Alumni Honorees

Kristina A. ValaitisKristina A. Valaitis

B.S. Education, 1967
M.A. English, 1969
Ph.D. English, 1974


In a society where the humanities are too often given short shrift, Kristina Valaitis has been their champion. As Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) since 1993, she has done so by bringing the humanities into our communities in everyday settings.

Valaitis began work with the IHC in 1979 as a program officer, after teaching for several years at Arizona State University. As she rose through the ranks, she built a network among arts and humanities professionals in Chicago and then statewide. Today, the IHC is renowned for its broad array of programs that reach a range of audiences, including citizens living below the poverty level, in new and exciting ways.

Valaitis has not limited her humanistic contributions to the IHC. She serves on the boards of the Chicago Metro History Education Center, the Donors Forum, and the Clemente Course in the Humanities, Inc.  She has published essays on liberal education, as well as texts to accompany two books—Illinois: A Photographic Portrait of the Prairie State and Reflections-Riflessioni, a book of photographs of Venice.

Valaitis also has served as Vice Chair of the NIU Foundation Board, lending her expertise in leading the grants committee.