Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Notes

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Nebojsa Stojkovic,
BA, Ed., is a math teacher at Walled Lake Central High School in Walled Lake, Mich. He placed second for the 2014 "Live With Kelly and Michael's" top teacher search, which was announced on the ABC morning talk show May 20. “Neb Stojkovic builds relationships with students and families,” Superintendent Kenneth Gutman said in a local article about the nomination. “He is an outstanding teacher, coac,h and person. He gives from the heart in each and every encounter he has with students. He is selfless, giving and most importantly, he cares about the young people he serves.” In addition to teaching, Neb trains athletes and oversees the nonprofit Passion for Life, which raises money to help children with medical needs.

Derek Kerr,
BSE Aero '81/MBA '86, was honored in May 2014 by Institutional Investor magazine as one of the best CFOs in America. Kerr is American Airlines Group Chief Financial Officer. Honorees were selected based on results of a survey conducted from May-August 2013, which polled more than 2,500 analysts and portfolio managers. CFOs were rated on a number of qualities such as credibility, industry knowledge, and transparency of financial reporting. As CFO for American Airlines Group and its principal subsidiary company, American Airlines, Kerr oversees financial planning and analysis, corporate finance and treasury functions, purchasing, controller and audit functions, and investor relations.

Terrance Sargent,
BS Arch. '71/MUP '73, is co-founder and design principal at the Atlanta-based architecture and planning firm Lord Aeck Sargent (LAS). In spring 2014 Terry received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Huron Valley (Michigan) chapter. Terry has been practicing architecture since 1973. He is a widely known designer with more than 60 architectural honors and awards, and more than 80 featured articles in various publications.

Greg Charleston,
BBA '84/MBA '94, is senior managing director of Conway MacKenzie Inc. and leader of the firm’s Atlanta regional office. He is also a certified turnaround professional, certified financial analyst and CPA. He has recently taken the reins as president of the Turnaround Management Association, Atlanta chapter (TMA Atlanta). Charleston will dedicate two years to this volunteer position and lead the chapter’s monthly programming and networking activities. He has been active in TMA Atlanta for seven years and has served as a member of its board of directors for the past five years. Charleston draws from more than 20 years of experience in turnaround consulting, financial crisis management, mergers and acquisitions, and business valuation. He has served as chief restructuring officer and as interim CEO and CFO on several engagements. He has worked with clients in various industries, including health care, transportation, aviation, food manufacturing, publishing, retail, distribution, construction and automotive. Conway MacKenzie Inc. is an international consulting firm specializing in turnaround and crisis management, manufacturing operations consulting, performance improvement and litigation support services. The firm is headquartered in Detroit and has offices in Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Frankfurt, Germany; Houston; London; Los Angeles; and New York. Additional information can be found at www.ConwayMacKenzie.com.

Steve Michlin,
BSE- ChemE BSE-MatSci, '84, reports: "I have 39 issued U.S. patents. I am an inventor. I invented a 'Superbowl Chair' that goes along the peak of my 67-foot glass room on the third floor by remote control. It also rotates clockwise and counter-clockwise by remote control. Last, it goes up and down between my second and third floor, also by remote control. I have a youtube video, including a song about the Superbowl Chair. Check it out."

Winston Wenyan Ma,
MBA '03, managing director at China Investment Corp., is part of the Asia Society Class of 2013-14 "Asia 21 Young Leaders." This is a prestigious group of the region's emerging leaders under 40 in fields including government, business, policy, education, and arts. This will be Asia Society's eighth class of Asia 21 leaders for a program that identifies and brings together young leaders based on their outstanding achievements, commitment to public service, and desire to make the world a better place by collaborating with counterparts across the Asia-Pacific region. China Investment Corp. is the sovereign wealth fund of China; its North America office is based in Toronto. Ma is one of a small number of native Chinese professionals working as an investment professional and capital markets attorney in both the United States and China. He is also a standing director for the Canada China Chamber of Commerce and a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.

Justin DeLay and Michael Yagley,
co-founders of Chicago-based TempoDB, recently announced they have raised $3.2 million of Series A capital from midwest venture capital firms. The financing will allow them to grow the time series database service and continue scaling big data storage for sensor data. DeLay, BBA '05/MSI '12, is CMO at TempoDB; Yagley, BSEE '05/MSEE '07, is CTO. TempoDB enables unlimited storage of measurement data generated by sensors and connected devices, a service for which there is exploding demand. The firm serves customers in industries as diverse as energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, healthcare, and the emerging "Internet of Things." Built for software developers, TempoDB's database is infrastructure-as-a-service and makes time series data storage and analysis simple and powerful. The firm's growing customer base includes Fluke, NinjaBlocks, WattVision, sMeasure, and many others. In addition to their business partnership, DeLay and Yagley share a passion for music. While students at U-M, they founded the band The Most. The duo have started two companies together, and TempoDB is the first to gain venture funding. In 2012 they graduated from the first TechStars Cloud class in San Antonio, Tex., a highly competitive accelerator program.

Alex Chalmers,
MBA, is managing director of Avenida Capital in Colombia. Founded in 2006, the real estate private-equity firm's staff also includes U-M grads Michael Teich (BA), and Carlos Alberto Torres (MSE). With offices in Bogotá and New York City, the company pursues opportunistic fund and direct equity investments across select property types throughout Latin America. The firm has committed capital both as principal and on behalf of its investors to residential, retail, and mixed-use projects in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, and the United States. "We are focusing on the emerging middle class segment, and are doing some really interesting things," Chalmers says. "The private-equity scene is just beginning down here so it's a great time to be a part of it." The principals and advisors of Avenida Capital have executed over $1 billion of real estate transactions.

Chris Blauvelt,
'06/'07, is founder and CEO of Patronicity, a crowdfunding platform in Detroit that enables anybody to make a difference in the community by supporting local businesses, organizations, and events, while simultaneously offering donors incentives to do so. Patronicity accomplishes this by helping local entities (a small business, for example) raise small amounts of capital through online donations for specific growth-related projects. In return for their support, the business offers value-adding rewards to the donors. In this way, Patronicity helps the business, the donor, and the community win, because "businesses are thriving and patrons are walking the streets" Blauvelt says.

Audrey Geyer,
'88, is an independent video producer in the Metro Detroit area, and her nonprofit company, Visions, has completed a one-hour documentary on Michigan Native Americans entitled, "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience." It dispels the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon, and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society. Their experiences will deeply touch both Natives and non-Natives and help build bridges of understanding, respect, and communication, Geyer says. In the documentary, an Ojibwa Firekeeper demonstrates the ancient healing ceremony of the Sacred Fire. Also, a Native American businessman, journalist, artist, and youth advocate share how they use ancestral teachings to foster diversity and creativity as well as to educate and initiate social change. The stories shared in this documentary are powerful, startling, despairing, and inspiring. They reflect an American history fraught with the systematic destruction of a people. Yet, amidst the debris of suffering and trauma, there is resilience and a profound remembering and healing taking place today, which also will benefit the next Seven Generations. The program airs throughout November 2013 on six Michigan PBS stations. Viewers also can find it at Vimeo (password: geyeraudrey).

Douglas K. Sheff,
BA '80, is president of the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) and recently received a national award for helping to put Massachusetts on the map as a leader in workplace safety. Sheff is the first attorney in Massachusetts to serve as president of the MBA, president of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, governor of the American Association of Justice, and Trustee of AAJ's National College of Advocacy. In October 2013 the Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families, honored Sheff for bringing together a multi-industry coalition from business, law, medicine, government, and academia to speak with one voice on a variety of safety issues as part of the MBA's Workplace Safety Task Force. Other states are now looking at the "Sheff Model" for their own workplace safety initiatives. Sheff is senior partner at Boston-based Sheff Law, founded by his father in 1957. Sheff joined the firm in the early '80s.

G Scott Haislet,
BBA '82, celebrates his 25th year in practice in Lafayette, Calif. He is a CPA and tax attorney, with emphasis on real estate, 1031 exchanges, estate planning, and tax matters. Haislet has authored two courses: "Real Estate Taxation" and "1031 Exchanges," and teaches those courses to CPAs and attorneys on behalf of the California CPA Education Foundation. He lives in Orinda, Calif., with his wife, Pam, and their children, Rachel and Garrett. He has been a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area since 1982 (arriving immediately after U-M graduation, citing "you don't shovel fog in the winter" and "here you play golf year-round"). Haislet plays more that 100 rounds of golf per year, and retreats to Carmel whenever possible.

Ali A. Houshmand,
MS/PhD, recently was inaugurated as the seventh president of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. Houshmand earned his master's degree and a doctoral degree in industrial and operations engineering from Michigan. He was appointed Rowan's president last summer. He served as interim president for a year and, before that, was the university's provost, a position he took in 2006. Though he wears Rowan Brown and Gold with pride, he has been known to utter "Go Blue!" more than occasionally on campus. He loved his time at Michigan and considers Ann Arbor one of the places he thinks of as home. Houshmand is leading Rowan, formerly a small state teachers' college, into a profound period of transformation. In the past two years, the University, which now has 14,000 students, added two medical schools and became the second comprehensive public research university in New Jersey. Rowan is only the second institution in the nation to have both M.D.- and D.O.-granting medical schools. The M.D.-granting medical school, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, located in the City of Camden, was the first new medical school in the state in New Jersey in more than 35 years. Houshmand is known across the state for his passion for education, intensity, work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, willingness to change the status quo, and for his devotion to providing students with a quality, affordable education. As Rowan's president, Houshmand is working to increase Rowan’s campus to 25,000 students, improve diversity, quadruple research funding to $100 million annually, increase Rowan’s endowment to $500 million, and to expand academic offerings in in-demand areas such as science, technology, business, engineering and medicine. See Houshmand in action.

Bob Stevens,
MSE '70/PhD '72, is President-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Bob retired from full-time employment with ARCADIS U.S., Inc. in 2007, but he continues to work with them on a part-time basis doing special assignments. He now is the chair of ASCE's committee on technical advancement. Bob also serves on the board of directors of EWB-USA and ARTBA. He is excited about being ASCE's President-elect and is committed to being a full-time Presidential officer. He lives in Keller, Texas, with his wife of 47 years, Bonnie.

Dr. Natalie Cotton-Nessler,
PhD '13, successfully defendered her dissertation titled "Skill in Interpersonal Networks" as a participant in The PhD Project, an award-winning program to create a more diverse corporate America. Cotton-Nessler received her Ph.D. in Management & Sociology from U-M and has joined the faculty of Bentley University. She is one of only 178 female, African-American Management business school professors in the U.S., most of whom have become professors since The PhD Project was created in 1994. The Project's vision is to diversify corporate America by increasing the number of minority business professors (African-American, Hispanic-American and Native American), who attract more minority students to study business in college. The KPMG Foundation founded the Project in 1994 to recruit minority professionals from business into doctoral programs in all business disciplines. Since its inception, The PhD Project has been responsible for the increase in the number of minority business professors from 294 to 1,217. Further, 361 minorities are currently enrolled in doctoral programs, and will take a place at the front of the classroom over the next few years. The Project attacks the root cause of minority under-representation in corporate jobs: historically, very few minority college students study business as an entrée to a corporate career. Diversifying the faculty attracts more minorities to study business and better prepares all students to function in a diverse workforce.

Thomas Brian Wedell,
BFA '73, and his wife/design partner, Nancy Skolos, have been honored to be the featured artists in this year's Persona exhibition at Galeria Sztuki Wozownia in Torun, Poland. Rene Wanner's poster page discusses their work in some detail.

Brian Deming,
BA '76, announces the publication of his book, Boston and the Dawn of American Independence (Westholme). The book tells the story of how a contented port town of just 16,000 in 1760 came to ignite the American Revolution 15 years later. It is Deming's fourth book.

Nancy Reizen Serlin,
BA '69/MA '76, writes: "Just wanted to let you know about my dad, Dr. Maurice Reizen, who just received a wonderful award at Michigan's Premier Public Health Conference. It was the Roy R. Manty Distinguished Service Award. Dad graduated from U of M in 1940 and received his M.S.P.H. in 1946 from U of M. His M.D. was from the University of Rochester in 1950 and his Teacher's Certificate was from Wayne State University in 1946. He was also the Public Health Director for the State of Michigan for 10 years. You can look him up if you need any more information. I have six pages of his accomplishments!!!!!" Congratulations, Nancy, and kudos to Dr. Reizen.

Robert Paine,
PhD, '61, recently received the 2013 International Cosmos Prize, which carries a cash award of more than $400,000. Paine is an emeritus professor and biologist at the University of Washington. The award, announced July 30 in Japan by its sponsor, the Expo '90 Foundation, recognizes Paine's pioneering work, including the development of the keystone species concept: the idea that apex predators drive the diversity in an ecosystem. Before Paine's experiments, scientists believed that each species had equal bearing on the functioning of a habitat. He showed that when the common starfish Pisaster ochraceus was removed from a natural intertidal shore, its preferred prey—mussels—freely proliferated and pushed out other organisms such as algae and snails. This cascade effect, first observed by Paine, helped explain the importance of other keystone species such as killer whales, wolves, sea otters, and lions in maintaining species richness in various ecosystems. His approaches were featured in a Nature piece in January 2013 and in The New York Times in October 2012.

Vivan G. Bass,
BS/MS, special education, recently was named vice chair of Jewish Women International, the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women's leadership. Its innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength. Bass also is CEO of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH) in Washington, D.C. She has spoken at major national and international conferences and has played a pivotal role in legislative and consumer advocacy efforts. She has received many distinctions, including Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. Bass also is a Lion of Judah, a distinction recognizing committed donors to the Jewish Federations of North America and Federations globally. In addition, she serves on the board and chairs the governance and ethics committee of Leadership Montgomery, a Montgomery County, Md., organization that brings together current and emerging leaders to improve the county.

Richard Lopez,
BA, '88, received a 2013 Emmy nomination in cinematography for "The Men Who Built America," a docu-drama mini-series on the History network.

Colleen Ann Vance,
AB, '74, recently published her first children's picture book, "The Flip Flop Family," through Mascot Books.

Kristin Meekhof,
MSW, '98, recently was published in the Huffington post: www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-meekhof/the-moment-i-knew_25_b_3414936.html. Her beautiful and touching essay is featured as part of the series "The Moment I Knew." Readers were asked to identify the moment they knew they needed to "de-stress." Kristin's piece is a tribute to the way her husband, Roy, found hope and optimism amid the cancer diagnosis that took his life in 2007. Kristin is now co-writing a book with psychologist James Windell titled "When Your Husband Dies: 7 Challenges Widows Encounter."

Robert (Bob) D. Stevens,
Bob Stevens is one of the two candidates for ASCE President-Elect. Voting is open to ASCE members from June 14 to August 14, 2013. While Bob is retired from full-time employment with ARCADIS, he continues to work with them on a part-time basis doing special assignments. Bob lives in Keller, Texas with his wife of 47 years, Bonnie. They moved to Texas from Colorado three years ago to be closer to their daughter and her family. He has three grandchildren: 4-year old Robbie and 12-year old twin girls Elizabeth and Sydney. Bob works out of ARCADIS’ Fort Worth office. Bob has been a member of ASCE for 50 years. Most recently he was a Technical Region Director on the ASCE Board for three years ending in October 2012. He now is the Chair of ASCE’s Committee on Technical Advancement. Bob is excited about the possibility of being ASCE’s next President-elect. He is committed to being a full-time Presidential officer. If you are a member of ASCE you can vote and help determine who will be the next President-elect of ASCE. Information on both candidates can be found by going to the following site: http://www.asce.org/Official-Nominees-for-President-Elect/

Lois Batchelor Howard,
'54, School of Music graduate, continues as organist and choir director at Christ Lutheran Church in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. Years ago, however, her favorite music became the music of words. A much-published poet, she has won many awards in writing. In 2012 her book of poetry, "On The Face Of Things," was published by Finishing Line Press. This year "More Than Moments" will be published. To quote Lois, "I cannot tell you how many doors have opened for me because I am a graduate of The University Of Michigan! One of my favorite memories is studying and playing the carillon in Burton Memorial Tower. Here's to the U of M!!"

Tad McKillop,
'88, is an Ann Arbor artist who specializes in nude figurative work. His art can be viewed at his Ann Arbor studio, where he usually has 50-60 pieces on hand. In addition, Tad is a perennial fixture of college classrooms, teaching sculpture part-time over the years at U-M, Hillsdale College, Washtenaw Community College, and Toledo-area colleges. He also builds motorcycles (choppers) primarily for himself and friends. He recently was featured in an article titled A Cast of Sculptures in the online magazine Concentrate.

Irving Smokler,
Medical School alumnus and former assistant professor at U-M, is the president and founder of the NephCure Foundation. He recently was appointed to serve on the prestigious scientific advisory council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The advisory council provides programmatic advice to NIDDK and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on scientific opportunities in kidney disease research. Dr. Smokler founded The NephCure Foundation in 1999. It is the only organization committed exclusively to support research seeking the cause of the potentially debilitating kidney disease Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and Nephrotic Syndrome, improve treatment, and find a cure. Dr. Smokler's son suffered from FSGS in his childhood. To date, the foundation has committed $14 million to FSGS work.

Aviva Kempner,
a 1969 and 1971 alumna, is happy to report that a special 2-disc DVD edition of her Peabody Award–winning and critically acclaimed film The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg will be released April 24, 2013. The film is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about the extraordinary Detroit Tiger who transcended religious prejudice to become an American icon. The DVD package includes more than two hours of new extras, including a phone interview with Ted Williams and more of Walter Matthau, Bob Feller, and an interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film, originally released in 2000, depicts how during the Golden Age of Baseball, Hank Greenberg's achievements with the Tigers rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. However, the slugger's greatest accomplishment extended beyond the field as American's first Jewish baseball star. He helped break down the barriers of discrimination in American sports and society. This compelling documentary examines how Hank Greenberg was a beacon of hope to American Jews who faced bigotry during the Depression and World War II.

David Michael Slater,
LS&A '92, writes books for children, teens, and adults. David's new book for adults, Fun & Games, is set for June release. It takes place in the 1980s—the time of Dungeons & Dragons, banana clips, and Atari. Jonathan Schwartz is growing up in a family like no other. His sisters, Nadia, the dark genius, and Olivia, the gorgeous tease and temptress, manipulate Jon and his friends for their own entertainment. And his Holocaust survivor grandparents? Their coping techniques are beyond embarrassing. A disastrous visit to Jon's class by his grandmother unhinges his famous father, setting off a chain of events that threatens to send the dysfunctional Schwartz clan up in flames once and for all. Fun & Games is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of faith, family secrets, betrayal, and loss—but it's also a tale of friendship, love, and side-splitting shenanigans. Plus: Much of the book takes place in Ann Arbor. David's other titles include 16 picture books with titles like Cheese Louise, Jacques & Spock (a Children's Book-of-the-Month Alternative Selection), and Flour Girl (a 2008 Mom's Choice Award winner). His ongoing six-part teen series, Sacred Books, is being developed for film by producer Kevin Bannerman (Lion King/Curious George) and screenwriter Karen Janzsen (Dolphin Tale). David also teaches at Pine Middle School in Reno, Nev.

Audrey Geyer,
BA '88, is an independent video producer in Brighton Mich., who has worked in the field for more than 15 years. Her nonprofit company is called Visions, and it specializes in the production of social affairs documentaries. Geyer's crew recently completed a one-hour documentary on Michigan Native-American role models. Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience includes a segment on the Pow Wow for Mother Earth, held in Ann Arbor. Geyer executive produced and directed the program, which seeks to dispel the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon, and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society. Their experiences will deeply touch both Natives and non-Natives and help build bridges of understanding, respect, and communication, Geyer says.

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