Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association and the campus celebrate the outstanding achievements of UMKC graduates through the Alumni Awards luncheon. This year's luncheon was held on April 20th and honored the class of 2017 recipients.

View photos from the 2017 Alumni Awards Celebration.


Campus-Wide Award Recipients

Esther L. George (EMBA ’00)

President and Chief Executive Officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Esther George is a world-renowned expert on economic issues. She has held the top post at the bank since 2011. In 2016, she became a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee. Beyond her national leadership in shaping domestic monetary policy, George also is known globally for her expertise. She hosts the annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium and has participated in the Bank for International Settlements’ Financial Stability Institute programs in Lima, Peru; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Beijing and Malaysia. While much of George’s work is national and international in scope, she generously lends her time to UMKC by giving presentations to UMKC Bloch students and inviting them to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City so they can engage with economists and other professionals. She is currently a UMKC Trustee and has served on the Bloch Advisory Council. On Feb. 9, 2017, George was appointed to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation board of trustees.

Ester George Video

Hermon Mehari (B.M. ’10)

Mehari’s career has put UMKC’s jazz program on the global and national stages, and he has been an ambassador for Kansas City jazz and UMKC’s jazz program around the world. He has won countless accolades, including first place in the national trumpet competition for jazz, first place in the Carmen Caruso International Trumpet Competition, second place in the International Trumpet Guild Competition in Australia, and was a semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Charlotte Street Grant awards. While still a student he formed an award-winning ensemble, Diverse, whose debut album made the Top 40 on the Jazzweek radio charts. He continues to perform professionally around the world. One of his nominators notes that, “Next to Bobby Watson, Hermon Mehari has brought the most attention to UMKC and the KC jazz scene in recent history.”

Watch Video

Bob Regnier (MBA ’78)

Founder, president and CEO of the Bank of Blue Valley, Regnier has been a long-time volunteer for UMKC, dating back to his service on the Bloch Alumni Association Board in 1990-96. He has served on the School’s Finance Advisory Board, and in 2009, he stepped into a campus-wide volunteer role as the co-chair of the university's capital campaign. In 2016, he became a member of the UMKC Foundation board of directors. In addition to his personal service, the Regnier Family Foundation has supported the Bloch School and the university in countless ways, including founding and naming the UMKC Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s signature program, now the Regnier Family Foundation's Venture Creation Challenge.

Watch Video

Troy L. Nash (J.D. ’97, M.A. ’05, M.A. ’11, MBA ’13)

Growing up in a single family home and on public assistance, Nash worked odd jobs to help his mother make ends meet. The family bounced from home to home, forcing him to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. He sought out education and with the help of scholarships and loans, he earned an undergraduate degree from Wesley College and then a J.D. from UMKC. He also earned an M.A. in economics and political science and an MBA at UMKC as well as a doctorate degree in education from St. Louis University. With a long track record of public service to Missouri and the city, Nash became the first African-American real estate executive to become principal and shareholder in a top 10 commercial real estate firm in the Kansas City area at Newmark Grubb Zimmer, led by Hugh Zimmer.

Troy Nash Video

The Cisetti-Orozco-Madden Family

The Cisetti-Orozco-Madden family’s Roo roots began with Josephine Cisetti, who graduated from UKC in 1945. Many Roos would follow, including her two sons, Rev. Joseph Cisetti and John Cisetti, who graduated from UMKC with degrees from the College of  Arts & Sciences and the School of Education respectively. Father Cisetti is pastor of St. Therese North parish and was ordained in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. John Cisetti has been the award-winning band director for the Louisburg, Ks., school district for more than 37 years. John’s wife, Veronica, is a Roo as well, along with her 4 siblings. John and Veronica’s daughter Mary came to UMKC as a Trustees’ Scholar and graduated from the Bloch School in 2012. She met her now husband, Nick Patonai, at UMKC – Nick graduated from the School of Medicine in 2014. The Legacy Award will celebrate these and the other members of the family, including Patrick Madden, a graduate of the College, who is married to Veronica Cisetti’s sister, Gloria. Madden is College Programs Coordinator for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and a former president of the Arts & Sciences Alumni Association board. (Pictured: Josephine Cisetti)

Troy Nash Video

School-Based Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Kathryn Webster (B.A. ’75, M.A. ’79)

Webster is national chair of the Board of Directors for the WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

Watch Video

Theron E. Odlaug (B.S. ’71, M.S. ’73)

Former CEO of leon-nanodrugs GMBH, Odlaug now serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the board for CoreRx Inc in Clearwater, Fl. and is an advisor to Carstens Inc. in Chicago, Il. He is also an executive in residence at a private equity firm called Signet Healthcare Partners based in New York, Ny. and  is currently the acting CEO of Impopharma Inc.

Watch Video

George W. Holcomb III (EMBA ’02)

As the Surgeon-in-Chief and Senior Vice President at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Holcomb is on the executive team of one of U.S. News and World Report’s best pediatric hospitals with the region’s only Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Watch Video

Jim Hogan (B.S.C.E. 84)

Hogan serves as the Senior Vice President of Operations in Burns & McDonnell’s Transmission & Distribution division. He also manages the division’s Kansas City operations.

Watch Video

James C. Mair (M.A. ’90)

Mair founded the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and started the “Basically Basie” big band competition, which brings young talent to Kansas City from all across the region. He is currently a professor of music and director of Instrumental Studies at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Watch Video

Jane Chestnut Atkinson (D.D.S. ’81)

The Director of the Center for Clinical Research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research within the National Institutes of Health, Atkinson’s research has focused on topics like oral health status and salivary gland function in patients with the AIDS virus.

Watch Video

Liz Kaz (B.S.D.H. ’86, M.S.D.H. ’87)

Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Continuing Education at the UMKC School of Dentistry, Kaz has been a pioneer in dental hygiene education throughout her career and serves on national boards for her profession.

Watch Video

David Sharp (M.A. ’99, Ed.S. 03)

A veteran who has been honored for his service, Sharp is principal at Lee’s Summit West High School, having served previously as director at Summit Technology Academy.

Watch Video

Nancy B. Firestone (J.D. 77)

Firestone is a federal judge and serves on the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. She was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice and is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

Watch Video

Latha Sivaprasad (M.D. ’99)

Sivaprasad is chief medical officer and senior vice president for Rhode Island Hospital and previously served as chief patient experience officer for Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Watch Video

Anita Skarbek (B.S.N. 01, M.S.N. 03)

Skarbek is the director of the RN-BSN program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies and is a clinical assistant professor. She also serves as a member of the Missouri Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Organization of Nurse Executives/NJ (ONE/NJ), and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Watch Video

Heather Lyons-Burney (Pharm.D. ’94)

Lyons-Burney is a clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Pharmacy's expansion program in Springfield, Mo. She was co-owner of Branson Drug and recently helped establish the non-profit clinic, Faith Community Health in Branson, to provide patient-centered, team approach to health care in a traditionally underserved population.

Watch Video