Alice Jo Lichtman was born in Buffalo, New York in 1937, where her father John Josiah Maisel was an internist-gastroenterologist and her mother Ida Rubenstein Maisel was a homemaker who was active in various organizations in the community.
Alice Jo, along with her mother and sister, lived in Phoenix, Arizona from 1942 to 1945 to be near the military base where her father was stationed during World War II. They remained there while he was sent overseas. He was a medical officer and was in France, Austria, and Germany caring for wounded troops in mobile military hospitals. He was attached to Patton’s 3rd Army and participated in the liberation of the concentration camps, the conditions in which he documented on a small pocket camera.
After the war her family returned to Buffalo, where Alice Jo completed grade and high school. She attended Wellesley College for three years majoring in economics. In the summer after here third year, she married Marshall A. Lichtman, a medical student at the University of Buffalo, and finished her fourth year of college at the University of Buffalo. After graduation, she worked as the administrator of a small psychiatric clinic, newly established to provide services for patients of limited means.
She moved to Rochester, New York in 1960 for her husband’s medical residency training and had two daughters during that time, Susan and Joanne. The family spent two years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where her husband fulfilled the government service required of young men in that era. In his case, he served in the Public Health Service.
They returned to Rochester where he completed his training and joined the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Soon, thereafter, Alice Jo had her third daughter, Pamela. Alice Jo returned to work as a school librarian, which provided her with flexible hours. As her children became more independent, she returned to graduate school to obtain her master’s degree in computer science at RIT.
Thereafter, she worked, initially, for Security Trust Company where she was part of a team that designed the first automatic teller machine in Rochester. Subsequently, she joined LPA Software, a small company that provided consulting services for the development of customized computer programs for companies, many at that time in the Fortune Five Hundred category, including Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Data General, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others. Since several of the installations were in Central American subsidiaries, she traveled to those locales and learned sufficient Spanish to help in her dealings at those facilities.
She retired in 2002, after which she has done volunteer work with a number of community groups. She also has the great joy of spending time with her six grandsons and one granddaughter. She recently moved to Los Angeles to be closer to two daughters and their families who live in California and to obtain the benefits of a kinder climate.
Anna Sweet is a technology executive with a career spanning virtual reality, e-sports, video games, and social networking platforms. She is formerly the lead of strategy, product and business development for Steam, the world’s largest PC digital distribution platform. In that position, Anna led the platform from eight million to 135 million users in six years. After helping to launch the innovative HTC Vive, she left steam in 2015 to lead developer strategy and content at Oculus/Facebook. She is now the head of business at Caffeine, a new social broadcasting platform.
Alongside her tech career, she is the founder of Sweet Farm—a non-profit farm animal rescue in Half Moon Bay, California that aims to make the world a more humane and sustainable place.
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.
Technical Lead & Manager for App Engine,
Google and Co-founder, Exablox
While Exablox Co-Founder and former CTO Tad Hunt ’97 is certainly proud of the technology he built at the startup that revolutionized data storage by making it scalable, the team he built there is perhaps his biggest accomplishment.
“The dream of every good founder is to build such a great team that you work yourself out of a job,” Hunt said. This year he was able to do just that.
Hunt recently joined Google as a Technical Lead and Manager for App Engine, a platform that enables users to more easily create and run applications in the cloud. Customers simply upload their applications and the platform takes care of the rest. App Engine is what current social media favorite, SnapChat, is built on.
In his new role, Hunt will be able to motivate and inspire his team to create. It’s the type of leadership position he started gravitating towards during his tenure at Exablox.
“It’s not enough to just be the best in your field, individually. You can do things much bigger than yourself if you work in a team,” Hunt said. “Creating and growing Exablox taught me how to translate my technical ability to leadership ability.”
Team building and teamwork are concepts that have grown with Hunt through an unlikely avenue—rock climbing. An avid and accomplished climber, the lessons learned from his hobby have informed his career in technology as well.
“In rock climbing you need to first trust your partner and second trust the system you’ve built,” Hunt says. “Learning that level of trust helps you to let go and accept the consequences, should it fail.”
Hunt has climbed some of the most difficult peaks in nature and in business, and he encourages others to do the same. “Pick something you’re a little bit scared to try. Push your limits and always find something more challenging. You need to be open to, and accept, fear and failing. Use that fear as a tool.”
It is this mindset that has driven Hunt’s success and allowed him to become this year’s Distinguished Alumnus from the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
John is currently the Dean of Computer Science at Khan Academy where he is leading an innovative project, Khan Academy Computer Science, a new platform that targets people with no programming knowledge and gives them an engaging and fun environment to learn in. The program emphasizes creativity and exploration and makes computer science approachable for people of all ages, including young kids.
While at RIT, he was a resident of the Computer Science House and was named House Member of the Year during his sophomore year. With concentrations in economics and psychology, he had the opportunity to work with Professor Ankur Teredesai on data mining instant messaging networks and published two papers on the topic. Additionally he worked with Professor Jon Schull on exploring new ways of encouraging real-time online collaboration.
The opportunities that RIT presented in learning from fellow students in Computer Science House and from collaborating with professors have greatly influenced John's drive to continue learning in his career and beyond. It is not surprising, then, that John is currently pursuing more knowledge, serving as a Visiting Researcher at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto where he is working on the study of Ukiyo-e (Japanese Woodblock printing), applying his programming expertise to create a comprehensive woodblock print database and image search engine (found at: http://ukiyo-e.org).
Tristan E. O'Tierney '08 (computer science) co-founded the popular mobile payment company Square in 2009. Working with Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, O'Tierney developed Square's original iPhone application and contributed to the development of Square's iPad application and Square Wallet.
Prior to Square, O'Tierney worked on a variety of Mac-related projects for Silicon Valley powerhouses Yahoo!, VMware and Apple before being contracted to develop the mobile application for President Obama's 2008 campaign. He first caught Dorsey's attention when he built Twinkle, one of the first ever Twitter client apps.
In June 2013, O'Tierney left Square to pursue new projects as well as travel the world and develop his passion for photography.
At an early age, Alex Kipman '01 (software engineering), fell in love with what he calls the art form of software. "For epochs we have been building bridges, painting caves and creating amazing music while discovering and philosophizing about our universe," he says. "In contrast, we have been creating software for less than a century." He sees software as the only art form in which the laws of physics can be easily and purposely ignored, making it "the only medium where nothing is impossible ... and with a little imagination and a lot of pixie dust we yield signal from noise and make the improbable possible."
Today, Kipman is the general manager of incubation for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft where he has led three major innovations for the company. The Kinect sensor is one of his best-known creations and he says anyone who has used this gaming system has experienced the seeming defiance of the laws of physics through his technology.The application of this hands-free gaming technology now extends into areas such as health care and education.
Kipman is the primary inventor and holder of 60 patents, all issued since 2001. He was recently named IPO Foundation's 2012 Inventor of the Year.
As vice president and chief information officer of Enterprise Business Solutions, John Barbano '77 is a member of the Johnson & Johnson Senior IT Leadership Team, leading the IT teams that support corporate functions at Johnson & Johnson, and sits on the corporate group operating committee. He is also responsible for the Johnson & Johnson IT Council in the regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Barbano recognizes that technology and trends in the computing industry continue to change. However, the skills he learned while at RIT–communicating well, teamwork, collaboration, presentations skills and time management–proved timeless and are still critical in his success. Says Barbano, "If there is one thing you can take from college, it would be how to work effectively with a diverse spectrum of people, and that will take you a long way in business and in life."
Katie Linendoll is an Emmy award-winning TV personality and technology expert, appearing on CNN and the CBS Early Show and regularly contributing her expertise to magazines like People, People Style Watch, Marie Claire, Shape and Fitness.
Prior to working on-air, Linendoll gained behind-the-scenes experience with ESPN and won an Emmy as Associate Producer for SportsCenter. Knowing what a producer wants and what it takes to create a show helped her transition to her new role in front of the camera, where she develops and creates all her own segments. Linendoll also co-hosted the Emmy nominated series, 'We Mean Business' on A&E and has blogged for Dell and Oprah.com. She has also worked on projects with AOL, Gizmodo and HP. She recently agreed to a one year deal with Lincoln and signed as a spokesperson for Polaroid.
While the tech world is ever changing, her passion centers on finding and showcasing new, innovative technologies. Recent favorites include robotic lifeguards and new speech software for children with autism. RIT fostered my early passion for technologies. I was challenged and taught programs that were advanced and applicable. The IT New Media program was a perfect fit for me and the biggest benefit was the environment: I learned and absorbed all I could from the brilliant minds that surrounded me every day. Additionally, RIT offered a unique on campus media experience through RIT SportsZone where I learned the ins and outs of TV production. This allowed me to transition into a full time position at ESPN, which then led to my current work for several major networks and national publications. I am grateful for my RIT experience and feel in comparison to other schools, I graduated way ahead of the curve.
Croswell Phillip Chambers began his career with IBM in 1988 and has been with Lexmark since the company's inception in 1991. Today he is among the most knowledgeable technology executives in the nation when it comes to the complicated challenges of output and document workflow. As a principal architect of Lexmark International's enterprise-scale output strategy, he has overseen global device consolidation, systems integration, document process improvement and environment management initiatives, enhancing the value and impact of Lexmark's overall IT investment.
Mr. Chambers has served as director of client management services for Lexmark International's Printing Solutions and Services Division (PS&SD) in North America since 2008, managing print services clients including top banks, retailers and pharmacies, helping them to optimize their printing infrastructure, reduce associated costs, improve enterprise document management and efficiently manage their output infrastructure.
Previously, Mr. Chambers served as chief information officer for Lexmark, managing the company's worldwide IT strategy and operations. During a time of tremendous opportunity and change, Mr. Chambers led global and local system deployments that helped streamline operations, boost productivity, reduce costs and deliver industry-leading financial performance. Initiatives during his tenure included global network and data center consolidation and outsourcing. He oversaw the implementation of global procurement and financial controls, Enterprise Resource Planning, the transition to voice-over-IP, sales force and customer support automation, and deployment of eCommerce and human resources systems.
Mr. Chambers shares his expertise on IT issues, contributing to numerous publications such as CIO Today, Internet World, TechRepublic and ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), and he contributes to his community through service on the board of Hospice of the Bluegrass, a non-profit organizing that provides quality end-of-life care to terminally ill patients and their families.
An innovator and leader, Mr. Schumann has more than 20 years experience in developing and marketing technologies in consumer electronics, large-scale IT infrastructure, and content security fields. He is also an author, speaker, and a founding officer of the Digital Watermarking Alliance. Notably, he holds 17 issued and pending US patents–so far. Looking back on his RIT experience, he observes that there are quantifiable and direct factors that differentiate RIT from most other institutions, including the excellent classroom education and co-op program. As RIT stands out in its field, so does Bob Schumann.
Theresa Fitzgerald is known for leading creative teams with the spirit of joy and collaboration for brand brilliance. She has had the privilege to inspire some of the world’s biggest kids’ brands like Nickelodeon, Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, Scholastic, and Mattel. Currently, Theresa is vice president creative at Sesame Workshop, the global nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street with the mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Along with her in-house team, outside agencies and freelancers, she creates in order to express the brand across multiple touch points for smart and relevant expression, including digital games, theme parks, consumer products, marketing, philanthropic communications, and social impact content. Theresa is passionate about the possibilities in the design profession and shares her knowledge and experiences with students while teaching at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. She is also on the education council of the Cooper Hewitt, advisory council of the Brooklyn STEAM Center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and a recent collaborator with RIT’s 2019 senior class of Industrial Design students to re-imagine play.
Furniture maker, artist and educator Wendy Maruyama has been making innovative work for 40 years. While her early work combined ideologies of feminism and traditional craft objects, her newer work moves beyond the boundaries of traditional studio craft and into the realm of social practice.
Since 1994, Wendy has been creating works inspired by the memory of her childhood growing up as a Japanese-American, her interpretation of her ethnic heritage, and her observations of the Japanese culture, looking in from the outside. Born in La Junta, Colorado, to second-generation Japanese American parents, she has made several pilgrimages to the land of her heritage, Japan. At times reverent of Japan’s craft history and advanced technology, and appalled by Japan’s self-indulgent, materialistic and almost faceless and patriarchal society, Wendy vacillates between creating works that both emulate and satirize that culture.
Wendy was awarded an artist-in-residency opportunity at SUNY Purchase in fall 2008 and during this time she immersed herself in research and historical investigation of Executive Order 9066. The Tag Project was born out of this residency.
The Tag Project was part of a companion body of work, Executive Order 9066, addressing the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her family was directly affected by the evacuation: but little was mentioned of this by Wendy’s mother or grandparents. This chapter in her family history was heavily veiled: because of this, she avoided any association with this connection.
Her latest work, The wildLIFE Project, focuses on the endangerment of elephants, a cause personal to Wendy. She recently took a sojourn to Kenya and met with wildlife advocates to investigate the dangers of the continued poaching of these magnificent animals. The trip served as a source of inspiration for the artist to create a new body of work and incorporate a strong societal message.
Wendy has recently retired from teaching at San Diego State University. In addition to SDSU, she has taught at Appalachian Center for Crafts, California College of Arts, and has taught for 35 years all total. She exhibited her work nationally for over four decades, with solo shows in New York City, San Francisco, Scottsdale, Indianapolis, Savannah, and Easthampton. She has exhibited internationally in Tokyo, Seoul, and London. Maruyama’s work can also be found in both national and international permanent museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Australia; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton; Mingei International Museum, San Diego; and the Oakland Museum of California.
Wendy is a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant, 2010; several National Endowment for the Arts Grants for Visual Artists; the Japan/US Fellowship; and a Fulbright Research Grant to work in the UK.
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.
Nike’s Vice President of Design Innovation and 2016 CIAS Distinguished Alumnus, Eric Avar ’90, grew up with a mechanical engineer father and fine artist mother, but did not know a marriage of the two disciplines could exist beyond his parent’s union until he came to RIT.
“I had no idea what industrial design or product design was before RIT,” Avar said. “Within the first two weeks on campus, I just happened to find my way up to the fourth floor of the design building and was immediately enthralled by this balance of art and science.”
Having started with the mechanical engineering program, Avar begged to be let into the industrial design program. Despite not having a formal portfolio, rather a collection of drawings his mother sent him in a plastic bag, CIAS faculty saw promise and gave Avar a shot.
Starting at Nike in 1991, Avar has helped create some of the company’s most innovative and award-winning designs of the past 25 years, including products within the Nike Basketball, Nike Free, Lunar and Kobe Bryant series of footwear. He currently oversees projects in an extension of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen.
Avar believes the foundation to his success as a designer is his upbringing and education, which bred his harmony of science, style, and function. He credits RIT’s diversity of programs with giving him the necessary skills to “relate, talk, work, and collaborate with anyone.”
For other design students who aim to follow in his Nike-adorned footsteps, Avar offers some advice:
“Be a sponge. Go out to the perimeter, go out to the fringes and learn as much as possible. Not in an effort to be an expert at anything, but to embody the spirit of being a sponge, which helps inform design-thinking and the creative problem-solving process.”
Revelers attending the Presidents’ Alumni Ball in the Gordon Field House on campus last fall had the chance to be frozen in time by Robert Latorre’s “Big Freeze” camera array system, just like Hollywood stars making their red carpet entrance to an awards extravaganza.
Robert Latorre grew up in a creative family headed by his sculptor grandfather and jazz musician father. His own creativity flourished in photography. After earning his BS in Commercial Photography from RIT, he began his photography career with the National News and Wire services in New York City as a photojournalist with a global beat. He eventually settled in Texas where he opened Robert Latorre Productions, which grew into Big Fish Films, a successful TV commercial film company in Dallas. Not only is Robert an award-winning commercial photographer, he is also an accomplished director known for his dramatic lighting and innovative directorial approach. ADWEEK has chosen Latorre Commercial Film Director of the Year and Creative All-Star Photographer twice.
In 1995 he became fascinated with the frozen moment, and he engineered ways to use this unique look in his commercials. He designed and built his first Big Freeze system which produced a cutting-edge frozen effect, earning him an Emmy nomination and a Clio award for Special Effects.
The Big Freeze Worldwide is the largest and most advanced camera array system in the world. Now in its 5th generation, the system is completely digital and driven by software. It is unique in its ability to capture, download and playback the frozen effects in stunning HD or 3D, delivering a 360-degree virtual or frozen moment image in seconds to live broadcast or any social media site. It has evolved into PODCAM360, the ultimate photo and movie booth. Entirely visitor activated, the camera system is enclosed in freestanding exhibit walls, lit with fine pixel LEDs depicting any scene imaginable. Within seconds, users can capture a unique, frozen 360° movie of themselves immersed in a scene of their choosing which they can then share instantaneously with the rest of the world.
Latorre and his Big Freeze system were honored at CES 2015 for their collaboration with Nikon. The 360 booth received high praise from participants and the media alike, earning multiple spotlight features from the news media and blogging communities, including Tech Crunch, Popular Science and Fox News.
Latorre has one simple philosophy, "Photography and film making is very much about the inner eye. If you can capture on film what you can see, you can tell a story to everyone who sees it. It's a marrying of science with creativity that allows an artist to really reach that higher level of perception."
Herbert Eichelberger '70 (photography) began his career in the fall of 1965 when he worked for Eastman Kodak Co. as a film tester/quality evaluator and later became an industrial photographer.
After graduating from RIT, he went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his Master of Arts degree in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in communication arts from Emory University in 1990. Since 1975, he has been an associate professor of film at Clark Atlanta University. He has taught and mentored many notable people, including film directors Spike Lee, Bryan Barber and Monty Ross and actors Keshia Knight Pulliam and Eva Marcelle.
Outside of the classroom, Eichelberger has produced documentary films to support grant proposals and special projects. Most recently, he and his students created a 90-minute special hosted and produced by Robert Townsend for broadcast on the Black Family Channel.
Over a career spanning 25 years, Bruce James '64 (printing) founded and led 13 printing and publishing organizations, each built on an emerging new technology. The businesses varied from the Polish American Printing Co. with high-tech newspaper plants in Warsaw, Gdansk and a castle in Krakow, to Barclays Law Publishers in San Francisco, which Inc. magazine ranked for five years as one of the country's 500 fastest growing companies.
Since retiring from business in 1993, he has served on seven higher-education-related boards, including RIT where he is chairman-emeritus of the Board of Trustees. Additionally, in 2002 he was appointed by President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the Senate, to follow in Benjamin Franklin's footsteps as the nation's 24th Public Printer. He led the U.S. Government Printing Office through a complete transition into the digital world for which he was recognized in 2006 as the Federal Executive of the Year.
Asked about the most important decision he ever made, he said it was letting go of the past. "You can't move forward and do dramatic new things unless you're willing to let go of the past and embrace the future."
With an associate degree in applied science and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in professional photographic illustration from RIT, Kwaku Alston '93, '94 says that RIT prepared him for his career in photography by giving him the discipline to compete. He remembers sitting in Webb Auditorium and being told to look to his left and to his right and understand that these are the people who might someday hire him: A major key to success in business is relationships. Many of those same classmates went on to pursue careers as photo editors and art producers–and many remain his close friends and professional peers.
Alston encourages today's RIT photography students to follow their dreams as well as their hearts, to have the courage to show their work and to have faith in their ability to succeed. He also believes it is important to live a balanced life, making time for family and friends, which are–"the most important things in life," he says. Alston encourages professional equilibrium, balancing the artistic side of photography with the business side and to remember that everyone makes mistakes."With as many accolades as I have, there are just as many mistakes that I've made. It's all part of the process."
Brooks Bower is chairman and chief executive officer of Papercone Corporation, the largest privately held specialty envelope manufacturer in the U.S. with over 125 employees. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in printing.
Bower is deeply involved in philanthropic activities, which include serving on the boards of the Envelope Manufacturers Association and Foundation, Walden School, The Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Kentucky Derby Museum Foundation. Additionally, he is an active member of the Chief Executives' Organization, the World Presidents' Organization and the Young Presidents' Organization
The education I received at RIT was second to none; the printing program was world class. In the printing industry, having a degree from RIT was held in high regards. In addition to their strength and credibility as having a top notch printing program, their business classes were excellent. . .The program at RIT was a very hands-on program and it has led to me being a very hands-on manager and leader within my organization. A lot of executives try to manage their companies from their desk and are far less successful with that approach. I'm forever grateful that RIT gave me the foundation and skills necessary to lead a successful organization...
I consider my four years at Rochester Institute of Technology four of the greatest years of my life. I was living 3000 miles from home, far from any family or friends, too far to travel home on weekends or holidays. RIT became a second home for me and helped mold me into the person that I am today. Living on campus helped teach me responsibility and how to live and interact with people. In the years I spent at RIT, I went from a young and naive 18 year old student to a young man ready to take what the world had to throw at me. I grew immensely through the experience.
Today, Bower lives in Louisville with his wife, Marilyn. They travel extensively for business and pleasure, especially for snow skiing around the world. The Bowers have two children, five grandchildren and they love animals.
Stephen Whittaker credits his degree in printing management for saving his life. After graduating from RIT in 1968, Stephen married his wife Ann, and by fall he was drafted into the US Army and sent to South Vietnam. A chance meeting with an outgoing soldier who needed a replacement pressman secured Stephen a job in a classified printing plant in a combat zone. Sadly, the thirteen other servicemen who arrived the same day were sent to the field and did not return home. After a fourteen month tour, Stephen returned home and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal and seven other military decorations. More recently, he was presented with the John Peter Zenger Medal for military bravery by the Printing Industry Alliance of NY, NJ and PA.
Mr. Whittaker has worked at Monroe Litho, Inc. in Rochester, New York for the past 26 years where he is currently the Vice President of Quality Management and Sustainability Initiatives. A senior member of the American Society for Quality, he manages and organizes third party external audits for quality and sustainability systems within Monroe Litho, and he is also responsible for the management of the firm's FSC and SFI Certifications. In 2008 Monroe Litho became the fifth commercial printer in the US to earn the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership Certification and the company was recognized as one of the sixteen safest companies in the United States by EHS Magazine.
Dedicated to his profession and his community, Mr. Whittaker is an adjunct professor in the School of Print Media, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT and is also a member of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation, a group that promotes business ethics and recognizes local companies for their exemplary ethical practices. A 33o Scottish Rite Freemason, he serves on the Board of Governors of the Frank and Bette Paul 32oMasonic Learning Center for Children, a non-fee organization that teaches children with dyslexia to read.
Mr. Cantwell is a Digital Production Supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic. You and millions of other moviegoers have seen the results of his innovative work in movies including A.I., The Minority Report, The Matrix sequels, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, Transformer, and Iron Man.
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
LeChase Construction Services, LLC
With more than two decades of industry experience, Kyle L. Sayers brings well-rounded expertise and knowledge of field and office operations to the LeChase team, overseeing the management of projects and client relationships, and providing direction and leadership to support the team’s continuous growth.
Kyle began carving his construction career path as a teen, working as a carpenter and heavy-equipment operator for a residential contractor and the local municipality where he grew up. He continued honing his skills as a project manager for DiMarco Constructors Corporation. In 1997, he brought his passion for the business to LeChase, joining the ranks as a project engineer. Since that time, he has worked on a wide range of projects and markets in various capacities including director of preconstruction and director of field operations. In 2009, Kyle was promoted to vice president, in 2012 was named executive vice president, and in 2018 was named chief operating officer.
He is a graduate of the Green Building Contractor’s Future Construction Leaders of NYS Program and RIT’s Construction Management Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Sons of the American Legion—Matthew Clary Post. Kyle served as co-chair of the 2016 Highland Hospital Foundation Gala.
He earned his B.S. degree in civil engineering technology from RIT, where he has helped inspire and educate future construction professionals as an adjunct professor.
Kimo Kippen, founder of Aloha Learning Advisors, is a thought leader, speaker and advocate for life-long learning and talent development. A native of Hawai'i, former chief learning officer at Hilton, recognized by CLO Magazine as Chief Learning Officer of the year - 2015, and former vice president of learning at Marriott International, Kimo has been creating life-long learning solutions for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
Kimo has served as chairman of the board for the Association for Talent Development (formerly, American Society for Training & Development) and currently is a board member of the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL), and the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Board of Visitors. He is also chairman of the board for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), serves as advisor to Study.com, the Executive Advisory Board for Skillsoft and is program director for The Conference Board Talent & Organizational Development Executive Council (TODEC).
Kimo’s passion for learning, facilitating and teaching has drawn him into the academic world as an adjunct professor at Catholic University of America, George Mason University and at Columbia University Teachers College where he serves on the Talent Development Advisory board. He is also lead facilitator for iVentiv HR Executive learning events (London, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York City).
Kimo has an MS in career and human resource development from RIT, a BS from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland's Post Graduate Program. Kimo’s home base alternates between Washington D.C., Warsaw, Poland and Honolulu, Hawai’i where he and his spouse, Dorota Kowalska, regularly spend quality time.
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
Consultant to Oil and Gas Industry and Former Enterprise Category Manager, Engineering and Maintenance, Royal Dutch Shell
Robert Jacoby ’77, this year’s Distinguished Alumnus from the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, spent most of his career in the energy industry working in the health, safety, and environment (HSE) area, where he had a passion for protecting the environment and working on developing corporate programs that protect workers’ safety.
As the global HSE manager for Shell Global Solutions International, the global research arm of Royal Dutch Shell, where he enjoyed a career spanning over 30 years, Jacoby led a team of scientists in the United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and India that provided worldwide HSE technical and research and development solutions for all of the corporation’s massive operations. He was also selected to be a member of the corporate HSE Leadership Team that provided strategic direction to executive management on ways to reduce workplace injuries and enhance protection of the environment.
Most recently, Jacoby was the maintenance and engineering services enterprise category manager for Royal Dutch Shell. He again led a global team that developed contracting strategies to safely maintain offshore oil production platforms and refineries worldwide that included large projects in emerging countries such as Iraq, Qatar, and Kazakhstan.
One of the highlights, as well as assets, of Jacoby’s career has been the multicultural experience of working on teams with people from diverse cultures.
“When you get into a room to solve a problem with people from different cultures you find out there may be several different ways to accomplish the same goal and there are people out there than can do it better or more efficiently than you.”
Jacoby imparts the following advice to those who seek to replicate his success as a manager:
“Over the years I’ve learned that those who are good leaders attract talented and smart people. They’re not threatened by intelligence or diversity—they embrace it. So surround yourself with people who are different than you and smarter than you and nurture them.”
Dolores Kruchten is the President of Kodak Alaris’ Information Management business – which includes document scanners, software, technical service, and document management services.
With more than 30 combined years of Information Management experience and leadership in the field, plus extensive P&L and global leadership experience in Software, Service and Product businesses, Dolores Kruchten, president of Kodak Alaris’ Information Managmenent business, and on the Board of Kodak Alaris, is making an impact in the information management industry and on Rochester. Prior to Kodak Alaris’ spinoff from Eastman Kodak Company, Dolores was the President of Kodak's Enterprise Services (ES) group. At that time, the ES group was responsible for leading the company's creation and implementation of services-led businesses that enabled more efficiency and business growth for Kodak's customers. In 2007, the Kodak's Board of Directors elected Dolores as a corporate vice president.
Dolores started her career at Kodak in 1981 and she has held leadership positions throughout the company – including Site Management, Product Management, Storage Product Business, and Business Imaging Systems. The majority of her career has been focused on business management, and she has received several business leadership honors including being selected for CRN Magazine, 2014 Top 100 Women in the Channel; as one of the 2008 Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal; and 2006 International Business Stevie Award, Best Support Organization. Active in the community, she is a member of the Monroe Community College Foundation Board and United Way Board.
Tiger pride runs in the family. Husband Brad Kruchten is also an alumnus of RIT with a Masters in Applied Statistics. Daughter Shauna is 2014 graduate of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and is currently pursuing an MS in Management in the Saunders College of Business.
In her marketing leadership role at Kraft Foods Group, Stacey R. Rychlewski '85 (food management) spearheaded the launch of one of Kraft's Foodservice Division's key innovations, the Kraft YES Pack, a flexible one-gallon salad dressing pouch.
Not only has the Kraft YES Pack helped foodservice operators manage food costs and improve efficiencies in their operations, it also received numerous packaging and marketing awards, including the DuPont Silver Award for packaging reduction and innovation and the Food & Beverage Product Innovation Award from the National Restau-rant Association.
Rychlewski credits faculty members in the hospitality and service management program for inspiring her love of the food service industry, which she has been involved in for more than 25 years. Throughout her career, Rychlewski said she has never looked back. "I've always looked forward. You have to be passionate about what you do every day and focus on the future."
After graduating from SUNY Morrisville, George Peterson IV '88 (computer engineering technology) joined the second graduating class of his program. Peterson credits one of his most admired professors, Robert E. Lee, for not only shaping students' technical skills but also honing the non-technical components of students' coursework–specifically spelling and grammar skills.
He also values RIT's co-op program, which led him to his first job at Telog Instruments, where he worked for 11 years. Peterson is still friends with Telog's owner and considers him a mentor and life coach. Currently, Peterson is an analog field application engineer for Texas Instruments, assisting electronics companies throughout upstate New York with the design of electronic circuits. He has been an active member of RIT's Computer Engineering Technology Industrial Advisory Board. He has worked with Texas Instruments engineering and management teams to recruit RIT students.
He lives in Henrietta, N.Y., with his wife, Laura, and their three daughters. His advice to students and recent graduates is to "always seek people out who are willing to invest in you."
His good friend and fellow alumnus, John Siy '82, '97, once told Ed Gentile '84, '88, "Forget about getting your MBA. Go get another degree, in packaging this time–the opportunities are endless and you'll never look back." Heeding his friend's advice, Gentile did just that while embracing a new passion along with a new career.
After getting a degree in business marketing in 1984, Gentile earned his bachelor's degree in packaging science in 1988. His first position out of RIT was at McDonald Douglas Corp., where he had worked on co-op. Currently a business development executive at Perfecseal North America, he oversees sales, development and service of flexible and rigid sterile packaging products used in the health care industry. He daily applies what he terms "the great, solid technical skills I learned at RIT."
Gentile's advice to students is based on his own RIT success. "Get to know your classmates and professors. They will help you, not only while you're at RIT but also in the future," he says. "And don't ever limit yourself."
Kevin Surace, Inc. Magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, is on a mission to drive energy efficiency in the built environment through rapid ROI. As CEO of Serious Materials, Kevin leads the company in its mission to reduce energy usage of the world's largest contributor, our buildings. Before joining Serious Materials in 2002, Surace held executive and technical positions with Perfect Commerce, General Magic, Air Communications, National Semiconductor, and Seiko-Epson. He received his degree in electrical engineering technology from Rochester Institute of Technology where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees, and has been awarded nine patents. Surace also serves on the boards of Array Converter, and Zeta Communities.
As a student at RIT, Surace acquired the key to lifelong success. "My experience at RIT as a student was spectacular. I immediately found out how smart the other kids were here and how much I needed to strive to get those As. It wasn't easy any longer (compared to community college). But mostly I learned how to learn - in my classes and through co-op. Learning is a lifelong exercise. So many people stop after college thinking they are done learning when in fact, the learning has just begun."
Michael Murphy is senior vice president, global sales for Choice Hotels International. He leads the company's global sales and intermediary marketing efforts in collaboration with the Choice Central Reservations Systems team, corporate groups, and both domestic and international brand teams. He's responsible for managing and growing Choice's $1 billion in annual sales to the corporate travel, leisure, motor club, government, SMERF (Social, Military, Educational, Religious, Fraternal) group meeting and GSA (General Services Administration) segments worldwide. Prior to joining Choice in 2009, Murphy served as senior vice president of sales for Marriott International, Inc.
Murphy is dedicated to his profession of 25 years. He is a member of RIT's International Hospitality Advisory Board, a trustee of the Professional Convention Management Association, and has held other industry leadership positions, including past president of the Insurance Conference Planners Association Hospitality Partners Committee.
As a student, Murphy recalls the experience of assisting the sales and marketing leadership of the Stouffer Rochester Plaza Hotel with a city-wide sales blitz to announce the hotel's opening and generate business leads—an experience that launched his career. As valuable as the applied experience was, he considers the social networking offered by RIT even more valuable, as he met his wife of 25 years, Lisa McCartney Murphy '83, on campus 27 years ago.
Currently packaging director of Sam's Club, Ms. Zettlemoyer-Lazar has extensive experience in driving safe, cost-effective, and more sustainable packaging designs for private bands, direct import, and national brand suppliers. A recognized leader and innovator, Ms. Zettlemoyer-Lazar delivered a special keynote address during PACK EXPO International 2008, and she has addressed several other industry organizations including Plastic News Executive Forum and the Packaging Machinery Manufacturing Institute. Grateful for the hands-on experience available to her as a student, and loyal to her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, Ms. Zettlemoyer-Lazar is a deserving recipient of this honor from her alma mater.
Chief Executive Officer
Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Inc.
The decade after Watson, Crick, and Franklin discovered DNA, Edward Shanshala entered the world. Born in a sleepy little town named after General Joseph Warren in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest in Northwest Pennsylvania, it was a place that benefited from the post-World War II industrial boom. The collapse of the United States steel industry would come a decade later.
Ed’s first recollections of healthcare were that of penicillin and the pain inflicted by the blunt bit end of autoclaved needles, as well as from the orthopedic visits he received monthly in a cold, dark basement of a church where the physicians came to care for his feet at the “Crippled Children’s Center.” It was these experiences that began his quest to “find a better way” in all he pursued.
After an exceptional high school education, Ed headed to RIT to pursue chemistry and biotechnology, minoring in philosophy. Eight years of pharmacology research and a master's degree in education and human development from the University of Rochester Warner School followed. Soon after, a unique opportunity presented itself.
In 1997, shortly after Congress passed the Balanced Budget Act, Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital was faced with a immediate need to reduce costs. This was Ed’s opportunity to use his background in science and technology on reengineering efforts. His team was successful, yet it also led to the department’s dismantling. Off he went to rural Home Healthcare and Finger Lakes Visiting Nurse Service (FLVNS) which faced an equally daunting transition from Medicare Fee-for-Service to Medicare Prospective Payment System. Ed made this project the thesis for his master of science in health systems administration from RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology. The success of this project was easy to measure—while 30% of the nation’s 10,000 Medicare Certified Home Health Agencies went out of business—FLVNS did not!
Next, Ed headed to urban Rochester Primary Health Network a Federally Qualified Health Center. It was here he first encountered the “Health Center Movement” which aligned health care with community and a focus on primary preventive care. Eager to apply skills honed, he accepted the invitation of CEO Norrine Williams, to join Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Inc. (ACHS) in rural New Hampshire In 2005 to become COO transitioning to CEO in 2008 when Norrine retired.
Today, Ed enjoys being part of a team that wrestles with the hard questions facing today’s healthcare. He is a leader in healthcare at a time that is demanding a paradigmatic shift in how we think about individual and population-based health. He works to forge a healthcare paradigm that embraces healthcare as prerequisite to our right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Together with his team they seek to redefine the funding of healthcare as an investment with a return on investment, and to create support structures for individuals and populations to take accountability for their healthcare choices now and for future generations. The goal is to develop the right interventions, for the right people, at the right time, at the right price; increasing access and decreasing disparities. He believes this is the nexus for investing in healthcare.
Ed’s career can best be described as eclectic and circuitous. He continues to be a life-long learner and has had the privilege of mentorship from individuals who have pushed him professionally and personally to pursue excellence. He considers himself a curator of a corporate and clinical culture—where language matters in framing the why, what, and how of our mission. He believes people do not work for him, rather with him, and together for the patient in the process of co-creating optimal individual health and community wellness across the continuum of care and the span of a well lived life experience. This is where his passion lies; in leading the way forward with those of like mind; focusing on primary preventive efforts some of which have yet to be imagined.
Lisa M. Allen ’90 RDMS, RDCS, RVT, FAIUM is a sonographer at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, a position she has held for over 26 years. She also holds the title of ultrasound coordinator for the Regional Perinatal Center. In addition to her commitment to quality patient care while performing high-risk obstetrical ultrasound examinations, Lisa also has multiple supervisory and administrative responsibilities.
Lisa is registered in multiple specialties including obstetrics and gynecology, fetal echocardiography, abdomen, neurosonography, and vascular technology. She holds the credentials of R.D.M.S., R.D.C.S., and R.V.T. She has served on several committees and task forces for multiple professional ultrasound organizations in an effort to promote the best possible training and education for fellow sonographers.
As a Fellow member of the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine (AIUM), Lisa takes on a broad range of responsibilities. She has held multiple positions with this organization, including two consecutive terms as second vice president. She was also a member of the Ultrasound Practice Accreditation Council, the Clinical Standards Committee and the Scientific Abstract Review Committee. In 2015, she was named Distinguished Sonographer of the Year by AIUM.
Among her various other accomplishments, Lisa has contributed to ultrasound review publications, exam development, and has been lead author of more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles in the field of prenatal diagnosis. She was also named Upstate Medical University’s Employee of the Year (Clinical) in 2011.
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.
Dr. Diana Badillo ’00 has helped many throughout her career and with more than just medical treatment.
After graduating from RIT’s physician assistant program, Badillo, born and raised in Brooklyn, returned to the New York City area to treat patients at a men’s homeless shelter.
“I worked with the chronic homeless,” Badillo said. “These were men that people tried to ignore and stay away from on the subway or in the street. When I treated these men, it was the first time someone had actually touched or even looked at them in a while.”
Less than a year after Badillo treated a homeless man in his early 30s, he returned to the shelter almost unrecognizable.
“He was dressed in a suit, his hair was short and he was clean shaven. He had just gotten a new job,” Badillo said. “He’d come to thank me for changing his life. He told me I was the first person who had treated him like a human being in a long time.”
These patients in turn inspired Badillo to pursue her medical degree at Stanford University so that she could provide underserved populations the best care possible. She is currently a primary care physician in a low-income neighborhood in Queens, serving a diverse population.
Badillo credits her education at RIT for allowing her to flourish in her career.
“Having gone further in my training as a physician, I realized how outstanding my education as a PA was,” she said.
And even though Badillo is an accomplished physician, she still believes that being a doctor is more than just providing medical treatment.
“The best part of the job is getting to be the person people turn to when they are in their greatest need. It’s an honor and privilege to be that first line when people need you. I get to give them hope.”
Dr. Mary Dombovy leads an experienced, compassionate team of professionals who provide medical care, rehabilitation, and hope to patients and their families. Unity Health’s Brain Injury Unit is a nationally recognized program that cares for patients after traumatic brain injury caused by accidents, strokes, or illnesses. It’s the only licensed inpatient acute brain injury program in upstate New York and the only one in western New York that treats children. Building the Unit into a center of excellence is Dr. Dombovy’s passion—like seeing patients take their first step.
In addition to leading this nationally recognized program for patients with traumatic brain injury caused by accidents, strokes, or illness, Dr. Dombovy also guides the next generation of medical professionals at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry where she is a clinical associate professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Widely published in her field, her research interests include: outcomes following restructuring of health care service delivery; epidemiology of functional recovery and outcome following stroke and brain injury; and pharmacologic and rehabilitative therapy for stroke and brain injury.
Dr. Dombovy has served in a leadership capacity for several health care organizations, including the American Heart Association; the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties; the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology Subcommittee for Vascular Neurology Subspecialty Examination; and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. For her expertise, leadership, and service, she has been included several times on the Best Doctors in America National and Northeast Division lists; she has twice been an ATHENA Award finalist; and she was named the Distinguished Alumna of her undergraduate institution, the College of St. Benedict (Minnesota).
Kelly McCormick-Sullivan '08 (health systems administration) is president and CEO of the Pluta Cancer Center, New York state's first independent, not-for-profit cancer treatment facility. The center became part of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Strong Memorial Hospital in December 2012.
Prior to joining Pluta, McCormick-Sullivan was director of global internal communications for Carestream Health, where she was responsible for global strategies and programs. She also served on the faculty of St. John Fisher College and was director of organizational communications at Rochester Gas and Electric.
McCormick-Sullivan has volunteered at numerous health-related organizations including Unity Health System, the March of Dimes, Sidelines perinatal support group, the National Kidney Foundation and the Monroe County Department of Health.
Paul Russo '05 (health systems management) has dedicated more than 30 years to serving America's heroes while working for the Veterans Health Administration. He began his professional life as a clinical dietician after earning his bachelor's degree from the University at Buffalo. As he rose to a managerial role, he looked to his hometown of Rochester to further his education and enrolled in RIT's health systems administration online master's degree program. As a nontraditional student, he values the quality of his RIT education and feels that it gave him the essential skills to succeed in hospital administration.
Russo was recently named director of the Bruce W. Carter Veterans Affairs Medical Center/Miami VA Health Care system, and he has also served as director of the W. G. (Bill) Hefner VAMC in Salisbury, N.C., and associate director of the West Palm Beach, Fla., VA Medical Center. He lives in Miami with his wife, Karen, who has also dedicated her career to America's veterans.
He enjoys mentoring rising healthcare administrators through various professional organizations including his role as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Chrysa Charno has a passion for people. She brings that passion to work with her every day as a Physician Assistant at Vega Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery. Many of her patients are undergoing reconstructive surgery due to breast cancer and she enjoys being able to guide them through the difficult situations they face. Inspired by her mother’s example of bridging the healthcare and business worlds, Charno returned to RIT for her MBA. Being the first RIT Physician Assistant graduate to go on for her MBA at RIT is just an example of how Charno is always striving to do more and reach more people. She has spearheaded an alumni-funded, endowed scholarship for PA students and continues to contribute to RIT’s PA program. She has been the featured speaker at RIT’s annual PA Day celebrations on campus and regularly offers to take students in her on-going role as a preceptor and Adjunct Clinical Faculty member. Charno is the current president of the Association of Plastic Surgery Physician Assistants, and was just named leader of the month by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. She credits a great deal of her success to the team-oriented approach to problem solving and leadership that she learned here at RIT. Her enthusiasm for the PA profession and RIT is infectious and inspiring.
Motivation, passion and a bit of timing factored into Kathy Yu’s (PTC ’91) career choices spanning over two decades at Intel, Samsung, Applied Materials, Transmeta and Microsoft during the beginning of the technology revolution in Silicon Valley. None of this would have happened without the mentoring Kathy received at RIT from Dr. Diane Hope, who rescued her when she was a floundering student from a Korean immigrant family with a Hawaiian Island upbringing.
Shortly after graduating from RIT, Kathy launched her business career in the emerging technology sector at Intel’s manufacturing division, optimizing process with a focus on strategy and partnerships. The capstone of Kathy’s career at Intel was receiving the prestigious Divisional Award for excellence. Following Intel, she took a position with Samsung Semiconductors to manage the memory chip product line for North America. At Samsung, she was awarded the Product Marketing Engineer Award despite lacking an engineering degree. Kathy then held leadership positions at: Applied Materials, managing their semiconductor equipment product line in Europe; Transmeta, managing the entire product portfolio while fending off major microprocessor competitors; and Microsoft, seeding semiconductor companies to make chips capable of running Microsoft’s Windows Media code. Kathy also developed strategic alliances and managed mergers and acquisitions to enable Microsoft’s mobile ecosystem, which was the leader in mobile at that time.
Named one of San Francisco’s “Coolest Power Moms” in 2012, Kathy has served on the boards of Golden Gate Mothers Group, The Exploratorium Catalyst and the Cow Hollow School. She is also an active contributor to the Boys and Girls Club of SF, Homeless Prenatal Program, the Hamlin School, the Wender Weiss Foundation for Children, the Women’s Foundation of California and the Conquer Cancer Foundation.
Kathy continues to leverage her technology and business background as she angel invests to support and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs, just as her RIT mentor Dr. Diane Hope had done for her.
Rhonda Frederick, MPA, is the president and chief executive officer of People Inc., a leading not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 12,500 people with special needs, their families, and seniors throughout western New York. With an operating budget of $143 million and 3,860 employees, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity since 1971.
Rhonda joined the agency as a direct care staff member in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become chief operating officer in 2002. While in that role, the agency expanded into affordable and independent senior housing, improved outcomes, increased efficiency, and achieved operational excellence. Rhonda was also at the forefront of the agency’s commitment to person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for individuals receiving supports and services. In recognition of her dedication and success, she became the agency’s president and CEO in October 2014.
Rhonda currently serves as president of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), an organization that fosters collaboration among agencies who support people with developmental disabilities and gives them a single voice in Albany. The recipient of several honors, Rhonda received the Dr. Evan Calkins Meritorious Service Award from Network in Aging of Western New York for significant contributions to her field, was named Buffalo Business First Woman of Influence in 2009 and a winner of Buffalo Business First’s Health Care 50 in 2014.
Frederick earned her master’s degree in public administration from Canisius College and a bachelor’s degree in social work from RIT.
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.
From being the first in his family to attend college to becoming president and CEO of True Value Company, these achievements have been part of a plan John Hartmann ’85, the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus from the College of Liberal Arts, has quite literally crafted for himself.
“When you graduate from college, you need to have a plan for what you are going to do,” Hartmann said. “It is thinking about what you want to do during the course of your career and then committing some of it to paper.”
This does not mean Hartmann’s plans have not changed along the way.
A native of Clifton Springs, N.Y., Hartmann arrived at RIT with aspirations of becoming a police officer. The criminal justice major excelled at RIT and his professors encouraged him to pursue a law degree after graduation.
“RIT really opened my eyes to education,” Hartmann said. “That, combined with the classroom experience and understanding other people’s points of view, has impacted my entire career.”
After law school, Hartmann went on to enjoy a career in the FBI, but recalibrated his plan after 10 years with the bureau to pursue a corporate career, listing business leader and, in time, CEO as objectives.
“If you don’t choose to plan, then ultimately you are choosing to have others plan for you. Work your plan in a way that positions you to achieve your goals and aspirations. At the same time, keep your mind open to all the other possibilities and directions you can go.”
As president and CEO of True Value, Hartmann now oversees a co-op of 4,500 independently owned hardware stores, providing them with the resources they need to be successful. Under his leadership, True Value has gone on to see its best sales in over 20 years.
Hartmann credits this success, and others throughout his varied career, to a simple, yet unexpected, asset.
“Listening is more important than talking. Whether you’re in a classroom setting, corporate role or in public service, the skill of listening is an important one for all of us to focus on.”
Kathleen (Cole) Anderson arrived at RIT with her sights set on a career in medical research until a single elevator ride changed her forever. A conversation in that elevator ignited in her a passion for the art of human communication that would launch a career crafting advertising strategy for global brands including Weight Watchers, WWE and Corning Display Technologies.
Currently, an account executive at Gelia, Wells & Mohr, Kathleen manages the Caterpillar Building & Construction Products global accounts. When not working in heavy machinery, Kathleen also advises national, state and local political candidates on campaign media strategy.
Kathleen has been a member of the RIT Alumni Association Board of directors since 2006 and was honored to be elected President from 2009-2013. She has also served on the University’s Board of Trustees and is currently a member of the College of Liberal Arts Advisory Board.
A proud alumna of RIT’s School of Communication, Kathleen also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Simon School at the University of Rochester. Making her home in Western New York, Kathleen is involved with numerous community organizations but is most passionate about the rights and needs of the mentally ill and homeless.
Debra Heath-Thornton '81 (criminal justice) is the executive dean of the Campalo College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Eastern University. In this role she is responsible for the quality of the academic programs in the college and for managing academic policies, faculty affairs and personnel matters, as well as strategic planning for the college, curriculum development, enrollment management and budget management.
Prior to serving as executive dean, Heath- Thornton was a full-time faculty member at several four-year institutions, becoming a tenured faculty member at two. She is committed to higher education and believes that it is within this realm that she is able to do the most good and effect positive change one student at a time.
Heath-Thornton has created curriculum and criminal justice opportunities at every educational institution she has served, both at the secondary and higher education levels. She is particularly passionate about the courses she has created in victimology, community-based corrections and restorative justice.
Jeffrey Culver '82 (criminal justice) never imagined that his career would take him to where he is now: director of corporate security for the World Bank. Yet as soon as Culver enrolled in RIT's criminal justice program, he knew he was on the right track. He spent 24 years working for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the government agency responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy throughout the world as well as managing reciprocity and immunity issues for foreign diplomats in the United States.
A member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, Culver served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of Diplomatic Security from October 2009 until his recent retirement from public service. After many years of service in the public sector, Culver made a change to the private sector. This move has made it possible for him to spend more time with his wife and daughter.
In his current position at the World Bank, he is responsible for the safety and security of the bank's operations and personnel in Washington, D.C., and in 128 country and regional offices around the world.
Entering RIT as a fine arts major, Cheryl B. Rosenblum '91 struggled to find her place within her department. She had enjoyed fine art in secondary school and it seemed natural to study it in college, but she soon realized that it was not for her and made the leap from fine arts to economics.
She thanks her economics academic advisor for guiding her through a program that led to a fulfilling career, and also credits her academic advisor in fine arts for supporting her as she made the switch.
In the economics department, Rosenblum cultivated a passion for research and a curiosity about environmental issues and their impact on the economy. In graduate school, she researched the economic costs of oil spills and became an expert on energy policy.
She then worked in transportation policy and became a government infrastructure expert.
Now, as director of strategic development for CNA Insurance, she examines government preparedness for disaster response and prevention in relation to the impact of climate change.
She cites her strong research ability, learned at RIT, as the foundation for her continued success.
Dale Dangremond has over 30 years of experience working in the disability field as an advocate, administrator, consultant, systems change agent, and parent of children with neurological disorders. Since 1990, she has worked nationally as an expert consultant on the topics of abuse and neglect, critical incident investigations, and incident/quality management in the disability, eldercare, and juvenile justice fields with federal, state, and local governments, as well as with private organizations through her company, Dangremond Consulting.
Her areas of expertise include design and implementation of processes to prevent harm in human service organizations, and competency-based assessment tools for investigation and incident management process. She also serves as an expert witness and monitor of incident management and critical incident investigation systems in connection with court orders and litigation settlements. She has extensive experience in the field of deafness, including: developing and managing specialized support programs; working as a professional sign language interpreter and faculty in interpreter training programs; and developing and implementing regulation and policy involving protection from harm/incident management, and accessibility/rights issues for individuals with hearing loss.
Dangremond has consulted for the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services on protection from harm issues in the Medicaid Waiver Program and on the "look behind" contract assessing ICF/MRs; as an expert with the US Department of Justice, Special Litigation Section/Civil Rights Division on CRIPA investigations; and she has worked for community-based organizations supporting children and adults with disabilities in New York, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Prior to forming Dangremond Consulting, she served in a variety of executive management positions at organizations including Labor Relations Alternatives, Inc., the District of Columbia Department of Human Services, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration (MRDDA), National Children's Center (NCC) and Seneca ARC.
Dangremond speaks highly of the impact that both faculty and RIT's unique program structure had on her career: The Social Work program at RIT provided me the challenges and opportunities that helped form the framework for my personal and professional philosophies and values related to advocacy and systems change work in the disability and human service fields. Professors like Marshall Smith, Barbara Kasper, Helen Irving, and Burt Caswell instilled a sense of responsibility of service to others through their teaching and advising. They not only challenged students to think, but to act as well. The relationship between the Social Work Program and NTID, unlike any other at the time, provided a unique opportunity for me to explore and develop my interests and professional skills in deaf culture and sign language. The RIT experience created the foundation of knowledge that opened the doors for my professional endeavors and led me to this stage of my career. For that, I am especially grateful.
In addition to earning her Bachelor's degree in Social Work from RIT's College of Liberal Arts, she also holds a Certificate from NTID's Interpreter Training Program, and earned her Master's in Business Administration from University of Phoenix. Dangremond lives in Wellington, FL, with her husband, Bill, and sons Zack and Will.
Irene Jacobs is committed to creating a world where all children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. She attests that her RIT education provided her with the knowledge about how to be a change agent in the worldand taught her the value of laughter and light-heartedness in the face of dealing with challenging social problems such as poverty and injustice.
Since March of 2009, she has served as a consultant for government, philanthropy, and non-profit organizations. Her clients include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, University of Arizona and First Things First, Arizona's early childhood development and health organization. Previously, Irene served on Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano's Executive Team as Senior Policy Advisor and Director of the Office of Children, Youth & Families, overseeing eight divisions in the governor's office that served the community on the issues of early childhood education, substance abuse prevention and treatment, youth development, juvenile justice, domestic violence, women and children's health, finance and community relations.
Ms. Jacobs believes that the optimum time to positively impact a child's success is during the first years of life. She has put her belief into action through her work as director of the State School Readiness Board, serving from 2003 until she was promoted to Senior Policy Advisor in 2006. The Board's work guided the Governor's actions pertaining to early education and laid a foundation for First Things First.
Ms. Jacobs serves on the Board of Directors of Educare of Arizona, United Healthcare Children's Foundation, and the Clothes Helping Kids Foundation. Prior to her transition to consulting, she served on the Boards of the Arizona Early Education Funds, Arizona Grantmaker's Forum, Interagency Council on Homelessness and Arizonan Substance Abuse Partnership.
Mr. Weimar began his education at RIT as a photography major but made the switch to the Professional and Technical Communications program to better his chances of working in advertising. He quickly learned it was the art of persuasion, giving him skills he calls on every day as Senior Development Officer for KickStart International, a pioneering "social enterprise" fighting poverty in Africa. To date, he has helped nearly 400,000 people get out of poverty—forever.
Senior Vice President of Marketplace Strategy
Sue Gordona is a leader with over 25 years of experience delivering innovative solutions and value to customers and leading diverse teams of highly engaged employees. Her roles have spanned business strategy, product management, and functional leadership of large, global organizations. She is currently a senior vice president at Fidelity Investments, and in her current role she leads a team focused on leveraging strategic partnerships to deliver valuable solutions to clients across Fidelity’s diverse business units.
Sue first joined Fidelity in 2002 as a director of solution delivery, developing and delivering innovative products to customers. She has gone on to hold a series of positions with increasing responsibility at the company, including vice president of retirement products, vice president of investment planning tools, senior vice president of solution delivery, and ultimately her current position which she has held since late 2017.
Prior to joining Fidelity, Sue worked for global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney from 1999 to 2002, where she provided strategic management and technology consulting services for various Fortune 100 companies. Sue’s first job after graduating from RIT in 1994 was as a systems consultant for Hewitt Associates.
For the last 15 years, Sue has participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon that since 1980 has raised over $600M for cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The event raises more philanthropic money than any other single athletic fundraising event in the country. In 2018, the Pan-Mass Challenge raised a record $56 million. In addition, Sue is an active volunteer in the Boston area through the Fidelity Cares volunteer network.
In addition to her RIT degree, Sue earned an MBA from Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business in 1999.
Founder and Board of Directors Member, Integrity Applications, Inc.
Steven Wear is one of the founders of Integrity Application Incorporated (IAI), an engineering firm with headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia. IAI has offices across the United States, all providing its customers in the intelligence and defense communities with engineering expertise focused on the entire end-to-end systems and mission view. Providing services such as: modeling and simulation of complex systems that aid customers’ understanding of design capabilities; analyzing product chains to verify performance, then developing technical algorithms for enhancing system performance, if needed; implementing complete systems engineering functionality (e.g., requirements development, verification and validation, cost analysis, etc.) to ensure customers’ needs are met; developing image analysis and photogrammetric software programs to improve end user insight—all of these leading to IAI’s ultimate goal of ensuring its customers’ mission success.
IAI has been conducting business since February 1999, ending the year with eight employees (including Steve and his three partners) and annual gross revenue of $1.4 million. IAI grew, by the end of 2017, to over 770 employees with $206 million in annual gross revenue. Over that time span, the total revenue earned by the company was over $1.5 billion. The company has won multiple awards for being a “best employer,” as well as awards recognizing its rapid year-to-year growth.
In February 2018, IAI was acquired by Arlington Capital Partners (ACP), a Washington, D.C. area private equity firm, for an undisclosed sum.
Steven Wear is a graduate of RIT’s College of Science, from its School of Imaging Science, receiving a master’s degree in 1990. While working on his graduate thesis, Steve participated in an Education-with-Industry position at Eastman Kodak, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, as an optical systems engineer. Upon graduation he went to work in the U.S.A.F.’s Office of Special Projects, its preeminent organization delegated with the responsibility for developing key intelligence assets to support national security.
Steve’s technical experience spans the full spectrum of satellite system acquisition from concept development and requirements definition through program initialization and operations. He has 32 years of high technology program acquisition experience, playing key systems engineering and technical analysis roles in support of several U.S. government agencies acquiring or operating multi-billion dollar space systems. He is a subject matter expert for satellite ground processing systems and flight and ground software development and acquisitions.
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.
Chemistry is something that Eric Kuckhoff ’84 knows well. It isn’t just the science behind polymers and reaction rates that this year’s Distinguished Alumnus from the College Science and President of the Alumni Association has mastered, but the delicate chemistry of business as well.
In 2002, Kuckhoff started his own company, Polystar LLC. The industrial chemicals manufacturer grew quickly from nothing to $50 million in just ten years. He is currently vice president and general manager for North America at Cargill, Inc., who acquired Polystar, in the industrial specialties group.
Kuckhoff will be honored during the Distinguished Alumni Dinner and Awards Celebration April 15, in part because of his achievements as an entrepreneur and his contribution to RIT.
As with the chemical compounds he works with, Kuckhoff combined various elements to reach success.
He began his career at The Dow Chemical Company and then Cytec Industries, both large, multi-billion dollar companies. Kuckhoff thrived by listening to his customers and responding to their needs, but he saw gaps in these large organizations.
It was his innate desire to find solutions that led Kuckhoff to create and grow Polystar.
“There were so many missed opportunities,” Kuckhoff said. “What mattered to me was solving customer problems and creating an organization that could solve these problems, while doing it faster and better than the competitors.”
The relationships Kuckhoff forged during the early part of his career were also instrumental in Polystar’s creation.
The most striking example of this for Kuckhoff is the friendship with a former Cytec customer, which led to an introduction to the business partner who helped him start Polystar.
“The people around you ultimately come back around in ways that are hard to imagine,” Kuckhoff said. “You can never understate the value of relationships and hard work. Every now and then, you are going to have a brilliant person with a difficult personality who is successful despite themselves, but generally it is somebody who has the ability to form and keep relationships while delivering value.”
Another surprising element to Kuckhoff’s success—mistakes—some which he feels fortunate to have made and learned from before Polystar.
“If you really want to be an entrepreneur, learn how to run a business from someone who already knows how to run a business. The real lessons are very subtle and not always obvious.”
A noted scientist, award-winning educator, and respected leader, Dr. Karen Kashmanian Oates is a Professor of Biochemistry and the Peterson Family Dean of Arts & Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. As dean, she is responsible for eight departments and six programs of study spanning the natural and life sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, mathematics and computer science, plus several interdisciplinary programs including bioinformatics, data science, cybersecurity, environmental studies and a shared robotics engineering program. Dr. Oates joined WPI from the National Science Foundation, where she served as Deputy Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education, charged with supporting innovative programs to strengthen undergraduate education and help revitalize American entrepreneurship and competitiveness. She began her academic career at George Mason University, where, as Associate Dean for the new College of Integrated and Interdisciplinary Studies, she helped create George Mason's New American College environment. She later served as inaugural Provost for the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, where she established the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and helped secure NSF funds for Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities, which works to improve undergraduate STEM education by connecting learning to critical civic questions. As a teacher, she has focused on women’s health, faculty development, service learning, business-higher education partnerships, and K-12 science and math education.
Among the honors she has received are the Bruce Albert Award, presented by American Society for Cell Biology for excellence in science education reform, and the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian honor presented by the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 2012, she was inducted into the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science as a Science Education Fellow and was recently named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer.
Dr. Oates received her B.S. in Biology from RIT and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The George Washington University.
Rick A. Kittles '89 (biology) received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from George Washington University in 1998, and his first faculty appointment was at Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center.
Currently, he is associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is at the forefront of developing ancestry-informative genetic markers and how this information can be used to map genes for common traits and disease, especially among African-American populations.
From 1997 to 2004, Kittles helped establish and coordinate a national cooperative network to study the genetics of hereditary prostate cancer in the African-American community. This project, called the AAHPC Study Network, serves as a model for recruitment of African Americans in genetic studies of complex diseases.
Kittles is one of the creators and featured experts in the "Race: Are We So Different?" traveling museum exhibit. He is currently scientific director of the Washington, D.C.- based African-Ancestry Inc., a genetic testing service for determining individuals' African ancestry.
Jon Roberts '70 (imaging science) has taken his father's advice seriously: Do what you have to do so you can then do what you want to do. As a senior partner in the Marbury Law Group, he practices in security clearance law, patent, copyright and trademarks. He has counseled, tried and documented more than 100 security clearance cases and submissions for applicants for security clearances for U.S. government agencies.
He also personally holds more than 50 U.S. and foreign patents and he counsels U.S. and foreign clients on development and protection of intellectual property. He previously worked for the CIA while he completed his Ph.D. from Syracuse University and then took night classes to earn his law degree from George Washington University National Law Center.
Throughout his busy career, he has maintained a steadfast passion for the arts and music, singing with the National Symphony Orchestra and acting in theater productions with his wife, Jessie.
He was a student at RIT during the "big move" from downtown Rochester to the Henrietta campus and credits the excitement and fond memories of that time for his dedication to RIT. He serves on the President's Roundtable and has established a scholarship with his wife in support of science students who participate in the performing arts.
When he was 11 years old, Daniel Mendelson '88 found personal and professional inspiration in his grandmother's end-of-life hospice care. Before entering medical school, Mendelson sought an undergraduate major that he was passionate about. He found that passion in his freshman organic chemistry class with former RIT professor Robert Gilman. Then he enrolled in the physician scientist graduate program at the University of Rochester. After earning a master's degree in biophysics and a medical doctorate, he went on to specialize in geriatrics and palliative care. He says he now strives to be the same kind of mentor that inspired him as he trains the next generation of doctors and health care workers.
Mendelson co-founded the Geriatric Fracture Center at Highland Hospital in Rochester and he lectures worldwide on topics related to fragility fractures.
He is the founder of the Palliative Care Consultation Service at Highland Hospital and helped establish the Palliative Care Consultation Service at Strong Memorial Hospital, also in Rochester.
Mendelson is the medical director of Monroe Community Hospital, the Highlands at Brighton, Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County and the Baird Nursing Home.
Robert Loce is a Principal Scientist and Technical Manager in the Xerox Research Center Webster. He joined Xerox in 1981 with an Associate's degree in Optical Engineering Technology from Monroe Community College. While working in optical and imaging technology and research departments at Xerox, he earned a BS in Photographic Science (RIT 1985), an MS in Optical Engineering (UR 1987), and a PhD in Imaging Science (RIT 1993). A significant portion of his early career was devoted to development of image processing methods for color electronic printing. His current research activities involve leading organizations into new video technologies that are relevant to transportation and healthcare. He has publications and many patents in the areas of digital image processing, image enhancement, imaging systems, optics and halftoning. He is a Fellow of SPIE and a Senior Member of IEEE. His publications include a book on enhancement and restoration of digital documents and he has contributed book chapters on digital halftoning and digital document processing. He is currently an associate editor for Journal of Electronic Imaging, and has been and associate editor for Real-Time Imaging, and IEEE Transactions on Image Processing.
Clearly one to seize opportunity, Dr. Loce has this to say about his "RIT experience: RIT provided an environment that has allowed me to grow into a dynamic career and productive member of the community. Coursework was both rigorous and relevant, which allowed me to solve challenging practical problems. Faculty and advisors were more than technical teachers. They taught professionalism, connected course concepts to real worldly matters, and challenged us to be creative and strive for excellence. The flexibility and continued evolution of the programs were very conducive to life-long learning, which I believe is critical in modern society."
Dr. Philip Reiner is the Chief Scientist for the Advanced Engineering Technology Division for Stanley Associates Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama. His group provides full spectrum design, development, and fabrication support services for systems based on MEMS/NEMS, fiber optic, and electro-optic technologies. In addition to his BS in physics from RIT, he holds a PhD in physics from the University of Rochester. His research interests include nano-technologies, micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS) development, liquid crystal polymers, and thin and thick film technologies development. Dr. Reiner is currently developing advanced MEMS-based components and systems for commercial and defense applications. He also develops advanced research programs for multiple US agencies. He is a member of IEEE, ISA, and NDIA and holds three patents. He also served as a captain in the US Army Ordnance Corp. and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1989.
Says Dr. Reiner, simply put, Rochester Institute of Technology provides students one of the best science and engineering foundations available in the country. The reason is simple: the faculty and staff are dedicated to ensuring that students like me have a fundamental grasp of key scientific and engineering principles balanced with an excellent understanding of how the business world works. For me, this paved the way to success in graduate school and later in my career as a scientist. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the faculty and staff in the science, engineering, and mathematics departments. You gave me a tremendous head start with my peers by providing me with your very best effort to teach and lay a foundation on which I have been able to build.
Currently professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry of the University of Central Florida, Dr. Belfield has an extensive background in polymer stabilization and degradation; synthesis and characterization of functionalized polymers; mechanistic organic chemistry; and stereolithography. His research interests are in the area of multiphoton absorbing materials, two-photon photochemistry, magnetic polymeric and sol-gel nanocomposites, site specific fluorophone labeling, fluorescent-based sensors and bioimaging probes, photodynamic therapy agents, nanostructured functional organic and polymeric materials, and two-photon based 3D microfabrication and high density optical data storage.
A talented scientist and athlete, Dr. Belfield says his experience with teammates on the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams was fabulous. In the classroom and the lab, he notes that the opportunity to pursue meaningful undergraduate research is the hallmark of the RIT chemistry experience. Today, thanks to his RIT experience, he ignores traditional disciplinary boundaries, exploring science beyond the prescribed limits that others might impose.
Clayton Turner is the director at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. Langley, founded in 1917, is the nation’s first civilian aeronautical research facility and NASA’s first field center. Langley is where NASA researches solutions to challenges ranging from global climate and access to space, to air travel, and future aviation vehicles. Prior to his appointment as Director, Clayton served as the associate director where he was responsible for managing day-to-day operations with a focus on Center commitments. In this capacity, he was also responsible for aligning Langley’s institutional resources and infrastructure to meet current and future NASA mission needs, optimizing both effectiveness and efficiency.
Clayton has also served as the director of the Engineering Directorate at Langley. In this capacity, he was responsible for the conceptualization, design, development, and delivery of ground and flight systems in all NASA mission areas; and for enabling future and maintaining current multi-discipline engineering capabilities aligned to meet current and future NASA mission needs.
Clayton began his career with NASA Langley in 1990 serving as a design engineer with the Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment project, where he spearheaded development of the laser aligning, bore-sight limit system. Over the next 28 years, Clayton served in various roles with progressively increasing responsibility. He led Langley’s engineering contributions to many successful flight projects including the Earth Science Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation Project; the Earth-observing technology development Gas and Aerosol Monitoring Sensorcraft Project; the materials technology development Gas Permeable Polymer Materials Project; the Shuttle Program return-to-flight; the flight test of the Ares 1-X vehicle; the flight test of the Orion Launch Abort System; the entry, descent, and landing segment of the Mars Science Laboratory Project; the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment Project on the International Space Station; and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System Project.
Prior to joining NASA, Clayton was the chief engineer at Dynamic Recording Studio in Rochester, New York, where he was responsible for technical and artistic recording of audio and video content spanning multiple musical and instructional styles.
Throughout his career, Clayton has received many prestigious awards such as the Presidential Rank Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, and the Paul F. Holloway Non-Aerospace Technology Transfer Award. Clayton is an inductee into the Monroe Community College Alumni Hall of Fame. He is also an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and is a member of RIT’s President’s Round Table.
Clayton has served as the NASA Langley representative on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Joint Commission on Technology and Science and he has served as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Hampton University College of Engineering and the Old Dominion University College of Engineering. He and his wife live in Hampton, Virginia, and have two sons. Clayton is active in community outreach, coaching youth sports and promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.
Michael G. Field is chief executive officer for The Raymond Corporation, which includes the operations, sales and marketing, engineering and administrative functions at Raymond. Since he joined Raymond in 2004, Michael has served as the vice president of engineering and, most recently, president of operations and engineering. In Michael’s most recent role as president of the operations and engineering division for The Raymond Corporation, he was responsible for manufacturing, quality assurance, engineering and procurement.
Michael has over 25 years of experience managing engineering and operations groups at industrial companies. Field also is a member of the Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA) executive team and board officer of several TMHNA legal entities.
Prior to Raymond, Michael served as vice president of global program management for Brooks-PRI Automation in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, which led the semiconductor automated material handling industry with state-of-the-art robotic, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and software control solutions. Prior to that assignment, he was vice president of systems integration at PRI Automation which included technical sales, system engineering and program management.
A graduate of RIT, Field holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Boston University and an MBA with a concentration in international operations from Boston University. He is a member of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering Dean's Advisory Council.
Field holds the positions of chairman and director on the Board of NY-BEST (New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, Inc.), and is a board member of the New York State Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (REDC). He also is a board member of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). Field holds a Professional Engineering License in New York.
Field has been with Raymond in an executive role since 2004, and prior to his appointment as CEO, served as president of operations and engineering at Raymond.
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.
Managing Director and Head of Fixed Income, GAMCO Investors, Inc.
Service and volunteerism is just a way of life for this year's Distinguished Alumnus from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, Wayne Plewniak ’83.
“It is important to get involved, give back,” Plewniak said. “Change and improvement in the world doesn’t happen unless you get involved.”
During the early days of Plewniak’s career as an investment banker, he found it difficult to pursue his career and volunteer. Plewniak is currently the managing director and head of Fixed Income at GAMCO Investors, a diversified financial holding company that provides investment advisory services.
“A full and active life is profoundly important,” he said. “So a work life balance is necessary, but when I was coming up on Wall Street it was just work.”
Since then, Plewniak has made a point of carving out time for his various interests, such as serving on boards for the Greenwich Council of the Boy Scouts of America and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where he received his graduate degree.
Plewniak has always been an active member of his community, even dating back to his days at RIT. During his time on campus, Plewniak’s involvement was vast and diverse, from participating in the sailing club to being a member of Policy Council, now called University Council.
While serving on Policy Council, Plewniak became close with then RIT President Dr. M. Richard Rose, who helped Plewniak obtain his first co-op, which then led to his first job out of college. This gesture showed Plewniak the impact giving back has, not only on the world around him, but in his own life as well.
“When you get involved, your life becomes fuller, you make new friends, and other opportunities come your way,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to meet so many great people and do great things.”
His involvement with RIT has not ended since graduation. Plewniak has been a member of the President’s Roundtable since 2010 and the KGCOE Dean’s Advisory Council since 2011. He also continues to support RIT’s students and faculty, who he remembers fondly, in various ways.
Jim Swift has parlayed his boyhood fascination with sports statistics into a successful career as a data geek. As CEO of Cortera, his mission is to change the B2B information universe with long overdue insights into businesses to help organizations improve sales performance and risk management. Cortera provides information-centric solutions that power business-to-business interactions, delivering behavioral intelligence on millions of businesses, working with thousands of companies throughout the supply chain to streamline processes and inform decisions.
Prior to taking the helm at Cortera in 2006, Jim was the COO of LexisNexis Risk Management, where he was responsible for the unit’s commercial markets, and Executive Vice President at Seisint, which was acquired by LexisNexis. At Seisint, Jim was a key executive serving in various leadership positions in operations, sales, product development and strategy.
Before Seisint, Jim was a senior vice president at Modus Operandi, a management and technology consulting firm specializing in business process reengineering and automation for Fortune 500 clients. Jim was responsible for directing the Business Solutions practice, driving innovative solutions with a host of financial services, telecommunications and other companies.
Although Jim prefers the sunny climes of Florida, where he lives with his wife and their three children, he has willingly returned to RIT in winter to share his expertise with current students, most recently presenting “Your Competitive Advantage? Data Superhero!” in the prestigious KGCOE Dean’s Alumni Speaker Series.
After completing all of his co-op assignments with Eastman Kodak, Johann G. "Hans" Demmel '80, '83 (industrial engineering) thought his career would be in Rochester. Dick Reeve, then-chair of the industrial engineering department, enlightened him to the merits of graduate school, and with the help of a fellowship from Tau Beta Pi, he headed west to Oklahoma State University. Upon completing an MS in industrial engineering and management, he continued west to Arizona where he helped Allied Signal build a new electronics manufacturing facilityâ€”a rare opportunity for a young industrial engineer graduate.
Demmel further advanced his education with the help of a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellowship from Hughes Aircraft Co., earning a Ph.D. in systems engineering at the University of Arizona.
His career with Hughes (now Raytheon) afforded him the opportunity to build upon his IE background and interest in simulation, expand into software development and have the opportunity to build a department within the engineering organization whose focus is on hardware-in-the-loop simulations.
The importance of giving back was instilled in Demmel while at RIT and he continues to give back to his profession and his alma mater.
After 18 years with IBM, where he became known for establishing IBM's blade server product line, Jeff Benck '88 (mechanical engineering) made one of the toughest but best decisions of his career–to move his family across the country and to take on a new set of challenges in California.
He is now president and chief operating officer of Emulex Corp., where he guides the corporate strategy. Benck led the company into the groundbreaking converged networking space. While his vocation at Emulex is time consuming, he still makes time for his family: his wife, Nina, and daughters Gabrielle, 14, and Gracyn, 12.
He believes in giving back and volunteers with several organizations. He's on the board of the Discovery Science Center of Orange County, the University of California Irvine CEO Roundtable, and the UCI Paul Merage School of Business Dean's Advisory Board. At RIT, he is an active member of the KGCOE Dean's Advisory Council, and he has shared lessons learned with students as a featured KGCOE Dean's Alumni Speaker: "Never stop learning, take risks but learn to fail fast, and don't make the same mistake twice."
Brad Fluke EE '84 leveraged his RIT degree into a 25-year career in mixed-signal semiconductors. He credits the co-op program with providing a key first step. Currently CEO of Javelin Semiconductor, Fluke co-founded the company in 2007 to develop revolutionary CMOS cellular power amplifier (PA) technology. Javelin's PAs are found in cell phones worldwide, including Samsung's.
Fluke admits that the entrepreneurial side of business is what excites him. "I enjoy the challenge of penetrating a new market by pulling together the right team and defining and developing a new product that provides real value to the customer."
He is generous, both as a mentor and as a contributor to his community, supporting several charities and serving on advisory boards for the KGCOE and the University of Texas School of Social Work. He also serves on the board of LifeWorks, an Austin, Texas, organization that helps homeless teens.
Fluke advises that staying focused is necessary, but that being able to embrace new opportunities is essential to long-term growth. "I think it's important to be willing to take chances that lead to new opportunities, but most importantly, professional and personal success comes from believing in what you are doing."
Raymond Malpocher is an independent consultant specializing in the evaluation and rejuvenation of underperforming global manufacturing companies with an emphasis on enhancing underutilized technologies. His experience and professional expertise are highly valued, as he serves on the Board of Directors of Anchor Glass Container Corporation, a private corporation and the third largest glass manufacturer in North America; on the board and as lead director at Technology Research Corporation, a public company that designs, manufactures, and markets electrical safety products and supplies power monitoring and control equipment to the United States Military; and on the Kate Gleason College of Engineering Dean's Advisory Council. He has co-authored a book, which he anticipates publishing this year, that deals with the basic needs for any business or entity to survive in these challenging times.
Prior to beginning his consulting practice, from 2003 to 2006 Malpocher was President and Chief Executive Officer of Telex Communications in Burnsville, Minnesota, a leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of sophisticated audio, wireless, life safety, and communication equipment. The equipment is widely used in sound reinforcement, broadcast, military, aviation, and dispatch centers. When Telex Communications was sold to the Security Systems Division of Bosch Communications, he left to pursue other interests. From 1998 to 2002, he was Group President of the Marine/Industrial division of Teleflex Corporation where he transitioned the division from basic wires and cables to sophisticated electronic systems. Malpocher also has held senior executive positions with Danaher Corporation, a leader in the implementation of lean manufacturing. He was a team member with Tech Ventures, a venture capital group in upstate New York that invests in and assists start-up companies.
Malpocher has been successfully involved in start-up, turn-around, and transitional companies. All have involved some type of engineering, varying in complexity from simple cable systems to advanced electronics. He attributes his education at RIT for giving him the broad engineering background and knowledge to deal with the various technologies he has encountered and to understand the issues needed to move these companies forward. Furthermore, RIT taught him how to quickly evaluate and understand the complexities of today's manufacturing companies.
Malpocher holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from RIT, an M.S. in Applied Math from the University of Rochester, and an M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Rochester. He divides his time between Scottsdale, Arizona and Burnsville, Minnesota.
As Chief Technology Officer and Vice-President, Carestream Health, Inc., Holly Hillberg leads a global team of research and development professionals in the creation and commercialization of digital solutions for healthcare institutions worldwide. Ms. Hillberg is responsible for leading technology and intellectual property strategy, setting direction for advanced research and innovation, and driving commercialization efforts. Her other responsibilities range from regulatory affairs, health, safety and environment, and product design and usability. Prior to joining Carestream Health, Inc., Ms. Hillberg was with Eastman Kodak Company for 20 years in a variety of technical and business leadership positions, starting up new businesses and transforming existing ones to success.
Earlier this year, Ms. Hillberg was honored with the prestigious Rochester Athena Award in recognition of her professional achievement, leadership excellence and community service. In 2005, she received the Kodak Jane Lanphear Legacy Award, an award recognizing women who exemplify high values, provide exceptional mentoring to many women, and who demonstrate balance among career, personal, and community responsibilities.
Ms. Hillberg values her RIT education, acknowledging that it was instrumental in her career as she—and her company—transitioned to digital imaging. Being a chemical engineer, the bridge program, and MS in EE was quite valuable in opening doors.... Ms. Hillberg has stayed close to RIT, especially the Women in Engineering WE@RIT program. Being a woman, an engineer, and an advocate/mentor for teenagers, this program resonates with me on many levels. It supports a sense of community for young engineers in training and is the reason why RIT's female retention level in engineering is so high. In addition to her involvement with women of RIT, Ms. Hillberg volunteers with junior and senior high youth programs, including coordination of an annual inner-city housing renovation program and leading domestic and international youth mission trips.
With an impressive first career—ranging from power generation, transmission and distribution; designing critical components of the world's first CD players; and launching the successful semi-conductor startup Silicon Laboratories—followed by a brief retirement offering him time to enjoy his muscle cars and motorcycles, Mr. Gay is now Vice President of Worldwide Sales for Nuventix Corporation. Travelling the world, he is helping to enable energy-efficient high brightness LED lighting within the general lighting market. "With a car collection that averages eight miles to the gallon, I though that I better do something 'green' to help our planet Earth, so I joined Nuventix Corporation to save the world. Now I have something cool to talk about at cocktail parties."
Michael J. Rizzolo is the president and CEO of Interpretek, an American Sign Language interpreting service company based in Rochester, New York. Interpretek provides services nationwide, operates out of seven offices and employs 115 teammates across 22 states. Interpretek is celebrating 25 years in business and continues to expand its efforts to supply quality communication access nationally.
Michael, or Rizz, as he is known throughout the field, began his career as a sign language interpreter when he completed the Basic Interpreter Training Program (BITP) in 1976 while securing his bachelor’s degree in social work from RIT. NTID hired Michael in 1978 as a lead interpreter in the Department of Interpreting Services where he spent twelve years as a manager of a large team of interpreters. During his tenure at NTID, Michael was awarded certification by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), became a founding member of the local chapter of the RID (GVRRID), served as an adjunct faculty member in the interpreting degree program and was selected to join NTID’s first traveling cast of performers—Sunshine & Company.
While with NTID Michael accepted opportunities to coordinate interpreting services at many national and international professional conferences including Deaf Way in 1989. He has been teaching, mentoring and providing professional development opportunities for both Deaf and hearing interpreters. He is a test administrator for RID Certification Testing and an Approved RID Sponsor for offering CEUs to practicing interpreters. In keeping with his mission to advocate and foster professional growth, Michael established the Interpretek Endowed Scholarship at NTID in 2008 to support and encourage academic excellence among students pursuing an interpreting career. Michael has served on several local boards including the Rochester Hearing and Speech Center and the Rochester City Ballet.
Michael received a master’s degree in human services administration from the Saunders College of Business in 1986 and served NTID as a development officer in 1989 before leaving RIT to start his own business. His wife Kate recently retired from RIT after a 32-year career as a sign language interpreter with the Science and Engineering Core team. Together they have raised three sons, John, Mike and Zack.
Barbara is a Retired Associate Professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Samuel is a 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.
Past CEO of Massachusetts, Colorado, and New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
When Barbara “BJ” Wood ’75 was approached in 1986 by then Governor Michael Dukakis to form a state agency to advocate for deaf and hard of hearing people in Massachusetts, she told him she had to think about it.
She left her desk on the 11th floor of her Boston office building and, instead of taking the elevator, walked down the 11 flights of stairs. By the time she reached the first floor, Wood decided to take on the challenge of establishing Massachusetts’ new Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She then went on to head similar commissions in Colorado and New Mexico.
Since that moment 30 years ago, Wood, who is deaf, has worked tirelessly for the deaf and hard of hearing community, admitting to even spending several nights on a sofa in the MCDHH’s office during its infancy. From lobbying legislators, addressing interpreter shortages to providing case management services, her goal has been to create better rights and access to services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
Wood has faced many challenges over the years, most notably awareness.
“I’ve had one state legislator say to me ‘Why are we still talking about interpreter shortages? Why can’t people just lip read?’” said Wood. “It’s repetitive and consistent education to the public about the needs of the [deaf] community.”
Perhaps the reason Wood is so passionate about advocating for the rights of the deaf and hard of hearing population is because it was only when she came to RIT/NTID that she learned about deaf culture.
“Before I came to RIT/NTID, I didn’t even know how to sign,” Wood said. “There were no laws when I was growing up saying deaf and hard of hearing individuals need adaptive resources, so I was in hearing classes without communication support throughout my entire education up to that point.”
After working in an official capacity for three commissions, Wood has returned home to Massachusetts and is still working just as hard for the deaf and hard of hearing community as she had 30 years ago, organizing voter drives and continuing to lobby the state legislature.
“When I start something, I need to see it through.”
David Nelson, Sr. Community Outreach Specialist in Government Affairs, has been employed at the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) for the past 24 years. David is responsible for providing accessibility information, managing outreach activities by Amtrak to the disability community and overseeing internal projects to ensure accessible compliance. Prior to joining Amtrak, David worked for the Honorable Tony Coelho (D-CA), who was one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which marks its 25th anniversary in July 2015.
David is an active member of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and in 2004 received NAD’s prestigious recognition, the Frederick C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award. He now represents NAD on issues concerning telecommunication and transportation. David served as president of the District of Columbia Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf Alumni Association.
David gives presentations on deaf culture and how to serve deaf and hard of hearing customers to various groups and companies. He also has participated on advisory boards for Amtrak Cross Cultural Diversity, Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Greyhound Lines and the Open Doors Organization, as well as many task forces addressing transportation-related issues for deaf and hard of hearing people.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as a degree from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). He attended high school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
When asked how RIT prepared him for life after college, Andrew R. Jacobson '90, '96 (hotel management, service management) said the intensity of RIT's academic system combined with involvement with his fraternity gave him a broader perspective on life.
Jacobson's career led him to Portland, Ore., and Wilmington, Del., before he returned to New York City to focus on his tax preparation business. He was raised on the lower east side of Manhattan.
"The tax business truly is a people's business. You meet all kinds of individuals and building those business relationships has great rewards," he said. He became an Enrolled Agent in October 2002.
Jacobson has given back to RIT/NTID in a variety of ways, including serving on the boards of NTID's Foundation and the NTID Alumni Association. He has been a supporter of the Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall, NTID's newest facility for research and innovation. Outside of work, Jacobson enjoys motor racing, music, theater and travel.
Robert W. Rice '94, '97 (management and leadership, MBA), is the founder, president and managing partner of BayFirst Solutions LLC, a government contracting firm specializing in risk management, information technology and homeland security. Rice, who lives in Chevy Chase, Md., started his career with Coopers & Lybrand LLP and went on to work as an information technology consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and PricewaterhouseCoopers before founding BayFirst. He served as chairman of the NTID Foundation Board of Directors and RIT President's Roundtable. He now is a member of the RIT Board of Trustees. He advises others to "surround yourself with people who think along similar lines, but have different skills that complement your own."
Jerry Nelson SVP '69, '74 believes in challenging the status quo in constructive ways–a talent he developed during his years at RIT/NTID while earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology.
Along with helping lead the effort that created the NTID student congress and being elected its first president, Nelson was editor of The Transcript, an underground NTID student newspaper.
He represented the college at the first NTID-Gallaudet debate and even worked as a Zamboni driver at RIT's Ritter Arena. After graduation, he was elected to the first NTID Alumni Board, served as an alumni member of the NTID National Advisory Group and participated in numerous alumni functions across the country.
Nelson currently is involved in alumni fundraising efforts for construction of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall.
He is the director of large accounts for Purple VRS, a video relay service company. He handles accounts for national corporate and deaf-owned businesses and RIT/NTID.
Mark Feder of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., is the owner/controller of B.E. Atlas Company, a family-owned wholesale hardware distributor that sells to more than 2,500 independent retailers, plumbers and electrical and construction contractors in the Chicago area.
While working for B.E. Atlas Company, Feder launched the National Catalog House of the Deaf (NCHD), which sold assistive devices such as visual signalers, closed-captioned decoders, TTYs, smoke alarms to Chicago's deaf and hard-of-hearing community. NCHD grew to be a nationally recognized TTY distributor, and Feder received a top sales award from National Captioning Institute. Based on the experience gained in running NCHD for 15 years, Feder presents to deaf entrepreneurs on establishing their own businesses.
As a student, Feder gained leadership experience as a member of NTID's Student Congress. Today he applies what he learned to enhancing the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Chicago. He established the NTID Alumni Chapter of Chicago's strong foundation and was a past advisor to the Chicago Area Interpreter Referral Service. Currently he is assistant chair of the 11th Biennial Deaf Seniors of America Conference, which will be held in Chicago, August 31-September 6, 2011.
Reflecting on his experience at RIT more than three decades ago, Feder says, [graduating from] RIT was a great milestone in my life, and thinking back, it's clear that my time at NTID contributed in many ways toward my becoming a successful leader. I grew up in a mainstreamed/oral educational environment, and benefitted from the opportunities that NTID offered me such as leadership skills development, a quality education with dedicated teachers, support services, interpreting and meeting and working with hearing students. I gained knowledge that impacted my life in so many ways. I remember meeting with Dr. D. Robert Frisina, director of NTID, and he told me how important NTID was as a 'fishbowl' and how joining organizational activities would benefit me. My involvement with the NTID Student Congress during my college years gave me many rich experiences working among deaf and hearing students. NTID also encouraged me to have confidence in following my path, and provided guidance throughout my college years and job career. It also gave me the opportunity to interact with the local community and helped me secure a better future for myself and my family.
Feder earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from RIT's Saunders College of Business. He is married to Beverly (Taylor) Feder, SVP '71, '75, and enjoys spending time with his grown children, Rosanne, Tami and Kevin. He and Beverly recently became proud grandparents to Brennan. Mark is a strong supporter of the NTID Alumni Association, and encourages other NTID alumni to support RIT/NTID.
With more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit agencies serving deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing and late-deafened people, Sharon L. Applegate is an accomplished non-profit executive and a major contributor to the civic life of the deaf community in Massachusetts and beyond. Since 2003, Ms. Applegate has been the Executive Director of DEAF, Inc. (Developmental Evaluation and Adjustment Facilities, Incorporated), based in Boston, Mass. Since its founding in 1977, DEAF, Inc. has remained Massachusetts' only community-based, multi-service agency operated by and for Deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and late-deafened people. Under her leadership, DEAF, Inc. has expanded health support services and outreach; implemented youth and elder services; improved standards for service delivery that have been recognized as best practices in the field; increased visibility through strategic public relations; established a development department and has kept the agency fiscally stable in changing economic times.
Before joining DEAF, Inc., Ms. Applegate was the Assistant Executive Director of the New York Society for the Deaf (NYSD), and managed city-wide comprehensive behavioral, social and rehabilitative services, including New York City's Ryan White HIV-AIDS Case Management program; an OMH-licensed Mental Health Clinic and Psychiatric Treatment Apartment program; an OSAS-licensed Substance Abuse program; and the OMRDD-licensed Individual Residential Alternative.
A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf with an associates degree in Medical Laboratory Technology, Ms. Applegate also holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Columbia University and master's degrees from Columbia University in social work and public health.
Reflecting on the part NTID played in her personal and professional development, Ms. Applegate says, It was at NTID where I was empowered by language, culture and the network of my peers, but mostly importantly, also, through NTID's support and belief that deaf students can succeed in a hearing world.... [NTID] was the stepping stone for me to higher education and bigger dreams. Her passion for leadership was sparked while still a student: My new-found sense of self as a student at NTID enabled me to run for and win a seat on the school's Student Congress. There I developed the leadership skills that provided the foundation for my ongoing development as a leader in my community and the agencies that serve our communities.
From the moment Mr. Wagner set foot on the RIT campus in his junior year of high school, he saw the doors of opportunity open to him. With a degree in social work from the College of Liberal Arts and a background in healthcare administration, Mr. Wagner has used his considerable skills to improve life for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, founding the first deaf assisted-living facility and nursing facility in Florida, creating the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and serving on numerous advocacy boards. Today he is vice president of marketing for CSDVRS, LLC and serves on the boards of the National Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
Jane M. Elliott is a charismatic leader whose breadth of experience and accomplishments are reflected in both Fortune 500/1000 companies and smaller, entrepreneurial organizations.
Currently, Jane is chief human resources officer at Deluxe Corporation. Formerly, Jane served as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Global Payments, one of the largest worldwide providers of payment solutions. Jane was responsible for aligning and optimizing internal functions with corporate strategic objectives to drive significant cost savings. Jane joined Global Payments in October 2001 with a dual role as vice president of Financial Planning & Investor Relations. As the company grew, the necessity to manage Wall Street analysts and investors became a full-time position in the fall of 2003. In mid-2010, Jane’s role expanded to senior vice president of Strategic Planning & Investor Relations. She became chief of staff in November 2013 and chief administrative officer in July 2016.
Jane has over twenty years of experience in the payment technology space, working at First Data for nine years in Omaha, NE and Atlanta prior to joining Global Payments.
Jane started her career with Laventhol & Horwath Certified Public Accountants in New York City while receiving her CPA. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting with high honors from RIT.
She has served on the board of Junior Achievement since 2015 and served on the boards of Wnet (2014-2018) and Technology Association of Georgia (2015-2018).
President and CEO, Landsman Development Corporation
Jim joined Landsman Development Corp. in 2001. He previously spent 23 years with Bausch & Lomb in a variety of positions including vice president of Administrative Services and vice president of the Vision Accessories business unit. Jim was responsible for managing the design and construction of the Bausch & Lomb World Headquarters Building in downtown Rochester. He received a bachelor’s in biology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, a master’s in safety management from West Virginia University, and an MBA from RIT. He is currently a member of the President’s Roundtable at RIT, the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the Saunders College of Business at RIT, and the Board of the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership. He formerly served on the Chairman’s Council of The Charles Finney School, as the executive vice president of the National Safety Management Society, and as a United Way volunteer for small business accounts. Jim also served as a member of the Boards of Rochester Downtown Development Corporation including a chairmanship of the Central Business District Development Committee, Family Service of Rochester, Family Resource Center, and Rochester Economic Development Corporation. Jim is a licensed real estate broker in the state of New York.
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.
Former Member, RIT Board of Trustees and Former Treasurer, Cisco Systems, Inc.
As a former member of RIT’s Board of Trustees and a life-long learner, 2016 Saunders College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Henry Navas ’74, ’77 is keenly focused on the education of all those who attend RIT and, perhaps even more so, of those who have since graduated.
“Education cannot end when you get your sheepskin, shake hands with the dean, and walk off the dais. That’s just the beginning,” Navas said. “Part of the question that RIT is asking is ‘How do we continue to make educational opportunities available to alumni in their technical fields and, more broadly, teach crucial life skills?’”
Navas’ desire for this type of continuing education is due to the lessons he learned beyond the classroom. While he credits his education for providing him with excellent technical skills, Navas wishes additional skill sets had been built into his programs at RIT.
“I’ve had to acquire critical thinking, ethical reasoning and unambiguous communication over time. You need them not only in your career, but in life outside of your job.”
These skills have proven more than beneficial for Navas. After working at Xerox for more than 12 years, he left Rochester to pursue a career in Silicon Valley. He eventually found his way to Cisco, when it was a company of just 50 employees. While there, Navas became treasurer and helped to launch Cisco’s successful initial public offering in 1990.
Navas isn’t consumed with balance sheets and profit and loss statements, though. This is not just because Navas is now semi-retired, but because he feels strongly that people need to infuse the technical side of their education and careers with the social sciences and humanities. His continuing education has included taking courses in anthropology, cosmology, physics and poetry. He envisions RIT offering the same type of opportunities for its alumni in the future.
“I can imagine the time when, in major cities, alumni will gather together for a course in Western Civilization or Faulkner. RIT will get people together to have those kinds of conversations with its professors,” Navas said. “RIT can continue to broaden their [alumni’s] views of life.”
Furthermore, Navas believes that a little bit of fun should be had as well.
“You’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to party hearty. You really do. It’s not enough to be a grind. You’ve got to get into the social relationships that will be fundamental to your success, both in your career and in your life outside your work.”
Navas more than lives up to his mantra. He has made four cross-country motorcycle trips and carries a tuxedo wherever he goes because “you never know when you might need one.”
Navas will be sure to sport his tuxedo April 15 when he is honored, along with his fellow DAAs. He will also participate in a variety of events on campus during DAA Week, April 11-15, which he is looking forward to.
“There is a serious amount of energy, IQ and imagination here—so that draws me in.”
Sean Bratches is executive vice president, sales and marketing for ESPN, overseeing all affiliate sales, advertising sales, research, marketing, consumer products and special events. In this role, he leads a sales and marketing team that provides national advertisers access to the premier media and marketing platforms and content under the ESPN umbrella, which includes the company's domestic cable television networks ABC Sports and ESPN.com.
Bratches joined ESPN in 1988 as an account executive and within a year was promoted to senior account executive. In 1992, he was named director, northeast region, before being promoted to vice president, eastern division, in 1995. He was promoted to senior vice president, affiliate sales and marketing in 1998 and to executive vice president, ESPN affiliate sales and marketing in 2001. Most recently, he was president, Disney and ESPN Networks affiliate sales and marketing before being promoted to his current position in 2005.
Bratches has received two Vanguard Awards, the cable industry's most prestigious award. In 2009 he was awarded the Vanguard for Marketing and in 2001 he was recognized with the Vanguard for Young Leadership. In 2009 CableFax Magazine inducted Bratches into the CableFAX Sales Hall of Fame. He has been listed in the CableFAX100 featuring “cable’s 100 heavy hitters” since 1999 and in recent years, has been listed in the top 20. He was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2014. The Sports Business Journal also named him one of the top 50 most powerful people in sports, and in 2008, he was inducted into the RIT Sports Hall of Fame for lacrosse and distinguished service.
As a freshman entering RIT, Frank S. Sklarsky '78 (business administration/ accounting) seriously considered a career in engineering or computer science. That is until Professor Emeritus Eugene Fram took Sklarsky under his wing and recommended accounting. Sklarsky took the advice, beginning a journey that has taken him to the upper echelons of several Fortune 500 companies.
He is executive vice president and chief financial officer for PPG Industries, capping a 35-year career that also included senior executive positions at DaimlerChrysler, Dell, ConAgra Foods, Eastman Kodak and Tyco International.
Sklarsky is a member of RIT's Board of Trustees and regularly returns to the Saunders College to speak with and mentor its students.
Although he counsels students on how to achieve career success, he emphasizes that it is a lifelong journey to be savored, and that whatever path they choose to take, it should be guided by a strong ethical compass.
Even as a child, William J. Prentice '99 (business administration finance) was industrious and motivated. When he was 10 years old, he worked on a farm and mowed his neighbor's lawn. At 12, he washed dishes at a local restaurant, worked in a bowling alley washing pins, and helped his father paint fire hydrants one summer.
Today, he owns Prentice Wealth Management LLC, overseeing whole-family accounts focused on disciplined financial security and goal-based wealth management. Prior to establishing PWM, Prentice served as vice president at Westminster Financial. He began his career in financial services as a representative with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.
He established an annual scholarship for first-generation college students. He serves on the Saunders College Alumni Advisory Board, chairing the annual golf tournament committee. He is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council. He has participated in Junior Achievement team teaching. He has been a mentor and coach to the Saunders students, advising them to "take that entry level job. Everyone starts at the bottom. There is a bottom rung on the ladder for a reason. Stand on it and climb your way up."
Donald Truesdale '87, a partner at Goldman Sachs, spent his first two years at RIT taking an overload of classes and managing a McDonald's full time.
He then spent six months each at IBM and Xerox on co-op, took an overload of classes every quarter and still graduated in four years.
Two years later he began an MBA at the Wharton School of Business where, Truesdale admits, the experience wasn't nearly as challenging. "Whar-ton was more of a 'college' experience than RIT–and RIT was more like a 'job' experience. You appreciate (the RIT experience) much more in retrospect."
Truesdale shows his appreciation for RIT in many ways: funding scholarships, serving as a trustee and coaching current students who are as hardworking as he was. "The positive side is that RIT pushes you very hard and makes you apply your skill; the downside is that the kids are tired. They work a lot."
RIT students aren't the only young people to benefit from Truesdale's coaching.
He combines his personal passion for sports and his desire to support children by volunteering with Harlem RBI, a New York City organization for inner-city youth.
John Bartholomew is owner and operator of the Bartholomew Health Care Group, a network of four senior communities in Western New York. He founded the first of these communities, Crest Manor Living and Rehabilitation Center, over thirty years ago. A veteran of the senior living services sector, John has had particular success in the management of financially troubled facilities. From 1978 to 1981, he served as manager-in-bankruptcy of Flower City Nursing Home, turning the facility around from insolvency to licensure compliance and financial readiness for sale to Park Ridge Hospital (the facility is now Unity Living Center, part of Unity Health System). He also operated Braeview Manor Facility in Cleveland, OH through liquidation.
In 1985, he was named Nursing Home Administrator of the Year by the New York State Chapter of the American College of Health Care Administrators. John credits his wife, Mary, and son, A. John Bartholomew II, with his ability to step outside the centers and give back to the community. John is an active member of the New York State Health Facilities Association, having served as president, vice president, and secretary of its ninth district; he is also a fellow of the American College of Health Care Administrators. In addition to his professional affiliations, John sits on the boards of the Alzheimer's Association - Rochester Chapter, EquiCenter, the Genesee Valley Breeders Association, and Rochester Saints and Sinners, Inc. He is also a member of Genesee Country Museum's Sylvester Hosmer Society and a Rochester Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow.
A 1960 graduate of RIT, John states that the school's co-op work block system allowed him to pay for tuition all on his own. He chose to attend RIT because it was close to his home and his father proudly taught insurance courses at the university. John credits his RIT education with teaching him how to effectively research and find whatever information he needs. He has remained involved with his alma mater throughout the years, sitting on and chairing numerous committees of the Nathaniel Rochester Society, and participating in the College of Business Alumni Advisory Council (now the Saunders College of Business Alumni Advisory Board). John and his wife, Mary, established two scholarships at RIT: the Bartholomew Annual Scholarship for undergraduate students at the Saunders College of Business who have demonstrated a commitment to their education, and the John and Mary Bartholomew Quality Cup Scholarship, for students studying management. The Bartholomews reside in Palmyra, NY.
Jay Levine is a Partner in Ernst & Young's National Tax office, and is the Americas Markets Leader of Business Tax Compliance. He is responsible for working with companies to improve their tax operations through process improvement, technology and strategic outsourcing, and he delivers innovative solutions to clients by gaining an in-depth understanding of their business and the unique nature of their organization.
Mr. Levine has over 33 years experience as a CPA and tax professional, including more than 26 years as a tax technology and process professional. He has designed and developed many software products and led in the integration of technology into the delivery of tax services. He has authored numerous articles for both tax and technology publications and is a frequent speaker on outsourcing, process improvement and tax related technology subjects.
Mr. Levine thinks RIT's co-op experience gave him a leg up in his early career. I had several co-op jobs including Medicaid auditor, bookkeeper, and running my own company. In each of these, I was exposed to real business experiences that I was able to utilize as a foundation for projects/clients that I was assigned. That, combined with the opportunity to take elective technology courses put him far ahead of his peers in the early 1980s when technology exploded in business. I was the first person in the US to have a position of National Director of Tax Technology. It became the steppingstone for the rest of my career.
Mr. Gelsomino got his start in the world's largest industry, the restaurant business, at the age of 14 when he began working for Tom Wahl's Restaurants & Party House. Years later, after embracing every opportunity RIT had to offer him—including fulfilling part-time work for the College of Continuing Education and providing consulting services to RIT while still a student—his expertise now includes site location, development and construction, and successful operation of each restaurant. Mr. Gelsomino is owner and operator of the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery chain in Western New York, as well as managing partner of Gelsomino & Company, CPA's.
At RIT, Mr. Gelsomino learned that knowledge is power, and how he chooses to use it is entirely up to him. "That is the single most important principal RIT taught me and I have lived by it each and every day."
Ali Shahidi is the chief innovation & client solutions officer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, a leading global law firm that handles corporate and technology matters, high stakes litigation and complex financial transactions. He has more than 20 years of experience in developing innovative technical solutions for the practice of law.
Ali and his team of knowledge managers, business analysts and data scientists design and deploy systems using advanced technologies such as process automation, data analytics, natural language processing and machine learning to enhance the delivery of legal services to clients.
One of his current projects is focused on addressing pay equity and income equality issues by using multivariate regression and statistical modeling to identify pay gaps across race and gender for global companies. This is offered as a business solution, in conjunction with associated legal services, to Sheppard Mullin’s clients.
Consistent with Sheppard Mullin’s focus on social justice, diversity and equality, Ali has been active as a mentor and volunteer through non-profits and professional organizations, including Fulfilment Fund and Public Counsel, the world’s largest pro bono public interest law firm. His first volunteer role was as an office assistant at RIT’s Ombuds Office more than thirty years ago.
Rudi was born and raised in Lima, Peru and moved to New York City in 1991. It was there that he continued his education and professional growth in the Media Division of the United Nations for six years. After leaving the UN, he moved on to the private sector and worked in international licensing and sales.
After more than two decades of traveling the globe for business, Rudi decided to follow his passion for learning about different cultures and chose to apply his various experiences to developing unique tours and travel experiences for American and European travelers.
In 2007 he co-founded Andean Origins, a boutique tour-operator based in Cusco, Peru. Currently, he heads Elite Sports Travel, a company focused on luxury travel to the most highly watched international sporting events, such as Formula 1 auto racing, FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, Tennis Grand Slam Championships, among others.
Whether it’s playing golf at 10,000 feet above sea level or crossing deserts, mountains and rainforests on a motorcycle, Rudi knows how to turn dream-trips into a reality. Fluent in three languages, he brings joy to people from all over the world, while ensuring their safety and comfort no matter where they travel under his guidance.
He is also an active member of the local business community in Peru, where he combines his travel-industry activities with volunteering in social development projects, mentoring young professionals, and consulting for companies in areas such as business development, strategic management and human resources.
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.
Not many undergraduate students are CEOs of publicly traded companies when they receive their diplomas on graduation day. When John Conklin ’15, the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus from the School of Individualized Studies, walked across the Commencement stage, he was mostly like the only one who could claim that honor among his RIT peers.
By the time Conklin enrolled at RIT, he had almost 30 years experience in industrial process innovation and design for companies like Frito Lay, IBM, and Lockheed Martin, but had longed to get his bachelor’s degree from RIT.
“Getting back to school was a passion of mine,” Conklin said. “RIT has a lot of concentrated creativity and offers functional, purposeful, and real world education. It’s been a home away from home.”
RIT was a natural fit for Conklin, in many ways, as even the campus itself resonated with another passion of his—renewable energy.
Since his days as a Boy Scout, when he turned light energy into electricity, Conklin has been involved with renewable energy, in some capacity, for the majority of his career. In 2010, while an RIT student, he was named the President and CEO of SolarWindow Technologies, Inc., a company developing electricity-generating see-through coatings for windows and flexible plastics using organic photovoltaics (OPV).
When Conklin took the helm of SolarWindow Technologies, their eponymous product was just a tiny proof of concept. As an SOIS student studying physics, business, social leadership, and safety and science technology, he could immediately apply what he was learning in the classroom to developing the product—a process that is still ongoing.
“After seven years we are now on the product development phase,” Conklin said. “Although it takes time, you can’t get frustrated in the process. Most people tend to quit before they finish. Persistence is key.”
With dramatic reductions of PV system installation costs from $10 per watt just a few years ago to under a $1 a watt today, Conklin’s persistence in developing an OPV product for skyscraper and tall tower windows should be paying off shortly.
“Everyone has to gain from renewable energy. There is no slowdown in sight for at least the next 20 years.”
John is currently working on his Master of Professional Studies Degree in the RIT School of Individualized Studies.
Berta Rivera is director of the C.A.S.H. Coalition (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope), a community coalition supported by the Empire Justice Center and United Way of Greater Rochester. She first became involved with C.A.S.H. as a volunteer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Now, as one of the youngest minority directors in the nation overseeing such a program, she is responsible for the overall management of C.A.S.H. including strategic planning and budgeting, fund development, volunteer training and management, VITA site operations, financial literacy and asset-building initiatives, and community outreach. Prior to joining C.A.S.H., she was a paralegal in the Foreclosure Prevention program of Empire Justice Center.
The first college graduate in her family, she was inspired to pursue higher education after participating in a Virtual Enterprise Program Fair in Austria as a student representative of the Rochester City School District. She credits good advice from her high school guidance counselors and her parents’ unlimited support of her desire to spread her wings and learn for her persistence and success at RIT and beyond.
Berta willingly shares her expertise with others. She has presented at national conferences for the National Community Tax Coalition and the Annual Conference on Financial Education on topics ranging from the recruitment, retention, and management of volunteers to best practices for training and communicating with volunteers and staff; client engagement and customer service to financial coaching. VITA volunteer coordinators and prospective financial coaching program coordinators from agencies across the nation are often referred to Ms. Rivera for advice, training, and technical support. And, in the community, she is an emergency volunteer at Rochester General Hospital, she serves with United Way's Latino Leadership Development program and volunteers for the annual United Way "Day of Giving," and she is a financial literacy high school mentor for Upward Bound.
Mark N. Gentile '10 (applied arts and science) is a software executive, entrepreneur and strategist with more than 20 years of experience in software management, architecture, engineering and research.
He currently serves as senior technical director for the Enterprise Mobility Group at Symantec Corp., where he is responsible for defining the optimal architecture, technology stack, high-level design and security for Symantec's mobility products and solutions. He is a leader who coaches and mentors team members, striving to ensure excellence and helping teams deliver higher quality commercial software.
In 1996, Gentile founded Odyssey Software and served as the company's chairman, president and CEO until Symantec Corp. acquired the company in March 2012. His leadership, vision, real-world experience and ability to bring best-in-class products to market were instrumental in establishing Odyssey Software as a recognized leader in the mobile market and which earned him recognition as the Rochester Business Association and Small Business Council's Business Person of the Year in 2011.
Brad Kruchten '88 earned his master's degree in statistics and quality management through the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. His favorite thing about his RIT education was the breadth of courses and opportunities available, and he appreciates that his education always focused on the application of science, rather than just the theory. The hands-on learning experience made it easier to apply his knowledge in the workplace.
Kruchten has enjoyed a successful career at Eastman Kodak Co., serving as senior vice president since 2009.
He is the president of Graphics and Entertainment & Commercial Films Business, which includes Prepress, Entertainment Imaging, Commercial Film and Global Consumables Manufacturing.
Today, Kruchten remains actively engaged with RIT. Kruchten says he is impressed with the co-op program for students, noting that it is beneficial to give students the opportunity for multiple work experiences–including international opportunities–so they better understand the career specialization they ultimately pursue and making them more marketable when they graduate.