Distinguished Alumni to be honored at Commencement

Leah Murphy, Courier Staff

Saturday, May 12, at Western Illinois University’s Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises in Western Hall, the outstanding accomplishments of Western alumni Steven E. Nelson and Margaret W. Wong will be recognized in Western Hall. Nelson will be recognized at the 9 a.m. ceremony and Wong will be recognized at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

Nelson and Wong will both be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018. This award, given since 1973, recognizes alumni who have brought credit to WIU and themselves through exceptional professional accomplishments and meritorious service at the national, state and local level to ensure the continued excellence of Western.

Nelson, a 1977 health sciences graduate, is a semi-retired investor, founder/co-founder and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of several successful healthcare services and information technology companies. He has extensive experience in the healthcare industry, including entrepreneurial, development, consulting and executive management experience.

Nelson began his health care career in 1983 with Republic Service Bureau, Inc., a nationwide hospital auditing company. Under Nelson’s leadership, the company expanded into several other areas of health care cost containment before being sold to a Washington D.C. investment group. In 1990, he founded Medical Bill Review, Inc. and Preferred Payment System, Inc., and in 1999, Nelson founded Health Network Systems, LLC.

In addition to serving as chair and CEO of several companies, Nelson has served on the Board of Concentra Preferred Systems (now Viant, Inc.) and IntelliClaim, Inc. and cofounded and actively served on the Board of Directors of two additional healthcare services and information technology companies, ClariCon, LLC and CearHealth Strategies, LLC.

Nelson is also an active private investor in the biotechnology, consumer cloud, maritime defense and healthcare and wealth management industries for various early to mid-stage companies.

Nelson, and his wife, Debra, have contributed numerous gifts in support of Western and he is actively involved with his alma mater, the Leatherneck football and the Alumni Association.

Wong, a 1973 biological sciences graduate, is an attorney and the founder of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC in Cleveland. Wong was born in Hong Kong and moved to the United States in 1969 with her sister Cecilia, a 1973 Western graduate. Wong received a law degree in 1976 from the University of Buffalo Law School. She began her law career in 1977 as chief legal counsel for the City of Buffalo, NY.

Wong founded her own firm in 1978 with one desk, specializing in immigration law. Today, her practice includes 15 attorneys and 40 staff members with offices in seven major U.S. cities. Wong has helped thousands of people coming into the United States to become permanent residents, advance their education and pursue career opportunities. Wong has won numerous awards and recognition for her work, including the Social Diversity Award from Kent State, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in May 1998, a highly coveted award, U.S. News & Report’s “Best Lawyers in America,” and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Trailblazer Award. The Ohio Supreme Court has appointed Wong as a charter member of the Continuing Legal Education commission for Attorney. She is also the author of her own book, “The Immigrant’s Way.”

Wong has contributed numerous gifts in support of Western, including four awards to support the WIU RISE, Research Inspiring Student Excellence, Program in biology. She is also a member of the College of Arts and Science Advisory Board and received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. Wong was also the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Centennial Honors College Pre-Law Symposium. She is a member of the Cleveland State University Foundation Board, the Tri-C Foundation Board, the State of New York at Buffalo Foundation and the Law School Board.

Wong is an adjunct professor of immigration law at Case Western Reserve University Law School and serves as President of the Federal Bar Association Cleveland Chapter.