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Dean's Circle

Distinguished Donor Spotlight ~ Kevin Cleary

From an early age, Kevin Cleary had an entrepreneurial spirit. Upon graduating with his Accountancy degree and CPA in May 1976, he joined the audit staff of Grant Thornton. In 1981, Kevin became the first auditor to transfer to the Management Consulting Department - Business and Financial Planning Group, an area that highlighted his entrepreneurial drive. While honing his accounting skills during the day, Kevin attended night school at the University of Chicago and received his MBA in 1983. Throughout the years, Kevin continued to grow and develop his operational, strategic planning and corporate finance skills.

In 1990, Kevin left Grant Thornton to launch Fort Dearborn Partners, Inc., a company that focused on turnaround services for underperforming middle market companies. Today, Fort Dearborn Partners is a market leader for middle-market companies in the Midwest. They have also won several business awards.

So why does this entrepreneur give back? He says it stems mostly from his strong belief in the benefits of higher education and his Catholic upbringing which emphasizes giving back to society. Kevin worked with Catholic Charities for over twenty years and has served on the Board of Directors for over 15 years. He is currently Chairman of the Audit Committee and is a member of the Executive and Finance Committees. He also serves on the Audit Committee of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has worked as a member of the Board of Directors of St. Joseph High School for over 9 years and also served on the Executive and Finance Committees. In addition, Kevin is serving on various boards in various capacities - too numerous to list here.

As for NIU, Kevin has donated to the College of Business for over 20 years. He has done so because he believes that education is the solution to economic problems and believes that by giving to the College, he might help those in need. His Catholic upbringing has drilled that into him at an early age. And it didn't hurt his entrepreneurial spirit.

Kevin Cleary was named one of Accountancy's outstanding alumni for 2012-2013. He will be presented with his award on April 3rd.