Alumni Inducted Into Bradley Centurion Society

The Bradley community came together Sept. 30, 2022, at Dingeldine Music Center for the annual Founder’s Day Convocation. This event celebrates and honors the university’s founder, Lydia Moss Bradley, and honors those who continue her legacy of excellence. The university also inducted two alumni into its Centurion Society.

Established in 1982 by the university’s Board of Trustees, the Centurion Society recognizes the extraordinary achievements of Bradley University alumni. Entry to the Centurion Society is the highest honor the university awards its alumni.

Stephen C. Lewis (pictured left)

Stephen C. Lewis is an engineer, innovator, philanthropist, executive and longtime advocate for those in need. The son of working-class parents on Chicago’s South Side, Lewis early showed great aptitude for mathematics and science. He attended Bradley University to study engineering — the first person in his family to go to college — and graduated in 1972. He then went on to Marquette University, where he earned an MBA in 1975. Soon after he joined the Ford Motor Company, moved to Detroit, Michigan, and began a career with the famous automaker that would span almost four decades.

Recognized at Ford as an innovator who found ways to make operations more efficient and develop public-private partnerships to create new jobs, Lewis held a number of executive titles, including director of the North American Manufacturing Business, office director of the North American Manufacturing Business Office, director of global powertrain planning and general manager of corporate planning. He retired from Ford in 2017 after 39 years, which included stints in Hiroshima, Japan, and Valencia, Venezuela.

Lewis has also had an admirable career in philanthropy and advocacy. He was president of the National Black MBA Association, which helps young Black students and professionals to reach their highest potential in business. Through this work with the National Black MBA and a number of other organizations, Lewis has assisted more than 100,000 students. He is also the retired chairman and co-founder of the Ford-employees African Ancestry Network and has served as president since 2001 of the Detroit Area Pre-College Education Program. In addition, he has served as director of the Graduate Management Admission Council, and as board member of the Marquette University Business School Advisory Board and the Engineering Society of Detroit.

Since retiring from Ford, Lewis is now a partner with Strategic Planning Consultants, LLC, and he continues to work in leadership in service organizations.

Katie McCord Jenkins (pictured right)

Peoria native Katie McCord Jenkins, an Alumna of Bradley University's Executive MBA program and the fifth-generation McCord to lead Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company, was appointed president of Illinois Mutual during a period of great turbulence following the economic crash of 2008. Despite the challenges, McCord Jenkins was a steady hand on the tiller, and the company emerged stronger than ever from the downturn. As a leader, McCord Jenkins is recognized as inventive and resourceful, with a mission to help people achieve financial security.

McCord Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree at Boston University in 1994, and then completed her Executive MBA at Bradley in 2008. At Illinois Mutual, she is hailed as a problem-solving president with an emphasis on building strong relationships with customers. In a recent survey 90% of Illinois Mutual customers said the company met or exceeded their expectations, and 86% of Illinois Mutual employees rate it as a great place to work earning the company the Great Place to Work certification.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, McCord Jenkins and her husband, Tom Jenkins, were the 2016 Campaign Chairs for the Heart of Illinois United Way campaign, and the Heart of Illinois United Way honored them with the Philanthropists of the Year Award in 2018. At Bradley, McCord Jenkins is involved with the Executive MBA Alumni Alliance, and she has also served on the Foster College of Business National Council of Advisors.