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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to present Distinguished Achievement Awards Oct. 22

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 5, 2011 – Three renowned business executives and the leader of an international agency studying the consequences of global warming are the recipients of the University of Rhode Island’s 2011 President’s Awards. In addition, 26 leaders in diverse fields are being honored by the university’s colleges and graduate school with the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

The awards honor alumni and friends of the University who have brought distinction to themselves and the University through their professional achievements, outstanding leadership and/or community service. The awards will be presented at URI’s sixth annual awards celebration on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Westin Providence, One West Exchange St., Providence.

The President’s Award recipients are:


Richard Beaupre ’62 of Cumberland, the chief executive officer of ChemArt Co., who provides guidance and support to the University in numerous ways. He served on the College of Arts and Sciences External Advisory Council for 15 years and sits on the executive board of the URI Foundation. He established an endowed scholarship to support needy students and another to support student opportunities abroad. He has also contributed to the Center for the Humanities, the Ryan Center, the presidential inauguration and more. And last year, he helped launch a campaign in support of a bond referendum to build a new chemistry building on campus.








Vincent Sarni ’49 of Rector, Penn., who earned a reputation as a straight shooter with little patience for underperformers; a leader who is comfortable with plant workers and corporate titans alike. These traits were key in his ability to lead PPG industries, Inc., a global developer and manufacturer of coatings, glass, and chemicals, for 25 years. He started as marketing vice president for one PPG department and advanced to become chairman and CEO of the entire operation. When he retired in 1994, a Wall Street Journal headline declared, “PPG’s Chairman Sarni, Will Be A Tough Act to Follow…”






Sybil Seitzinger '82 '92 of Stockholm, executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, is an international leader in investigating the causes and consequences of environmental change. IGBP is a worldwide network of thousands of scientists who are addressing the problem of global change. Issues range from climate change, to coastal vulnerability, to air pollution, to land use. A pioneering scientist who recently served as president of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, she is a former director of the Rutgers/NOAA Cooperative Marine Education and Research Program and served on numerous national and international advisory committees.







Alfred J. Verrecchia ’67 ’72 of Narragansett, chairman of the board of Hasbro, a worldwide leader in family entertainment with a portfolio that includes toys and games, motion pictures, video games, and much more. He started his career with Hasbro in 1965, as a young and eager intern from URI. He has generously supported many URI fundraising campaigns and established an endowed chair in the College of Business. He has also guided University leaders as a member of the President’s Council Committee, the Business Advisory Council and the Campaign Leadership Committee.








In addition to the four President’s Award recipients, URI’s colleges and the Graduate School of Oceanography will honor the following individuals representing these disciplines: Arts and Sciences, Business, Continuing Education, Engineering, Environment and Life Sciences, Human Science & Services, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Oceanography.


Ibrahim Abdul-Matin ’99 of Brooklyn played linebacker, was vice president of Student Senate and received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to the University Community while at URI. That was merely a starting point for this advocate for sports and for going green. A policy advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office, he is a regular commentator on the nationally syndicated radio program The Takeaway. He wrote Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, and has organized numerous environmental efforts. He recently returned to URI to speak at the Black Scholar Awards, where he received the Tossie E. Taylor Community Spirit Award, no doubt inspiring others by his example.

Rear Admiral Jonathan W. Bailey ’79 of Derwood, Md., is the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Commissioned Officer Corps and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. He is responsible for managing NOAA’s fleet of research vessels and aircraft and leading the officers of the nation’s seventh uniformed service, who conduct a wide variety of missions, from exploring the oceans’ depths to piloting hurricane hunters. In his 30 years in the NOAA Corps, Bailey has served seven years of sea duty and nine years of flight duty. He was recognized by the Department of Commerce for managing the aerial- and ground-based mapping operations that aided search and recovery efforts following the September 11 terrorist attacks

Jim Cafone ‘ 88 ’90 of Collegeville, Penn., is the go-to guy when you need to get biopharmaceutical products and materials from here to there. As vice president of Supply Network Services at Pfizer, Inc., he is responsible for the design and operations of the company’s worldwide planning and logistics network and deployment of the process, human, and information technology capabilities to drive the network. A member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Committee, he holds degrees in industrial engineering and manufacturing engineering from the University, and another from the University of Pennsylvania, and he previously served as vice president for Manufacturing and Supply at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

At the College of Pharmacy for more than 30 years, Norman Campbell ’57 of Narragansett motivated students to become passionate about their profession. Teaching countless law and ethics classes, he taught his students that “right is right” and integrity, honor, and the persistent pursuit of excellence are cornerstones of the profession. Students and faculty continually seek Norm’s advice on legal matters, even though he is retired, and he remains a popular guest speaker. He has held numerous leadership positions at URI, including College of Pharmacy associate dean, and countless designations with prestigious professional organizations.

Anna Cano-Morales ’91 of North Providence is director of strategic partnerships for the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now. She spent a decade at the Rhode Island Foundation, leading the Hispanics in Philanthropy funding collaborative as well as the Foundation's grants program department, and previously she was a social worker for numerous organizations, including Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education, Women & Infants Hospital and SStarbirth. A volunteer interested in helping children and families, she donated her time as a nursery assistant for four years at a family AIDS center and spearheaded a faith-based after-school program for children with English as a Second Language needs in Pawtucket and her native Central Falls.

Thomas Deller ’77 ’79 of Providence follows President Dwight Eisenhower’s belief that, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” As director of the Department of Planning and Development for the city of Providence, Deller also serves as executive director of the city’s Economic Development Partnership, Redevelopment Agency, and Neighborhood Housing Corp. He previously spent 20 years as a municipal planner in East Greenwich, East Providence and Coventry. He has served on the board of directors of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority since 1997 and is the former deputy executive director of the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp.

Michele Edelman ’89 of Venice, Cal., is a major player in the world of entertainment. Recently named vide president of direct to consumer marketing for Warner Brothers Studios, she previously was the company’s vice president of world-wide marketing, programming and acquisitions, making her responsible for the distribution of programming on pay-per-view, video-on-demand and other platforms. She has worked in marketing for many leading networks, including Disney, ESPN and MTV, and developed a start-up cable network, Websitelevision, the first 24-hour cable network dedicated to showcasing Internet websites. She sits on the advisory board of the URI Harrington School of Communication and Media.

Karina Edmonds ’92 of Washington, D.C., plays a key role in ensuring scientific discoveries at the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories turn into new, high-paying jobs for Americans. As the first technology transfer coordinator at DOE, she is responsible for efficiently moving breakthroughs in science from the laboratory to the private sector. She previously held a similar position for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology, where she managed patent portfolios, licensed technologies to industry, and assisted Caltech-based start-up companies.

The late Francisco Esparza of Cranston was known as the dean of cytotechnologists in Rhode Island. From 1962 to 2007, he worked at the Rhode Island Hospital Department of Pathology, most recently as the cytotechnology lab supervisor, and he was an adjunct associate professor of medical laboratory science at URI. As an educator, he taught didactic and clinical instruction to many cytotechnology students and pathology residents, and the Francisco Esparza Endowed Cytopathology Scholarship has been established at URI in his honor. He also held leadership positions in many professional organizations including the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Tony Estrella ’93 of Cranston is a gifted actor and director who serves as artistic director of the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, where he will appear as Hamlet later this year. Through his leadership in the arts, he has helped to significantly improve the cultural and business climate in Pawtucket, for which he was named Person of the Year by the Pawtucket Foundation. He has appeared in more than 20 productions at the Gamm Theatre, and he has also had roles in feature films and television, including Law & Order, The Brotherhood, and Martin Scorcese’s film The Departed.

Stephen Greenlee ’82 of Seabrook, Tex., is a true explorer. As president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, he oversees an operation that is responsible for finding new oil and gas resources in more than 40 countries to meet future petroleum needs. A geoscientist who joined Exxon in 1981, he has had key management assignments in the company’s research, exploration and production affiliates. Most recently he served as president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, where he managed ExxonMobil’s extensive research program supporting its global oil and gas exploration and production businesses.

Russell Jeffrey ’81 of East Greenwich is a renowned pioneer and innovator in the multi-trillion dollar mortgage-backed securities markets, where he has been trading and investing for over 25 years. He is the founder, CIO and CEO of Providence Investment Management, a $1.5 billion hedge. After growing up in Providence, he moved to New York City where his Wall Street career started as a staff accountant at the investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. Recently, his firm was recognized as the top performing hedge fund in the world and the top fixed income fund, and it is ranked in the top 10 of the nearly 14,000 funds that are tracked by Bloomberg over the last 5 years.

Lynda S. Joseph ’64 of Fairfax, Va., is a nationally recognized expert in the implementation and training of health care information systems. Goal oriented and a problem solver, she was responsible for garnering $450 million of new business as the business development manager at Unisys. She brought in more than $100 million of new business while she was at the Northrop Grumman Corporation. She is president and principal partner of LSJ Consulting Inc., assisting companies in identifying and winning new business in the federal health IT marketplace.

Cleveland Winfield Kurtz of Providence lived his childhood in segregation and discrimination, his young adulthood as a Vietnam veteran, and his post-service life included a return to education. He worked at URI’s Providence campus for more than two decades, teaching the introductory Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) course for all adult students. A social and political justice advocate, he is an inspiration to many who encounter adversity. At nearly every graduation, students mention his name as the reason why they came and stayed at URI. The Kurtz Award is presented annually to the BGS student with the highest graduating grade point average.

Reesa Levy ’70 of New York City lives by Garrison Keillor’s adage that “nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” As principal of Sheepshead Bay High School in New York City, she is committed to educating children and transforming their lives. In her first year as its leader, her school was removed from the list of the state’s most dangerous schools, and she rebuilt trust within the community and revamped the school’s image. In 2007 she received the Peacemaker Award for Promoting Safety and Achievement and has been recognized by the New York City Council and its Police Department for her community service.

Anthony Masso ’63 of Royal Oak, Md., has a 35-year record of exemplary service in the health care, public service and managed care industry. He is president of StrongCastle, LLC, focusing on CEO consulting, executive advisor to Water Street Health Partners, a large private equity firm, and chairman of the Kauffman Foundation Scholars Board. He has been a major contributor with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Peace Corps. His career includes being CEO of Blue Cross’ National Consortium, National Director of HMO private sector development for the U.S. government, regional president for Aetna, and other companies dealing with physician partnerships, managed health care, and venture startups.

Since earning his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences, Francois A. Menard ’88 of Basking Ridge, N.J., has advanced in the industry at an amazing rate. After more than 15 years of increasing responsibilities in pharmaceutical development at Ciba-Geigy, Schering-Plough and Johnson &Johnson, he joined the generic side of the pharmaceutical industry. As senior vice president of Generics Research and Development at Watson Pharmaceuticals, he manages development teams working on many unique technologies in the US, Europe and India. He is married to Elena Zour, who also earned her Ph.D. from the College of Pharmacy, and his son just started in the URI International Engineering Program.

Autumn Oczkowski ’09 of Narragansett, a research scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Oceanography just two years ago, but already she has made major contributions to the study of coastal ecosystems. Her dissertation research on the affect of anthropogenic nutrient flows on the Nile River fishery made international news. As her advisor Scott Nixon wrote of her, “to have achieved so much of such high quality is rare.”

Since joining The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company as an underwriter in 1977, Sandra Parrillo ’93 of North Smithfield has been on an upward track. She served the company in several key positions, including vice president and secretary, before being elected president and CEO in 2000. Her success could have been forecast, since she earned her MBA from URI with high honors and she was elected to the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Business Honor Society of Beta Gamma Sigma. She has been recognized as one of the region’s 25 most industrious and influential businesswomen by the Providence Business News.

Chris Reddy ’97 of East Falmouth, Mass., is a marine environmental chemist with a reputation for pursuing and solving real-world problems. During his career at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -- where he was very rapidly promoted to senior scientist -- he has conducted groundbreaking studies on the environmental impacts of oil spills, biofuels, industrial chemicals and plastics in the ocean. Committed to effectively communicating about science to the public, he has given more than 250 media interviews and teaches other scientists how best to convey their work to the masses as well.

Leonard Reinhart ’77 of West Chester, Penn., is recognized as a founder of the managed account industry. As president of the Consulting Group of Smith Barney, the firm’s investment management consulting division, the group dominated its market, gathering more than $70 billion in assets under management and serving more than 200,000 clients. Leonard went on to found Lockwood Companies, which he would bring under the wing of Bank of New York and later merge into correspondent clearing giant Pershing. Today, he is president of Reinhart Consulting Group, which assists companies in the financial services industry and has a reputation for being on the leading edge of new innovations that help advisors help investors achieve their goals.

Elaine Moretti Riley ’68 of East Greenwich is president and CEO of Homecare Advantage, which provides skilled nursing, personal care services, and various therapies to more than 300 patients weekly in Rhode Island. After earning her URI nursing degree, Elaine was a surgical nurse at Kent Hospital then a psychiatric nurse at Fuller Memorial Hospital. She worked as a manager and marketing nurse for a national homecare organization. Having loved her experience in home care and being an entrepreneur at heart, she started her own company in 1988. In her own words, “It’s the only venue where you see the entire patient in their own setting.” She’s fond of telling students to “keep your options open.”

To Brian Slobodow ’90 of Park City, Utah, running a company involves both running and leadership. He has served in multiple executive roles with several major U.S. companies while keeping up a difficult schedule of distance running races and other outdoor pursuits. He was named chief executive officer of U.S. Silica, a leading producer of industrial minerals, earlier this year after having served as president and chief operating officer at Neways Worldwide. Previously he held executive positions at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Gregory S. Stone ’89 of Arlington, Va., is the chief scientist for oceans at Conservation International and senior vice president for exploration and conservation for the New England Aquarium. He pioneered research in Antarctica on marine mammals and ice ecology and is a specialist in undersea technology and exploration. He has written prolifically for science and popular publications. Since 2000, he has led the effort to create the Pacific Ocean’s largest marine protected area around the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati. He was named a National Geographic Society Hero in 2007 and awarded the Pew Fellowship for Marine Conservation.

Aaron Tillman ’09 of West Roxbury, Mass., is an accomplished writer and editor who has published highly regarded works of fiction and essays. An assistant professor of English at Newbury College who earned his Ph.D. from URI, his fiction has appeared in Opium Magazine, The Carolina Quarterly, Glimmer Train Stories, and The Babson Literary Magazine, among others. His essays have been featured in Studies in American Humor, The CEA Critic, and The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America. At URI, Aaron was awarded first and second prize in the Graduate Critical Essay Contest and first prize in the Nancy Potter Short Story Contest.

James Zachos ’89 of Aptos, Cal., is arguably the most influential paleoceanogapher alive, having conducted distinguished research on climatic changes in Earth’s history that have important implications for understanding the changes the planet is now undergoing. Professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he studies the climatic and geochemical evolution of the oceans. His scientific achievements have been recognized by many of the top professional associations in his discipline, and judging by the thousands of scientists who cite his work, the impact of his research is great.