “We do this work because we believe in the students, and they mean the future of our community.”

Brian Bohr, instructor of communication studies, emceed the event. Robin Seigle, foundation board member, and Linda Hefferin, EdD, ECC professor emerita, were the Gala Committee Co-Chairs. ECC President David Sam, PhD, JD, LLM, shared a state of the college update, and the program also included ECC student scholars Heriberto Mendiola Alonso and Esmeralda Guerra, who spoke on the personal impact of what it has meant to be a recipient of a Foundation scholarship.

The gala also honored recipients of the 2023 ECC Foundation Awards. “We are excited to recognize and honor these awardees – alumni, community members, business organizations, and public officials, who have demonstrated selfless service throughout our community,” said Taylor-Demming.

2023 Foundation Award Winners:

ECC Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award: Cristina Castro,’98, State Senator, 22nd District

ECC Esteemed Recent Alumni Award: Meagan Schwartz, ‘17

ECC Friend of Education Award: Rotary Club of Elgin, represented by John Ragan, President, and accepted by Jaime Garcia, Treasurer and Board Member

Exceptional Friend of the ECC Foundation Award: Suncast Corporation, represented by Jim Ahlborn, President and Chief Executive Officer, and accepted by Ingrid Brand and Tina Schultz

ECC President’s Lasting Impact Award: Eric J. Fernandez; James Harvey; Jerry Turnquist; and Laura Anderson


Presenting Sponsor: OTTO Engineering, Inc.

Premiere sponsors: Assured Partners, DLA Architects, Middleby Corp., Dewberry Architects Inc.

Dreams Sponsor: Lauderdale Electric, Robin and Mark Seigle

Resilience Sponsors: Charles Burnidge, Elisa and Drew Glassford, IHC Construction Companies, LLC, KCT Credit Union

Empowerment Sponsors: Ascension Saint Alexius; Ascension Saint Joseph-Elgin; Linda Deering Dean; Elgin State Bank, a division of Wintrust; Lamp Incorporated

Achievement Sponsors: Absolute Fire Protection, Inc.; IHC Construction Companies, LLC; Perkins & Will, Sikich LLP

Milestones Sponsors: Amundsen Davis; Bear Family Restaurants; Dr. Adrienne Butler, MD, JD; ECC Faculty Association IFT Local 3791; Elgin Trades Council; Kane County Sheriff’s Office; State Representative Anna Moeller; SMC Construction Services; Donna Templeton; Village of Streamwood; Wells Fargo Advisor; W.R. Meadows, Inc.

The entire gala presentation, photos of the evening, and videos from the award winners are available at