Fall/Winter 2020-21 Class Notes

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Sheldon “Shelly” Brodsky, BBA ’64, MBA ’70, Beachwood, Ohio, is recently retired and has filled in the gap between 1964 and 2020 with the following careers: US Navy Supply Officer, President and COO Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company, CEO of The Leader Mortgage Company, and part-time adjunct faculty at Case Western Reserve University, Ursuline College, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College. He has been married to Beverly for 54 years, and they have two adult children. 

Walter Yingling, BS ’65, MEd ’67, PhD ’71, Columbus, Ohio, wrote, “My memories of May 4, 1970, appeared in our weekly Friendship Village Update. After Kent State, I went on for a career as an elementary principal in Ashtabula, Ohio, Washington, DC, and Boardman, Ohio. I was also one of the five founders of the Ohio Elementary School Administrators Lobbying arm and was VP until I retired. We lobbied for the students. (‘If they don’t get a good start, the rest may be difficult,’ I told my PhD committee.) I could not have asked for a better experience than my years at KSU, especially for my PhD that I was so blessed to have.”

Phil Hathaway, BA ’67, Owosso, Mich., wrote, “My book, A History of the Shiawassee River, was published in May 2020. It covers the geologic and geographic influences that fostered Native American life and early Euro-American enterprise based on water power. The history proceeds to the use of river water for industry, the degradation of the resource, and its recovery from the early 1970s’ environmental legislation. Quality of life and navigation enter into the final chapter with observations about our connection to history. After a career in urban planning, the Shiawassee River has consumed my retirement, with volunteerism for improved water quality and recreational access.”

David Duda, BS ’68, Cooper City, Fla., was elected onto the Board of Directors of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in May 2019.

Terrence O’Donnell, BA ’68,Terrence O’Donnell, BA ’68, Rocky River, Ohio, has joined Brouse McDowell, a business law firm based in northern Ohio, on an Of Counsel capacity focusing on alternative dispute resolution and appellate matters. Justice O’Donnell served on the Supreme Court of Ohio from 2003-2018 and is one of Ohio’s longest-serving justices. During his time on the Court, he led statewide efforts to promote integrity and professionalism in law, leading the creation of a nationally recognized Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program. Justice O’Donnell also served on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for 14 years and the Eighth District Court of Appeals for eight years.

Barry Lubetkin, PhD ’69, New York City, is the director and founder of The Institute for Behavior Therapy in Manhattan in 1971. Board-certified in both clinical psychology and behavioral psychology, he is the author of numerous academic and popular articles as well as two popular self-help books: Bailing Out and Why Do I Need You to Love Me in Order to Like Myself?. He also has recorded the popular insomnia treatment CD set “Dr. Barry's Sound Asleep.” His article, “COVID-19: Will You Feel Guilty That You Did Nothing?” was posted on PsychologyToday.com in May.


Michael Chanak Jr., BS ’71, Cincinnati, LGBTQ+ activist and former Procter & Gamble employee, appears in the short film They Will See You: LGBTQ+ Visibility in Advertising, created by P&G in partnership with Great Big Story. The film explores the history of LBGTQ+ advertising and highlights the inspirational people whose lives have been impacted by seeing their stories represented on screen.

In May 2020, Chanak was part of a P&G/CNN virtual press conference with Kate Bolduan, CNN moderator; Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD; Brent Miller, P&G LGBTQ Global Equality Leader; and Marc Pritchard, P&G Chief of Brands, where the film was introduced.

He was one of the people profiled in the June 2020 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine in a P&G spread for Pride month. P&G also asked him to contribute his perspective on their website in response to the June 15, 2020 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which states that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And he was listed in “The Moments that Shaped Cincinnati’s LGBTQ History” in the June 2020 issue of Cincinnati Magazine.

Thomas J. Friel, BBA ’71, Augusta, Ga., wrote, “I volunteer at Golden Master's Table every week to help the needy. We feed 250 to 300 people each day.”

Marjory M. Pizzuti, BA ’72,Marjory M. Pizzuti, BA ’72, Columbus, Ohio, who has served as president and CEO of Goodwill Columbus since 2005, announced her plans to retire in August. Pizzuti’s executive leadership experience in the community spans 40 years. Prior to joining Goodwill, she served for a decade as senior vice president of strategic marketing and community development at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and held key leadership positions for more than 20 years in economic development and tourism marketing, communications and public affairs for the State of Ohio and City of Columbus.

During her tenure at Goodwill, Pizzuti has guided the agency through the most significant growth in its 80-year history. She will continue serving in her current role through the completion of the search for her successor, which is anticipated to happen in the first quarter of 2021.

Carter Strang, BS ’73, MEd ’79, Shaker Heights, Ohio, partner in the law firm Tucker Ellis, was elected chair of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) Board of Directors effective July 1, 2020. He is a member of CCWA’s education committee and a longstanding participant in CCWA’s programs. CCWA’s mission is to inspire engagement in international affairs and world cultures through education, citizen diplomacy and civic dialogue.

Gary Fincke, PhD ’74, Selisgrove, Pa., wrote the essay, “After the Three-Moon Era,” which originally appeared in the Kenyon Review and has been selected to appear in Best American Essays 2020. A story, “The Corridors of Longing,” has been chosen to appear in Best Small Fictions 2020. His ninth collection of stories, The Sorrows, was published early this year, and his fourteenth collection of poems, The Mussolini Diaries, will be published in late 2020.

Daniel Gallik, MEd ’74, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, recently had his second novel, Love on Blue Waves, published by Halo Press. The book, which explores what love is really about, takes place in the Buckeye section of Cleveland in the sixties. His first novel, A Story of Dumb Fate, is about a child with disabilities who lived in the same neighborhood. Both novels are for sale at amazon.com. Gallik once attended seminars and poetry readings at the Kiva.

Michael N. Oser, BA ’75, Columbus, Ohio, is proud to announce that, after 30 years as a divorce attorney, he is also known as Marriage Mike, the publisher of Marriage Mike e-books 2021, with the intent of helping people avoid marital disharmony and follow a positive path towards happiness. Although his career as an attorney practicing criminal defense, juvenile and family law includes terminating marriages, he is now reflecting on what he has learned about keeping harmony in marital relationships from sociology professors at Kent State, professional experiences, his first marriage and divorce, and his current marriage of 35 years. He is working on an e-book, A Guide to an Irish Wedding. If you have pictures, articles, or stories of an Irish wedding—yours or someone else’s—please email him at marriagemikeebooks2021@yahoo.com.

David J. Bronczek, BBA ’76, Johns Creek, Ga., has been appointed to the board of directors of Tyson Foods as of May 2020. Bronczek is the recently retired president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corporation, the global logistics and transportation company. He was part of FedEx for more than 40 years, starting as a courier and progressing into the company’s management ranks. His roles included leading FedEx Express in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and later serving for 17 years as president and CEO of FedEx Express. A native of Ohio, he also has experience as an independent public company director, previously serving on the board of International Paper, and he served as United Way Mid-South Board Chairman.

Edward R. Canda, BA ’76,Edward R. Canda, BA ’76, Lawrence, Kan., retired as Professor Emeritus at the end of 2019 after 33 years as a social work professor, the last 30 at the University of Kansas. He also has an MA in religious studies (University of Denver) and MSW and PhD degrees (The Ohio State University). His work focused on two main areas: 1) creative responses to crisis, chronic illness and disability; 2) international perspectives on social welfare, with many collaborations in East Asia and Central Europe.

He established a life-long special interest in South Korea due to his Fulbright Award and Graduate Fellowship at Sungkyunkwan University, 1976-1977, arranged by his KSU advisor, Dr. Gerard Kennedy (in memoriam) and encouraged by the Honors College. He has more than 200 publications and more than 200 presentations.

In 2003, the KSU Honors College conferred him with the Honors College Alumni Award for Excellence in Scholarship. In 2013, the national Council on Social Work Education conferred him with the Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award.

Paul M. Hedeen, BA ’76, Monroe, Mich., wrote, “After taking my BA in English and a short stint in business, I returned to graduate school for an MA and PhD in English from The University of Akron and Northwestern University respectively. I went on to teach at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (1990-1994) and Wartburg College (1994-2012) before finishing my career as an academic dean at Monroe County Community College. I won three teaching awards. I am also an award-winning writer (poetry and fiction) and a Fulbright scholar.  My critical and creative writing has appeared in numerous magazines and journals including The North American Review, Confrontation, Rosebud, Philosophy and Literature, and many others.

“In addition to my most recent novel, The Butterfly (BHC, 2019), which is a 2019 Foreword INDIES Book Awards finalist, I have also published the novel The Knowledge Tree (Wide Water, 2013). I am the co-editor (with DG Myers) of the essay collection Unrelenting Readers: The New Poet-critics (Story Line, 2004), and I authored two poetry collections: When I Think About Rain (Final Thursday, 2009) and Under a Night Sky, (Final Thursday, 2016).

“I began at KSU in fall of 1971. Because the Vietnam War was not yet lost, KSU was a place full of active debate of and resistance to government policies. I worked at the Student Center with Mr. Dean Kahler, and I remember him as an articulate and courageous critic of the war and a defender of freedoms for which he’d already made a profound sacrifice. Like many young people, I was just beginning to understand these freedoms often come at a terrible price. I was lucky to be at KSU, a great school just beginning to shoulder its burden of history.”

David Schwartz, BA ’76,David Schwartz, BA ’76, Cleveland, has spent the last 30 years in LA as a director/artist/writer in television animation. He has worked on numerous animated series, including Darkwing Duck, Johnny Bravo, The Simpsons, Rugrats and Bugs Bunny. He has spent most of his career at the Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers Studios, but he has also worked at Dreamworks, the Cartoon Network, and drawn comics for DC and Marvel, among others. He retired last year and is currently an adjunct professor in the animation department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. 

Charles Lance Mathess, BS ’77, MPA ’78,Charles Lance Mathess, BS ’77, MPA ’78, Cody, Wyo., served over 30 years with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and retired in 2009 after attaining the rank of Staff Lieutenant in the Strategic Services Section at General Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. After retirement, he and his wife, Dianne, moved to Cody, Wyoming, where he served over nine years with the Park County Sheriff’s Office as their Public Affairs Officer and Search and Rescue Coordinator. He retired for good in February 2020. Says Mathess, “I felt public service was my calling in life, and I am proud to have served over 40 years in law enforcement.” He is an avid outdoorsman, hiker and hunter. He and Dianne have two grown children.

David Swartzlander, BA ’77,David Swartzlander, BA ’77, Seward, Neb., was inducted into the John A. Boyd Hall of Fame by College Media Association (CMA) at its National College Media Convention in November, 2019, in Washington, DC. Swartzlander, an associate professor of practice in journalism at Doane University in Crete, Neb., served as vice president and president of CMA from 2009–2013. He also has served on various committees within the organization and presented numerous times at conventions. The award is the most prestigious honor given by CMA, recognizing longtime members whose dedication, commitment and sacrifice have contributed to the betterment and value of student media programs of both the campus and nation.

Swartzlander is one of 40 advisers to be honored in the organization's 66 years. He has taught journalism at Doane University for 22 years. He advised the student newspaper, yearbook and magazine for 21 years. He advised the website since its inception more than 15 years ago. Before Doane, Swartzlander worked as a journalist for daily newspapers in Ohio, Florida, New York and Nebraska. He retired in May 2020 from teaching at Doane University.

Gerald Canton, BA ’79, MA ’98, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was reelected in November 2019 for a second term of office as a member of South Russell Village Council. He is also a member of the Chagrin Falls Village Schools substitute teaching staff. Canton and his wife, Darleane, who retired from KSU as an administrative assistant, enjoy visiting the Kent Campus and attend sporting events and performing arts throughout the year. They are the parents of seven children and eleven grandchildren.

Donald Funk, BArc ’79,

Donald Funk, BArc ’79, Canton, Ohio, wrote, “In October 2019, KSU Architecture Class of 1979 held their 40th Class Reunion in Kent. Events included a campus tour conducted by Marti Ring, a reception and state of the college talk by the dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and a dinner downtown. It was attended by more than 30 returning classmates. Many of us had spent part of our fourth years in Florence, Italy, and traveling all over Europe. We plan on having our 45th Reunion in fall 2024.”

Ronna S. Kaplan, MA ’79,Ronna S. Kaplan, MA ’79, Cleveland, was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) Board of Directors. In 1988, she began her clinical career at the renowned Cleveland Music Settlement, where she developed programming and treatment plans for children and families as part of an interdisciplinary team. She also lent her expertise to supervising interns and practicum students while undertaking community and medical setting research.

Never one to shrink away from a challenge, Kaplan quickly assumed expanded responsibilities at the Settlement—as senior staff supervisor, quality assurance coordinator, director of the Music Therapy Department, and ultimately chair of the Center for Music Therapy, where she remained until her retirement in 2019.

Kaplan’s volunteerism for music therapy is as phenomenal as her clinical work. Regional highlights include president of the Association of Ohio Music Therapists and Ohio representative to the Great Lakes Region (GLR) board, editor of Voices of the Lakes, GLR Assembly delegate, and GLR vice president. In addition, she served as scholarship chair for the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs. Nationally, she established and co-chaired the Early Childhood Music Therapy Network in 1994, while continuing to serve on the assembly.

In 2004, she was elected AMTA vice president elect, and went on to become vice president, president elect, president and past president on the Board of Directors. Kaplan has also contributed to AMTA in a wide array of other capacities including the Financial Advisory Board, Wilson Trust Advisory Committee, Diversity Task Force, MLE Subcommittee, and the Autism Task Force, in addition to serving on the CBMT Continuing Education Committee. She has gone on to chair the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations (NCCATA) and is presently an associate editor of Music Therapy Perspectives

Connie Schultz, BA ’79,Connie Schultz, BA ’79, Cleveland, recently published a New York Time’s bestselling debut novel, The Daughters of Erietown. The novel, which explores the evolution of women’s lives during the second half of the 20th century, opens with a prologue set in 1975 as the college-bound protagonist is on a road trip to Kent State, accompanied by her parents and younger brother.

She is the author of two previous nonfiction books: a collection of her columns, Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths, and the memoir, …and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, documenting her time campaigning with her husband, US Senator Sherrod Brown.

Schultz won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2005 for her column in the Plain Dealer, as well as such prestigious awards as the National Headliner Award for Commentary, the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Commentary, the Batten Medal, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting and more.

In 2016, she joined the Kent State College of Communication and Information and teaches as professional-in-residence in the newly named School of Media and Journalism. She is also a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate.

On August 18, 2020, Schultz took part in “A Conversation about Writing” on the Zoom platform with fellow professor and author Jacqueline Marino discussing her debut novel, writing careers and advice for students and alumni.


Sara Lukose-Silver, MEd ’79, PhD ’83,Sara Lukose-Silver, MEd ’79, PhD ’83, White Plains, NY, wrote, “Since 2001, I have been a senior research associate at Measurement Incorporated in White Plains. I manage longitudinal evaluation studies in education (K-16), labor, health, and public policy for local, state and federal agencies. Before 2001, I managed school-to-work programs for local educational agencies and also served as assistant professor at several universities. Today, as I approach the tail end of my career, I mentor junior researchers, write grant proposals and provide professional development. I am available to KSU graduates for pro-bono career counseling. Write Saralukose5@yahoo.com.”


José González-Taboada, DBA ’81, Caguas, Puerto Rico, wrote, “August 13 marked the 50th anniversary of the day in which I entered a classroom for the first time as an instructor. This 50-year academic career includes almost nine years teaching accounting at KSU, as well as brief teaching experiences in Spain and the Dominican Republic. At the University of Puerto Rico I have served as chair of the Accounting Department for seven years and dean of the College of Business for three years. Having fulfilled my dream of a 50-year career, I look forward, God willing, to continue educating future accountants to serve the profession and society. Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity.” 

Thomas Knestrict, BS ’83,Thomas Knestrict, BS ’83, Mason, Ohio, was promoted to full professor and appointed director of the Middle and Early Childhood Education program at Xavier University, where he has taught for the past 17 years. After a 15-year career in public schools, Knestrict earned his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 2001 and previously taught at Miami University and the College of Mt. St. Joseph. He also published his first book in 2020, Controlling Our Children: Hegemony and Deconstructing the Positive Behavioral Intervention Support Model, Peter Lang Publishing. He is married to Christine (Cigolle) Knestrict, BS ’83, and they have three children, Aaron, Olivia and Ally.

Beverley Laubert, BA ’84,Beverley Laubert, BA ’84, Lewis Center, Ohio, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Ohio, wrote, “I was selected from over 800 applicants to serve on the 25-member Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. The independent commission is tasked to identify and recommend best practices in infection control and care delivery and identify opportunities to leverage new sources of data to improve infection control policies and enable coordination across systems. My Kent State education in gerontology launched a rewarding career through which I have seen and heard older adults’ experiences with long-term services and supports. Participation in this commission will allow me to contribute these experiences to important public policy dialogue and decisions.

Michael E. McFarland, BBA ’84, BA ’87, Twinsburg, Ohio, received degrees in marketing and graphic design from Kent State and honors veterans with his artwork. He makes print-on vinyl murals, which he calls "Warrior Walls,” for VA Medical Centers and intends to create 50 nationwide. While the Veterans Administration cut procurement of artwork in 2015, they accept donations of murals, so McFarland is trying to acquire donors for the murals. If interested in donating, contact your local VA center or log onto Mcfarland studios.

Stephen Saracino, MFA ’84,Stephen Saracino, MFA ’84, Buffalo, NY, professor of design (metalsmithing) at SUNY Buffalo State, gave a virtual artist and scholar lecture at KSU’s School of Art on October 2, 2020. Saracino has been an educator and exhibiting artist for three decades. His (often satirical) narrative pieces reflect personal or political concerns and have been featured in more than 50 exhibition throughout the US and Japan. His work was recently featured in the exhibition “Constructed Answer” at the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery at Kent State, which centered around the 50th commemoration of the May 4 shootings. See stephensaracino.com.

Stephen L. Hupp, MLS ’85, Parkersburg, W.Va., library director at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, has published his fifth novel, On a Sunday in May. The three most important events in international motorsports frequently occur on the Sunday of the American Memorial Day holiday: the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis Five Hundred, and a Six Hundred Mile race at Charlotte, North Carolina. On a Sunday in May presents three stories based on these events. Readers will find on-track action and glimpses into the private lives of the competitors. The book is a sequel to the author's first racing novel, Born to the Breed. Both books are available as e-books and paperbacks on Amazon. In addition to his two motorsports novels, Hupp has also published the thrillers Daughter of the Valley and Wings in the Night, both set in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and Of Gods and Spirits—all available on Amazon. You may contact the author at 304-482-3176 or stephenlhupp@gmail.com.

Matt Fantin, BS ’86, MA ’88, New Philadelphia, Ohio, retired from the JC Penney Company after a 30-year management career. He is now the business manager at Sacred Heart Parish in New Philadelphia.

Joanne J. Kim, BS ’86,Joanne J. Kim, BS ’86, Peninsula, Ohio, who has been a voice for change at Marcus Thomas LLC, leading the Cleveland-based agency through a seminal period of growth and transition, has announced her retirement effective October 1. A 30-year veteran of the agency, she was one of five partners who joined the agency in the 1990s and grew it from 35 employees, based in Youngstown, Ohio, to over 200, based in Cleveland and Buenos Aires. As the agency’s longest-standing creative head, she not only evolved the agency’s creative culture but also pushed the agency toward early adoption of social media, digital communication, and most recently, diversity and inclusion, as well as multicultural marketing. 

Over the course of her career, Kim’s leadership has extended to the industry and the local community. From 2016 to 2018, she served as president of the board of directors for the Marketing & Advertising Global Network (MAGNET), a worldwide community of independent agency CEOs and principals. In 2016, she was selected as a juror for the Effie Awards, the pre-eminent marketing awards program that recognizes effectiveness in marketing. She also has served on the board of directors of several nonprofit organizations, including The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, Northeast Ohio public radio station WKSU, and Greater Public, an organization dedicated to providing resources to public media.

Karin Boesler, BA ’87,Karin Boesler, BA ’87, Fairview Park, Ohio, was featured in the spring 2020 issue of The Circle, a publication of Omicron Delta Kappa Society. She was one of three society members active in the entertainment industry who were profiled in the article “The Actors’ Range” by Tara Singer. Boesler shared some highlights from her years at Kent State University and in the broadcast news industry, where she received Emmys for two community service/news reports about victims of violence that she produced and was featured in at WUAB-TV. In the 1990s, she began working in films with such notable actors as John Travolta, Matthew McConaughey and Katie Holmes. Films in which she’s appeared include Criminal Activities (2015), The Land (2016) and White Boy Rick (2018).

Jeff RichmondJeff Richmond, who attended Kent State from 1980 to 1988, New York, NY, is the executive producer of Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend, which was nominated in the Outstanding Television Movie category of the Television Academy 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards. A producer, director, and composer, Richmond also composed the music for the Kimmy Schmidt interactive special. Previously, Richmond served as executive producer and composer for the regular Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series which ran on Netflix from 2015-2019.

Richmond received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from KSU in 2013. A three-time Emmy Award winner for his work as a producer on NBC's 30 Rock, Richmond has been nominated for 17 Emmy Awards for work as a composer on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, as a producer on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, and as a writer for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. Richmond is also the composer of Mean Girls The Musical and in 2018 he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

Barbara F. Schloman, MA ’89, PhD ’98,

Barbara F. Schloman, MA ’89, PhD ’98, Stow, Ohio and her son, William Schloman, BS ’98, Mantua, Ohio, co-authored A Century of Flight at Paton Field: The Story of Kent State University’s Airport and Flight Education (The Kent State University Press, 2019) to mark the airport’s centennial in 2020. Notable aviators and events marked the airport's early years when it operated as Stow Field. The pre-war and wartime federal programs brought collegiate aviation to Kent State and led to purchase of the airport in 1942. Andrew Paton's vision for a university-run aeronautics program that made educational use of its airport was fully realized in 1966. Today, the airport is the longest surviving, public-use airport in Ohio.


Wendy (Tronge) Holliday, BBA ’90, MEd ’93, Wellington, Ohio, was announced as the first-ever CEO of The Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (Wnet). Wnet is the premier professional organization for women in payments and the men who advocate for them, providing personal enrichment no matter what stage members are in their careers. While at Kent State, Holliday also served as an adjunct faculty member to teach “Introduction to Professional Development” in the College of Business Administration.

Marci (Adams) Craig, BS ’91, MPA ’99,Marci (Adams) Craig, BS ’91, MPA ’99, Salem, Ohio, accepted the role of director of human resources for the University of Mount Union, Alliance, Ohio. Prior to this position, she worked as the director of human resources for almost 14 years at Windsor House Inc., a group of 17 long-term care facilities in the Mahoning Valley, Youngstown. She was also previously employed by Little Tikes, Hudson, as manager of human resources.

Tammy Jessen AndreykoTammy Jessen Andreyko, BSE ’91, Sewickley, Pa., Quaker Valley School District superintendent, received the 2020 Empowered Superintendent of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology. The award is given to a superintendent who serves as a true empowered leader, leveraging and championing technologies in the classroom and throughout the district to transform their school district.

1993 Lemma MulatuMulatu Lemma, MA ’93, PhD ’94, Savannah, Ga., professor of mathematics at Savannah State University, is one of 12 individuals nationwide to receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, with the National Science Foundation (NSF). This award recognizes outstanding efforts of mentors in encouraging the next generation of innovators and developing a science and engineering workforce that reflects the diverse talent of America. Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip to Washington, DC to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and they join a cadre of over 300 PAESMEM alumni. They also receive a $10,000 award from the NSF.

Dr. Lemma also has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements and leadership in the field of mathematics teaching, research and mentoring. For his excellence as a professional educator, he has been recognized with myriad awards and honors, including the 2012 University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for faculty in regional and state universities. He was additionally named a distinguished professor of Savannah State University in 2010, Georgia Professor of the Year in 2013, and was one of the most awarded professors in the state of Georgia in 2015.

In preparation for his career, Dr. Lemma began his higher education in Ethiopia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Master of Arts in applied mathematics in 1982. After coming to the United States, he continued his academic pursuits at Kent State University, where he cites Professor John Friday among the numerous professors and individuals who have inspired his research. Since his graduation, Dr. Lemma has held the position of a mathematics professor at Savannah State University and has published more than 100 research papers. In 2011, after three years of investigation and more than 13 theorems, he introduced the Mulatu Numbers (named after him) to the mathematical community and to the world. The Mulatu Numbers are an integral sequence of numbers with distinct mathematical properties and patterns comparable to Fibonacci and Lucas series.

John Yehl, BBA ’93,John Yehl, BBA ’93, Louisville, Ky., published his first book, Can You Sell It?, available on Amazon. He says his book is relevant to anyone, whether they are just starting out in sales or have been doing it for years. It also applies well to any type of relationship, including marriage.

Anderson Pamela Cover JustTheGirls 1994Pamela R. Anderson-Bartholet, AA ’89, MA ’94, MFA ’12, Munroe Falls, Ohio, wrote, “My new poetry chapbook—Just the Girls: A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies; A Drift of Honeybees—was published by The Poetry Box Press. These poems celebrate women and what it means to be connected to the female whole. The book cover image was co-created by my niece, Meredith Balogh, BFA ’09, Evanston, Ill., and daughter, Rachel (Lysa) Anderson, BA ’19, Kent, Ohio. It took second place out of more than 500 submissions in the international All Author Cover of the Month contest in October!”

Marla Mondora, BS ’94,Marla Mondora, BS ’94, Raleigh, NC, has been appointed principal of Martin Gifted and Talented Middle School, where she is proud to lead the Mustang school community and to re-invigorate the school's magnet theme. Previously, she served as assistant principal at Moore Square Magnet Middle School.

Richard Sweeney, BA ’94, MA ’97, MBA ’11,Richard Sweeney, BA ’94, MA ’97, MBA ’11, Ottawa Hills, Ohio, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of Lourdes University, Sylvania, Ohio. Sweeney is the regional president of Toledo Edison, a FirstEnergy electric utility, which provides electricity to more than 300,000 customers in northwest Ohio. Sweeney joined the company’s Information Technology Department in 1999 as a programmer analyst. He advanced in IT before being named senior technical analyst in 2004. The same year, Sweeney moved to the Supply Chain Department—Corporate Services where he was named manager. After serving in various management positions, he moved to Ohio Edison’s Operations Support department when he was named director in 2011.  

Julie Manteria, BA ’95, Rockville Centre, NY, has been promoted to principal at UHY Advisors and UHY LLP, Albany, NY, which provide tax and business consulting services.

Troy Robinson, BA ’95,Troy Robinson, BA ’95, Pittsburgh, Pa., was appointed chief development officer of international hunger relief nonprofit Rise Against Hunger. With over 25 years of senior-level experience in development within the nonprofit sector, he joined Rise Against Hunger to support the organization’s mission of ending hunger. He previously served in fundraising roles for Camp Fire, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Holy Family Foundation, Youth Villages Inc. and Playworks Inc.

Kathleen S. Pero, BSE ’97, MEd ’03, Elyria, Ohio, wrote, “I recently became a first-time author of the children’s book Miss Molly Learns Responsibility, where the main character, Molly, has two moms. This diverse children’s book focuses on Molly learning how to take care of her pet kitten.”

Zulfiya Tursunova, MEd ’98, Greensboro, NC, assistant professor for peace and conflict studies at Guilford College, was recently awarded the 2020 Bruce B. Stewart ’61 Teaching Award. Her colleagues say, “Since her arrival at Guilford College in fall 2017, she has demonstrated teaching excellence and rendered invaluable service to student learning and the Guilford Community.”

Ryan Edwards, BA ’99,Ryan Edwards, BA ’99, Lynchburg, Va., was elected president of the Chesapeake chapter (Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, DC) of the National School Public Relations Association on May 14, 2020. He worked in broadcast journalism while pursuing his major of mass communications at Kent State. Subsequently, he garnered two awards from the Ohio Associated Press: one for Best Reporter (2004) and another for Best Feature Reporting (2004). As a social media manager for a school division in Virginia, he won Best in Social Media for any member division in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, DC, in 2018.

Scott Michael Haws, BBA ’99, Canton, Ohio, joined Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group in the capacity of developing and leading their project management organization in May 2019. Crum & Forster Pet Insurance is a part of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. In January 2020, he was elected president of the Plain Township Board of Trustees, responsible for overseeing and leading Ohio's 5th largest township.

Robert Schultz, MEd ’99, PhD ’99,Robert Schultz, MEd ’99, PhD ’99, Waterville, Ohio, is one of 39 people named a Fellow of the American Council on Education (ACE) for 2019-20. Established in 1965, the distinguished ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing faculty and staff for senior positions in college and university administration through its distinctive and intensive nominator-driven, cohort-based mentorship model.

Schultz has been a faculty member at The University of Toledo since 2001, where he is currently professor of gifted education and curriculum studies and chair of early childhood, higher education and special education in the Judith Herb College of Education. In addition, he serves as director of the Honors Program in the college and is the assessment liaison for the university-wide Visual Literacy Consortium. He is also a member of The University of Toledo Leadership Institute class of 2018.


Jamie Holcomb 2000

Jamie Holcomb, BM ’00, Stafford, Va., has been appointed vice president of instructional design and innovation for Escoffier and Triumph Higher Education Group by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, a leading accredited provider of online and campus-based culinary training and education. Previously Holcomb held faculty positions at Southern New Hampshire University, Viterbo University, Ocean County College, Park University and Walsh University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership at Liberty University.

Josh West, BBA ’01, Touchet, Wa., has been appointed vice president of trading and chief commercial officer at The Energy Authority (TEA), a public power–owned portfolio management, energy trading and advanced analytics company headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., with an office in Bellevue, Wa. Previously, he served as managing director of trading and commercial strategies at TEA. In his new role, he is responsible for all energy marketing and trading within the organization, across all markets and all commodities, including power, natural gas, environmental attributes, and related products. He leads efforts focused on the identification and execution of commercial strategies to optimize client assets, the development of commodity risk management strategies, and the execution of financial and physical transactions used to hedge client portfolios.

Ryan Dezember 2002Ryan Dezember, BS ’02, Brooklyn, NY, recently published Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare (Thomas Dunne Books, July 2020), a powerful, personal and incisive story that chronicles the 2008 housing crash and its aftermath from the perspective of a middle-class homeowner. 

A reporter for The Wall Street Journal, writing about financial markets and investors, Dezember previously wrote about the oil industry from the Journal’s Houston bureau. Before that he worked as a reporter for the Mobile Register, reporting on the real-estate boom and bust for coastal Alabama’s daily newspaper.

When asked what inspired him to write Underwater, he responded: “I had always thought there was a fun book to be written on the colorful characters and real-estate frenzy along Alabama's beaches, which I covered for the Mobile Register after graduating. I got my chance after The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy first-person story (“My 10-Year Odyssey Through America’s Housing Crisis,” Jan. 26, 2018) about my getting caught up in the ensuing housing bust with a comically ill-timed home purchase.

“A literary agent read the story and suggested I turn it into a book, combining my personal story with my years of real-estate reporting. Writing a book was a way to wrap together a lot of my best reporting over the years to tell the story of an entire market cycle as I had experienced it in a way that would be impossible at a newspaper. Plus, writing it was an entry into the book business, which is an excellent side hustle for people like me who want to be reporters for as long as possible.”  

Kristine_Haag_2003Kristine Haag, BFA ’03, North Hollywood, Calif., was nominated for a Television Academy 2020 Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes category for her work as assistant costume designer on Netflix’s hit series Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Haag is nominated for her work on the season 6 episode “The Tank.” She was previously nominated in 2019, also for her work on Grace and Frankie.

After graduating from Kent State, Haag earned an MFA in costume design from the University of California, Irvine. Her credits include costume design work on National Geographic/Disney+’s upcoming The Right Stuff, ABC’s The Fix, TVLand’s Nobodies, NBC’s Good Girls, Netflix’s Girlboss, The Legacy and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Edmund A. Rossman, III, MLIS ’03, Cleveland, has retired from Shaker Heights Public Library. A cancer survivor, he recently released A Guy's Guide to Throat Cancer: Do's and Don'ts for Recovery (Christian Faith Publishing), an inspirational book for patients and their caregivers battling any illness.

Blitz_Bazawule_2004Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule, BBA ’04, Brooklyn, NY, Ghanaian-born filmmaker and musician, recently co-directed Beyonce’s Disney+ visual album feature Black is King with the pop star and Emmanuel Adjei. He helmed the South African shoot of the project, which debuted on July 31. He is set to direct Warner Bros. musical film The Color Purple, based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Producers of the musical feature—Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones—selected him after watching his award-winning 2019 feature directorial debut, The Burial of Kojo, on Netflix, acquired through Ava DuVernay’s Array Films.

Bazawule is a 2020 Fellow (in film-video) of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a 2016 Senior TED Fellow, and recipient of the Vilcek Prize. As a composer and musician, ‘Blitz the Ambassador’ has released four studio Afrobeat albums: Stereotype (2009), Native Sun (2011), Afropolitan Dreams (2014) and Diasporadical (2016). He is on the faculty, MFA in Film, of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Learn more here.

Kathleen Hale, PhD ’05, Auburn, Ala., professor and director of the Graduate Program in Election Administration at Auburn University, and co-author Mitchell Brown, wrote How We Vote: Innovation in American Elections (Georgetown University Press, 2020). Using original data gathered from state and local election officials and policymakers across the United States, they analyzed innovation in voter registration, voting options, voter convenience, support for voting in languages other than English, the integrity of the voting process and voting system technology. The result is a fascinating picture of how we vote now and will vote in the future.

Janet Lynn Gbur, BS ‘06,Janet Lynn Gbur, BS ‘06, Canfield, Ohio, research associate at Case Western Reserve University and investigator, Advanced Platform Technology Center at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, was elected treasurer of the Leadership Council of the Microscopy Society of America (MSA), in January 2020. The MSA champions all forms of microscopy and the development of new imaging technologies through its annual meeting, publication and educational outreach.

Francisca B. Ugalde Z., BFA ’06, Hudson, Ohio, is a curator at the Institute for Human Science and Culture at The University of Akron, which is devoted to hands-on education and research in the history, preservation, documentation and interpretation of the human experience through cultural materials and from multiple perspectives—psychological, anthropological, artistic and historical.

Ugalde Z., who earned a master’s degree in arts administration in 2012 at The University of Akron, manages The Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Native American Ethnographic Collection, a large collection of Native American artifacts and art. She oversaw the design and implementation of the collection’s new gallery spaces at the National Museum of Psychology at the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, which opened in September 2019.

Jennifer Hallos, BBA ’07,Jennifer Hallos, BBA ’07, Wadsworth, Ohio, has joined McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., LPA, as a principal in the practice areas of trusts & estates, taxation, and business & corporate. Hallos, who earned a JD and MA at The University of Akron and is also a certified public accountant, has 10 years of experience formulating, reviewing and updating estate plans; drafting wills and trusts; estate and trust administration; tax research and consulting; and managing tax controversy at federal, state and local levels. She is involved in a number of activities, including co-founder and director of Women in Finance and director of Piece by Peace, a nonprofit organization in the Youngstown area dedicated to connecting families affected by autism with available local resources. She also teaches tax and accounting classes as an adjunct professor at Hiram College.

Andrew R. Laurence, BS ’08,

Andrew R. Laurence, BS ’08, Aurora, Ill., was named a top-five finalist for the 2020 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, People’s Choice Winner, by the Partnership for Public Service. Also known as the “Oscars” of government service, the “Sammies” recognize the unsung heroes in our federal government who have made phenomenal contributions to the health, safety and prosperity of our country.

Laurence, who earned a PhD in anthropology from Texas A&M University in 2013, is a pollen analysis expert (palynologist) at the US Customs and Border Protection’s Chicago office and a 2020 Emerging Leaders Medal finalist, a category that recognizes the significant contributions of federal professionals under the age of 35. He and fellow coworker and Sammies finalist, Shannon Ferguson, PhD, provided critical information to help law enforcement solve hundreds of drug smuggling cases and other crimes by analyzing microscopic pollen grains to determine where drugs were produced, and the routes taken, as well as the travel histories of crime victims.  

Lavette (Shirley) Elee, BS ’09,Lavette (Shirley) Elee, BS ’09, Charlotte, NC, wrote, “After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology, I continued on to PA [physician’s assistant] school and am currently working toward my doctorate in PA studies. I am an urgent care PA and recently wrote a children’s book, I Saw My PA Today, available on Amazon, to quell a child’s fears of going to a medical facility. Children are our future, and during these uncertain times, they have fears like we all do. Helping to ease those fears through writing brings me joy.” 

Corey Fowler, BM ’09, MM ’16,Corey Fowler, BM ’09, MM ’16, Kent, Ohio, was named assistant conductor of the Cleveland Chamber Choir, Cleveland's premiere vocal ensemble, in May, by the organization's board of directors. He has been a singing member of the choir since its inception in 2015. Working alongside Scott MacPherson, artistic director, (who is a professor of music and director of Choral Studies at Kent State’s Hugh A. Glauser School of Music), Fowler will help choose repertoire, manage rehearsals, and conduct select pieces during concerts.

He is also the choir director at Roosevelt High School in Kent and the music director and organist at Kent United Church of Christ, where the Cleveland Chamber Choir presented a social justice concert as part of the university's official May 4 50th commemoration events.

Mark Greer, MM ’09, Akron, Ohio, was recently announced as a new board member for Tuesday Musical of Akron. Currently, he coordinates the City of Akron's Great Streets initiative, managing 12 neighborhood business districts to promote increased business development and retention, safer neighborhoods, enhanced aesthetics, urban design and public space, improved transportation conditions, and greater community engagement.

He also serves on the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance Planning Committee and is a member of Torchbearers Class of 2020, serving on both the Leadership and Development Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. He previously served as Program Coordinator at Leadership Akron, where he led the Diversity on Board program, aimed at increasing minority representation on public and nonprofit boards. A past winner of Tuesday Musical’s Annual Scholarship Competition, Greer is an accomplished pianist and composer, making his Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall in 2006.

Trey Kauffman, BA ’09, Columbus, Ohio, wrote, “I host The Mosaic Life Podcast, which breaks down the fundamental question, ‘How can we be better?’ As of August 2020, The Mosaic Life Podcast has released more than 50 episodes, and with its growing success has pivoted to focus on our greatest pursuit as humans: happiness. The Mosaic Life Podcast releases episodes every Sunday, and you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to find us on Instagram, Facebook and One Mosaic Life.

“I’m also an entrepreneur running my web design firm full-time. I help coordinate Red, White & BOOM! each year, in which we put on the biggest fireworks event in the Midwest, and I volunteer with Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) to help plan their annual fundraising 5K, which happened virtually this September. CRIS, helps refugees resettle into the Central Ohio community by providing resources not given to them by the government. 

“Recently, I was selected to take part in the fall Columbus Impact Academy, which is a four-month program designed to provide a comprehensive experience for emerging leaders, facilitated by the Columbus Young Professionals (CYP) Club twice per year. 

“My warm regards to anyone who was around Black Squirrel Radio or the Kent Stater 10 years ago.”


Elizabeth “Liz” Campion, BA ’12, MLIS ’15,Elizabeth “Liz” Campion, BA ’12, MLIS ’15, Cleveland, recently received the “25 under 35” award from her high school, Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland. She works at Kent State’s Special Collections and Archives as the May 4 Archivist and assistant professor with a focus on the 1970 Kent State shootings and their aftermath. Campion says she is honored to be entrusted with the  stewardship of this historic period, knowing it can result in a better understanding of the turmoil, grief and healing the nation went through. She also demonstrates compassionate leadership in her volunteer efforts with the Alzheimer’s Association. As a team leader for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, she has raised tens of thousands of dollars in honor of her grandmother.

JoAnna Schofield, MLIS ’12,JoAnna Schofield, MLIS ’12, Stow, Ohio, branch manager at the DeHoff Memorial Branch of Stark County District Library, has been selected to serve on the American Library Association’s 2021 John Newbery Book Award Committee. This committee selects the most distinguished written contribution to literature for children in 2020. 

Scott Weaver, BS ’12, MA ’13, and Holly Henderson, BA ’12,

Scott Weaver, BS ’12, MA ’13, and Holly Henderson, BA ’12, Berea, Ohio, were married on October 12, 2019 and took the opportunity to pose for photos at some of their favorite spots on Front Campus. They were both members of the Greek community on the Kent Campus, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and Delta Gamma Fraternity respectively. These commonalities brought their worlds together and created many mutual friendships and connections. Today, he is a director of digital production for CBLH Design, a Cleveland-based architecture, planning and interior design firm. She is a marketing manager for CBIZ, Inc., a publicly traded professional services firm headquartered in Cleveland. The two enjoy exploring new breweries, traveling and cheering on Ohio sports teams! (Wedding photos were taken by Murphy Redmond, BA ’13, Red Photographic.)

Mitch Dandurand, BS ’13, MPH ’15, Tiffin, Ohio, was featured on Ohio Governor DeWine’s press conference on Sept. 22, 2020—and he gave a shoutout to Kent State on the air. Dandurand, an epidemiologist who works at Lorain County Public Health, is part of an interview team who is contacting people with COVID-19 in Lorain County as part of the contact-tracing process. His co-worker, Amanda Accordino, BSPH ’16, Olmsted Twp, Ohio, is a health education specialist at Lorain County Public Health—so that makes at least two Golden Flashes working to stem COVID-19 cases in the county.

Robin (Pertz) Unger, MLIS ’13, and Nathan Unger BBA '04, AA ’04,

Robin (Pertz) Unger, MLIS ’13, and Nathan Unger, BBA '04, AA ’04, Washingtonville, Ohio, were married on September 1, 2019 at the Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, Ohio. She is the library, history and records supervisor at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and he is a regional sales rep for Jeld-Wen. (Wedding photographs were taken by Rami Daud, BA ’20, new media specialist at Kent State.)

Veronica Ceci, MFA ’14,Veronica Ceci, MFA ’14, Austin, Texas, an intermedia artist who has been working as a master printer since 2004, has had her response to the pandemic, “Too Soon?,” accepted into the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. She has recently had pieces included in exhibitions at The Contemporary Art Center New Orleans, The Shaker Museum, The Tyler Museum of Art and The Yellowstone Museum of Art.

Ceci’s solo show, Keeping House, was displayed at Neon Raspberry Gallery in Occidental, California, in July 2020. The ever-changing collection of art has been traveling the US since 2017 and is scheduled for several future venues. She would be pleased to exhibit the work with any fellow alumni who have gallery spaces and encourages you to get in touch: info@veronicaceci.com.

She is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Flash Collective, www.flashcollective.com, which involves artists in community art making events and pop up exhibitions.

Scott Goss, MFA ’14, Cleveland, multimedia artist, began his residency at the Akron Soul Train Gallery in March, intending to expand on his engineered, interactive installation pieces with surreal video-based environments. His pieces encouraged viewers to climb, lay or crawl inside his installations to view video projections. Soon after his residency began, the pandemic required us all to “shut-down”, and everyone experienced a restructuring of reality. Goss’s work addresses our new, altered social landscape where we no longer are able to sit close to a friend, share a meal with them or see each other’s full face. His new work explores this new social interaction based on social distancing and mask wearing.

The exhibition, The Surreal Real, combining Goss’s work with fellow AST summer resident artist Timothy Gaewsky, opened September 2 and ran until October 3. At the reopening of AST’s Burton D. Morgan Foundation Exhibition Space in Akron, everyone was required to wear a mask and only six people were allowed into the gallery at one time. Goss was the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2015) and is represented by galleries in Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

David Hrvatin, BS ’14, married Natalie Rosmarin, BA ’15,Shannon Ahlstrand Photography

David Hrvatin, BS ’14, married Natalie Rosmarin, BA ’15, Highland Heights, Ohio, on June 27, 2020 in Westlake, Ohio. He works for Cleveland’s WKYC-TV as senior producer, brand & marketing, and received the Sharon Marquis Friend of JMC Award from the School of Media and Journalism, in September 2019 for his dedication to the school and its students. She is an English teacher at Lake Ridge Academy’s Upper School in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Their wedding plans needed to be revised several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but postponing the wedding was never once considered. Instead of visiting Italy, the couple honeymooned in Ohio, staying at several resorts. However, these proud Golden Flashes spent the first night of their honeymoon in Kent. Though they did not meet until after graduating, the couple love KSU and the community and visit often.

Sony Ton-Aime, BBA ’14, MFA ’19,Sony Ton-Aime, BBA ’14, MFA ’19, Jamestown, NY, was named director of literary arts at the Chautauqua Institution, effective January 13, 2020. A poet, teaching artist and arts administrator, he was previously program operation coordinator for Lake Erie Ink, a Cleveland-based literary arts organization. He is the author of the chapbook, LaWomann and a Haitian Creole translation of the book Olympic Hero: The Story of Lennox Kilgour. He is the co-founding editor of ID13, an online publication that published creative works by inmates he led in poetry workshops at the Lake Erie Correctional Institute.

A native of Haiti who first came to the United States in 2010, Ton-Aime joined the Wick Poetry Center as a student intern in 2014 and, as a fellow at the center, he led a group of interns and coordinated poetry outreach in the Kent community. That outreach brought him to Chautauqua in 2018, where for two summers he managed Wick’s Traveling Stanzas exhibit, now in the Hultquist Center’s Poetry Makerspace. At Chautauqua, he also served as liaison for writers in resident at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and mentored undergraduate literary arts interns. He recently worked with Wick Poetry Center to transition the popular makerspace tool—Emerge—into an application for smart devices so users at home can read curated texts and create and share poems.

In his new role, Ton-Aime will serve as a senior member of the Department of Education and as an entrepreneurial and collaborative partner in strengthening and deepening the value of the literary arts program and experience for Chautauqua Institution stakeholders.

Natalie M. Amato, MLIS ’15, and Alex Czayka, BS ’09,Anita Louise Photography

Natalie M. Amato, MLIS ’15, and Alex Czayka, BS ’09, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, were married in a private ceremony on May 1, 2020, despite COVID-19 postponing their wedding plans.

David Distelhorst, MLIS ’15, Columbus, Ohio, wrote, “I am the local history librarian at Bexley Public Library, Bexley, Ohio, having previously been the local history and genealogy librarian at Massillon Public Library, Massillon, Ohio.

Taylor (Ridenour) Sminchak, BA ’15,

Taylor (Ridenour) Sminchak, BA ’15, Tallmadge, Ohio, coordinator of outreach for ZipAssist, a central information hub at The University of Akron, was selected from over 200 nominees as one of Delta Zeta’s 35 under 35 honorees for 2020. This national recognition highlights outstanding young women who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication to their careers, are motivated by challenges, serve as volunteers in their communities and are role models for their peers.

Sminchak was also selected as the 2019 CashCourse Financial Educator of the Year. The award honors an educator going above and beyond to promote financial literacy on their campus, as well as demonstrates creativity and passion in the field of collegiate financial education. She developed and implemented the “Balancing on a Budget” program at The University of Akron, which has seen great success helping college students with their finances. Sminchak has been recognized for her efforts by The University of Akron and external partners, including an invitation to a private White House briefing during fall 2019. (See photo above left.)

She and her husband, Patrick, welcomed Karsyn Kate Sminchak, (9 lbs., 8 oz., 20 in. long) on January 20, 2020. She visited Kent State at a month old. #FutureFlash (See photo above right.)

Chris Baum, AA ’99, BA ’16, Atwater, Ohio, published his third and fourth books in May. Magnificent (Book 1 of a series) and Out of Darkness: Twists & Turns (also Book 1 of a series) are available exclusively through Amazon. Magnificent received Amazon Best Seller in three categories upon its release. If you like engaging fiction with page-turning action, you can find out more at www.chrisbaum.net, where you may also subscribe to his newsletter to stay in the loop and receive one of his books for free. He wishes you good health and prosperity.

Kristen M. Boye, BS ’16,

Kristen M. Boye, BS ’16, Encinitas, Calif., will deploy on the USS Sterett (DDG 104), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer of the US Navy, as a part of the Strike Group. Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Boye studied aeronautics at Kent State and graduated from Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, in November 2016. She continued her training in Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) at NAS Pensacola, Fla. Upon completion of API, she endured primary flight school at Whiting Field in Milton, Fla., and flew the T6-B for VT-2 (Doerbirds). She was selected for the advanced rotary pipeline after completing the primary syllabus and was transferred to HT-28 (Hellions) where she flew the TH-57 B and TH-57 C. Although there was a 60 percent attrition rate, LTJG Boye earned her wings in October 2018 and was selected to fly the MH-60R (Seahawk).

She was transferred to HSM-40 (Airwolves) at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., where she continued her training at the Fleet Replacement Squadron as a fleet replacement pilot for the MH-60R. She completed the FRS syllabus, became qualified in model, and received orders to fly the MH-60R for HSM-35 (Magicians) in San Diego, Calif. LTJG Boye is instrument and commercial rated in both fixed wing and rotary wing. She is qualified to fly search and rescue, night vision goggles, formation, as well as operate Hellfire missiles, rockets, and torpedoes.

Greg Donnellan, MM ’16, Bay Village, Ohio, director of the Middle School (grades 7-8) at Lawrence School in Sagamore Hills, Ohio, is one of five teachers from across the country named as winners of the 2020 Leavey Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education. Lawrence School is one of only three schools in Ohio that exclusively serve K-12 students with learning differences. In addition to his administrative duties, Donnellan is the founding program director of the Young Entrepreneurship Experience, an annual hands-on and experiential program for all middle school students, and also serves as advisor to the Entrepreneurship Club (grades 7-12). With his background in music education and the performing arts, he appreciates the opportunity to create a platform to facilitate students’ creativity, divergent thinking and tenacity.

Andrea M. Gump, BS ’18,Andrea M. Gump, BS ’18, Steubenville, Ohio, wrote, “I immediately deployed overseas to Iraq and Kuwait after graduating. Although I was nervous about what the future held for me post-deployment, my former professors provided me with guidance along the way, which I feel led me to my dream job. I accepted a reporting position at WTOV9 in Steubenville, Ohio, that began in April. I’d say hard work, determination and passion for this field provided me with this opportunity. However, I may have never worked hard, remained determined and grown a passion for this without Kent State. Flashes forever!”    

Scott Little, BM ’19, McDonald, Ohio, accepted a full-time position with Brunswick City Schools teaching band and orchestra. He’ll teach sixth through twelfth graders as well as act as assistant director of the marching band.

Patrick W. Ulrich, MFA ’19,Patrick W. Ulrich, MFA ’19, Arcata, Calif., is featured in the current issue of American Theatre magazine as one of “6 Theatre Workers You Should Know.” In addition to designing for productions at Humboldt State University in Arcata, where he serves as assistant professor of scenography, Ulrich served as the scenic designer for As You Like It at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, Mo.; I and You at Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in East Lansing, Mich.; and multiple productions at Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Ulrich loves to work with theatres for young audiences as well as university students.

After graduating from Kent State University’s MFA scenic design program last spring, Ulrich sees his job now as training “the next generation of theatre artists to respect their chosen craft.” In his own creative efforts, he’s especially attracted to work that tells a story of redemption. “Experiencing a redemptive story live on stage,” he says, “can be healing and liberating, and is always inspiring.”


Montana Hollis, BM ’20, Atwater, Ohio, has accepted a position with Massillon Ohio City Schools as a middle school band director. She was officially approved by the board in July and began leading rehearsals.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 4:21pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 1:29pm