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Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 3:40pm
Alumni News and Recognitions

Check out some of the great things our 136,000 Saunders alumni are doing around the globe.

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May 2022

Forbes recognized Erblin Ribari ’17 (MBA) in 30 Under 30 – Europe 2022 as one of the rising professionals in the field of finance.

Karl English '21 (management information systems and marketing) accepted a position with Walmart Connect as a Media Partnership Specialist III.

Angel K. Hristov ’22 (hospitality and tourism management) of RIT Croatia won the International CHRIE Hotel Challenge competition. The ICHRIE Hotel Challenge by Knowledge Matters encourages participants to test their skills at managing a simulated hotel.

Linda Ochieng recently completed her BS/MS in accounting and analytics and was recognized by RIT. Learn more about how Saunders College’s programs and support system helped Linda grow as a student and person.

Zachary White ’17 (MIS and marketing) completed the brave climb of Mount Everest. Learn more about Zachary’s experience at Saunders by viewing his Instagram takeover.

April 2022

Amshu Kowkrady MS ’21 (global supply chain management) has accepted a position at Walmart as a senior manager within the Integrated Planning, Supply Chain team. Amshu is excited to work for such an industry leader in strategic supply chain innovation.

February 2022

Hope Drummond ’91 (marketing) is Saunders College’s Distinguished and Accomplished Alumni Award recipient. Hope is a Board Member, RIT Trustee, and has an extensive history of community service.

January 2022

Anne Wilder ’89 (marketing), President of Coordinated Care Services, Inc. was a finalist for the 2022 ATHENA Awards, an awards ceremony that honors the achievements of exceptional women leaders.

More than 30 alumnae spoke at the Women's Leadership Summit (WLS), with over 200 attendees of students, faculty and staff, and community members! The Leadership Academy hosts the WLS at Saunders, and its core mission is to inspire, connect, and educate women & allies to become tomorrow's future leaders.

Khaled Aldawodi MS ’21 (hospitality and tourism management) and Muhammet Kesgin, Ph.D., associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, co-authored “Effects of religiosity and travel desire on COVID-19 vaccination intentions,” which was published in Taylor & Francis. The article explores the effects of Muslim religiosity on travel desire and COVID-19 vaccination intentions.

December 2021

The Baileys, an RIT legacy family, opened Carmen’s Cooking to the public on January 29, 2021 and have recently been featured in Democrat & Chronicle. Carmen’s husband, Andy Bailey ’07 (MBA), and former adjunct professor, is in charge of operations management, marketing, and accounting for the restaurant—skills he learned as an MBA student at Saunders College of Business.

Megan Baldwin ’07 (MBA) was one of the first to know when COVID-19 hit New York. Baldwin supported all aspects of the response effort and has since become the special advisor to the chancellor for public health policy for the State University of New York system.

Deborah Stamps ’18 (MBA) was named president of Rochester Regional Health’s (RRH) new College of Health Careers. Stamps led the charge to establish the college, which welcomed its first cohort of nursing students in March 2021.

Frank Sklarsky ’78 (business administration and accounting) and his wife, Ruth, have made a significant gift to the university’s one-of-a-kind maker space and performing arts complex. Their $2.5 million contribution to the  Student Hall for Exploration and Development (the SHED) will establish the Sklarsky Glass Box Theater.

Corey Axelrod ’10 (MBA) was featured in Forbes’ article “Disabled Entrepreneurs Speak Out On The Choice To Go It Alone And Be Your Own Boss.” He spoke to Forbes about the impact disability can have on professionals and how his time at RIT shaped his career. 

November 2021

Denishea Ortiz ’04 (international business), RIT’s executive director of strategic marketing and retail product management for Auxiliary Services, was presented the Spark Award by Causewave Community Partners on Oct. 20. The award is given to an individual under the age of 40 who has used their role as a Causewave volunteer to serve as a catalyst for positive change and who sets an example for others to follow.

October 2021

Andrew Jacobson ‘90 (hotel management) sponsored an installation built by RIT students at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Read more about the installation here.

Philip Levine ’03 (management information systems) was featured by GoDaddy as a “GoDaddy Pro Success Story.” Watch the video here.

September 2021

Justin Di Pasquale ’15 (MBA), Denishea Ortiz '04 (international business), and Sheri S. Watkins ’19 (MBA) were announced as the 2021 Honorees for Rochester Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Awards.

August 2021

Bill Michaels ’89 (hotel/motel administration and management) was featured in an article on for reopening the historic Fly Creek Cider Mill for its 165 anniversary. Michaels has owned the cider mill since 1999 and had to temporarily close its doors last January amid monetary concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 2021

Carolyn Spencer ‘14 (new media marketing) has been the Lead Product Manager for IFundWomen since January. IFundWomen is a funding marketplace which helps support women entrepreneurs by closing the funding gap for women-owned businesses, and Spencer has been creating products and services for women entrepreneurs that help them grow their businesses.

June 2021

Peter Parts ’98 (EMBA) has been the Interim director at the RIT Technology Incubator at Venture Creations since 2019. Inventive students utilizing Venture Creations were interviewed for the RIT University Magazine. Read about their successes and challenges on page 32.

Jeff McCullor ’04 (marketing) was interviewed alongside other RIT alumni about their craft brewery businesses for the RIT University Magazine. Read about Erie Ale Works on Page 42.

Mark Barberio ’85 (accounting) was given the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. Barberio was interviewed about his favorite moments during his time at RIT and throughout his career for the RIT University Magazine. Read his responses on page 38.

Mike Pinch ’05 (MBA in management information systems), MS ’12 (computing security & information assurance) was interviewed about “Rochester Rising” for the RIT University Magazine. Read how Rochester is growing as a technological hub on page 28.

May 2021

Socium Media, a digital marketing company co-founded by Sam Sherman (new media marketing), has been named as one of the best workplaces of 2021 by Read more about Sherman’s accomplishment on the Socium Media Blog.

Chance Wright ’19 (MBA in digital marketing) donated $1.8 million to Saunders College of Business to aid upcoming renovations and expansion to its home in Max Lowenthal Hall. Read the RIT News for an interview with Wright on the reasons behind his generous contribution. Wright’s donation was also picked up by 13WHAM and the Rochester Business Journal.

April 2021

Lorraine Wolch ’76 (MBA in accounting) received the 2021 Outstanding Alumnus award. Wolch was chosen as she has contributed the most to the success of the Saunders accounting program through volunteering their time, treasure, and success.

Mark Barberio ’85 (accounting) received the 2020 RIT Distinguished Alumni Award. As one of 11 RIT alum to win the award, Barberio represents the best in Saunders College of Business through his professional, community, and philanthropic achievements. Barberio is being honored at the 2020-2021 Alumni Awards at the end of the month.

Vanja Jelic Stjepovic ’04 (service management) was recognized as Condé Nast’s top travel specialist for Croatia. An RIT Croatia alum, Stjepovic runs the Adriatic Travel Collection, a tourism firm that plans and carries out tightly-knit vacation plans for individual clientele. Read all about Stjepovic and her business in this Q&A from Condé Nast Traveler.

January 2021

Stacy Lake ’05 (marketing), ’07 (MBA in e-commerce marketing), has been the chair of the Saunders Alumni Advisory Board for the past four years, and she has been named a finalist for the 2021 ATHENA International Young Professional Award. ATHENA recognizes exceptional young adult women in business. Lake’s nomination was based on her extraordinary performance as the corporate communications manager at Bergmann in addition to her involvement in the Saunders and Greater Rochester communities.

December 2020

Drew Nye ’04 (hotel and resort management) is the owner of ROAM Cafe on Park Avenue in Rochester, N.Y. He encourages those in the area to put money into local businesses by buying gift cards to help those struggling with the pandemic in a recent interview with 13WHAM.

Muhammet Kesgin, Ph.D., associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, Raj Murthy, Ph.D., J. Warren McClure research professor of marketing, and Linden Pohland, CHIA ’18 (hospitality and tourism management) co-authored “Residents as destination advocates: the role of attraction familiarity on destination image.” This article was selected as a Highly Commended Paper in the 2020 Emerald Literati Awards.

Scott Ingwers '88 (hotel and resort management), Rick McKeown '01 (hotel and resort management), and Harvey Stern '84 (hotel and resort management) were panelists for Critical Thinking - Hospitality & Tourism in Times of Crisis. The three discussed COVID-19’s impact on hospitality businesses, specifically lodging properties.

Saunders College of Business, the department of international hospitality and service innovation (IHSI), and the Dean’s Council and Advisory Board confer a number of college & departmental awards to honor exemplary alumni and friends.

  • Stacy Lake ’05 (marketing), MBA ’07, received the Outstanding Alumni Volunteer Award.
  • Charles S. Brown, Jr. received the Phil Saunders Cornerstone of Philanthropy Award.
  • Mark Zettl ’96 (hotel and resort management) received the Sarah Margaret Gillam Award.
  • Guillermo Graglia MS ’01 (service leadership and innovation) received the Dr. Richard Marecki Memorial Award.
  • Alfreda Brown MS ’96 (human resource development), received the Dr. Paul Kazmierski Memorial Award.
  • Phaedra Ruffalo ’92 (food marketing and distribution), MS ’94 (hospitality and tourism management), received the Women Leaders in Hospitality Award.

November 2020

Andrew Hoyen, MBA ’97, was named President and COO at Infinite Group Inc.

October 2020

Alison Dupra Brien '10 (international business and marketing), MBA '10 (marketing) was mentioned in WILMA’s Women to Watch Awards. She was one of seven winners selected from 35 finalists.

Paula Knight, MS (service leadership), program coordinator at Finger Lakes Community College, spoke with 13WHAM about tourism in the Finger Lakes amid the pandemic.

September 2020

RIT Croatia alum Darko Perojevic '05 (hotel & resort management) is quoted in The New York Times speaking about how Dubrovnik was affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Xiaoyu Zhu '19 (management information systems) published a first-authored paper for the Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV) 2021. Her project has been featured on Carnegie Mellon University News.

Orlando Ortiz ’04 (manufacturing engineering technology), MBA '08, recently announced as our 2020-2021 Minett Professor, was honored by Rochester Business Journal's Forty Under 40.

August 2020

Sara Wood, MBA '15, CAE is the new executive director for the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO).

Elizabeth Grese '19 (international hospitality and service management), was nominated for City & State's 2020 Labor 40 Under 40 list

Cyrille Zongo, MBA ’20, sat down with Medium’s Elizabeth Akunyili to discuss his organization African Youth Initiative for Development (AYID).

July 2020

Taylor A. Parker, CPA ’13 (accounting), and MBA ’14, (accounting), was recently promoted to audit manager at Insero & Co.

Managing Partner of Corporate Entrepreneurs, Susan Foley, published her third book, Intrapreneurs: Who, What, How and Why.

March 2020

Hard Rock International's VP of IT, Applications and Strategy, Wendy Mertz ’90, will step into the vice president position for Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) following the retirement of Page Petry, chief IT officer, Americas, Marriott International.

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