Harper College

2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards


Jim Idstein photo

2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Honoree
Jim Idstein, CPA, MBA

In 2021, Jim Idstein of Elk Grove Village co-chaired the Party for a Cure for Childhood Leukemia Warrior Foundation charity event. Despite dozens of COVID-related no-shows and a 110-degree heat index, the event still drew 325 people and raised $42,000. It was his seventh independent fundraiser in this format.
The success of the event is no wonder, given Idstein’s commitment to fundraising over the last 13 years. In total, he has helped raise over $3 million for organizations including the American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, various cancer groups and Habitat for Humanity.

Idstein’s record of serving his community both professionally and personally is impressive. He’s been an active member of the Schaumburg Business Association for over two decades, earning both the organization’s Ambassador of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, and has served on the village of Schaumburg’s Business Development Commission and Northwest Suburban Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants board of directors. He was also named the Daily Herald Business Ledger CFO of the year in 2012.

His long journey began at Harper, the best place for him to start and figure out what career path to take. He recalls how a Harper counselor had him take an aptitude test. “It showed I was strong in farming and accounting,” he says. “I didn’t want to be a farmer.”

Idstein took an accounting class, which he loved, and graduated from Harper in 1973. He then earned his accounting degree from Northern Illinois University and MBA from DePaul University.

Idstein went on to work at Kayhan International Limited, a furniture dealership that supplied companies like Motorola, and served as its chief financial officer for 22 years. In 2019, he decided to start his own consulting business for small firms; today, he runs James Idstein Consulting LLC. By working for himself, Idstein can focus on his fundraising committees and stay active in the community. There are so many groups that need help, and the fulfillment he feels from fundraising can’t be beat.

“Every time I do (a fundraiser), a month before, I’m saying, ‘This is my last one,’” he says. “Then a month or two afterwards, I’m so proud of what we accomplished, I am ready to go again.”

He says it all started with Harper – with the excellent advice he received from the counselor and the discipline he learned being a student athlete on the track team.

“At Harper, you had to make your own structure,” he says.

Last Updated: 12/14/23