Saturday, September 28
A Million Dreams…

Maroon & Gold is Concordia University Chicago’s signature fundraising event that brings the entire community together to celebrate and support scholars. We are excited to announce Maroon & Gold will be held at a new location this year - Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, IL. Join alumni, faculty, staff and friends for a notable evening to recognize outstanding individuals who have brought honor to Concordia-Chicago while influencing future leaders.

2024 Distinguished Awardees

bratton-kara.jpgDr. Kara Bratton PhD ’20 is the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Award for her commitment and leadership within Lutheran education. Dr. Bratton currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Concordia University Irvine in the EdD Leadership Program. She began this position in July of 2023 after serving as an adjunct in the program since 2021. As part of the faculty, her responsibilities include teaching mixed methods research, social-emotional learning, and leadership classes, along with serving as a dissertation chair for numerous students and being the School of Education faculty representative of the University’s IRB.

Previously, Kara was the special education director for Lutheran Special Education Ministries (LSEM) for 11 years and spent 11 years teaching K-8 special education in Lutheran Schools in Fort Wayne, IN. Kara also serves on the board of directors for the Indiana Non-public Education Association and as an Educator in Residence for the Progress Center. Along with Dr. Karge from CUI and Dr. Jeremiah Stokes, Kara is co-author of Resilient minds: Christ-centered mental health curriculum from Concordia Publishing House, which has been published for middle school and is in press for high school students.

Kara has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Valparaiso University, graduate degrees in Special Education from Indiana Wesleyan University and Gifted and Talented Education from Ball State University, and a Master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan in Curriculum and Instruction. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education Leadership from Concordia University Chicago in 2020.

jurica-katrina.jpgKatrina (Fricke) Jurica BME ‘14 is currently a Graduate Student at Concordia University Chicago and is in the process of completing her Masters in Music. She graduated with her Bachelor's in Music Education in 2014 from CUC. Since then, she has worked to build the music program at multiple Lutheran schools in the Chicago area. She currently serves as the Music Teacher and Chapel Coordinator at St. John's Lutheran School in Chicago where she teaches General Music, Choir, Handbells, and a middle school drama group and directs the Christmas program and the Spring Musical. Additionally, Katrina runs a Music Studio from St. John's and teaches lessons in piano, guitar, ukulele, and voice. Her music students often have the chance to share their musical talents during the Pre-Service and Offering time for Chapel.

Katrina has had many opportunities to share the joy of music education beyond St. John's. She has taught the Content and Methods for Elementary Music course at Concordia for the last two springs. She also has presented a workshop on how to use folk dancing to build community at the CLEF Networking Conference and at the latest LEA conference.

Katrina is married to John Michael Jurica, an organist and employee of the pipe organ building and repair company Ericksen, Christian & Assoc.

fischer-richard.jpgConcordia-Chicago’s very own Dr. Richard Fischer is the recipient of this year’s Spiritus Christi Award, an honor presented to an individual whose character, integrity, and actions have directly and profoundly impacted the church at-large.

Dr. Fischer is the Fred and Jane Wittlinger Endowed Chair for Music Performance, and is in his 50th year as director of bands at Concordia University Chicago. Dr. Fischer conducts the Wind Symphony and University Band, and also teaches basic and advanced-level conducting courses. He holds the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from DePaul University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University where he studied under Eugene Corporon.

Dr. Fischer and the Wind Symphony have performed concerts in almost every state in the United States and in Canada, Europe, Asia and South Africa. The Wind Symphony has had the honor of performing at many music festivals and conferences including the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), the Illinois Music Educators Conference (ILMEA), and numerous times at convocations of the Lutheran Education Association (LEA). Having performed to multiple standing ovations at Carnegie Hall in 2014, the Wind Symphony was honored to again be invited to be the showcase ensemble for the New York City Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall in March 2019. Under Dr. Fischer’s direction, the Wind Symphony has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous wind band compositions, most notably the U.S. premiere of Johan de Meij’s The Lord of the Rings in the fall of 1989. They have recorded 16 compact discs (over 150 works) of sacred wind music. The Wind Symphony’s most recent recording, Let My Love Be Heard, features both sacred and secular music.

Dr. Fischer is in frequent demand as a presenter, guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Japan and Australia. In 1994, he was named to the “A Team” of University Professors by the Chicago Tribune. Dr. Fischer has been honored to present and guest conduct at local universities in Nagoya, Japan every December for the past four years. In May 2018, Dr. Fischer gave the keynote address at the national convention of the Association for Concert Bands held in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Fischer’s professional affiliations include the College Band Director National Association, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, National Association for Music Educators, Illinois Music Educators Association, and the National Band Association.

farney-kirk.jpgKirk Farney is a historical scholar, teacher, and an academic, corporate, and philanthropic leader.

As Vice President for Advancement, Vocation, and Alumni Engagement, Dr. Farney leads Wheaton College’s Alumni and Parent Engagement, Development, Gift Planning Services, Marketing Communications, Media Relations, Advancement Services, and Center for Vocation & Career departments, and serves as a member of the College’s Senior Administrative Cabinet.  He also holds faculty rank in the History Department. 

Prior to his Wheaton duties, Dr. Kirk Farney worked in international banking for 26 years, with roles at J. P. Morgan Securities and its merged firms--First Chicago, First Chicago NBD, and Bank One.  He most recently served as Managing Director and Global Head of Asset-Backed Finance, where he led 125 professionals in Chicago, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney. This industry-leading group provided structured finance solutions around the world to a broad range of companies, in numerous industries, funding multiple asset types. 

Dr. Farney has served in board positions at Concordia University Chicago (Vice Chair; Finance Chair), Wheaton College Alumni Association, Emmanuel International Ministries, Lutheran Life Communities, We Raise Foundation (formerly Wheat Ridge Ministries), the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), the LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Funding the Mission, and St. John’s Lutheran Church of LaGrange, IL.  He recently concluded twelve years of service on the board of Thrivent Financial, a faith-based Fortune 500 company where he had been Vice Chair, overseeing corporate strategy. Kirk is currently a board member of the Wheaton College Trust Company and Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Dr. Farney earned a B. S. in Finance and Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.B.A. in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and an M.A. in Theological Studies from Wheaton College. He also holds an M.A. in History and Ph.D. in American Religious History from the University of Notre Dame.

He is author of Ministers of a New Medium: Broadcasting Theology in the Radio Ministries of Fulton J. Sheen and Walter A. Maier (IVP Academic, 2022), which Concordia Historical Institute chose as Best Major Publication of 2022. He also contributed to C. S. Lewis in America: Readings and Reception, 1935-1947 (IVP Academic, 2023), by Mark A. Noll.

Kirk and his wife, Cheryl, live in Hinsdale, IL. They are the parents of Erin Farney Forsyth and Mitch Farney (CUC ’16).

Gala Event - Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca, IL

Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception with a variety of raffles and entertainment, plus...

  • Dinner
  • Award Ceremony
  • Dessert and Coffee
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