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Alumni News

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Send your news about important milestones in your lives and careers to our Alumni Affairs Coordinator Joan Kallestad.

Jacqueline Rojas (BS '15), who graduated with degrees in international affairs and political science, is one of 10 students nationally to be awarded a 2017 Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship. As a Payne Fellow, the native of Ocala, Fla., will pursue a master’s degree in global human development at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. is one of 10 students nationally to be awarded a 2017 Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship. As a Payne Fellow, the native of Ocala, Fla., will pursue a master’s degree in global human development at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. (7/6/17)

Jean Accius (’03) was honored at the 30th anniversary celebration of the National Academy of Social Insurance, June 7, 2017, as one of the country’s “new generation of social insurance leaders.” Accius earned his master’s degree in aging studies from the Pepper Institute and his Ph.D. at American University. He serves as vice president of the Long-Term Services & Supports and Livable Communities Group within the AARP Public Policy Institute. In November 2016, Accius came to FSU to deliver a talk sponsored by the Pepper Institute, "Pressures, Policies and Politics: The Endless Possibilities of an Aging Society."

James Stage (BA '15) was presented with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award by Florida Gov. Rick Scott March 14, 2017. Stage created the educational software business Queralyze, which sells educational software designed to help students improve critical thinking skills in research and writing. Stage says the platform moves students beyond rote learning and gives them sharp skills to examine issues and ask the right questions.Stage graduated in 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and political science. In addition, he minored in entrepreneurship. Stage went on to earn a master’s degree from the College of Education in instructional systems and learning technologies in 2016.

SukJoon Hwang (Ph.D. '16), a graduate of the Askew School, was selected in January 2017 as a Founders Fellow of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA). ASPA’s premier offering for students and new professionals, the Founders’ Fellows program celebrates the current and future accomplishments of the next generation of those serving the public good, in the academic or practitioner communities, or both. The 2017 25-member class—selected following a record-breaking number of applications and a rigorous review process—represents the best of ASPA, Florida State University and the public administration community.

Elizabeth Barron (MS '09), graduate of FSU Dept of Urban and Regional Planning and Law School, will be presented the “Member of the Year” award by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) North Florida’s Capital Region on February 1, 2017, at the Trends in Real Estate luncheon. Elizabeth was selected by the District Council’s Management Committee for her contributions to the District Council and her impact on the council’s mission. She successfully implemented ULI’s classroom-based program UrbanPlan at Leon High School, now in its third year of the program. Under Elizabeth’s leadership, more than 250 students have completed the program and more than 50 volunteers from the community have been trained to help in the classroom.Most recently, Elizabeth helped coordinate the addition of including the UrbanPlan curriculum in FSU’s new course, Urban Planning & Real Estate Development that began this spring.

William M. Doerner (MS '10, Ph.D. '12) was appointed, November 1, 2016, to the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Planning Board and The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Doerner served for the preceding two years on the Hyattsville Planning Committee and has worked in property appraisal and valuation for both state and county agencies in Florida. While earning his doctoral degree in economics at FSU, he designed and taught classes on housing markets and land use regulations. His work at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) includes producing nationwide house price measures and conducting applied research to help inform policy decision-making in housing finance. He has published more than a dozen articles in academic journals on a range of topics - finance, housing, property taxation, and policy - and has presented at a number of national and regional conferences.

James Sweeney (BS '99) has been named Global Head of Fixed Income and Economic Research at Credit Suisse, where he is also the Chief Economist in Fixed Income Research, part of the Global Markets division. In this role, he leads the US Economics team and co-heads the Global Strategy and Economics team. James joined Credit Suisse in 2000, having previously worked as a political speechwriter. He holds an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and a BS magna cum laude in economics and political science from Florida State University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Economic Club of New York and is a John C. Whitehead Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association.

Two alumni of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy were inducted into the Florida State University Athletic Hall of Fame, September 9, 2016. Alex Barron (BS Social Sciences '04) became FSU's seventh two-time consensus All-American when he was selected for virtually every All-America team as an offensive tackle in 2003 and 2004. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He played in the league until retiring in 2012. Garrett Johnson (BS Political Science '05) is one of the most decorated scholar-athletes in the university's history, earning as many honors for academic achievements as athletic.The FSU and Atlantic Coast Conference shot put record holder, he was a two-time NCAA champion and four-time conference champion. He was instrumental in earning FSU the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championship, a first in program history. Johnson completed a master's degree in migration studies as a 2006 Rhodes Scholar at Exeter College, Oxford University. His masters research examined global economic inequities and the impact poverty has on global migratory patterns, closely observing Haiti's current socio-economic state, continuing the research he began while working in the Legislative Office of Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Upon graduation from Oxford, Johnson served as a staffer for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He is a co-founder of Sendhub, a business communications support company, established in 2011.

Kathy Mears (BS '03, MPA '11), an alum from the college who served as chief of staff to two consecutive Florida House speakers, has been named the new top in-house lobbyist for Florida State University. She will take the new role of chief legislative affairs officer on September 19, 2016. It’s a homecoming for Mears, who got her undergraduate degree in social sciences and her master’s in public administration from the college. Mears was chief of staff to Republican House Speakers Will Weatherford (2012-14) and Steve Crisafulli (2014-16). She also has been a top advisor to former Senate Presidents Ken Pruitt and Tom Lee and was deputy chief of staff to former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. She also served as campaign communications director to Congressman Daniel Webster and was a vice president at On 3 Public Relations in Tallahassee. At FSU, Mears will report to President John Thrasher, another former state lawmaker. “Kathy’s passion for public policy and academia makes her the perfect choice for President Thrasher and FSU,” said On 3 President Christina Johnson. “I am thrilled for her as she continues to achieve incredible milestones throughout her professional career.”

There is a beautiful tribute to Shannon West Redwine (BS '91) and the work she did on behalf of the homeless and disadvantaged on the FSU Alumni Association website at this link.

Eric Reading (BA '92, MA '93), executive vice president of Chemonix International, was elected to the board of directors of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a broad-based, influential network of more than 400 businesses, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders who support a smart power approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside a strong defense. USGLC has a nationwide network of advocates in all 50 states and boasts a bipartisan advisory council, chaired by General Colin Powell, which includes every living former Secretary of State. The organization also maintains a National Security Advisory Council consisting of more than 150 retired three and four-star generals and admirals.

Penny Walker Bos (BS ’83), a 32-year veteran of Florida politics, has been appointed executive director of the League of Women Voters of Florida. Her career began in 1983 when she served as a legislative aide upon graduating with a political science degree from FSU. She later served as a lobbyist, public information officer for the Senate Reapportionment Committee, and senior policy analyst for the Joint Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice. Bos has worked on a range of issues from welfare reform to Everglades’ restoration, hunger/food insecurity, health care, developmental disabilities, food stamp fraud, higher education, and vocational rehabilitation.

Terry E. Lewis (BA '65, MA '66) received the Florida Bar’s City, County and Local Government Law Section’s Ralph A. Marsicano Award for his contributions to local government law in Florida at the section’s annual meeting on May 8, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. Lewis is an AV-rated attorney who has practiced primarily in environmental and land use law, administrative law, and state and local government administration and legislation. He has been listed as a Best Lawyer in America in Environmental Law and Environmental Litigation since 2006 and was Lawyer of the Year in 2011 and 2015. He has been listed as a Florida Super Lawyer since 2006, a Top Lawyer in Government Law according to the South Florida Legal Guide since 2013, and recognized in the 2008, 2010 and 2013 issues of Florida Trend magazine’s Legal Elite.

Doug Mannheimer (BA ’76), a partner in the Tallahassee, Fla., law firm of Broad and Cassel, was recognized as one of the leaders in the field of health law in the 2015 edition of the prominent legal guide Chambers USA: A Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers.

Vicki Ruiz (BS '77) was elected president of the American Historical Association, a top honor in her profession, in January 2015. She is a scholar of Latina history at the University of California, Irvine, and the first Latina historian to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In March 2015, Ruiz was named a National Women’s History Month honoree.

Gigi Rollini (MPA '03), a shareholder and attorney practicing in the Messer Caparello law firm in Tallahassee, has been recognized by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) as one of Florida’s “Extraordinary Women.” FAWL noted in its selection that she is “unquestionably . . . at the top” of her profession. Rollini is an AV-Rated “Super Lawyer” in appellate and administrative law and recognized as one of Florida’s Top 40 Litigators Under 40, Florida’s Most Productive Young Lawyer, a FAWL Leader in the Law, and one of Tallahassee’s 2014 “25 Women You Need to Know.”

Alan Hooper (BA Social Science '85), president and CEO of Hooper Construction in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was honored with a 2015 Excalibur Award from the Orlando Sun-Sentinel as Small Business Leader of the Year. Hooper created the Himmarshee entertainment district in Fort Lauderdale and several other downtown residential complexes.

Kim Barnhill (MS Public Health '08) was appointed Deputy Secretary for County Health Systems (previously known as the Deputy Secretary for Statewide Services) for the Florida Department of Health in February 2015. She has served as chief of staff with the Department of Health for the past two and a half years. Before this, she spent more than a decade as the administrator for the Madison and Jefferson County Health Departments. She has also served as Director of Statewide Services and Director of Volunteer Services for the department.

Matthew C. Lucas (BS ’95) was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal by Florida Governor Rick Scott in early 2015. He had previously served as a circuit judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Tampa.

Doreen Spadorcia (MA ’84), vice chair of The Travelers Companies, is one of three FSU graduates to be named to Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015. This annual list recognizes 100 people who proved to be power players and innovators in the insurance industry over the year.

Melissa Zornitta (MS '98) was named the next Executive Director of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission on November 3, 2014. She is set to take the position February 1, 2015. She has more than 16 years of experience working with urban and regional planning programs in Florida. As of Fall 2014, she also held the post of president of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, a professional organization of more than 2,200 planners statewide.

Bobby Powell (MS '06) was re-elected to the Florida House of Representatives in District 88, November 4, 2014. He has been the representative from the district, which stretches from Palm Beach Shores to Delray Beach in eastern Palm Beach County, since 2012.

Larry Hogan (Political Science, '78) was elected Governor of Maryland, November 4, 2014. He is the second college alum to hold that office, after Parris Glendenning, who was the state's governor from 1995 to 2003. In 1967, Gov. Glendenning became the youngest student to earn a Ph.D. in political science in FSU history.

Alena King Lawson (BS,’77) has been honored by the City of Newberry, FL, after serving as a city commissioner for nearly 13 years. A resolution was passed in September 2014 designating the computer lab at the Newberry Community Center in her name.

Lanis (Lanny) Pinchuk (BS, '59) received an honorary Doctor of Science degree in recognition of his decades of service to the University of Colorado Boulder at the school's commencement, May 9, 2014. He was the first director of engineering development and a former assistant dean and director of alumni and corporate relations for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at UCB.

Keith Houck (MS’77)) received the Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Association for College and University Business Officers (SACUBO) region for meritorious service to higher education in the field of business and financial management.

Carisa Champion-Lippmann ('08), Jacob Cremer ('10), Christopher LaPrade ('07), and Hoyt L. Prindle ('07) have been named to the 2014 class of Thirty Under 30 Award winners in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and significant contributions to their professions, communities, or FSU. Carisa is currently a student at Nova Southeastern University; Jacob is with the Tampa law firm of Smolker Bartlett Schlosser Loeb & Hinds; Christopher is manager of global affairs for the Society for Neuroscience; and Hoyt is assistant vice president of the Florida Business Development Corporation.

Donald M. McCathran (BS ’94), former supervisor of the State Attorney's Office in Brooksville, Fla., has been named by Gov. Rick Scott as Hernando County judge. He began his legal career in 1997 as an assistant state attorney in the 5th Circuit. He received his bachelor's degree from Florida State University and his law degree from St. Thomas University. He is a certified legal instructor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and serves as vice chairman of the 5th Circuit's Florida Bar Grievance Committee.

Barbara C. Willis (BA ’93, MPA ’96) and Gigi Rollini (MPA ’03) were named among Tallahassee’s “25 Women to Know” by the Tallahassee Democrat in recognition of their professional, service, leadership and community accomplishments in conjunction with Women’s History Month, March 2014. Ms. Willis is an assistant superintendent for Leon County Schools, oversees human resources for the district, plays a role in planning policies and procedures and is involved with the Foundation for Leon County Schools. Ms. Rollini practices appellate and administrative law. She has been named a “Super Lawyer” in appellate law by Florida Super Lawyers magazine, one of Florida’s Top 40 Litigators Under 40 by the American Society of Legal Advocates, and the Most Productive Young Lawyer in Florida by The Florida Bar's Young Lawyers Division. She currently serves as Florida’s delegate to the National Association of Women Lawyers and founded the Tallahassee Professional Women’s Exchange and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers’s Advancement Project to cultivate women leaders. She serves on the Executive Leadership Board for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend and provides pro bono legal representation for Second Harvest, Legal Services of North Florida, and persons with disabilities.

Bruce Blackwell (’68) was one of four FSU alumni honored with Circle of Gold awards on April 12, 2014. The award is given to FSU alumni and friends who, through their service and achievements, personify the university’s tradition of excellence. FSU Alumni Association National Board of Directors Chair Gordon Sprague presided over the ceremony, which preceded the FSU football Spring Game. Bruce is a partner in the firm of King, Blackwell, Zehnder, & Wermuth, P.A., Orlando, Fla., and has been honored for his extensive pro bono work. (Read more) In June 2014, he was named executive director of the Florida Bar Foundation.

Sam McCall (MPA ’87, Ph.D. ’09) was inducted into the American Hall of Distinguished Audit Practitioners on March 25, 2014 by the North American Board of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). He is a recent National President for the Association of Government Accountants and currently a member of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory board which sets accounting standards for the federal government. In addition, Mr. McCall is the current Chief Audit Officer for Florida State University and has been nationally recognized on multiple occasions for his contributions to the government financial management profession. He is a recipient of the Robert W. King Memorial Award and the Tallahassee Chapter of The IIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also named as one of the honorees for the American Center for Government Audition Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing for 2014.

Mark Ellis, our 2013 Distinguished Alumnus and executive director of the International Bar Association, has written a thought-provoking piece for the World Financial Review examining the commitment (or lack of) to international criminal justice. Read it at this link.

Geoff Cottrill (Economics '85), VP-General Manager of Brand and Segments at Converse, was featured in an article in Advertising Age, March 11, 2014, about his great success in marketing the brand, particularly in social media. The article, the magazine's first in a series of profiles on notable players in the world of experiential marketing, can be seen at this link.

Lettie J. Bien (BS '76, Political Science) the 2010-2011 Distinguished Alumna of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, was appointed to the Economic Development Authority of Albemarle County, Virginia. A recent graduate of the University of Virginia Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership Program, she is the first woman ever appointed to the state-mandated authority.

William Simonitsch (BA ’93, MA International Affairs ’94), Miami-based partner at the global firm K&L Gates, has been named to the 2014 Lawyers of Color’s Third Annual Power List, a comprehensive catalog of the nation’s most influential minority attorneys. He will be honored on February 26, in Washington, D.C. He is also president of the National Asian Pacific Bar Association, the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students, representing the interests of more than 40,000 attorneys and 61 local Asian Pacific American bar associations.

Jillian Weise (’02) has won this year’s James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets for her second book, The Book of Goodbyes. The Academy awards the winning poet a cash prize of $5,000 and purchases copies of the book for distribution to its members. She is to be honored at the Academy’s Poets Forum in New York, October 25, 2013.

Bruce Jacob (’57) was presented the Champion of Indigent Defense Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at its 56th annual meeting in San Francisco, July 29, 2013. One of his first notable career milestones was arguing the state of Florida’s case before the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), the high court’s landmark decision requiring states to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to pay their own attorneys. While Professor Jacob argued on the side of Florida then, in the years since he has become one of the nation’s strongest advocates for the right to effective indigent defense counsel, regularly providing pro bono representation himself. Presently, Bruce Jacob teaches at Stetson University. (Read more)