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Meet the Professors

Department Chair

Photo of Lynn Harper

Lynn Harper
Instructor, Communication

Professor Lynn Harper started as a full-time instructor at CLC in 2007, teaching Public speaking, honors public speaking, dynamics of small group communication and interviewing. Having a competitive background in Public Speaking and Oral Interpretation, naturally she specializes in both. She has conducted multiple workshops on and off campus focusing in areas of leadership skills, how to effectively communicate with your professor and how to improve public speaking skills.

Her greatest passion is Forensics, better known as the Speech and Debate team. Professor Harper began as the assistant director in 2007, then became the director in 2010. In 2016 she stepped down to pursue other avenues in higher education. During her tenure as director of forensics, she was honored with the National Phi Rho Pi Collie-Taylor award for Coach of the year in 2012 and 2013.

Professor Harper attended a community college receiving her A.A.S. before acquiring both her B.A. & M.A. in Communication Studies from Eastern Illinois University. Her B.A. focuses on Corporate Communication while her M.A. focuses on Community College Pedagogy. Prior to teaching at CLC, she taught at Eastern Illinois University and Danville Area Community College.

“It is important on the first day of class to establish an atmosphere that will allow students to feel safe and comfortable. I want them to share their ideas, opinions and beliefs without being judged. We share messages daily. What will you do with your messages? Create, share and change the world.”

Photo of Rick Soller

Rick Soller
Instructor, Communication

Professor Rick Soller serves as Chair of the Communication Department and recently completed one of several terms as past President of the Faculty Union. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from The Ohio State University, and a Master’s degree in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University. He took four years of doctoral coursework in Communication at The Ohio State University and is currently finishing a doctoral program in Education at Northern Illinois University. Previously Mr. Soller taught at Northern Illinois University as a graduate assistant and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh as a full-time instructor. He has also taught at Columbus State Community College as an adjunct faculty member and at The Ohio State University as a graduate student.

Professor Soller gained extensive debate experience over the years. He successfully debated in high school, competed on the intercollegiate team at The Ohio State University, coached debate as a Graduate Assistant at Northern Illinois University, coached debate as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and directed the CLC program for one year. He has also participated in debates with international teams including a team from Russia and a team from New Zealand.

Professor Soller has taught a variety of courses since his hire at CLC. These include Interpersonal Communication, Fundamentals of Communication, Small Group Communication, Interviewing Practices, and Mass Media Communication. He recently added an Argumentation and Debate course to the curriculum that he looks forward to teaching. Currently, he primarily teaches Interviewing Practices, covering the latest interviewing technology such as Survey Monkey, internet job sites, and chatbots, plus he works to make the course affordable by making all the course material available on Blackboard so students do not have to purchase a textbook.

Faculty/Academic Advisors

Photo of Joel Chmara

Joel Chmara
Instructor, Communication

Joel Chmara started teaching at the College of Lake County in 2004. He teaches Public Speaking, Small Group Communication and he developed an Oral Interpretation performance art course that runs every spring semester. Joel was the head coach of the Speech Team for 8 years and now serves as the assistant coach. He is also a performance poet who has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe. Joel was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry, been in the National Poetry Slam finals, co-wrote and co-starred in a Big 10 Basketball commercial, and was once paid not to perform for Michelle Obama. He is a member of Poetry Slam creator Marc Smith’s “Speak’Easy” ensemble, which featured at festivals in Chicago, Germany, Switzerland, and France. Joel is an alumni of Northern Arizona University and Illinois State University.

Photo of Fred Gifford

Fred Gifford
Instructor, Communication

It all began when I fell off a roof. After graduating from Franklin High School in Milwaukee I obtained a certificate in carpentry from Milwaukee Area Technical College, after which I immediately became a carpenter's apprentice. Two months into the job, I was hammering nails into the roof of a house and I day-dreamed myself backwards off that roof and landed nine feet below on the grass. That crash landing inspired to work with my mind rather than my hands, thus initiated my trip through higher education. The journey led me to the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree then master’s degree in Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and, ultimately, to a professorship at the College of Lake County.

While my informal, then formal, education was of great value, that which I've learned from my 1000s of students during my 25 years teaching at CLC has been priceless. I believe each individual in a classroom serves as a teacher and a student; every person, whether in college or not, provides an opportunity for others to learn. Although I teach a variety of communication courses at CLC, I consider myself an Intercultural Communication specialist, but I take pride in knowing that each of our Communication Department’s courses have the potential to be a life changing experience for you.

When I received the gift of employment at CLC, I had no idea how high the incredible faculty, staff, and students would elevate me off that unforgiving ground I fell to decades ago. I hope to see you elevate yourself in one of our courses soon.

Photo of Kari Proft

Kari Proft
Instructor, Communication

Professor Kari Proft has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a Master’s degree in Communication from Illinois State University. Her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning will be completed in 2018. Prior to her tenure at CLC, Kari worked in the non-profit sector in the Chicagoland area and ran a small web based company that developed public education web sites. In 1999, she began teaching at night for CLC as a “hobby” to get involved in community education. In fall 2008 her “hobby” became a career committed to teaching and learning as a full time tenured faculty member for CLC. She has a true passion for student success in helping them build the academic skills they need, whether the next step is a career choice or to transfer to a four year school.

Having her office at the CLC Southlake Campus in Vernon Hills, provides Professor Proft with the opportunity to teach a variety of communication courses: Public Speaking, Intercultural Communication, Interviewing Practices, and Communication Skills. In addition to teaching, Kari serves on the CLC Foundation Board and serves on various committees with the purpose to enhance the teaching and learning environment. By living in the community near the Southlake Campus, Kari enjoys the opportunities she has to promote the services and quality of education provided by CLC. When she is not at CLC, students will see her at music festivals, high school sporting events, and the local Starbuck’s.

Photo of Cindu Thomas-George

Cindu Thomas-George
Instructor, Communication

Cindu is a tenured professor of Communication Studies specializing in Public Speaking, Intercultural Communication, and Online Education. Cindu was nationally recognized for her skill, expertise, and commitment to Education in 2017 when she was awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award.

In addition to her faculty role at CLC, Cindu is committed and invested in the college’s diversity initiatives. She served as the first faculty chair of CLC’s current diversity commission from 2011-2014 and is also the co-founder and Lead Trainer for the Diversity and Equity Infusion Project (DEIP), an institutionalized training program that is committed to preparing faculty and staff to work towards creating a college culture that promotes and values diversity, inclusion, and equity to better serve the increasingly diverse students, staff, and faculty at the CLC. Additionally, Cindu is the Founder and Principal Trainer of Shakti Diversity and Equity Training where she designs and facilitates professional development workshops that promote equity, cultural competence, and effective and strategic communication for organizations across a variety of industries.

Cindu began her career as an adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco. She holds an M.A. in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University where she learned the art of teaching, public speaking, and the importance and relevance that diversity and social justice education has in our world.