DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI CLASS of 2022
View the INDUCTION CEREMONY of the first class of Distinguished ALUMNI.
Cued Links to individual speakers are posted
below each Alumni biography.
JOSH JOHNSON (2007)
is a saxophonist, keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. He has performed extensively with the likes of Jeff Parker, Kiefer, Makaya McCraven, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Leon Bridges and Marquis Hill. Johnson can be heard on records by all of these artists, as well as records from the Chicago Underground Quartet, Jeremy Cunningham, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Dawes, Dexter Story, Louis Cole and Joshua White. Since 2018, Johnson has been the musical director, keyboardist, and saxophonist for Leon Bridges, which has taken him to Europe, Asia and Australia. Highlights of his time with Bridges include sold-out performances at Radio City Music Hall, Greek Theater, and the Hollywood Bowl.
As a composer, Johnson has written music for many of his own projects, including the bands Snaarj and Holophonor, in addition to writing music for commercial use. He recently contributed arrangements to Sara Gazarek’s album “Thirsty Ghost”, which was nominated for two Grammy awards. In 2015 Johnson was commissioned to compose an hour-long piece by the Los Angeles Jazz Society. His resulting multi-media work “UNREST” takes an unflinching look at the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest, and was premiered at the Angel City Jazz Festival.
Johnson currently resides in Los Angeles.
JORDAN SCHUBERT (2011)
is a Special Olympics champion on and off the court. He started participating in Special Olympics when he was in 5th grade and some of his biggest growth as an athlete and person came under playing for his coach/District 204 Special Olympics founder, Joy Pierson.
In 2010, while at Neuqua, he represented Illinois at the National Youth Summit during the 2010 USA Games where he and other students from all three schools the following year worked towards making all three District 204 High Schools Unified Champion Schools by offering Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and engaging the entire school on national Spread the Word to End the Word day.
After graduating from Neuqua, Jordan continued his academic success at West Chester University. and he currently works with Special Olympics athletes of all ages and abilities in leadership roles such as governance, public speaking, health and coaching.
In June, 2022, Jordan’s basketball team will be competing at the USA Games in Orlando, making him the 2nd Neuqua alum and first West Chester alum to earn this opportunity.
JESSICA WALSH (2000)
is an educator and teacher-leader in Indian Prairie School District #204 and was in Neuqua Valley’s first graduating class. After college, she began her career teaching 7th Grade Language Arts at Granger Middle School In Aurora.
Over the past 17 years, she has not only taught students, but served as instructional coach, supporting and mentoring colleagues related to best practices in teaching. She is highly-respected among her peers and is a sought-after presenter on a variety of educational topics.
Specifically, she has focused on literacy and equity and how both open doors and provide opportunities for growth and achievement. She is an advocate for inquiry-based instruction and how technology can be used to support students in that environment.
She currently runs a lab classroom at Granger where other teachers in the district come and observe Jessica in action. In that classroom, she teaches 6th Grade Language Arts and Ancient Civilizations.
Jessica lives in Oswego. Her husband Matt is also a teacher at Granger.
REEM KAREEM (2004)
is a social entrepreneur, dedicated to unlocking the changemaking potential in everyone. She is a co-founder of “Everyday Heroes,” a social enterprise to create more diverse books for early childhood learning. In 2022, she also launched an online “Systems Change Masterclass” which provides anyone, from any sector, with the skills to ensure their ideas can have a positive, lasting impact.
Previously, Reem was a director at Ashoka Changemakers, the world’s leading network of social entrepreneurs, where her team distributed over $5.5 million in funding with partners such as LEGO, Intel, Nike, and Red Bull. She also co-created the award-winning platform changemaking.net and published research such as “Busting the Lone Hero Myth” and “Innovations in Financial Wellbeing.”
Reem received a Master’s in Management Research from the University of Oxford, focusing on innovation. Prior to Oxford, she graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s in Cognitive Neuroscience.
She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kids.
Rep. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (2004)
serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
Prior to her election to Congress, Congresswoman Underwood worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act — broadening access for those on Medicare, improving health care quality, and reforming private insurance.
Rep. Lauren Underwood:
Adapted from https://underwood.house.gov/