2021 – 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

College of Art and Design

Head shot Erin Sarosky

Erin Sarofsky BFA ’98, MFA ’00
Executive Creative Director & Owner at Sarofsky Corporation

Erin Sarofsky is the internationally heralded creative visionary regularly chosen by brand and entertainment titans to lead their most artful storytelling projects.

In 2009, Erin Sarofsky launched Sarofsky in Chicago’s booming West Loop neighborhood. Recognized internationally for brilliant design-driven production that is limited only by the imagination, Erin and her firm have forged long standing relationships with proven leaders of the advertising and entertainment industries. Under Erin’s leadership, Sarofsky is well known for creating gorgeous, innovative main title sequences for blockbuster movies and television series, including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Doctor Strange,” “Animal Kingdom,” “Shameless” “Community,” “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” and many others.

Over time, Erin’s artistry has expanded exponentially in every conceivable way, including in style and medium. Stylistically, she constantly breaks new ground as a live-action director. Recent examples include her mesmerizing macro imagery that sublimely introduces each episode of “Animal Kingdom” and her patent, iconic look brought to life for Jeep’s three-spot Release Your Renegade campaign. There’s also her signature, original short film piece written and directed for Apple, which earned acclaim from the brand’s audiences worldwide.

Erin earned her BFA in graphic design and an MFA in computer graphics from Rochester Institute of Technology. Nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Main Title Design in 2006, she is a frequent guest speaker at universities as well as large-scale industry gatherings. Among those are the Toronto International Film Festival, AIGA's National Design Conference, Canada's DesignThinkers National Design Conference, OFFF Creative Festivals, Motion Plus Design in Paris, and FITC events in Canada and the U.S.A.

Erin's recent career highlights also include being interviewed by Lee Cowan for “CBS Sunday Morning”; breaking new ground with Hulu, Warner Brothers and AppleTV+ to create main titles for their popular new original series; winning Animation Effects Award Festival Gold and ArtoftheTitle.com "Top 10" honors; an in-depth feature story in the illustrious international Communication Arts Magazine, and a Cannes Lion.

College of Engineering Technology

Head shot Jason Aymerich

Jason Aymerich BS ’00
President, JN White

After earning his degree in Packaging Science at RIT, Jason began his career at Diamond Packaging, advancing from co-op to VP of Sales & Marketing. During his tenure at Diamond, Jason received his MBA at the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester. As a skilled and knowledgeable consultant in asset and stock purchases, Jason has led numerous successful acquisitions with Rochester-based companies.

Jason is currently the President of JN White, a manufacturer of complex human machine interfaces founded in 1960, with locations in Perry, NY and Watertown, CT. Under Jason’s leadership, JN White has achieved record-level growth. Also an inventor, Jason was awarded a patent (in final processing) for a single-piece polycarbonate face shield to help protect people during the pandemic. He credits his RIT education for preparing him to solve new problems with existing resources. Prior to JN White, Jason was the President and minority owner of Complemar Partners Inc., an e-commerce fulfillment company with locations spanning the United States. During his tenure, the company grew substantially achieving record revenue each year.

Jason has received the RBJ/RTMA 2020 Rochester “Executive of the Year” for Small Business Award; the “White Rose Award” from the School of the Holy Childhood; and the “Forty under 40” award in 2015.

Jason is an active member of his community, currently serving as Membership Chair for the Young Presidents’ Organization and will be Fiscal Chair in 2023; Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology; Board Member for CHS Mobile Healthcare; and Board Member for Rochester Community Boating Foundation.

College of Health Sciences and Technology

Head shot Edward (Ted) Van Horne

Edward (Ted) Van Horne BS ’99
Chief Operating Officer, Global Medical Response

Edward (Ted) Van Horne is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Medical Response (GMR), overseeing all ground and air medical transportation, fire services and other community and emergency management operations. With 38,000 employees, 8,600 ambulances, 450 air ambulances and over 13 million patient interactions a year, GMR is committed to providing care at a moment’s notice in all 50 states. Ted is known throughout the industry for his innovative approach to EMS system design and his focus on clinical excellence and pioneering solutions for emerging healthcare needs. Van Horne also has a history of success developing operational and sponsorship relationships with multiple major national teams including the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Padres, Miami Dolphins, INDYCAR and NASCAR, among others.

Van Horne graduated from the RIT with a bachelor’s degree in Health Systems Administration from the College of Health Sciences and Technology and holds an MBA in Business Administration. Van Horne began his career as an EMT at RIT and became a Nationally Registered Paramedic, further working in New York, Arizona and California. He worked up through the ranks in numerous caregiver and management roles in the Emergency Medical Services field. Prior to being named chief operating officer of GMR, Van Horne was the President and CEO of American Medical Response (AMR), while it was publicly traded in 2013 with Emergency Medical Services Corporation (EMSC). Van Horne has served in other roles as a Regional President, Vice President of Business Development, and Regional Director of one of the largest 911 systems in the United States.

Van Horne has earned wide respect throughout the industry for his handling of emergency medical communications and operational components during major catastrophic events. Most recently, he has been a visible and vocal leader in the industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He guided GMR first responders in thousands of communities across the United States, while also focusing on their personal health and well-being, as well as spearheading industry-standard-setting safety protocols.

Van Horne serves on the council of Austin Angels, a non-profit agency dedicated to helping children navigate the foster care system. He is also an active board member for the All Clear Foundation, supporting the overall well-being and longevity of those who serve our communities in times of need as first responders.

College of Liberal Arts

Head shot Kristine I. Simmons

Kristine I. Simmons BS ’90
Vice President, Government Affairs, Partnership for Public Service

Kristine I. Simmons has dedicated her professional life to making government more effective for the people it serves. Inspired by her professors and Student Government involvement, Kristine’s passion for public service began at RIT where she earned her bachelor’s degree in professional and technical communication from the College of Liberal Arts.

Kristine is the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better government and a stronger democracy. Kristine leads the Partnership’s advocacy and policy work on Capitol Hill and serves as a member of the Partnership’s leadership team. Kristine works with elected and appointed officials at the highest levels of government and has testified before Congress as an expert witness on government effectiveness.

During her tenure at the Partnership, Kristine developed and executed strategies that resulted in over 50 pieces of government reform legislation becoming law. She also launched two new initiatives at the Partnership, the Center for Presidential Transition and the Alliance for Congress. The Center for Presidential Transition provides resources, data, and hands-on support to promote a smooth transfer of power between presidential administrations. The Alliance for Congress works to modernize and strengthen Congress by helping those who serve in the legislative branch listen, legislate, and lead for our diverse nation.

From 2001 to 2002, Kristine served as a Special Assistant for Domestic Policy to President George W. Bush and advised the President and White House senior staff on issues pertaining to government operations, reform, and management.

Prior to her time with the Bush administration, Kristine was the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. Kristine began her career as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

Kristine is also the owner of a small consulting firm that helps clients communicate with and about government. Kristine and her husband, John (BS ’91) and their family reside in Great Falls, Virginia.

College of Science

Head shot Laurie E. Axelrod

Laurie E. Axelrod BS ’86
Co-Founder & CEO, Wheelhouse Group Inc.

Ms. Axelrod (RIT Graduate 1986, College of Science) is the co-founder and CEO of Wheelhouse Group Inc., a professional services firm that guides executive leaders as they drive transformational technology changes in their organizations. She began her career in the IT industry, developing software solutions for healthcare and telecommunications industries. Later, she combined her technology education with her experience in employee communications, to build a company focused on supporting people as they adopt technology change.

Ms. Axelrod is a co-author of The Method and The Magic: Every Leader’s Guide to Making Transformational Change Happen and a frequent speaker on the power of integrated communications and change management to bring about lasting behavioral change and organizational improvement. At large organizations such as the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Interior, Internal Revenue Service, US Mint, Fiscal Service, and GSA, Ms. Axelrod and her team bring a deep understanding of how people respond to STEM innovations and offer strategies to ensure these enhancements have the intended business impact.

Originally from Maine, Ms. Axelrod and her husband James, a Rochester native, split their time between homes in Alexandria, Virginia and Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.

Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences

Head shot Franklyn Athias

Franklyn Athias BS ’85
Chief Technology Officer & Sr. Vice President, xMRC

Serving as the CTO and Senior Vice President for Xfinity Mobile Retail Convergence - XMRC, Franklyn drives the division’s overall technology strategy, as well as helps to ensure alignment of the architecture and product portfolio for the next era of wireless communication. In addition, through his leadership position, he ensures key fundamental areas of Next-Generation Technology, Orchestration & Management, and Innovations are consistently encouraged and upheld, while continuing to drive the company’s core mission statement.

Previously, Franklyn served as the Sr. Vice President of IP Communications and Services for Comcast Cable, where he was responsible for developing and deploying strategic opportunities within cable, to extend services for WiFi, Internet, and Digital Voice.

Throughout his 25+ year career with Comcast, he spearheaded several IP Architecture programs and initiatives for cable-modem broadband services. Notable accomplishments during his tenure include serving as the Lead Architect for the IMS voice strategy and deployment for residential and business services, Lead Architect for Comcast.net Internet Service, and initiating the evaluation process of the industry’s first Voice over IP service using cable-modems. He has been recognized for teaming up with the Comcast Interactive Capital and Strategic Development organizations, and participating in the technical evaluation of early stage startup companies, along with a host of other valuable contributions.

Franklyn, who received his BS in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, is a member of SCTE, NAMIC, NSBE, NSPE, IEEE, and participates in numerous standards making bodies in the cable and wireless arenas. In addition, he holds over 25 United States patents.

A staunch STEM / STEAM advocate, he supports various innovative initiatives throughout the City of Philadelphia, including DanceLogic, a program Franklyn spearheaded, specifically geared towards teaching young girls to program while it integrates the art of dance. Additionally, Franklyn frequently volunteers with young adults teaching code development, software user interface methods, and engineering design process and fundamentals, as well as application and systems programming.

Graduate School – Doctoral Alumni Award

Head shot Ryan Bowen

Ryan Bowen BS ’08, MS ’13, PhD ’16
Chief Technology Officer at NRGXP

For Ryan Bowen, RIT’s inaugural Distinguished Doctoral Alumni Award winner, nothing is more exciting and challenging than creating innovative engineering solutions to present-day emergent problems. A three-time alumnus of RIT, receiving his BS & MS in Computer Engineering and his Ph.D. in Microsystems Engineering, Ryan is Chief Technology Officer at NRGXP - a multi-disciplinary technology company with a focus on building and integrating devices in the IoT Ecosystem.

His research and development work includes multiple patents and publications related to biometrics, machine learning, and algorithm development as well as leading R&D for a product called NIGHTWATCH which is a wearable technology for horses that helps detect the onset of distress by monitoring their behavior and biometrics. The product was a finalist at the 2018 SXSW Conference in the Interactive Innovation Awards in Wearable Tech.

As a proud supporter of RIT and a founding member of the Sentinel Society donor community, Ryan finds time to volunteer with the university as a member of the RIT Graduate School Dean’s Advisory Council. He also attends and supports the Graduate Showcase each year as a judge and session chair. In addition to his fulltime job at NRGXP, Ryan is an adjunct professor at RIT, teaching advanced programing in the Electrical and Microelectronic Engineering Department.

In his personal life, Ryan enjoys spending time with his family including his wife and fellow alum, Alexandra, and their two children. When time permits, he enjoys hiking the high peaks in the Adirondacks.

Kate Gleason College of Engineering

Head shot Robert Spina

Robert Spina, Ph.D., MS ’89
Chief Technology Officer, Bowhead Specialty Insurance

Dr. Spina has over 30 years of experience in high technology start-ups, building teams and technologies. His focus has been on bringing disruptive technologies into established industries.

Prior to joining Bowhead, Bob was CTO of Homesite Insurance, heading up digital transformation. Bob was Vice President of Technology at BBN, and a co-founder of RAMP. Bob has held senior technical positions at several successful startups, including Sonexis, Integral Access, NBX Corporation, and Natural Microsystems.

Bob received his MS in Electrical Engineering from RIT and has a Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering from SUNY Buffalo.

Bob serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Head shot Christine Sun Kim

Christine Sun Kim BS ’02

Christine Sun Kim is an American artist based in Berlin. Working predominantly in drawing, performance, and video, Kim's practice considers how sound operates in society, deconstructing the politics of sound, and exploring oral languages as social currency. Musical notation, written language, American Sign Language (ASL), and the use of the body are all recurring elements in her work. She further uses sound to explore her own relationship to verbal languages and her environment.

Kim has exhibited and performed internationally, including at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2021); Manchester International Festival, Manchester (2021); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (2020); Whitney Biennial, New York (2019); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2019); Art Institute of Chicago (2018); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2017); De Appel Arts Center, Amsterdam (2017); Berlin Biennale (2016); Shanghai Biennale (2016); MoMA PS1, New York (2015) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), among numerous others. She is represented by François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles and White Space Beijing in Beijing.

Kim graduated from RIT in 2002 with a BS in Applied Science & Technology.

Saunders College of Business

Head shot Hope Drummond

Hope Drummond BS ’91
Founder, Dreamseeds Children’s Program
RIT Trustee

Hope Drummond is a Community Advocate and Board Member with 15 years corporate experience specializing in marketing, diversity and inclusion, human resources, and communications.

Hope is a Trustee at Rochester Institute of Technology where she serves on several committees, including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Student Life, University Advancement, and Executive Compensation. She is a Board Member of GEVA Theatre and serves on the Summer Curtain Call/Education Committee. Hope is a Board Trustee of the College Foundation to which she was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina in September 2020. She is a Board member of the Charlotte Morrison YMCA where she participates on the Run! Ballantyne Committee. She serves as an advisory member of the Rochester Jamaican Organization focused on raising funds to provide scholarships for students of the West Indian Community. She is an active member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte and tutors children in the Augustine Literacy Program.

Hope has a lengthy history of board and community service including serving as Board Chair of the former Sojourner House in Rochester, New York, and as a Trustee at Monroe Community College. She also served on the Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester and as a Board Member of Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hope is the co-founder of Dreamseeds, a children’s program at the former Carlson YMCA, Rochester, New York that provides structured activities in the performing and fine arts to foster children’s self-esteem, creativity, discipline, and life lessons through a greater appreciation of the arts. Since COVID-19, the group has been relocated to the Maplewood YMCA where the focus has been on Dreamseeds Jazz Band. As a result of Dreamseeds, Hope and her husband earned the Rochester Mayor’s prestigious Unsung Hero Award; June 2001, and the Sojourner House 2010 Philanthropy Award.

Prior to her community and non-profit board activities, Hope worked at Eastman Kodak Company for 15 years. She earned her Associate in Science Degree from Monroe Community College, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from RIT.

School of Individualized Study

Head shot Jean-Marc Allain

Jean-Marc (J.M.) Allain BS ’03
Managing General Partner, JA Pro Services

International Entrepreneur, Solutions, Integration and Manufacturing Executive Jean-Marc L. Allain is known for having led such companies as Panasonic and Trans-Lux Corporation. He has negotiated hundreds of deals throughout the world. One of the first western businessmen to form a Joint Venture in China, he has worked in over 100 countries and is at the forefront of the connected technology ecosystem. Today he works with budding Entrepreneurs and invests in various companies.

Born in Canada in 1970, J.M. Allain began his career in Networking and Datacom. He was an integral part of a team that built Newbridge Networks and sold it to French company Alcatel for $7.1B in his late 20s. He later became President of Panasonic, where he led a diverse group of companies, product lines and people.

At the heart of his being, Mr. Allain strived to develop and deliver entertainment better and faster, while creating the most engaging platforms possible. He advises multiple companies on the creation and delivery of content and the relevant infrastructures. He is a valued resource to teams, leagues and agencies on the future of content, monetization, and the fundamental experience for the fan.

He is a fan, technologist, manufacturer, marketer, and salesman. He designs, builds, monetizes and delivers solutions throughout the world. He understands the business models, the underlying technologies, and has a passion for jumping technologies to achieve the next best thing before others.

Mr. Allain graduated from RIT in 2003 with a BS in Applied Arts & Sciences.

Nomination Information

Transforming RIT The Campaign for Greatness