Brett “Coop” Cooper ’05
Political director, Patriot Majority USA
“We have never met a person that embodies the characteristics of a partner, advocate and investor for Elon University more than Brett Cooper.”
Brett has been engaging people in the political process since his days as an undergraduate student at Elon.
A political science major, Brett spent two summers interning in the N.C. House of Representatives. He also worked with Harvard University to create the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement. After graduation, Brett returned home to Virginia Beach to work for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign of Virginia. Following that campaign, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a field organizer for the Foundation for Virginia and a staff assistant for the National Committee for an Effective Congress. After working for several political campaigns in New Hampshire, Colorado and Washington, Brett is now political director for Patriot Majority USA, an independent-expenditure nonprofit that promotes discussion of national economic issues.
Despite a busy schedule, Brett remains involved with his alma mater. He is a founding member of the Elon University Young Alumni Council and an active member of the Elon D.C. Alumni Chapter.
Hilary Corna ’07
Author and speaker
“Hilary has taken her experience of living and working in Asia and transformed it into a teaching and learning opportunity for others.”
When Hilary was 20 years old, she bought a one-way ticket to Singapore to pursue her dream of launching a post-college career in Asia.
Successfully landing a job with Toyota in Singapore as a senior executive officer, she served the company for three years as a kaizen leader, working with dealerships in Asia—with the Philippines and India being her main projects—to improve operations and share best practices. After returning to the United States in late 2010, Hilary wrote her first book, One White Face, a narrative nonfiction account of her time abroad. Since its release in September 2011, One White Face, which is being adapted into a screenplay, has been featured in The New York Times and ForbesWoman.
Hilary, who graduated from Elon with degrees in international business and Asian studies, is now on a nationwide book tour sponsored by Toyota Motor USA. She has spoken at TED and been featured in Pearson’s 2011 Business Communication college textbook.
Ashley White Creech ’03
Attorney, McGowan Hood & Felder LLC
“Ashley has a passion for serving and seeking justice for underrepresented populations, working hard and going the extra mile for clients.”
A history major at Elon, Ashley obtained her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2007. Shortly after, she landed a job at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and devoted two years of pro bono work to a class action suit representing mentally ill inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. The case has been tried and the results are pending.
In 2011, Ashley moved to Rock Hill, S.C., where she joined McGowan, Hood & Felder LLC. Her practice is devoted to litigation and covers a variety of personal injury claims, ranging from product liability to medical malpractice cases. She also represents veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, who have been unable to receive the mental health care they need.
Ashley is an active member of her community, volunteering for various local organizations through the Junior Welfare League of York County. She also is a member of various professional organizations and attends Eternal Church.
Mark Hendrix ’04
Mobile sales and strategy lead, Google
“Mark is passionate about his work and has consistently been leaps ahead of everyone else in the marketing field, especially mobile marketing.”
As the person responsible for developing digital marketing strategies for the top 1 percent of Google’s clients, Mark never has a dull moment at work. He’s constantly challenging brands to think differently about the way they use new and emerging media platforms to reach consumers while promoting Google’s newest products and innovations.
Before joining Google in 2011, he effectively developed Bank of America’s mobile marketing presence. The results were so successful his work was featured in numerous publications including AdAge, U.S. Banker and The Harvard Business Review. He frequently travels the country consulting and speaking with the world’s leading businesses. He also often talks with Elon students about the industry and potential career opportunities at Google.
But his passion for helping others goes beyond his profession. Mark is active with several nonprofit and community organizations in both North Carolina and Michigan and has held numerous leadership positions in his church. His service has not gone unnoticed and in 2011 and 2012 he received the President’s Volunteer Service award, one of the nation’s highest honors for volunteer service given by the White House.
David Morrow II ’07 L’10
Regulatory attorney, BuckleySandler LLP
“David is a natural born leader, proud Elon alum, successful attorney and cultural enthusiast. He always puts his best foot forward.”
David shows his passion and commitment to the study of law by participating in different initiatives and leadership roles. During law school, he clerked
for the Hon. Patricia Timmons-Goodson of the N.C. Supreme Court and the Hon. James Wynn, then of the N.C. Court of Appeals. Following law school, David worked for the Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Since moving to Washington, D.C., David has remained active in his profession and community. He is on the board of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In 2012 David was selected by the American Bar Association for a Young Lawyers Division “Minorities in the Profession” Scholarship that provided funding to attend ABA conferences nationwide. He was also very active in President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and served as a fundraiser for the Mid-Atlantic Finance Team, and a member of the Obama Victory Counsel, the voter protection arm for the Obama campaign.
A regulatory attorney with BuckleySandler LLP, David assists clients in the financial services industry in transactional, litigation, regulatory and compliance matters. He also remains involved at Elon. He is a past member of the Young Alumni Council and has co-chaired the Elon Black Alumni Scholarship Gala for three years.
Amy Reitnouer ’09
Editor-in-chief, The Bluegrass Situation
“Amy’s breadth and depth of experience, uncontainable energy and enthusiasm and cheerful generosity make her extraordinary.”
Amy spent her four years at Elon immersed in the film and television offices of the McEwen Communications Building. There, she served as executive producer at ETV, head of video services at Elon Television and co-director of Cinelon, Elon’s film society.
Following graduation, Amy moved to New York, taking a temporary position at the Museum of Modern Art. Less than a year later, she moved to the West Coast. She plunged
headfirst into Hollywood, where she landed a position with former William Morris-Endeavor agency head Arnold Rifkin and later with Academy of Motion Pictures President Tom Sherak.
In her spare time, Amy launched BluegrassLA, a blog that allowed her to pursue and share her passion for bluegrass music in the Los Angeles area. The blog caught the attention of actor Ed Helms, who joined forces with Amy in 2012 to launch The Bluegrass Situation, a year round hub for the growing bluegrass, folk and Americana movement. As the site’s full-time editor-in-chief, she spends her time traveling between music festivals or at her company’s bases in Los Angeles and Nashville.
Katie Sherman ’04
Senior copy director, Vogue
“Katie’s endless appetite for making connections is what builds her roster of freelance advertising clients—and what she leverages for recent Elon graduates who move to NYC.”
In the last nine years, Katie has honed her content-creation skills at ad agencies, tech shops and publishers, not to mention all 23 Condé Nast magazines. In her role as Vogue’s senior copy director, she writes campaigns for high-end fashion and beauty clients.
Katie also does freelance work, writing social campaigns, digital ads and branded blogs. Her expertise in product naming resulted in new trademarks for Condé Nast in 2011. When she’s not writing for work, she’s writing for fun. Katie has performed quarterly poetry readings, self-published a poetry compilation and exhibited a solo show in New York City, titled The Loveworn Label.
Since graduating from Elon, Katie has been vital in guiding other Elon graduates toward jobs and city living. Last year she shared insights with students in Destination NYC via Skype, was a panelist during a Homecoming discussion and mentored the inaugural NYC bridges group. She is the president of the Elon School of Communication’s Alumni Network and is spearheading alumni review of student web portfolios prior to graduation.
Cecelia Thompson ’05
Director of projects, Action Greensboro
“Cecelia commits countless hours to passionately focus on efforts from diversity and inclusion, to leadership development for young professionals and leveraging a more dynamic food community and fundraising for local arts programs.”
A public administration and sociology major, Cecelia has committed herself to making Greensboro, N.C., a more vibrant place for all its residents.
In her role as director of projects for Action Greensboro, an economic development nonprofit focused on improving the city’s quality of life, she directs synerG Young Professionals, manages marketing efforts for Center City Park and Opportunity Greensboro, as well as leads projects for downtown enhancement efforts.
Prior to joining Action Greensboro in 2008, Cecelia served as executive director for the Guilford Green Foundation, where she provided leadership on the foundation’s operations including development, grant writing, event planning and marketing. In 2009, Cecelia launched Mod Meals on Mendenhall, a popular cooking and entertaining blog. Since then, Mod Meals has grown to reach broad audiences and gained a sponsorship by The Fresh Market. In addition to blogging, Cecelia contributes monthly to the News & Record’s Savor Section and teaches cooking classes at the Greensboro Children’s Museum Edible Schoolyard. She also serves as immediate past board president of Elsewhere, a living art museum and collaborative in downtown Greensboro.
Peter Ustach ’09
Business owner, The Fat Frogg and Pandora’s Pies
“Peter is extraordinary in that at a very young age, he has been able to create and manage three successful businesses in Elon. He is extremely hardworking and is an excellent role model for other young entrepreneurs.”
Before he came to Elon to pursue a degree in business administration, Peter knew all too well what it meant to be an entrepreneur.
When he was 10 years old, his parents, Joe and Nancy, fostered his entrepreneurial spirit, wasting little time to teach their son the lesson of a dollar, a lesson Peter learned by shelling and selling pecans on his front lawn. Once at Elon, he launched Elon Laundry, thanks to a $600 loan and a university-approved business plan. After graduation, Peter decided to make Elon his home. Two successful businesses off the ground later, he couldn’t have asked for anything more. He credits his past three years of success to his landlord-turnedmentor and business partner-turned-best friend, Jeff MacKenzie ’79. Together, they opened The Fat Frogg Bar & Grill in 2009 and Pandora’s Pies in 2012, two restaurants that are not only profitable businesses but also the hub for many community charitable events.
As his businesses evolve, Peter has learned another valuable lesson: success isn’t always measured in dollar signs. “Sometimes, a growing community and new, smiling faces are all a young entrepreneur needs,” he says.
Christian Wiggins ’03
Chief operating officer, Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity
“Christian is focused on helping others find their true talents, all in an effort to create a better workplace, campus culture and global community.”
In his role as chief operating officer, Christian has helped Pi Kappa Phi become one of America’s leading fraternities.
After graduating from Elon with a degree in business administration, Christian joined Harrah’s Entertainment as a part of the hotel operations and revenue management team. Two and a half years later, he joined the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity national staff as director of alumni services, where he was responsible for the information, interaction, involvement and investment strategy for the organization’s 90,000 living alumni. He was named assistant executive director in 2008 and in 2011 was promoted to chief operating officer. In this role, Christian is responsible for the leadership of the fraternity’s 36 full-time staff and 10,000 undergraduate members on 180 campuses.
Beyond his professional career, Christian has remained active at Elon. He is a past board member of the Elon Charlotte Alumni Chapter and founding member of the Young Alumni Council. He is now in his first year on the Elon Alumni Board. He is also active in the equality movement, serving on the board of directors for Campus Pride, an organization that supports LGBT student leaders and campus groups.
Melissa Will Banta '04 G'06
Inpatient therapy manager, Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital
A graduate of Elon's undergraduate and graduate programs, Melissa has distinguished herself as a leader not only in her workplace, the Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Center, but also the greater field of stroke rehabilitation.
A doctor of physical therapy and inpatient therapy manager of the facility, Melissa led Sheltering Arms' efforts to achieve Stroke Center Certification from the Joint Commission. The process included the development of Sheltering Arms' iWALK Recovery Center, which uses state-of-the-art technology to help patients, especially those recovering from stroke, to learn to walk again. The program is regarded as one of the first of its kind in the country, and Melissa was invited to present about the success of iWALK at the National Physical Therapy Conference in Chicago earlier this year. She also wrote an article about the program for Advance for PT Magazine.
Grateful to Elon for helping prepare her for her career, Melissa regularly hosts Elon DPT students for clinical rotations.
Dominic Barrett '06
Executive director, Shalom Farms
From a six-acre organic farm in Goochland, Va., about 40 minutes outside of Richmond, Dominic touches thousands of lives in the city. As executive director of Shalom Farms, he oversees production of more than 35,000 pounds of produce destined for "food deserts" in Richmond each year, including after-school programs, food pantries, soup kitchens and youth-run farm stands.
At Shalom Farms, Dominic leads programs that teach more than 2,000 adults and children sustainable agriculture skills annually and engages more than 1,500 volunteers - all of whom have helped make the project one of Richmond Magazine's "50 Things We Love About Richmond."
Dominic, who worked in a similar capacity for the Palmetto Project in Charleston, S.C., before moving to Richmond in 2010, has been named one of Bread of the World's 75 Hunger Justice Leaders under 30. Last year, the Richmond Times-Dispatch profiled Dominic and Shalom Farms for its "Making a Difference" series. Outside of work, Dominic serves on advisory boards for Richmond Public Schools, and volunteers wiht Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the YWCA.
James Black '09
U.S. Army Specialist, psychological operations
"Not many recently graduated economids majors decide to join the army," wrote a nominator, but James isn't most economics majors. Less than two years after Commencement, he was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a psychological operations specialist in the U.S. Army. He quickly observed that the substandard level of education made the local population susceptible to manipulation by the insurgency, and that children were the most significantly affected.
In August 2011, James reached out to his Elon network, soliciting more than 800 pounds of school supplies from the university and its surrounding community and an additional 500 pounds of supplies from the U.S. Marine Corps. The items were distributed to more than 200 students throughout the province, prompting a colleague to say James' efforts helped "turn the tables in his area of deployment."
James' project earned him the Army Commendation Medal and consideration for the Navy Achievement Medal. Though he returned to the United States in January, James' efforts live on: the success of the project has been used to promote other outreach efforts in Helmand Province.
Stephen Charles '03
Director of medical education, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Since graduating from Elon in 2003, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help his students take advantage of their educational opportunities. Early in his teaching career, Steve was recognized as the Guilford County (N.C.) Rookie Science Teacher of the Year and was selected by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to redesign the state's physical science curriculum and testing instruments. In the latter role, Steve began carving out a nice that would hold his future career.
While pursuing a master's degree in adult education from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University, Steve served as a curriculum facilitator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Medicine. Later, he worked in a similar capacity at the University of South Florida's College of Medicine while pursuing a second master's degree and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
In July 2011, Steve was hired to be the director of medical education at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, where he is tasked with redesigning the medical education program, overseeing the standardized patient center, implementing an expanded four-year medical school and working with faculty at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Maria Teresa Interiano '07
Reporter and producer, Telefutura/Univision Network
Maria Teresa has come a long way from her days as a reporter for Phoenix14News and has steadily advanced at Univision Communications and Telefutura, the leading media company serving Hispanic America.
As an entertainment producer and reporter, Maria Teresa has served as the main correspondent for Univision and Telefutura's most prominent live shows, including "Premio Juventud," "Premio lo Nuestro," "Latin Grammy" and the reality show "Nuestra Belleza Latina." She has produced and anchored several popular entertainment segments through which she has interviewed movie stars including Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The experience no doubt contributed to her selection as Telefutura's main correspondent for the April 2011 Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Most recently, Maria Teresa was tapped as a producer and reporter for "Tombola," a quick-hitting entertainment and news show. She also has joined Univision's morning show, "Despierta America" as an entertainment reporter, and some of her assignments have included reporting from the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. Outside of work, Maria Teresa is a passionate supporter of Teleton Mexico, which aims to bring together the international community with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for children and young people with disabilities.
Erin Lawless '03
Senior partnerships director, Atlas Service Corps.
Erin was an avid volunteer during her Elon years, and she continued her goodwill pursuits long after Commencement. She completed a master's degree in public health from Boston University and volunteered with the Peace Corps in Uganda, working in a small village to raise awareness about AIDS while helping its residents lead healthier lives. Moved by her experience, Erin founded a nonprofit organizaiton there called Hope of the Generation Uganda, which she continues to lead today.
Erin applied the knowledge she gained from her years in Africa as a program volunteer manager for Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization that works to provide affordable housing and assist in community revitalization efforts. In 2010, Rebuilding Together promoted her to associate director for national service preograms, a role that required Erin to manage the organizatio's nationwide AmeriCorps volunteer program, which included 65 members at 33 host sites in 20 states.
In 2011, Erin was hired by Atlas Service Corps as its senior partnerships director. She serves as the organization's primary recruiter and liaison between its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and more than 30 host organizations nationwide.
Jay Perry '03
Owner, Seal Pros, Inc. and Pothole Pros, Inc.
Jay purchased Maryland-based Seal Pros, a pavement company in 2001 as an Elon sophomore. He'd previously worked as a foreman in the company, which at the time employed just two people and owned one maintenance truck. Jay paid off his bank loan by scheduling jobs from Elon during the week, then traveling to and from Maryland during the weekends to finish the work. Fast-forward a decade, and Seal Pros is flourishing with more than 20 employees during its peak season to serve residential, commercial and municipal clients.
Last year, Jay and a partner founded Pothole Pros, a company that uses state-of-the-art infrared technology to repair asphalt - a method that's faster, cheaper and more durable and environmentally friendly than traditional methods. Pothole Pros was asked to present on its infrared technology at the National Association of Power Engineers in September, and Jay is working with state and local governments to make infrared technology the preferred method of repairing roadways in Maryland.
Jay adn his wife, Shannon Courtney Perry '03, live with their two children in Brandywine, Md., where Jay serves as head of the youth group at Christ Church Accokeek.
Elizabeth Schrauder-Ermis '04
Instructional technologist, High Point University
High Point, N.C.
Elizabeth's professional accomplishments are impressive; for example, while studying for a master's degree in instructional technology, she entered and won the 2009 Association of Educational Communications and Technology/PacifiCorp Instructional Design and Development Competition, defeating doctoral teams from leading universities in the process. Today, she serves as the only instructional technologist for High Point University, a rapidly growing liberal arts institution just west of Elon.
Yet it's Elizabeth's service pursuits that are especially notable. Last year, Elizabeth received the President's Award from the March of Dimes as a top-100 national individual fundraiser. The March of Dimes' mission to support research about premature birth and birth defects hits home for Elizabeth, whose younger brother died after being born nearly 10 weeks premature and whose own son, Daniel, was born with a major congenital heart defect. She has served on the March of Dimes' Triad steering committee and ranked as the area's top fundraiser for two years running. Elizabeth also participates in the local chapter of Mended Little Hearts, a national support group for families of children with heart defects.
Jamie Sclater '02
U.S. Navy lead petty officer, hospital corpsman and sniper
Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Jamie never intended to dedicate his career to the United States military. Yet admiration for his Navy SEAL roommate's service inspired him to enlist in the Navy in 2003, and he's never looked back.
In his more than eight years of service, Jamie has been deployed to war zones four times: in 2006, as a corpsman in Kunar Province, Afghanistan; in 2007, as an assistant sniper team leader in Haditha, Iraq; in 2009, as a trauma corpsman and anesthesia technician at the Multi-National Role III trauma center in Afghanistan; and last year, as a lead petty officer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Before his last deployment, Jamie was promoted to lead petty officer just a day prior to departing with his men, and he was placed in charge of all medical and administrative needs for a battalion of mroe than 1,000 Marines. Under Jamie's leadership, his battalion experienced a killed-in-action ratio of less than half a percent, and more than 30 of his junior sailors earned nominations for awards ranging from the Bronze Star to the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medals.
Jamie has received numerous honors, including the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medals. He currently is in training to operate in clandestine operations, and the results of this training will determine his future in military service.
Summur Shaikh '03
Producer, ABC's "The View"
New York, N.Y.
In fewer than 10 years, Summur has achieved the kind of career success that takes most people in the entertainment industry decades to accomplish. In April 2011, she was promoted to producer of ABC Television's hit talk show, "The View," which has her working intimately with the show's five household names: Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters.
Nearly all of Summur's professional life has been spent with "The View," for which she interned as an Elon student in 2001. Hired after her graduation, she moved from temporary receptionist to full-time tape coordinator to associate producer in just two years. Since 2005, she has been writing scripts, editing segments, interviewing celebrity guests and, in short, playing a critical role in the production of one of TV's most popular programs.
A loyal Elon alumna, Summur is a role model for communications students. She makes herself available to speak with students interested in working in broadcasting and in New York City, and her connections have helped open doors to internships at ABC Television and elsewhere for Elon students.
Ian Baltutis’ drive to “improve the world around him – through volunteering, creating new products, or by just being friendly – is intoxicating,” wrote a nominator. “Ian is always innovating.” That drive prompted Ian to turn a patented material developed by his parents – Sorbothane – into vibration-dampening coasters for the feet of washing machines.
Along with two fellow Elon students, including R.J. Yozwiak ’08, also a Top 10 Under 10 Award recipient, Ian formed The Vibration Solution, LLC, to market the product, “Silent Feet.” The product won the 2008 Evansville New Venture Creation Competition grand prize and the 2009 Reed Business Design News Golden Mousetrap Award. As co-owner of The Vibration Solution over the past three years, Ian has helped guide the company to 300 percent growth.
Ian’s innovative spirit and sharp business acumen – he has Six Sigma Black Belt certification from both NC State University and Alamance Community College – have been put to use at Honda Power Equipment Manufacturing in Swepsonville, N.C. As an ERP Ordering Improvement Project Leader, Ian has successfully implemented new manufacturing technologies that have resulted in multimillion-dollar savings for the plant.
Yet Ian’s biggest impact may come through his service to his community. An Eagle Scout, Ian works closely with the Alamance District of the Boy Scouts of America. As the district’s Camporee chair, he facilitates fun and educational experiences for the county’s youth. He also advises Elon’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, of which he was a member, and tutors students weekly at Alexander Wilson Elementary School in Graham, N.C.
Alexander “Webb” Bond, a nominator wrote, “would be the first to tell you that he is living his dream by building his professional career to support his family and give back to his community.”
Professional success came early and naturally for Webb, who began work at Brown and Brown Insurance in Tampa, Fla., just nine days after graduating from Elon in 2008. He thrived as a commercial account executive, receiving Brown and Brown’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2009, and has quickly become one of its top producers.
But Webb wasn’t satisfied to succeed on his own; he wanted to share his expertise with others to help them succeed, too, and now leads Brown and Brown’s New Producer Training Program.
Webb brings the same selfless vigor to his myriad service pursuits in the greater Tampa- St. Petersburg area. He co-chairs the St. Petersburg Rotary Club’s Rotary-in-Action committee, helping to determine where the club’s time and financial resources are spent. A faithful parishioner at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg, he teaches pre-kindergarteners through first-graders in Sunday School.
He remains active in his collegiate fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order, as a chapter adviser, alumni chapter treasurer and deputy province commander. He also is a member of the Freemasons. The St. Petersburg Times recognized Webb’s outstanding professional and service accomplishments in 2010, when the newspaper featured him as one of the area’s “Rising Stars.”
Bruce Cameron is at the heart of business and economic development in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C., one of the state’s up-andcoming business centers. As a partner of Shelter Creek Capital and vice president of Shelter Creek Lime and Stone, Bruce is rapidly becoming one of the region’s most influential leaders in attracting businesses.
Bruce played a key role in developing the North Carolina Logistics Park, a 50-acre tract designed to draw new businesses to the Wilmington region. He was instrumental in attracting Novant Health to renovate and expand Brunswick Community Hospital with a new 74-bed medical center, expanding much-needed health care services to a growing population. Before joining Shelter Creek Capital, Bruce was a principal with Cameron Management and held several responsibilities at Brunswick Forest, one of the premier residential and mixed use developments in the North Carolina coastal region.
While at Brunswick Forest, Bruce worked closely with the developer, Lord Baltimore Properties, assisting in the planning and administration of the property’s infrastructure development. During his tenure there, he oversaw the completion of several neighborhood developments as well as the Cape Fear National Golf Course. Prior to working with Brunswick Forest, Bruce spent several years at Funston Company, a heavy construction company focusing on site work, grading and paving.
As the executive director of Healthy Alamance, a nonprofit affiliate of Alamance Regional Medical Center and the Alamance County Health Department, April Durr carries a weighty responsibility. She’s tasked with coordinating the Alamance County Health Assessment, which is used by nonprofit and government agencies to plan policies and programs that affect Alamance’s more than 150,000 residents.
It’s been a natural progression for April, who as an Elon human services major “became aware of the needs of this community and made a decision to dedicate her career to Alamance County and particularly to the neighborhoods that received fewer resources than others,” a nominator wrote.
Upon her graduation from Elon, April remained in Burlington, N.C., serving as a community outreach coordinator for CrossRoads Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center. She later worked as a youth director for Mosaic Rural Wellness Center, Inc., in Saxapahaw, N.C., before moving on to lead Healthy Alamance.
April’s dedication to making a difference in her community isn’t limited to her working hours. She maintains close ties to Elon, mentoring students in the human service and public health studies programs and sitting on the advisory board for the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. April continues to volunteer for Crossroads, as well as Play on Productions, an organization supporting women’s athletics, and the Guilford Green Foundation, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness for lesbian, gay, transgender and transsexual citizens in the greater Piedmont Triad region. Recently, April played a key role in North Park in Motion, a revitalization effort in one of Burlington’s struggling neighborhoods.
Kali Geskus’ involvement with Family Abuse Services of Alamance County, Inc., dates to her Elon days. While studying human services at Elon, Kali interned and volunteered with the agency, which supports victims of domestic violence. Family Abuse Services hired Kali immediately after her graduation in May 2007. Within a year, she was promoted to Court Advocacy Program coordinator where, a nominator wrote, she “was instrumental in turning the program from a grassroots effort into a highly professional and quality service to help clients get their lives under control after serious abuse.”
Kali developed the Family Justice Center Collaborative, which brings together Alamance County’s judicial, social service, law enforcement and related nonprofit agencies to better coordinate services for individuals and families. She attended domestic violence court weekly to support her clients, led crisis counseling intervention and managed the agency’s relationships with county officials and offices. In recognition of Kali’s achievements, Family Abuse Services promoted her to director of client services, where she continues to oversee the Court Advocacy Program and manages the agency’s supervised visitation program.
Constantly seeking to improve services for her clients, Kali has completed training in a variety of areas, including address confidentiality, court advocacy, danger assessment and domestic violence. In 2010, she applied and was accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s highly competitive master’s program in social work.
When he returned to Elon’s campus in 2007 after completing his master’s degree in education at Clemson University, Darris Means couldn’t have imagined the impact he’d have on the dozens of Alamance County high school students who would one day enroll in the Elon Academy. But four years later, Darris, the academy’s assistant director, “makes dreams come true,” wrote a nominator. “For many of these students, he is the first to believe in them and the first to ever tell them that they can attend college.”
Darris oversees many of the Elon Academy’s day-to-day operations, such as hiring staff and recruiting participants. With the first class of Elon Academy students in their first years of college, Darris has spent significant time traveling to visit the academy’s 21 alumni at 13 campuses across the country, providing academic, social and emotional support.
He has shared his experiences and research with colleagues in more than 20 presentations at the local, regional and national levels, two peer-reviewed journal articles and his membership in professional organizations such as the American College Personnel Association, National Partnership for Educational Access and North Carolina College Personnel Association. Darris has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2010 North Carolina College Personnel Association’s Committee Member of the Year Award, the 2010 Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award and mention in the 2008 “40 Leaders Under Forty” feature in The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area.
In 2010, Darris began work toward his doctorate in educational research and policy analysis at NC State University and expects to graduate in 2014.
During his four-year career as an investment advisor in Winston-Salem, N.C., George Memory successfully led his clients through the recession, he earned a sterling reputation among his colleagues and his loyal client base. “In his financial planning team,” wrote a nominator, “he distinguishes himself with independence and self-confidence.” Recently, his partnership, The Sullivan Memory McCulloch Group of Winston-Salem, joined a boutique investment firm, Stephens Private Client Group.
Equally devoted to his community, George has been a longtime volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. He has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2008 and, in 2009, he co-founded Habitat’s Young Professionals, which has raised more than $100,000 to build homes in Winston-Salem. In 2010, he served as chairman of the committee.
George also holds juvenile diabetes charities close to his heart. Since his diagnosis of Type I Diabetes in 1993, he has taken leadership roles in the American Diabetes Association through his involvement with Camp Carolina Trails, a diabetic-only overnight camp at Camp Hanes in King, N.C. He also leads an overnight camping trip at Hanging Rock State Park with high school-age diabetics.
An alumnus of Elon’s men’s tennis team, George stays active in the sport, competing in statewide tennis competitions. He takes advantage of occasional opportunities to teach tennis to young people, having received his United States Tennis Professional Association Certification in 2006.
In the fewer than five years since she graduated from Elon, Gabrielle Raymond has distinguished herself as a premier event planner and manager in New York City. Currently working in the cause marketing division of the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office, she manages initiatives for all 30 MLB teams involving the
league’s major nonprofit partners, including the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She has worked on several high-profile events surrounding the annual MLB All Star Game, including the All Star Charity Concert, which has featured Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and Elvis Costello.
“Gabrielle looks at society’s ills and looks for ways to involve the corporate world in solving them,” wrote a nominator. To that end, in 2009, she lent her talents to the Stephen Siller Children’s Foundation, which she served as the inaugural gala chairwoman. The 2009 event, which honored former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ex-NFL star George Martin and actor John Turturro, raised more than $140,000 for the pediatric unit of the NYC Firefighters Burn Hospital. She has since worked with the foundation’s annual Tunnels to Towers run and concert.
Seeking to engage fellow young professionals in New York City, Gabrielle founded NY Fresh Connections in May 2009. The nonprofit organization seeks to involve young adults in meaningful service through leadership, professional development and charitable events, such as frequent Habitat for Humanity service days throughout the city and a program cosponsored by designer Catherine Malandrino that raised more than $3,000 for the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program.
In December 2010, the Greenville (Miss.) Arts Council promoted MacKenzie Stroh from director of operations to executive director, making her the youngest individual ever to hold the position. Yet the council had no reservations in placing such responsibility in MacKenzie’s hands, as she was no stranger to the council or the area.
MacKenzie first came to Mississippi after graduating from Elon as part of Teach for America. She taught visual arts at Madison Shannon Palmer High School in Marks, Miss., for two years, developing the curriculum for the school’s Art I and Art II courses. For her efforts, she was named Palmer High’s teacher of the month for May 2008. While teaching, she interned with the Greenville Arts Council as an arts education assistant. After working for a year at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., MacKenzie returned to the Mississippi Delta in 2010 to become the director of operations at the Greenville Arts Council. In her roles with the council, she has worked tirelessly to bring art to the local community, especially underserved populations, by coordinating gallery shows, organizing student art outreach programs in area schools and developing summer art programs for children.
When her term as executive director concludes, MacKenzie plans to pursue a master’s degree in arts administration with an eye toward continuing her career in educational policy. Outside of work, MacKenzie remains active in Teach for America as a recruiter and mentor for the Mississippi Delta region and participates in shows with the Delta Center Stage Community Theater.
As an Elon senior, R.J. Yozwiak partnered with fellow Elon student and Top 10 Under 10 Award recipient Ian Baltutis ’08 to create The Vibration Solution, LLC, which designs, produces and sells vibration dampening coasters to reduce the structural noise of washing machines. The coasters, dubbed “Silent Feet,” won the grand prize award at the 2008 Evansville New Venture Creation Competition and the 2009 Reed Business Design News Golden Mousetrap Best Product Award. Over the past three years, R.J. has helped guide the company to 300 percent growth.
R.J. brings his entrepreneurial spirit and business development skills to bear as a channel sales executive with Tripp Lite Power Protection in Chicago. He manages more than 70 accounts that attributed for more than $3 million in annual revenue and is tasked with creating marketing initiatives to promote and sell Tripp Lite products. Before joining Tripp Lite in 2009, R.J. worked for The Ocean Agency, a boutique online marketing company based in Chicago. He helped grow the agency’s business and attract clients ranging from start-up entrepreneurs to multimillion-dollar corporations.
A proud Elon alumnus, R.J. has been an active member of the university’s Chicago Alumni Chapter, serving a term as its treasurer. He also volunteers with animal care at PAWS, Chicago’s largest no-kill shelter and humane adoption organization.