RIT honors Distinguished Alumni for 2009

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Photo by Ken Huth 88

RIT’s Distinguished Alumni honorees for 2009 are, from left (standing) Christopher Wagner ’86, ’94, Philip Gelsomino II ’85, ’86, Kevin Belfield ’81, Brian Cantwell ’99, Kenneth Weimar ’88, ’90, and (seated) Gary R. Gay ’73, Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar ’98 and Robert Schumann ’85.


Each year, RIT presents Distinguished Alumni Awards to graduates from each of the university’s eight colleges. The recipients have performed with distinction at the highest levels of their chosen professions or contributed significantly to the advancement and leadership of noteworthy civic, philanthropic, or service organizations over the course of many years.

A celebration for this year’s honorees took place April 3 at Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester.

The 2009 honorees are:

Kevin Belfield ’81 (College of Science). Belfield received a B.S. in chemistry from RIT and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Syracuse University in 1988. After conducting research in polymer stabilization and degradation at Ciba-Geigy, he worked in the area of synthesis and characterization of functionalized polymers at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry at SU.

He pursued postdoctoral research at Harvard University and joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Detroit Mercy in 1992. He moved to the University of Central Florida’s Department of Chemistry in 1998 to establish a program in functional polymer chemistry and organic photonic materials. Belfield was appointed chair of the Chemistry Department in November 2004, and holds joint appointments in the College of Optics and Photonics, the Biomolecular Science Center, and the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering.

Brian Cantwell ’99 (College of Imaging Arts and Sciences). After graduating from RIT with a B.F.A. in film and animation, Cantwell moved to a California to pursue a career in digital visual effects and animation. He is now a digital production supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic. His credits include A.I., The Minority Report, The Matrix sequels, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Transformer, and Iron Man.

He lives in Emeryville, Calif., with his wife Jen, and their two children, Evan and Zoe.

Gary R. Gay ’73 (Kate Gleason College of Engineering). After graduating with his B.S. in electrical engineering, Gay accepted an applications engineering position at Lapp Insulator, Leroy, N.Y., and eventually shifted his career focus to technical marketing and sales. Relocating to Tucson, Ariz., Gay became international sales manager for Burr-Brown Corp., a pioneer in analog monolithic and hybrid integrated circuits.

After that, Gay became vice president of North American Sales at a start-up named Crystal Semiconductor (later acquired by Cirrus Logic) in Austin, Texas. In 1997, he joined another semiconductor start-up, Silicon Laboratories, as vice president of Worldwide Sales.

He retired in December 2007, but was lured back to another start-up in Austin, Nuventix Corp., as vice president of worldwide sales.

Philip Gelsomino II ’86 (E. Philip Saunders College of Business). Gelsomino is owner and operator of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery locations throughout Western New York. In addition, he is managing Partner of Gelsomino & Co. a Rochester certified public accounting firm.

Gelsomino has extensive background in restaurants, finance and construction. His career began in the industry at age 14 when he obtained his first job with Tom Wahl’s Restaurants & Party House, a regional restaurant chain. Gelsomino later became the president and CEO of Philco Services Inc., a privately held investment company. In addition to acting as chief financial officer of two local area development companies, he maintained his role as managing partner of Gelsomino & Co.

Gelsomino has owned and operated a number of regional restaurants over the past 25 years and sold each at a profit in order to build the next. His expertise includes site location, development and construction and restaurant operation.

Gelsomino is involved in many community organizations including the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm and the New York Special Olympics Area 20.

Robert Schumann ’85 (B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences). Schumann, a computer science graduate, has more than 20 years of experience in developing and marketing technologies in consumer electronics, large-scale IT infrastructure and content security fields.

Most recently, he was general manager of the Cinea division of Dolby laboratories. As the founder of Cinea in 1999, Schumann led Cinea through the raising of venture capital in 2002 and its subsequent sale to Dolby labs in 2003. In 2002, Cinea was awarded a coveted NIST Advanced Technology Program grant for $2 million to develop anti-camcorder technologies based on technology of which Schumann was primary inventor. Prior to co-founding Cinea, Schumann was chief architect for the Digital Video Express “DIVX” encrypted DVD platform.

Schumann is a frequent contributor and speaker at industry events including NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), Digital Hollywood, and IBC (International Broadcast Convention). He has been a contributor on multiple industry standards efforts and is also a contributing author for the overview book on digital cinema.

Christopher D. Wagner ’94 (National Technical Institute for the Deaf): Currently vice president of marketing for CSDVRS, LLC, Wagner previously was a consultant and executive director of Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Manatee and Sarasota (Fla.) Counties, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Pasco and Hernando Counties. With a degree in social work and a background in healthcare administration, Wagner has used his skills to improve life for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. He was responsible for the implementation of the first deaf assisted-living facility and nursing facility in Florida.

Largely responsible for the creation of the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Wagner was appointed by governor Jeb Bush as the council’s first member and chairperson. He also has served on numerous boards, including Florida Association of the Deaf Inc., the Governor’s Americans with Disabilities Act Working Group, the Florida Coalition for Disability Rights and the National Association of the Deaf as vice president and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

He and his wife, Staci ’92 (College of Liberal Arts), live in Bradenton, Fla. They have two children, Justin and Lauren.

Kenneth Weimar ’88, ’90 (College of Liberal Arts). Weimar, who majored in Professional and Technical Communications, has spent his career in the nonprofit sector, starting with Community Health Network, Rochester’s innovative HIV/AIDS clinic.

In 1996, he moved to San Francisco and pursued a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. For more than six years, Weimar was a consultant with Community Counseling Service, the nation’s largest fundraising consulting firm. His efforts have helped raise millions of dollars for health care and hospital, abused and neglected children, victims of domestic violence, and mental health.

His current position is Senior Development Officer for KickStart International, a pioneering “social enterprise” fighting poverty in Africa.

Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar ’98 (College of Applied Science and Technology). Zettlemoyer-Lazar, who earned a B.S. in packaging science, works as packaging director of Sam’s Club, where she focuses on driving safe, cost effective and more sustainable packaging designs for private brands, direct import and working with national brand suppliers. She is also the co-manager of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Packaging Sustainability Value Network.

She previously worked for Kraft Foods Inc. (where she was granted a patent for her work on the DiGiorno deep-dish pizza package), Eastman Kodak, E&J Gallo Winery and Clorox Co. In November 2008, Zettlemoyer-Lazar delivered a special keynote address during PACK EXPO International 2008 in Chicago.

Zettlemoyer-Lazar lives in Destin, Fla., with her husband, Andrew Lazar, and son, William.