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Communications and Marketing

Commencement speaker, honorands announced

Lake Forest College alumnus Kelly Leonard ’88, executive vice president of Second City, will be the keynote speaker at Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Honorands will be Christine Chakoian, pastor and head of staff at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, and Rabiah Mayas PhD, director of science and integrated strategies for the Museum of Science and Industry.

Our Commencement speaker will be Lake Forest College alumnus Kelly Leonard ’88, executive vice president of Second City, the renowned Chicago-based improvisational comedy enterprise.

For the quarter-century since his own college graduation, Kelly has been with The Second City, where he oversees all live theatrical operations and has worked with such celebrated alumni as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler and Keegan Michael Key. He co-founded Second City Theatricals which produced “The Second City Guide to Opera” with Lyric Opera Chicago, “Twist Your Dickens” at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles and an upcoming collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance titled “The Second City Guide to Dance.” He is the man who brought The Second City to the high seas when he brokered a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line that is entering its tenth year. Additionally, he works with Second City’s television and film division, developing content for broadcast television and new media. His first book, on innovation and improvisation, will be published by Harper Collins in 2015. 

Named one of the “top theatrical figures in Chicago” by New City Magazine, he also made the “40 under 40” list in Crain’s Chicago Business magazine and has been identified by Time Out Chicago as one of the 40 leading cultural figures in Chicago. Kelly Leonard will receive the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa.


Christine Chakoian is Pastor and Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest. A strong and dedicated friend to Lake Forest College, she was the first woman to head a church in the denomination when she arrived in 2005. Her latest book, Worship, Fellowship, and the Work of the Kingdom, published last fall, is a chronicle of the history of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest from its founding in the 1850s to the current day.  The book provides fascinating information about the Church’s relationship with the College and the Town of Lake Forest, and is credited with uncovering much previously unknown history. 

Rev. Chakoian received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and her Divinity degree from Yale University.  She will receive the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa.

Rabiah Mayas PhD is the director of science and integrated strategies for the Center for the Advancement of Science Education (CASE) at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  She oversees multiple initiatives to encourage science learning research and produce public science programming for youth and adults, to integrate STEM professionals and research into Museum programming, and to explore connections among science, technology, art and design.  

Dr. Mayas also directs the programs and operations of the Museum’s state-of-the-art Fab Lab, a digital fabrication laboratory for youth-driven design- and engineering-based innovation.  Previously, she was the director of Science Chicago, a year-long collaborative initiative launched in 2008 that highlighted science and technology achievements, increased access to science learning experiences, and promoted dialogue about the importance of science and technology. 

Dr. Mayas received her doctorate in cellular and molecular biology in 2007 from the University of Chicago, where her thesis focused on cell splicing.  She received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a certificate in modern languages and linguistics (French), from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Dr. Mayas will receive the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa.