February is the month of love, but here at LER, we call it “LERve”. Not only is LER a leader in educating future human resource professionals, we’ve also had our hand in starting several happy families. Did you know… there are 72 LER married couples?

Each year we share a few of these LERve stories with you. In 2022 we are happy to feature Chris and Penni Cannova, both AM 1991, and John Klein, MHRIR 16, and Nian Liu, MHRIR 15.

Chris and Penni Cannova

When did you meet?

We met in August of 1989 at ILIR, as it was known at the time (yep, that long ago!) at school-planned student gathering at what is now Joe’s Bar.  We became friends, and hung out much of the year together with a great group of friends.  We began toward the end of that school year, in the spring of 1990.

If you were dating while in Champaign-Urbana, what was your favorite date spot or first date location?

Our first date-date was Katsinas, a great Mediterranean spot, also now gone, which at the corner of Green and Neil Street. We then saw the movie, Roger & Me, at the Virginia Theater in Champaign.  Somewhat somber for a date, as it dealt with the impact of GM’s plant closures in Flint, MI (but in keeping with the Labor Relations theme!).

When and where were you married?

We were married in Grand Rapids, MI, Penni’s hometown, in November of 1991.

What are the Cannovas up to today?

We bought a house in Wheaton, IL, in April of 1992 and it’s still our home.  Chris works at Gateway Foundation in Chicago in HR, having spent most of his career with non-profit organizations.  Penni works at the Village of Glen Ellyn as Deputy Clerk.  We have three kids, two of whom are Illini graduates also, ACES and LAS- Psychology.  Our kids, Christina, Elena and Sam, are between 22-26 years old now. 

When was the last time you visited campus together?

We’ve had a blast on campus most recently visiting with Craig and Tonya LaTorre last December for Craig’s visit when he spoke to the graduating class.  We’ve also vastly enjoyed our time visiting our daughters, attending games, and throwing our first tailgate in Grange Grove.

Are there any other favorite memories or stories you’d like to share from your time together on campus?

We remember so much hanging downstairs at ‘the Institute’ and with friends in the common room, and in the (can you believe it) many hours in the computer lab where we could utilize a computer, store our research on a floppy drive, and go on the inter-web.  Lots of laughs with friends Alan Tecktiel, Pete Straka, Travis Hudgins, Julie Beth McFall (now Vipperman) and many others!  

John Klein and Nian Liu

When were you at the School of Labor and Employment Relations?


How did you meet or start dating?

Nian was super impressed with John’s in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of strategic business management, which was a key competitive advantage of his.  

If you were dating while in Champaign-Urbana, what was your favorite date night location?

Definitely Sakanaya Sushi! We love going out to eat and the food in Champaign-Urbana was surprisingly great for a small town!

When and where were you married?

We got married in late 2015 with events in China and Michigan

What are the Kleins up to today?

Nian is a Senior HRBP and John is a Senior Manager in Talent Acquisition, we both work in the tech industry. We have a mini-poodle named George Washington and a little terrier named Alexandrina Victoria. We split our time between homes in San Jose, California and Reno, Nevada. 

When was the last me you visited campus together?

John’s graduation! We want to visit again soon though!

Are there any other favorite memories or stories you’d like to share from your time together on campus?

Our experiences at LER completely changed the trajectory of our lives and served as the foundation for our very fortunate experiences after graduation. From the phenomenal professors to the amazing support from Becky and Nell, we are truly indebted to the School.