19 Penn Staters honored with Alumni Fellow Award

Alumni Fellows photo

Nineteen Penn State alumni will be honored Oct. 21 for their outstanding professional accomplishments and given the lifelong title of Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Credit: Penn State Alumni Association

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nineteen Penn State alumni will be honored Oct. 21 for their outstanding professional accomplishments and given the lifelong title of Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Since the award was established 42 years ago, more than 750 alumni — out of more than 645,000 living alumni — have been honored as Alumni Fellows, including this year’s group. Each Alumni Fellow receives a commemorative award, designed and hand-cast by Jeanne Stevens-Sollman 1972g, an acclaimed medallic artist and herself a 2007 Alumni Fellow.

Complete Alumni Fellow bios will be posted on the Alumni Association’s website following the dinner and ceremony. For more information on the Alumni Fellow program, including criteria and past recipients, click here.

Lisa Baird 1982, 1984g (Old Greenwich, Connecticut) is the chief marketing officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), where she directs the sales and marketing division and oversees corporate sponsorship, properties, media, events, consumer products, and direct marketing. During her time with the USOC, Baird has signed more than $650 million in revenue while expanding the brand of Team USA; this reach includes the USOC being recognized as League of the Year by Sports Business Journal in 2013 in association with the 2012 Summer Olympics. Before joining the USOC, Baird served as a senior vice president for marketing and consumer products for the NFL, and prior to that, as senior vice president of worldwide marketing communications for IBM.

Wanda J. Blanchett 1997g (Somerset, New Jersey) is dean of the Graduate School of Education and distinguished professor at Rutgers University, which serves more than 1,500 post-baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and non-degree students. Blanchett was named dean at Rutgers in September 2014. Previously, she served as dean of the School of Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and, while there, established the Urban Education Research Center and founded the Executive Director/Sherman Family Endowed Chair. She also served as associate dean at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and in both roles helped increase the focus and commitment to diversity issues, including urban education and the depth of community-university partnerships.

Mitchell D. Cohen 1981 (New York, New York) is the vice chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, responsible for the New York Metro Region, as well as the firm’s network alignment leader. Cohen has been with PwC for 34 years — the last 23 as a partner. During this time, he has served a number of Fortune 500 telecommunications and technology clients. From 1998–2001, while based in Budapest, Cohen was the Technology, InfoComm, and Entertainment (TICE) leader for central and eastern Europe and Russia. After relocating to New York in 2001, Cohen was appointed global leader of the information/communications industry practice. In 2005, he became the global leader for the TICE practice.

Jacquelyn S. Fetrow 1986g (Richmond, Virginia) is provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Richmond, serving as chief academic officer with responsibilities including oversight of academic mission, tenure and promotion, and budget planning. She also holds a faculty appointment as professor of chemistry. Previously, Fetrow was Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics at Wake Forest University. For the last five and a half years there, she was dean of Wake Forest College, the liberal arts college. Prior to Wake Forest, Fetrow served as chief scientific officer and director of GeneFormatics, a biotechnology software company she co-founded, playing a key role in developing strategy, raising more than $50 million, and building a 65-person organization.

Mark A. Focht 1983 (Philadelphia) is first deputy commissioner for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR), where he is responsible for operations, planning, property management, ecosystem management, and security for the 10,100-acre system. He oversees a staff of more than 385 and an annual operating budget of $24.1 million for PPR, which includes 150 parks, 156 recreation centers and playgrounds, and 71 outdoor swimming pools. Prior to his PPR appointment, Focht was executive director of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park system and director of the park’s Environment, Stewardship, and Education Division. Focht is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and is currently immediate past-president of the society.

Brian S. Funkhouser 1980 (Dover) is president and chief executive officer for Buchart Horn Inc./BASCO Associates, a full-service engineering and architectural firm providing high-quality engineering and design services. Buchart Horn is among the top 200 environmental firms, and one of the top 300 engineering and design firms in the U.S., ranked by Engineering News-Record magazine. Funkhouser is noted for bringing the company through the economic downtown, and kept the company growing and thriving. Prior to becoming president and CEO in 2008, Funkhouser was executive vice president and chief operating officer of PACE Resources, Buchart Horn’s parent company. Funkhouser also earned an associate degree in engineering from Penn State Mont Alto in 1978.

Bruce A. Gray 1980 (Old Tappan, New Jersey) is senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Gray works with Bank of America clients who are commercial real estate developers as well as commercial real estate private equity funds, providing term loans and construction financing for office buildings, industrial and warehouse buildings, condominium towers, apartment buildings, retail centers, and hotels. Gray has primary responsibilities for fulfilling the credit needs of commercial real estate funds and developers based in the New York metropolitan area. Previously, Gray was a risk manager supporting commercial real estate, middle-market companies, leveraged finance, specialty industries that included gaming and utilities, capital markets, and private banking.

Jerome S. Griffith 1979 (East Hampton/New York, New York) is president and CEO of TUMI Holdings Inc., the leading international travel, business, and lifestyle accessories brand. Since joining the company in 2009, Griffith has spearheaded multiple retail expansions in both domestic and international markets. In April 2012, Griffith was the driving force behind TUMI making its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange as TUMI Holdings Inc. and has since successfully grown the brand. TUMI is currently sold in more than 310 stores worldwide. Griffith has more than 20 years of experience with major retail companies in the U.S. and Europe.

Naren Gursahaney 1983 (Boca Raton, Florida) is president, chief executive officer, and a director of The ADT Corporation, leading a workforce of nearly 17,500 employees. ADT is a leading provider of home and small business electronic security, automation, and alarm monitoring services in North America. Prior to his appointment at ADT, Gursahaney held numerous leadership roles within Tyco International. He served as president of Tyco Engineered Products and Services, president of Tyco Flow Control, and as senior vice president of Operational Excellence. Before his involvement with Tyco, he spent 10 years in leadership roles within General Electric (GE), including president, and, previously, vice president of service of GE Medical Systems Asia.

Linda Verba Hofman 1971 (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) is the head of service strategy at TD Bank in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, where she has been successful at implementing a groundbreaking philosophy focusing on customer needs and experiences. Her service and product innovations have brought new standards to the banking industry, and her leadership and expertise have influenced a corporate culture that promotes excellent customer service. Verba Hofman led the growth of TD Bank’s retail operations, expanding from 75 to 1,300 locations, from New England to the southeastern part of the country. As chair of TD Bank’s Diversity Leadership Team, she advocates for inclusion by leading initiatives across the organization.

Keith R. Karako 1976 (Ridgefield, Connecticut) is the global head of trade finance for Citigroup, providing short term cross-border financing for the bank’s international and regional overseas clients. In addition, Karako heads Citi’s Global Trade Deal approval process. In 36 years with Citigroup, Karako’s assignments have included asset-based and leverage finance, restructuring advisory and financing, portfolio management, and trade finance. For more than 10 years, Karako was the bank’s senior lender to the North American steel industry. In his current role, Karako’s group provides domestic and cross-border financing to facilitate commercial trade. Karako has chaired the Commercial Finance Association, an industry trade group; and represented a non-governmental organization to the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law.

Lisa Miles 1991 (Potomac Falls, Virginia) is senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at MAXIMUS Inc., a global company with more than 16,000 employees worldwide. As a member of the senior leadership team, she serves as the head of communications, where she has been instrumental in creating and directing a world-class communications team that handles a wide range of initiatives across multiple business lines, including traditional and online media, crisis communications, public relations, marketing communications, employee communications, and investor relations. With nearly 20 years of experience, Miles has been recognized by several industry groups for excellence in her field.

Stephen D. Miller 1969, 1973g, 1975g (Oak Park, Illinois) is the Judy E. Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology Immunology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center. He is internationally recognized for his research on pathogenesis and regulation of autoimmune diseases. His work has significantly enhanced understanding of immune inflammatory processes underlying chronic autoimmune disease employing animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Type 1 diabetes. Miller’s scientific career has focused on the study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying treatment of established autoimmune and allergic diseases using antigen-specific tolerance. Miller has published more than 360 journal articles, reviews and book chapters.

Ronald W. Police 1982 (Vienna, Virginia) is senior vice president for SAP National Security Services, with a focus on corporate strategy, innovation, and investments; and possesses more than 25 years of information technology experience. Previously, Police served as vice president for Apple Inc., where he was responsible for the government market. At Apple, Police implemented strategies to boost revenue and profitability, spur interest in the Mac, and launch mobility solutions for use by local, state and federal governments. Previously, Police spent 17 years at Oracle Corporation, serving as senior vice president of higher education and healthcare sales, senior vice president of sales operations, and vice president of department of defense and intelligence operations for Oracle.

Russell C. Redding 1982, 1998g (Gettysburg) was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Pennsylvania Senate on May 14, 2015, as the 26th Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is the former dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University. Redding leads the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which encourages, protects, and promotes agriculture and related industries while providing consumer protection through inspection services that impact the health and financial security of Pennsylvania’s citizens. Agriculture and related industries contribute nearly $75 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy. Redding has extensive experience as a public servant, having spent more than 20 years serving Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.

Steven K. Richards 1984 (Austin, Texas/Charlotte, North Carolina) is president and chief executive officer of Mood Media Corporation, with approximately $500 million in revenues and serving 450,000 client locations in 40 countries. Mood is the global in-store leader for experience design solutions, connecting brands with customers via interactive music, media, and mobile marketing campaigns. Richards is a business transformation expert known for achieving swift, systemic operational turnarounds, marked by record revenue and profitability growth. Richards began his career in 1984 at AT&T, where he was groomed for broadened management responsibilities via rotational, operational assignments with increasing scope. In 1998, he was recruited to Excel Communications, serving through 2001, notably as their chief marketing and product officer.

Joan A. Robbins 1971 (Philadelphia) is president of talent relations at Entertainment Studios, where she manages all the celebrities involved with her company’s programming as well as seven 24-hour HD cable networks. In 2012, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role in the making of the Cars.TV network, which features top collectors, industry innovators, designers, and ultimate car enthusiasts. Currently, Robbins is working on a new program with football legend Vince Papale. When Robbins began her Hollywood ambitions, she was truly a pioneer in a male-dominated business. Robbins’ diverse career included positions as a talent executive and segment producer at ESPN, NBC, and Fox. She also served as a director of international marketing for Lorimar-Telepictures.

Scott M. Smith 1985, 1990g (League City, Texas) is manager for the Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the role of nutrition in space flight. Smith and his group determine the nutritional requirements for extended-duration space flight. Activities include the assessment of nutritional status of crew members on missions to the International Space Station, along with ground-based and spaceflight research efforts. He has conducted research on the shuttle and the Russian space station Mir and is the principal investigator for ongoing spaceflight experiments on the International Space Station.

Rosaclara Solines Stroh 1979g (Hummelstown) is vice president and treasurer of The Hershey Company, the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America. Stroh is responsible for managing the company’s corporate liquidity; the financial risks of the company and the relationship between the company and commercial banks, pension managers, and insurance providers. Stroh’s other responsibilities at Hershey include implementing the appropriate capital structure of the company, managing relations with the securities industry, and acting as the principal negotiator with banks. She is also the program director for Hershey’s risk management activities. Stroh had an active role in the financing arrangements of Hershey’s recent acquisitions of confectionary companies in Canada and China.