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Alumni News and Recognitions

Check out some of the great things our 135,000+ Saunders alumni are doing around the globe. Submit your latest career move or latest achievement to

April 2021

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.

Dr. Muhammet Kesgin, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, Dr. Raj Murthy, 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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