Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor given by NUPT and is bestowed to an alumnus/alumna whose achievements exemplify the ideals and are aligned with the strategic direction of Northwestern University through his or her life, work, and service. This award recognizes superior professional distinction and/or exemplary volunteer service to society, along with an outstanding record of service and support to the University.

2015 - Mark Kaufman, MS, PT, ATC, Class of 1989


Mark Kaufman is the founder as well as the President/CEO of Athletico Physical Therapy which offers outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation in eleven states and over 450 locations.  He attended the University of Iowa, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training and Physical Education in 1986. In 1988, Kaufman obtained an M.S. in Exercise and Sports Sciences from the University of Arizona, and in 1989 he earned his B.S. in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University.

In 1991, Kaufman opened his first rehabilitation center on Clark Street in the Gold Coast Area of downtown Chicago.  Athletico’s reputation as a top-quality provider of outpatient physical therapy enabled them to expand their services in over 450 locations throughout eleven states.  The growth of Athletico’s outreach programs has mirrored the advancement of their patient care. Athletico is proud to be the official physical therapy and athletic training partner to organizations at all levels – from professional sports teams, to colleges and high schools, to elite endurance events, performing arts groups, and gymnastics programs.  Support to these organizations may include on-site consultation and injury evaluation, physical therapy, athletic training, massage therapy, or educational lectures. Notable partnerships include:

Over the past 26 years, Kaufman has carefully monitored the growth of his company. Athletico is proud to provide the following specialty services to the communities we serve with Physical Therapy:   hand therapy, women’s health, spine school, vestibular/concussion, pediatrics, video throwing and running analysis, running and endurance programs, and personal fitness and golf programs. Athletico remains very much a close-knit, caring place to work, where a strong work ethic, commitment to continuing education, and dedication to superior customer service and community service are highly valued. 

Mark and his wife Mary Ann, have three daughters.  Mark completed his 4th and final year as board chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago in 2013, and is in his 12th year as a board member.  He is also on the Governing Council for Advocate Health System at Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of the Arthritis & Orthopedics Leadership Committee at Rush University Medical Center, Executive Council member of the Chicago Sports Commission, member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and a founding member of the board of directors for Operation Walk Chicago.


2016 - Sally Edelsberg, PT, MS, FAPTA, Director 1972-99

Sally Edelsberg

Sally Edelsberg (AKA Sally Pierson) served as Director of Programs in Physical Therapy from 1972-99.  Sally graduated from University of Wisconsin with a BS in Physical Therapy in 1963. She came to NU in the fall of 1970 to attend graduate school and serve as a part-time faculty member.  In 1971, Sally accepted a full-time faculty position and in 1972, received a MS degree from Northwestern and became the Director of the program. The support of faculty and family enabled her to maintain her responsibilities at NUPT and home while serving the profession through the Illinois Physical Therapy Association (IPTA), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Boards.

During her career, Sally was responsible for expanding class size from 28 to 80, changing the credential awarded from the certificate to a BS, then MPT, and then leading to the current DPT. Sally was instrumental in expanding the NUPT physical facilities from the Ward building (1927-1972) to Wieboldt Hall (1972-1974) to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) (1974-1994) and finally to the current space at 645 N. Michigan in 1994. Sally laid the groundwork for the current successful research program in the early 1980s by allocating space and hiring well-qualified and determined faculty dedicated to advancing the science of physical therapist and rehabilitation practice through research. She also developed the post-professional graduate MS program and was responsible for hiring and developing many of the outstanding and dedicated faculty who devoted themselves to educating physical therapists and advancing the profession.

She stepped down as Director in fall of 1999 and, after a 6 month leave of absence, returned to NUPT on faculty and as Director of Development until August of 2003. 

Since retirement, Sally has devoted her time to family (including 4 grandchildren), travel, volunteer and Board activities with Lincoln Park Village, and serving as a source of support and help for friends in need. She continues to stay connected to NUPT through the NUPT Alumni Association, contact with colleagues and former students, and following the continuing growth and development of NUPTHMS.