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Connie Link Outstanding Mentorship Award

The Connie Link Outstanding Mentorship Award is named in memory of long-standing member and past president Connie Link The award is given to a teacher currently teaching (or retired) in Illinois who has taught speech, theatre, and/or English for a significant length of time (10 years or more). The qualifications for this award include distinguished service to the association and outstanding achievement in the profession, especially in mentorship of teachers and/or speech/theatre coaches and directors. This award recognizes outstanding mentorship toward new and current ICTA members, assistance in recruitment of new members to the organization and outreach to past ICTA members who are no longer active in the organization. The award recipient must have been an active member of ICTA for at least 5 years.

2023 Connie Link Outstanding Mentorship Award Winner

Judy Santacaterina, Northern Illinois University

Judy Santacaterina received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communication Education from Northern Illinois University. She has taught courses at the junior high, high school, community college, and university level. For the past 43 years, she has served as a member of the NIU Forensics coaching staff as a graduate assistant, Director of Individual Events, and Acting Director of Forensics.   

She has been a member of ICTA since 1979, was the 2012 Convention keynote speaker, and served on the Executive Board as Secretary ( 1984) and President (2013.)  She developed NIU’s High School summer camp and served as the Director until 2014.  She has been honored for her coaching and teaching by Bradley University, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, St. Cloud State University, Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association, and the American Forensics Association. In 2015 she was honored with ICTA’s W.P. Sanford Award. She has coached numerous state and national finalists, including 15 Interstate Orators.  

She is most proud of the number of NIU alumni that have gone on to careers in teaching. “I have been so fortunate and truly blessed. Throughout my career, I  was inspired and mentored by not only my amazing teachers, but by my amazing students as well.”

Watch Judy's acceptance speech here: https://youtu.be/mx90fTVByyk

Past Winners of the Connie Link Outstanding Mentorship Award

2013 Doug Jennings, Illinois State University

2014 Jan Heiteen, Downer’s Grove South High School

2015 Marvin Kleinau, Southern Illinois University, Marion Kleinau, Southern Illinois University

2016 Kenny Knox, Spoon River Valley High School

2017 Richard Hunsacker, McKendree University

2018 Tina Winings, Charleston High School 

2019 Elighie Wilson, Prairie State College

2020 No Award Given

2021 No Award Given

2022 Janine Stroemer, Homewood-Flossmoor High School

2023 Judy Santacaterina, Northern Illinois University

Illinois Communication and Theatre Association

C/O Edward Schwarz

Prairie State College

202 S. Halsted St.

Chicago Heights, IL 60411


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