Neighbors in the News

  • Congressman Brad Schneider and Samantha Koerner.

    Congressman Brad Schneider and Samantha Koerner. Courtesy of the Office of congressman Brad Schneider

  • Donald Jones, the next principal of Algonquin Middle School, in Des Plaines.

    Donald Jones, the next principal of Algonquin Middle School, in Des Plaines. Courtesy of District 62

  • Oakton Community College Associate Professor of English Tina Fakhrid-Deen.

    Oakton Community College Associate Professor of English Tina Fakhrid-Deen. Courtesy of Oakton Community College

  • Jim Argionis

    Jim Argionis Courtesy of Cozen O'Connor

Posted12/26/2019 9:02 AM

Oakton Community College Associate Professor of English Tina Fakhrid-Deen channeled her passion for creative writing to earn the 2020 winter/spring MacDowell Colony Fellowship. MacDowell is the oldest and one of the most prestigious artist residencies in the nation, having hosted a number of well-known writers, including James Baldwin and Alice Walker.

The fellowship will allow Fakhrid-Deen to attend the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, established in 1907, allowing her to further develop her literary vision through plays and other works among a dynamic community of her peers.


A published writer, Fakhrid-Deen has also been active at Oakton, having written and directed plays performed at the college. She directed "The Vagina Monologues" and wrote "Powerless Gods," an examination of urban education. "Powerless Gods" was performed as a staged reading at Oakton in 2017, and a full production in 2018. Fakhrid-Deen has also served on Oakton's Anti-Racism Team.

Most recently, her staged reading of "Dandelions," a drama about survival, loss and redemption, won a play commission with the Chicago Park District's Theater on the Lake: In the Works, a program that supports new playwrights in developing new work. Also, her play, "Pulled Punches," will be produced by Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre (MPAACT) at Chicago's Greenhouse Theater in April. Fakhrid-Deen's upcoming work focuses on identity politics in the age of being well-intentioned.

Fakhrid-Deen began teaching at Oakton in 2004. She earned her master's degree in educational policy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also received her bachelor's degree in English and performance studies. Fakhrid-Deen also attended Chicago State University, where she completed her master's degree in creative writing and black literature.

• Jim Argionis of Park Ridge was appointed chairman of the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission. He has served as one of nine commissioners since 2013.

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Argionis, an attorney with Cozen O'Connor in Chicago, has distinguished himself in community service in Park Ridge and beyond. Earlier this year, the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce recognized him with a Community Star Award for his exceptional community involvement, which has included serving on the Park Ridge O'Hare Airport Commission, first as a commissioner in 2011-2012 and then as chairman, from 2013-2019.

Argionis has also served, by governor appointment and state senate confirmation through four administrations, as chairman of the Illinois Department of Employment Security advisory board. In addition, he has volunteered his legal and mentoring skills to the Maine South High School Mock Trial Team both in the annual Illinois State competitions and in a national competition. Argionis has also volunteered his time for local Park Ridge school districts 64 and 207, the Park Ridge Police Parent Patrol, the Chicago Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Argionis received his law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1995 and his undergraduate degree from Loyola University, Chicago, in 1992.

• Veteran educator Donald Jones was named the next principal of Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines. Jones, who was formally approved for the position at the District 62 board of education meeting Dec. 16, will begin his new venture Aug. 1.


"I am thankful and excited to join the staff at Algonquin and District 62," said Jones. "I am eager to meet with staff, students and parents and get to work."

Jones is currently in his second year at George Washington Middle School in Lyons. Before becoming principal, he served as an assistant principal, special education coordinator and special education teacher.

Jones holds a bachelor's degree in education from Monmouth College, a master's degree in education leadership from Aurora University and is currently working on his doctorate at Concordia University.

• A card designed submitted by Samantha Koerner, a fifth-grader at Sherwood Elementary School in Highland Park, was chosen as congressman Brad Schneider's 2019 holiday card cover.

Earlier this year, Schneider collected holiday card submissions from Tenth District elementary schools on the theme of "Family Holiday Traditions."

• Submit your 'Neighbors in the News' items to Norrine Twohey at

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