Knox Presents Awards to Four Notable Graduates
Alumni recognized for achievements and contributions to community
Galesburg, IL (03/30/2023) — Brenda Butler '71, Christopher DeWald '83, and Jeremy Butler '95 will receive Alumni Achievement Awards during a ceremony at Knox College on May 5, 2023. During the same event, Ladipo Lawani '08 will receive the Young Alumni Achievement Award. The awards recognize notable alumni for their achievements and for their contributions to Knox and the community.
For over 35 years, Brenda Butler '71 worked as an exemplary journalist with roles as a reporter, copy editor, and senior features editor. She was the first black female member of the Chicago Tribune management team and her professional experience spans from the historic Johnson Publishing's Jet Magazine to the Chicago Tribune.
Brenda Butler was a participant in the sectionalizing of American newspapers in the 1990s. She held numerous editing positions at the Tribune, including associate managing editor for features, where she was involved in the conception and development of award-winning newspaper sections and magazines and co-managed a staff of more than 100 reporters, editors, and support staff.
She served three terms as president of the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter. Under her leadership, the organization was named the national 2009 NABJ Chapter of the Year. She was most recently named executive director of Columbia Links. She graduated from the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education management program at Kellogg's Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Brenda Butler's ongoing dedication to Knox students includes professional mentoring and career advising. Her commitment to Knox alumni includes being a founding member of the Black Alumni Association of Knox College and a supporter of the Black Alumni Network.
DeWald '83 is an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He is a member of a number of professional organizations and has lectured both nationally and internationally on advanced spinal surgery techniques.
He developed an international understanding of spinal surgery through fellowship training in Germany, France, England, and Japan. He also served an elite Chicago Spine Fellowship with responsibilities to both Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and the Shriner's Hospital for Children.
During winter and summer breaks, DeWald has hosted clinical shadowing experiences for Knox students pursuing careers in medicine. The real-life experiences provided by DeWald have not only improved the students' preparation for medical school interviews and applications, but also has helped them determine if medical school was a suitable career option.
DeWald was voted among the top 10 to 15 percent of Top Doctors in America by U.S. News and World Report and Castle Connolly.
Jeremy Butler '95 serves as the CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the purpose of which is to bring together and empower post-9/11 veterans. He started at the organization in 2015 on their development team, but soon transitioned to chief operating officer before being asked to take on the role of CEO in 2019.
After graduating from Knox, Jeremy Butler served his country in the U.S. Navy and then worked for the Department of Homeland Security, the Joint Staff, and the Department of the Navy. Additionally, he has served as an educator for the military through his work as an adjunct faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy. Jeremy Butler is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and obtained his master's degree in national security and strategic studies.
A true advocate for the military, the United States, and Knox College, he has served in the Navy both in active duty and in the reserves. Jeremy Butler has made it a priority to fight for our veterans that need assistance and he brings about positive change.
Realizing that entrepreneurship is one of the most potent drivers of economic development, Lawani '08 started an NGO in Nigeria to train youth to become entrepreneurs during his sophomore year at Knox.
Ladipo Lawani '08 is the recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award. He was named one of Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 for being one of Africa's "most promising young changemakers."
Lawani is the founder of L&L Foods, a food processing and packaging company focused on the Nigerian market that sources their products from local farmers. Their signature product is a brand of groundnuts called Mr. Ekpa.
L&L was started while Lawani was an MBA student at Columbia Business School. In 2016, L&L Foods was won the Columbia Business School Shark Tank competition, and in 2017, won the Nigerian Economic Summit startup competition.
Lawani is a board member of the Bethesda Child Support Agency, which provides free education to orphans and vulnerable children.