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
ALUMNA OF THE YEAR
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.
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.”
BILL FRENCH ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD
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.
DEFYING THE ODDS AWARD
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.
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)
School-Based Alumni Achievement Award Recipients
COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
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.
SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
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.
BLOCH SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
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.
SCHOOL OF COMPUTING & ENGINEERING
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
CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC AND DANCE
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
SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY
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.
SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY - DENTAL HYGIENE
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.
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
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.
SCHOOL OF LAW
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.
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
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.
SCHOOL OF NURSING & HEALTH STUDIES
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.
SCHOOL OF PHARMACY
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.