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2015 Dukes of Distinction

2015 Dukes of Distinction Announced by YDAP

The York Distinguished Alumni Program (YDAP) serves to recognize and honor alumni who have distinguished themselves through significant and/or extraordinary accomplishments, service and/or an outstanding contribution to society. Launched in the fall of 2013, YDAP honored eight members of the inaugural class. Last year, seven more were inducted (see links on left).

This year, another eight Dukes of Distinction have been chosen by a panel of judges and will be honored on the evening of Thursday, November 5, beginning with a reception at 6:30 PM in the York High School Commons. The program is free and open to the public.

Honoree for 2015 are:


Lee Daniels – Class of 1960

Lawmaker, businessman, civic leader and advocate, he served as a state representative in the Illinois General Assembly from 1975 to 2007. Mr. Daniels was elected House Republican leader, served as Speaker of the House and also as a special assistant attorney general for the State of Illinois. Known as a champion for the rights of people with mental and physical challenges, he is also the founder of Lee Daniels & Associates, a consulting firm for government and community relations.

Mark Dyer – Class of 1980

Originally the owner of a successful advertising and direct marketing agency, he sold the company and began volunteering for the international UK-based disaster relief charity ShelterBox, a humanitarian organization that delivers self-contained boxes of equipment to families who have lost their homes following a disaster. Mr. Dyer has served as Response Team Leader on 8 of 12 deployments to major disasters across the globe following flooding, earthquake, tornado, tsunami and events of war.

Dr. Susan Groenwald – Class of 1967

nt of Chamberlain College of Nursing since 2006, Dr. Groenwald has grown a single site with 400 students to 18 sites in twelve states with a total enrollment of over 24,000, graduating more than 21,000 nurses in eight years. An oncology nurse, she served as coordinator of the Rush University College of Nursing Oncology Graduate Program.  She also led BarterCorp and later became Director of Clinical Operations for Focused Health Solutions, leading significant growth for both companies.

Tom Marcucci – Class of 1970

Mayor of Elmhurst from 1993 until 2009, during his four terms of office, Mayor Marcucci transformed Elmhurst into the thriving city it is today. Revitalization of the central business district, commercial/retail developments and the passage of two citywide bond referenda helped put Elmhurst on the map. In 2003, Chicago Magazine ranked Elmhurst the #1 suburb. He also served in a variety of county, regional and state governmental roles that resulted in significant quality services for Elmhurst.

Dr. Clifford McDonald – Class of 1980

A me
McDonald Current.jpgdical doctor and Senior Advisor for Science and Integrity in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, his work in infectious diseases has played a major role in improving treatment, preventing emergence of antibiotic resistance and controlling outbreaks around the world. Along with his wife Lisa, a nurse, Dr. McDonald has adopted 12 children, some with special needs, from China, Taiwan, Ecuador, Ethiopia and the United States.

David Swartz – Class of 1959

Swartz Current.jpgted by President George H. W. Bush he was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Belarus from 1992-94, when Minsk was liberated as part of the dissolution of the USSR. Ambassador Swartz served for 28 years in various capacities as a Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State, stationed in Moscow, Kiev, Zurich, Calgary, Warsaw and Washington, D.C. In 2006, he co-founded the Center for Belarusian Studies at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas and is currently Associate Executive Director.

Kenneth von Heidecke – Class of 1970

In add
Von Heidecke Current.jpgition to choreographing 70 productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and at other opera houses around the world, he founded both the Von Heidecke Chicago Festival Ballet and the Von Heidecke Dance Center. Alumni include Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek and Joffrey Ballet principal Joanna Wozniak. Legendary Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief named him as her protégé in 2009 and he appeared in a PBS documentary of her life. Mr. Von Heidecke is now the subject of a film about his own life.

Samuel Williams – Class of 2003

A six-tim
Williams Current.jpge US Paralympic Boccia champion and coach, Mr. Williams was the director for the Boccia National Championships held at York High School in July of 2012. A person living with cerebral palsy, he has served as a Paralympic Athlete Ambassador of the U.S. Olympic Committee and Special Projects Coordinator at Dreams for Kids since 2010. With a degree in Community Health (rehabilitation studies), he holds clinics throughout the country to support sports and fitness for those with disabilities.



These outstanding individuals will be honored at a reception at 6:30 PM on November 5 in the York Community High School Commons. A program will follow at 7 PM. This event is free and open to the public.

2016 Dukes of Distinction Nomination
Are Now Closed


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Trivia - How the Dukes got their name.

Q: How did the "Dukes" of York High School get their nickname?

A: The answer is found in Sports Tidbits in the Elmhurst Press (December 24, 1936) written by sports editor Howard C. Fischer. The ...more

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