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Distinguished Alumni Awards

CSU is Viking Strong with a worldwide network of 130,000-plus alumni. Each year, a select group who bring distinction to the University through their career achievements, service and engagement are honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards.

This year, 12 men and women who represent the life-changing impact of a CSU education were celebrated at the 29th annual awards ceremony, sponsored by the Alumni Association and the University.

“Your successes are our successes because they speak to the value of a CSU education and the importance of CSU to this community,” said Nikki Byrd, BA ’00, president of the Alumni Association.

Nearly 500 guests attended the awards dinner at the Wolstein Center, where the basketball arena was transformed into a glittering venue for the biggest alumni event of the year.  

Congratulations to the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients! 

George B. Davis Award for Service to the University

Linda Kane graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting. A CPA, she enjoyed a successful 35-plus-year career in the real estate industry, 25 of those years with Forest City Enterprises, Inc. She retired in 2016 as senior vice president, having served in several executive-level financial roles.

The lifelong Clevelander has shared her time and energy with CSU – as treasurer and secretary of the CSU Foundation Board of Directors, long-time member of the Monte Ahuja College of Business Visiting Committee, member of the ENGAGE: The Campaign for Cleveland State University Leadership Cabinet and more. She is a former College of Business Executive-in-Residence and interim director of CSU’s Paul J. Everson Center for the Study of Real Estate. She was named the College of Business’ Distinguished Alumna in 2011 and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2009. 

She is also a generous donor, establishing an endowed scholarship in the College of Business, supporting Radiance scholarships, and more.

Monte Ahuja College of Business 

Ted Laufik is a two-time business graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1977 and an MBA in 1986. He is a member of the Monte Ahuja College of Business Visiting Committee, CSU’s Weston Ideation Lab Advisory Board and established an endowed scholarship to support business students. 

A certified public accountant, the Cleveland resident is the chief financial officer and chief compliance officer at Cyprium Investment Partners. He joined the firm in 2014. 

His 30 years of experience in the private equity and venture capital industries includes more than 25 years as the chief financial officer and chief administrative partner for Morgenthaler. 

College of Education and Human Services

Donna Y. Ford is a three-time alumna with a bachelor’s degree in communication and Spanish in 1984, a master of education in counseling in 1988 and a Ph.D. in urban education/educational psychology in 1991.

This summer, she was recruited to The Ohio State University as a Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology. For the past 15 years, she has been a professor of education and human development and more recently, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair at Vanderbilt University.  

One of the nation’s top scholars, her research focuses on gifted and multicultural/urban education. 

Washkewicz College of Engineering

Joseph Masters earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1979. From 1997 to 2015, he served as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of URS Corporation. He was also URS’ chief compliance officer and a member of the management committee. 

Prior to joining URS, he was in private law practice in Cleveland, principally representing contractors and design professionals. He is a long-time supporter of the Washkewicz College of Engineering.

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

A founding member and managing partner of Buckley King LPA for over 30 years, Brent Buckley earned his JD in 1982 and chairs C|M|LAW’s Board of Visitors.

The Pepper Pike resident maintains an active law practice. His numerous recognitions include Corporate Responsibility Magazine (named among the nation’s top trial lawyers), Best Lawyers in America, Top 50 Lawyers in Cleveland, Top 100 Lawyers in Ohio, and Top Legal Minds in Northeast Ohio. 


Christine Kohler Myeroff was a highly accomplished Viking athlete, receiving Most Outstanding Cross Country Athlete three times and Most Outstanding Track Athlete once. She was inducted into the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health in 1986 and currently serves on the CSU Athletics Visiting Committee. She lives in Bratenahl.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Print and broadcast journalist Dwayne Bray received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1988. He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times, and has won the Edward R. Murrow, Alfred I. DuPont and Peabody awards, as well as the New York Film Festival’s World’s Best TV and Film Grand Award. 

The senior coordinating producer at ESPN for the past 13 years lives in Connecticut and is an engaged alumnus, serving on the CSU Foundation Board of Directors, establishing a scholarship in honor of his late mother and helping launch About Manhood, a student leadership series.   

School of Nursing

Registered Nurse Michael Trompak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2015. The Parma resident is a critical care and emergency nurse in International Operations at the Cleveland Clinic, where he has worked for five years.

He also serves as a nurse officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and volunteers as the EMS director of Programa de Educacion Paramedico, a nonprofit, Christian hospital in the Dominican Republic. 

College of Sciences and Health Professions

Habeebah Rasheed Grimes is a three-time alumna with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1999, a master’s in clinical psychology/counseling in 2001 and a master’s/specialist in school psychology in 2002. 

The Cleveland resident has made serving vulnerable children her life’s work. As chief executive officer of the Positive Education Program, a nonprofit that provides services for youngsters with severe mental health and behavioral challenges and their families, she leads a staff of 500 professionals committed to helping children learn and grow.

Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs 

Christopher Alvarado earned a master’s degree in urban planning, design and development in 1999. 

Since 2014, as executive director of Slavic Village Development, he has led the revitalization of Cleveland’s Broadway/Slavic Village neighborhood through new home construction, the rehabilitation of nearly 200 vacant and abandoned homes, the administration of housing and storefront renovation programs, as well as a partnership to improve educational outcomes for students. He lives in Cleveland’s Detroit/Shoreway neighborhood.

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Honors College

Huong Mai Nguyen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Spanish in 2009. 

Since 2011, she has worked for the World Bank – in the Africa Region as a research analyst studying poverty reduction and economic development, and in the East Asia and the Pacific Region, first as an infrastructure specialist in the Sustainable Development Unit and currently as an energy specialist in the Energy and Extractives Global Practice. She is based in Washington, D.C.  

College of Graduate Studies

As senior vice president of program at the Cleveland Foundation, India Pierce Lee leads the grantmaking team to define Greater Cleveland’s critical needs and leverage resources to help meet those needs. She joined the foundation in 2006 as program director for neighborhoods, housing and community development. 

She earned a master of arts in psychology, specializing in diversity management, from CSU in 2017. 

The Cleveland resident chairs the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs Visiting Committee, where she has been a member since 2011. She also served three years on the CSU Foundation Board of Directors.

Also in this Issue...

Alumni Adventures

From behind-the-scenes visits to well-known (and little-known) Cleveland sites to world tours, the CSU Alumni Association’s calendar of events has something for everyone.  Read more >>

CSU Research Team Awarded Three-Year, $1 Million National Science Foundation Grant

A team of researchers from Cleveland State University has been awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program for a project titled Achieving Excellence and Equity through Academic Leadership DevelopmentRead more >>

Homecoming Memories

A people-powered parade, golden apples, a harvest picnic, reunions, dedications, awards . . . Homecoming 2019 was packed with activities that brought alumni and their families back to campus. Read more >>

Love Letter to Cleveland

The Michael Schwartz Library is the new home for the Love Letter to Cleveland mural. The 58-foot art piece, which chronicles the history and national influence of the city, was installed on the third floor of the library outside the Office of Special Collections, which houses the Cleveland Memory Project.​. Read more >>

C|M|LAW Hall of Fame

Cleveland attorney and business leader P. Kelly Tompkins has made a $750,000 gift to his alma mater, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, to establish a substantive leadership education program for law students. Read more >>

Parker Hannifin Students Live and Learn

In early 2019, Cleveland became the fourth Say Yes to Education chapter in the nation, thereby making college free for virtually all Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) graduates. CSU welcomed 150 students to campus this fall through this initiative.  Read more >>

Addressing Food Insecurities Among Students

According to the College & University Food Bank Alliance, 36 percent of college students experience food insecurity while nine percent are homeless. Read more >>

Global Agriculture Grows the World

Charlotte Sine graduated from Fenn College in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in English. That degree served her well during a 46-year career in various editorial positions at Meister Media Worldwide. Read more >>

Improving Trauma-Informed Practices in Kenya

CSU is currently collaborating with Kent State University and KCA University in Nairobi, Kenya to assess the incidence of trauma among Kenyan students and ultimately develop a model for educators to improve the use of trauma-informed practices in universities across the country.  Read more >>

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Cleveland State University Alumni Association
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