Illinois Student Assistance Commission receives IT award from industry group

For the second time in three years, the CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals’ (AITP) Chicago chapter recently recognized the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), designating it as the area’s most effective IT team.

For the second time in three years, the CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals’ (AITP) Chicago chapter recognized the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), designating it as the area’s most effective IT team.

“Something incredible happens when you have a highly motivated team,” stated AITP on its online awards event announcement. “You find the team working faster, innovating better, and creating quality output.”

Nominations flooded in to raise ISAC’s profile and reward its own teamwork at the AITP awards dinner at the Metropolitan Club of Chicago, where colleagues gathered to collaborate and celebrate.

CompTIA AITP Chicago solicits official recommendations from industry peers annually, with an appointed panel of executives choosing three top teams for awards. Each IT team is evaluated according to innovation and collaboration, organizational change management, business value implementation and community service.

Operating for more than 60 years, ISAC provides college-planning resources for students, parents and academic professionals throughout Illinois. It became the first state agency to win the Most Effective IT Team award in 2015, marking 2018 as its second time winning the award.

“It is a testament to their leadership, innovation and commitment to service that ISAC has received this award for a second time in the last three years — competing with some of the most productive, well-resourced and effective private and non-profit IT teams in the Chicagoland area,” said Laszlo Gonc, CompTIA AITP Chicago executive vice president, said in the announcement.

ISAC’s achievement was to pioneer a mobile application for the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), which is poised to empower substantially increased web interactions in the next year and a half. DoIT stakeholders expressed satisfaction with CompTIA AITP Chicago’s acknowledgment of ISAC’s value to the system.

“We are pleased to see the ISAC IT team receiving well-deserved recognition,” said Kirk Lonbom, acting secretary for DoIT. “ISAC’s team has been instrumental in helping to advance our Mobile FIRST strategy, and the team’s effectiveness in collaborating with other state agencies, its deep experience and expertise, and its ability to innovate has already helped several agencies improve their effectiveness and service to Illinois citizens.”

ISAC is developing an additional mobile application — this one focused on college and career searching— undertaking this new endeavor in partnership with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board and Illinois State University.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our CIO, Ramnath Cidambi, and the entire team,” ISAC’s Executive Director Eric Zarnikow said in the announcement. “Whether they are providing innovative technology that helps us better administer our programs or assisting other state agencies with their technology needs, we are pleased to be recognized as a leader in the field.”

Following ISAC’s first-place award, Nuveen Investments and Zurich Insurance received the second- and third-place designations respectively.

ISAC serves a population of college-related professionals including counselors, financial aid experts and lenders. It was implemented by state lawmakers in 1957 to equalize access to postsecondary education for all students regardless of financial means, according to the commission's website.

“The mission of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is to help make college accessible and affordable for students throughout Illinois,” according to an ISAC press release. “ISAC provides comprehensive, objective, and timely information on education and financial aid for students and their families—giving them access to the tools they need to make the educational choices that are right for them. Then, through the state scholarship and grant programs ISAC administers, ISAC can help students make those choices a reality.”

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