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Dean's Circle


Dean's Circle Member Spotlight ~ Chris Cole

A young student from the south side of Chicago and its steel mills, Chris Cole didn't know she was going to go to college - in fact, she was the first of her family to attend college. But she grew up knowing she was going to give to others, a trait her mother and father instilled in her. Chris' parents have always shared whatever they had, and they do so today by volunteering for their church, helping their neighbors, and spending their time freely with all of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Today, Chris shares her time and skills with NIU to support education. She is a proud member of the President's Circle, Founders Forum, the College of Business Board of Executive Advisors, and the NIU Foundation Board of Directors. "When you can help educate a child, especially a first generation student, you are changing many people's lives," Chris explains. She knows firsthand when you support a first generation student there is a tremendous impact. She believes by investing in a student's education you empower the entire family - the mother, father, siblings, and future children and grandchildren.

As the Senior Vice President of Strategy for McDonald's USA, Chris is involved in short and long term planning for all aspects of growth for the 14,000 US restaurants. She strives to engage other NIU alumni working at McDonald's and motivate them to give back to their alma mater. Chris graciously worked with McDonald's to host a dinner to put NIU College of Business student leaders, professors, McDonald's recruiters, and McDonald's employees who attended NIU all in the same room. The event provided a re-engagement opportunity for NIU alumni, as well as providing an outstanding networking opportunity for students. Chris fondly recalls her time at NIU and working on a specific curriculum committee where she met with faculty and alumni. Working with alumni and faculty was one of her most rewarding experiences as a student. If fact, she and her husband recently gave a substantial amount of money to establish the Donald E. Kieso Endowed Chair in Accountancy.

Chris and her husband Tim reside in the Chicago area. They have three children, Katie, Meghan and Christopher. She enjoys spending time with her family and on the golf course.

Chris has undoubtedly instilled in her children the basic principle that her parents taught her - sharing is a way of life and brings you great reward.