Benedictine University Honors Five Leaders with Awards for Values-Driven Leadership and Service

Center for Values-Driven Leadership Leadership, Press Release

Dr. Sandra Gill was surprised by an award presented in recognition of her service to the Center.


Chicago, Illinois (June 6, 2018) ~ Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL) announced the winners of five awards in values-driven leadership, granted biennially by the CVDL.

“These awards are an important way of recognizing exceptional, values-driven leaders who have a transformative impact on business and society,” says Dr. Jim Ludema, director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership.

Faculty, students, and alumni of the CVDL’s executive Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership made nominations and helped to select the honorees. The four awards and 2018 honorees are:

Distinguished Alumni Award: Presented to a graduate of the executive Ph.D./D.B.A. Program who exemplifies the mission of the CVDL: “to develop themselves and others, build flourishing companies, and transform business and society.” 

Dr. Kathy Hopinkah Hannan (2016 graduate). Hannan is the Chairman of the Board and National President for Girl Scouts U.S.A. She recently retired from her work at KPMG where she had served as the National Managing Partner, Chief Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Officer and former Vice Chair. She recently served as the National Leader for Total Impact Strategy, working with the board leadership center in addressing strategic and operational issues for long-term value creation.

“Kathy exemplifies a life of service at the highest levels,” says Ludema. “Her professional achievements are equaled only by the generosity with which she’s advocated on behalf of women, girls, and for diversity and inclusion throughout her career.”

Outstanding Dissertation Award: Awarded for each cohort of students, to the author of a dissertation notable for its outstanding quality and contribution to the field.

Teams: The Fundamental Unit of Twenty-First Century Organizational Performance,” by Dr. Michael Kuppinger (2016 graduate). Kuppinger is Steiner Electric’s Chief Transformational Officer.

“Mike’s dissertation is an extraordinarily thoughtful and substantive piece of work,” says Dr. Gus Gustafson, Kuppinger’s dissertation chair and a professor with Benedictine University. “It addresses a much-needed gap in the literature on how high performing teams can drive systemic and sustainable performance at the organizational level.”

Gustafson notes this important study is certain to have an enduring impact on multiple fields moving forward.

Outstanding Service Award: Given to a graduate or friend of the CVDL who has helped advance the mission and work of the Center by serving generously.

Dr. John Heiser (2016 graduate). Heiser is President and Chief Operations Officer with Aurora-based Magnetrol International. In addition to his professional leadership, Heiser has supported the work of the CVDL through helping to establish partnerships, representing the program domestically and internationally, and advancing the field of study through his ongoing research and publication.

“John embodies values-driven leadership and has used his professional abilities to help transform business and society,” says Ludema. “We are grateful to have him as an ambassador for the work of the center, and as a friend and colleague.”

Dr. Sandra Gill. Gill, a co-founder of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership, retired last month as the Dean of Benedictine University’s Daniel L. Goodwin College of Business. She will continue teaching business students at the university. Gill was presented the award in appreciation of her founding and patronage of the Center. While the other award winners were notified in advance, Gill’s award was presented as a surprise at the ceremony.

“Sandra’s dedication to the Center, and to the principles of values-driven leadership, are greatly appreciated,” says Ludema. “She is an exemplary leader, and we wish her all the best as she enters this new phase of service.”

Values-Driven Leadership Award: Awarded to an external scholar or practitioner, associated with the CVDL, who has exemplified values-driven leadership throughout his or her career.

Students graduating this spring from the Center’s doctoral program in values-driven leadership honored a distinguished visiting scholar who taught in the university’s executive Ph.D./D.B.A. Program. The honoree is Dr. Inger Stensaker.

Dr. Stensaker is a Professor of Strategic Change with the NHH Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway. In selecting her as their honoree, cohort members noted Dr. Stensaker’s contributions to the fields of qualitative research, strategic leadership, and organizational change. Her work has been published in journals such as Human Relations, British Journal of Management, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Organizational Dynamics and Journal of Change Management.

“Inger is a global thought leader in the field of strategic change,” says Ludema. “Her research and publications have had a profound impact on the field, and her values-driven leadership within the Academy of Management is highly respected by her esteemed peers. She’s also an exceptional instructor whom our students love.”

The awards were presented at a June 2 brunch honoring graduating students of the Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership, for senior executives. In addition to the honor, award winners will receive a plaque, and their photo will be displayed as part of a Values-Driven Leadership Hall of Fame, located on the fourth floor of the Daniel L. Goodwin Hall of Business, on Benedictine University’s campus.


Contact Amber Johnson, 630.829.2173 or

More information on the executive doctoral program and its graduates can be found at

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