John O’Halloran: 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

John O’Halloran
Loyal Harper College Volunteer and ComEd Manager, Retired

John O’Halloran has always seen himself as man behind the scenes.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a lawyer. I’m like a reliable second baseman who gets a lot of singles,” he said.

John O'Halloran PhotoThis consistency is evident in his 24-year career at electric utility company ComEd, where he variably served as account manager, external affairs manager and open access implementation team member until 2014. “At one point I was the account manager for Harper College, so I got to know it a little differently,” he said.

That’s no easy feat, considering O’Halloran has two degrees from Harper College and is the middle of three generations to attend the school.

“I knew Harper College since I was in elementary school. My mother was there in the beginning, before the campus was there,” O’Halloran said. “It was a good, economical first two years, when you’re just feeling out what you want to do with the rest of your life.”

O’Halloran found his niche at Harper as the manager for the men’s basketball team under Roger Bechtold. “I wasn’t good enough to be on the team, but still wanted to be part of the action,” he said. “I love logistics, operations, statistics.”

After getting his associate’s degree from Harper in 1978, O’Halloran earned a bachelor’s in business and marketing from Western Michigan University, where a love for endurance running emerged. “I got into ultramarathons” – races longer than 26.2 miles.

O’Halloran was courted back to Harper in the late 1980s by the launch of its Cardiac Exercise Technology Program. “What a cool concept, to be able to help people,” he thought after reading about the curriculum in the Daily Herald. Program director Will Hoffman recognized O’Halloran’s flair for both business and fitness, and helped him secure a job with Cardio Fitness Center in Chicago, where for six years he personalized training plans for hundreds of clients and paced one to a sub-four-hour finish in the 1988 Chicago Marathon.

O’Halloran’s penchant for being a utility player saw him serving on several Harper College alumni and planning committees, and on a steering committee for the community nonprofit Golden Corridor Makerspace. He recently moved to San Diego with his wife and does not seem to be slowing down in retirement.

“I’ve gotten in with the San Diego Running Company,” he says. “[I hope to do] the same kind of operations: make things happen for the runners.”