Smile Politely

CU Schools Foundation announced the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

Every year, CU Schools Foundation honors Unit 4 and District 116 alumni who have gone on to make an impact in the community and beyond. Today they’ve announced this year’s recipients:

Sue Grey, a 1979 graduate of Centennial High School

Sue worked in the Champaign Park District, was CEO for Girl Scouts-Green Meadows Council, provided leadership for the Unit 4 Schools, (Board of Education), and currently serves as the President and CEO for United Way of Champaign County. She is a Champaign Rotarian, and active in C-U Cradle to Career and Community Coalition initiatives. 

Dianne Massock Messina-Stanley, a 1966 graduate of Champaign High School (Central)

Dianne enjoyed a long and productive career as a television writer and producer. She wrote and contributed to many television shows including: Knots Landing, Strong Medicine, Judging Amy, The Young and the Restless, House Calls, Army Wives, That’s Life, and Pacific Palisades.  Ms. Messina was nominated with a team of writers and producers for an Emmy award for Homefront (1991) and received the Imagen Foundation Award -Best Primetime TV series, for Second Chances in 1993. 

Herbert Burnett, a 1982 graduate of Urbana High School

Herbert runs a clothing store Suits by Soouljah, has served as associate pastor, substitute teacher, coach, referee, and founded the Leadership Development Academy. Herbert is the CEO/founder of Not on My Watch (NOMW) created to commit outreach, connection and support for the challenges of young black males through hope and accountability. He co-hosts an Urbana Public Television show “Let the Truth be Told”, and volunteers regularly at the juvenile detention center, providing guidance and connection to struggling youth. 

Amariah Hays, a 2002 Central High School graduate, Local Hero Award

Amariah’s childhood experiences led her to pursue a 15-year career in social work, serving most recently as the coordinator for volunteer advocates at Champaign County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She also serves as a board member of The Family Room, a local non-profit serving families with foster children or children in transition. Her book for children of all ages, A Place to Call Home is provided to children and caregivers at CASA to help explain the process of foster care.

Smile Politely online magazine, founded by 1997 Urbana High School graduate Seth Fein, Local Business Community Impact Award

Seth is the founder and publisher of Smile Politely, an online community magazine reporting on the arts, culture and culinary scenes around Champaign Urbana.  Seth has also dedicated himself to showcasing music in the community by creating the Pygmalion Festival, a four-day event celebrating music, technology, art, literature, and food in CU. 

A ceremony and celebration is planned for April 8th from 5 to 6:30 p.m., pending COVID protocols. 

We are certainly thrilled about the recognition for Seth and SP. Thank you CU Schools Foundation!

Top photo from CU Schools Foundation Facebook page.

Staff writer

Related Articles