The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually by each of RIT’s nine colleges and the School of Individualized Study to an alumnus/a who has performed at the highest levels of his or her chosen profession or who has contributed significantly to the advancement and leadership of noteworthy civic, philanthropic or service organizations. It is the highest award an RIT college can bestow upon its alumni.
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Ralph C. Derrickson ’78, ’81
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
President and CEO, Carena, Inc.
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences Ralph C. Derrickson ’78, ’81
President and CEO, Carena, Inc
Following his experience as a parent of two daughters born prematurely, Ralph was determined to apply his background in technology and start-up innovation to improve patient and provider experiences. Since joining Carena as President and CEO in 2006, Ralph has overseen the company’s transformation from a house call company to a virtual healthcare solutions provider with care-quality the core of its vision.
Prior to Carena, Ralph served as Managing Director of Venture Investments at Vulcan Capital, where he was responsible for the firm’s technology and biotechnology investments. He co-founded Watershed Capital, an early stage technology venture fund. Ralph has served on the boards of numerous technology start-ups and has held leadership positions at Starwave Corporation, NeXT Computer, Inc., and Sun Microsystems.
Ralph is an active member of the Seattle entrepreneur community. He serves on the board of directors of Life Science Washington, is a lecturer at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, and is Chairman of the Executive Advisory Board for the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington. He also serves on the board of directors for Perficient (NASDAQ: PRFT), a St. Louis-based technology solutions provider, and on the board of trustees at Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island.
College of Applied Science and Technology Thomas Trytek, P.E. ’91
Principal and Founding Partner, TDK Engineering Associates, P.C.
Principal and Founding Partner, Aquarii, Inc.
Tom Trytek is a founding principal of TDK Engineering and currently holds the position of Vice President and Secretary. In addition to overseeing daily company operations, he is actively involved with client interactions and managing various projects.
Tom has over 26 years of experience and is capable of taking a project from initial concept through completion. He is a detail oriented professional and has successfully completed numerous challenging projects. Some notable structural and mechanical engineering design projects that Tom was the engineer-of-record include the following:
Tower One World Trade Center (New York, New York): Rotating beacon at top of the building’s spire.
Overture Center for the Arts (Madison, Wisconsin): Single 200 ton moveable organ enclosure. At the time of completion in 2003, this was noted as the world’s largest moveable enclosure.
JAZZ at Lincoln Center - Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle (New York, New York): Dual 63 ton trussed overhead retractable ceiling and recessed light structures.
Adrienne Arsht Center, formerly Carnival Center (Miami, Florida): Triple overhead canopy structures, totaling 45 tons, for stage lighting and speakers; numerous theatrical rigging assemblies; numerous concrete acoustic wall panels estimated at 7 tons each.
Other areas of expertise, include conducting forensic evaluations related to structural, marine, building systems, foundations, recreation facilities, site drainage/potable water and wastewater treatment and handling system failures for various public and nationally recognized insurance and claim assessment agencies.
Additionally, Tom is also a founding partner of Aquarii, Inc. and currently holds the position of Vice President. Aquarii is an LED lighting company that designs, develops, manufactures and distributes LED lights throughout the United States and Canada.
College of Health Sciences and Technology Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton ’71
Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, a world-renowned expert and national leader in food and nutrition, is Distinguished Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University, where she has been on the faculty since 1979. Her research expertise is cardiovascular nutrition. She conducts controlled clinical nutrition studies designed to evaluate the role of diet on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). These studies have evaluated established and emerging CVD risk factors including lipids, lipoproteins, blood pressure, inflammatory markers, measures of oxidative stress and adhesion molecules. She and her colleagues have studied many different populations, including healthy participants, overweight and obese individuals, as well as persons at risk for CVD. Her research integrates clinical and basic research to evaluate underlying mechanisms that account for the diet-induced clinical responses, including the molecular mechanisms of action. Penny embraces interdisciplinary research that integrates the expertise of many colleagues.
Penny has served on many national committees that have established dietary guidelines and recommendations. She served on the 2nd Adult Treatment Panel of the National Cholesterol Education Program, the Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients Committee of the National Academies, the Health and Human Services/United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2005, and the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association that published diet and lifestyle recommendations for the prevention and treatment of CVD. She is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, the National Lipid Association, and the American Society for Nutrition.
She served as president of the National Lipid Association and chair of the Medical Nutrition Council of the American Society for Nutrition. Currently she serves as chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Penny has published over 300 scientific papers and 30 book chapters and has co-authored four books. Her research program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the private sector.
College of Imaging Arts and Sciences Gerald J. Hace ’74
President, Gooding Company, Inc.
Gerald J. Hace (Jerry) was born and raised in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He began his entrepreneurial endeavors at a young age where he held a paperboy position. The paper route provided a foundation for growing a neighborhood business in lawn cutting, snow blowing, and doing general household chores. He also pursued his love for sports focusing on ice hockey in particular.
While at RIT Jerry played four years of hockey for the Tigers, became a Resident Advisor (RA), and joined the Theta Xi fraternity, living college life to its fullest. He also met his future wife, Francie.
In 1990, Jerry purchased the now 141-year-old Gooding Co. Inc., located in Lockport, N.Y., just north of Buffalo, from the Gooding Family. At the time the company primarily printed business forms. Jerry knew the company had to change. He researched and determined that they could produce lightweight pharmaceutical inserts and instruction sheets inserted into pharmaceutical cartons. With investments into specialty folding equipment, Gooding Company began producing pharmaceutical outserts that are glued to bottles of medications. In 1999, the company’s growth resulted in a new facility, expanding to 26,500 square feet.
Under Jerry’s leadership, Gooding Company has more than tripled in size and continues to grow steadily, meeting and exceeding the most stringent standards in manufacturing and printing.
College of Liberal Arts Michael Ciminelli ’78
Chief of Police, Rochester Police Department
Chief Michael Ciminelli has been Chief of the Rochester Police Department (RPD) since 2014. Previous to his appointment as Chief, he served as Interim Chief and as Deputy Chief of Police for the RPD Administration Bureau, responsible for administrative and support functions, including budget development and management, human resources, policy, training, vehicle fleet management, property and evidence, research and evaluation, labor relations and grant management. His former RPD assignments include Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Division, Commander of Patrol Division West, Sergeant, Homicide Investigator, and Patrol Officer.
Chief Ciminelli served as Chief of Police of the Elmira New York Police Department from 1996 to 2002. He was also an Assistant District Attorney for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office from 1988 to 1991. His other professional experience includes serving as a Police Management Consultant and as an onsite Assessor for the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, and the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
Chief Ciminelli has published articles in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, The Police Chief and Law and Order.
Chief Ciminelli has extensive training and instruction experience, both professional and academic. He has instructed law enforcement and public safety courses in the State of New York, the State of New Mexico, and at the federal level. He has served as Adjunct Faculty at George Mason University and Elmira College, teaching upper level courses in Police Administration and law.
As an attorney admitted to practice law in New York State and the District of Columbia, Chief Ciminelli also served as Deputy Chief Counsel for Operational Law for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. During his time at the DEA, Chief Ciminelli also was Chief of the Domestic Criminal Law Section, and a Staff Attorney in the International Law Section.
Chief Ciminelli holds a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School and is a native of Rochester, growing up on the city’s west side in the 19th Ward.
College of Science Venkat “Puru” Purushotham ’81, MS ’82
President and Owner, Jyoshan, Inc.
Venkat “Puru” Purushotham is an international entrepreneur promoting positive change through innovation and creativity. His professional career has been defined by commercializing technological breakthroughs that have a positive impact on society. Puru believes in accelerating progress through strategic partnerships and active collaboration among people and businesses with shared vision, spanning geographic and cultural boundaries.
Puru has over three decades of professional experience in international entrepreneurship, including executive leadership positions at a Fortune 500 Company. He has led multiple business initiatives, creating international strategic alliances and partnerships for commercialization of several innovative technologies, resulting in revenue of several billion dollars.
In 1998, Puru founded NexPress Solutions, a joint venture between Eastman Kodak Company and Heidelberg Druckmaschinen, a German-based company. Puru established the business from the ground up, with operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. He grew revenue from zero to over $300 million within six years and employed over 1,500 employees. He then led the effort to integrate NexPress business back into Kodak in 2006, becoming part of a new commercial business unit with revenues exceeding $2.5 billion.
Since 1998, Puru has been supporting young entrepreneurs in the United States, Singapore, and India to transform their innovation into new businesses. As an angel investor, coach, and mentor, he enables start-ups to build fundable business plans and pave the way for successful commercialization of new products and services.
Kate Gleason College of Engineering Paul Kayser ’93
President and CEO, Pretium Packaging
Paul Kayser has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Pretium Packaging, LLC, a leading supplier of custom rigid plastic packaging solutions, since February 2016.
Paul previously served as Group President of Nypro Packaging, a business he founded within Nypro Inc. in 2005. Since its founding, Nypro Packaging has become a global provider of manufactured precision plastic products. In his role as Group President, Paul managed all aspects of the business and oversaw nine locations across the U.S., Mexico and Europe. Prior to joining Nypro Inc. in 2002, Paul spent several years the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry for Celestica and Sanmina Corp in engineering and program management positions.
Paul met his wife of 23 years, Shelly Coddington-Kayser ’91, at RIT and they have two children: Sarah, 16 and Jacob, 14. Paul is the son of Robert and Margaret Kayser. Robert served as Associate Professor at the RIT College of Photographic and Imaging Arts from 1972 to his retirement in 1996 as Professor Emeritus.
National Technical Institute for the Deaf Barbara Ray Holcomb ’74, MS ’84
Retired Associate Professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf Samuel Holcomb ’77
Retired Senior Lecturer, National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Together, Barbara Ray and Sam Holcomb have dedicated 75 years of service to RIT.
After receiving her degree, Barbara Ray began a 39-year career at RIT, retiring in 2013 as an associate professor in NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education department. Sam spent 36 years as an instructor at RIT, beginning in 1977 and retiring with his wife, also in 2013.
During their time at RIT, the couple contributed to the books ASL at Work: A Guide to Working with Deaf Co-workers, and Basic Sign Communication: A Guide for Teaching Sign Language. Sam also contributed to the book: Deaf Culture Our Way: Anecdotes from the Deaf Community, a book that illustrates deaf culture.
While teaching at RIT Barbara Ray contributed to several scholarly articles and sat on several committees. They include: the 17th Anniversary Planning Committee, the NTID Reunion Planning Committee, and the RIT American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Community Center Advisory Committee.
Sam also instructed RIT presidents Al Simone and Bill Destler in American Sign Language upon their arrival to RIT.
Upon retirement, the couple became active in efforts to preserve NTID’s historical materials, including in RIT’s archives and the forthcoming NTID Alumni Museum. Both served on the NTID History Committee and continue to stay engaged with the university after their retirements and have worked to deepen the historical records of NTID.
Saunders College of Business Gerald McCue MBA ’80
Senior Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Jerry began his career in 1979 as a financial analyst for UNISYS. He eventually became the plant controller for one of the company's manufacturing plants in Rochester, N.Y. In 1992, he joined Merrill Lynch. He currently manages portfolios for high-net-worth individuals throughout the United States. Jerry became a Senior Vice President of the Firm in 2011. Jerry is a qualified portfolio manager who, in addition to providing traditional advice and guidance, can help clients pursue their objectives by building and managing his own personalized or defined strategies, which may incorporate individual stocks and bonds, Merrill Lynch model portfolios, and third-party investment strategies. When servicing clients through the firm’s Investment Advisory Program, a Portfolio Manager may manage his strategies on a discretionary basis.
In 1998, Jerry founded the McCue Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing four-year tuition scholarships to qualified students at the State University of New York. He is a member of the board of directors of the Seneca Waterways Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
School of Individualized Study Barbara-Ann Mattle ’76, ’80
CEO, Child Care Council, Inc.
Barbara-Ann Mattle currently serves as CEO of Child Care Council, Inc., a leading provider of child care resources and referral services. She joined the organization in 1983, and currently manages a $5.5 million budget and a staff of 56.
Under Barbara-Ann’s leadership, Child Care Council has expanded from two employees into a multi-million dollar organization with offices in Monroe, Wayne, and Livingston Counties. She gives numerous presentations on child care, development and referral issues, teacher education, government regulations, accreditations, and other topics relating to children and families. Barbara-Ann also teaches many classes in child care careers, operations, and education at community schools. She has worked on several child care center design projects, as well.
Prior to joining Child Care Council, Barbara-Ann worked full-time at the Girl Scouts of Western New York. During this time she was also enrolled at RIT, completing her education at night. She is incredibly grateful for RIT and the flexibility the School of Individualized Study allows, crediting the university for much of her early success.