It is always a shared accomplishment when a graduate of then-Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations program becomes a leader in their field. A 1990 graduate,Craig LaTorre, is currently working at his second Fortune 500 Company as the head of Human Resources. Alongside his leadership roles in business, he and his wife also began a nonprofit in 2011, Kirabo Seeds. Their fifth child was adopted from Uganda. The baby home called her Kirabo, which means gift, so they shortened her name to “Kira” but kept the name for their organization. Kirabo Seeds has been raising orphaned children in Uganda since 2011 in a small family home environment outside of Kampala.
Craig’s father, L. Donald LaTorre, aka "Don" also spent his career as a business leader and retired from Engelhard as their President. In his retirement Don was involved in many projects however, the depth of his commitment to higher education was not known by the family until after his death in 2018. After hearing testimony from students who benefitted from Don's generosity, Craig was inspired and motivated to give back to the institution that had the biggest impact on his career- The Institute of Labor Relations. Craig originally came to the University of Illinois on a PhD track with a full scholarship, but he switched to ILIR after realizing he wanted to enter the more practical field of Human Resources. Both departments agreed to let Craig retain his scholarship as he made the change.
His fondest memories of ILIR are the relationships he had with his cohort as well as the opportunities he received, such as an internship with Pepsi Cola. ILIR and Pepsi Cola had a large impact on Craig’s early career as he learned to think through how to “integrate all the different aspects that touch an employee and their experience with a company.” Today Craig is the Chief Human Resource Officer for Martin Marietta, based in North Carolina.
Craig has established a $250,000.00 endowment in honor of his late father’s commitment to first generation college ate students. The “L. Donald LaTorre Scholarship” gives $10,000 a year to an incoming LER student in high academic standing. Craig hopes the scholarship “will help make a positive difference in the next generation of not just HR professionals, but more importantly, broad future leaders in our country.”
If alumni from LER/ILIR are interested in supporting the school, Craig encourages you to join him, even if you are unable to give financially at the moment. There are many ways to give back through other skills and resources such as recruiting at LER, advocating for LER with your employer or by simply connecting, networking, and supporting current LER students.
The School is extremely thankful for Craig LaTorre, for his family, for their support, and for providing a positive impact on our students and their academic studies. We are very appreciative of the LaTorre family’s charitable works and hope it inspires you to share with the next generation.