2019 Alumni Award Winners Announced

Sixteen alumni and one family will be honored March 15

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2019 Alumni Achievement Award recipients includes the director of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, the former chief of staff at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, a winner of the prestigious Cliburn Gold Medal piano competition and the president and CEO of Union Station.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor these outstanding alumni at the 2019 Alumni Awards Event Friday, March 15 on campus. UMKC’s Alumni Association will highlight recipients’ stories and accomplishments during an evening program in White Recital Hall, followed by a reception. Click here for tickets to the event.

Alumni Awards is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Co-chairs for the 2019 event are Jim Hogan (B.S.C.E. ’84) and Tamra Hoffman (B.S.D.H. ’05).

Following are the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awardees:

Campus-Wide Award Recipients

Alumnus of the Year: Dwight Scott (B.L.A. ’94)
As director of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Scott has helped the 102-year old organization grow into a leading force in conservation worldwide. Home to more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals and 700,000 exotic plants, the Zoo participates in the science-based Species Survival Plan, which maintains genetic diversity and long-term sustainability in captive populations. Through science-based, collaborative projects and cutting-edge, immersive exhibits, the organization strives to lead the fight against extinction and connect people with wildlife.

Spotlight Award: Steven St. John (B.A. ’96)
St. John has been a fixture on the Kansas City sports scene since 1999. He is the host of the popular sports morning show “Border Patrol” on 810 WHB, the first program to be simulcast daily on radio and television in Kansas City. St. John spent several years offering color commentary for the UMKC men’s and women’s basketball teams and has spoken at numerous university events including the College of Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon. He also serves on the board of directors for the ALS Association of Mid-America Chapter and as honorary chairperson for the annual Sheffield Place Golf Tournament.

Bill French Alumni Service Award: Dick Gibson (B.M.E. ’67, MBA ’02)
Gibson’s impressive military career spanned 26 years and included serving as the chief of staff at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and twice working with General Colin Powell. During his time in the military, Gibson received the Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor and Purple Heart for action in Vietnam. A former president of the Bloch School of Management’s Alumni Association Board, he was one of the founding members of the EMBA Alumni Admissions Council and currently serves on the business advisory board to Enactus, the award-winning UMKC student group focusing on entrepreneurial service projects in the Kansas City community. Gibson is also an at-large director on the UMKC Alumni Governing Board.

Defying the Odds Award: José Faus (B.A. ’87)
Faus lived with his grandmother in Bogota, Colombia, before moving to the U.S. at nine years old. He and his brother came to Kansas City in the dead of winter to live with his mother, who’d come to the U.S. three years earlier. While he went through a period of rebellion, Faus realized he had a knack for writing and has used his personal journey as a source of inspiration for his work. As an artist and writer, Faus is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective and serves on the boards of The Writers Place, UMKC Friends of the Library and Nuevo Eden. He has been involved in many mural works in the Kansas City area, Mexico and, most recently, Bolivia, where he received a cultural ambassador grant from the U.S. State Department.

Legacy Award: The Strickland–Hembree Family
The Strickland–Hembree family is anchored by two sisters, Dr. Mary Pat (Strickland) Lange and Dr. Kathryn Ann (Strickland) Hembree. Both are graduates of the UMKC School of Medicine and are ophthalmologists. Mary Pat graduated in 1985 and has served the Lawrence, Kansas, community for more than 25 years as an ophthalmologist and senior partner at Lawrence Eye Care Associates. Kathryn Ann graduated in 1986 and founded Northland Eye Specialists, focused on providing comprehensive family eye care. Kathryn Ann’s daughter, Kathryn Hembree Night, a second generation Roo, received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and philosophy in 2009 and is a graduate of the UMKC Honors College. She works in finance in New York.

School-Based Award Recipients

College of Arts & Sciences: Jeanne Drewes (B.A. ’76)
Drewes’ career spans four decades and encompasses a myriad of achievements. She has worked in university libraries and museums and currently serves as chief of the Binding & Collections Care Division and Deacidification Program at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 2017, Drewes was awarded the Ross Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services.

School of Biological Sciences: Patrick M. Rose (B.S. ’73, M.S. ’75)
Considered one of the world’s leading experts on the Florida manatee, Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club, has tirelessly advocated for their health and habitat for more than 40 years. He served as the first federal manatee recovery activities coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the first manatee and marine mammal administrator for the Florida Department of Natural Resources and was also the environmental program administrator for the Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee before joining the Save the Manatee Club in 1996.

Bloch School of Management: George M. Guastello II (B.B.A. ’82, MBA ’84)
Guastello has used his extensive civic and business experience to help lead the transformation of beloved Kansas City institutions including the Starlight Theatre, the American Royal Association and, most recently, Union Station. Since becoming president and CEO of Union Station in 2008, Guastello, with board and staff, has reimagined Kansas City’s favorite monument into a financially stable civic center that has attracted a variety of new tenants, hosted a number of exciting world-renowned exhibits and created an internationally awarded science center within the station called Science City.

School of Computing & Engineering: Philip Straub (B.S.E.E. ’92)
As executive vice president, managing director at Garmin International, Straub oversees all aspects of the company’s aviation division including product development, flight operations, sales and marketing. Straub, who has a passion for promoting STEM education, also serves as chairman of the board of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and is a member of the Drone Advisory Committee for the Federal Aviation Association. An accomplished pilot, he earned his private pilot license at the age of 17.

Conservatory of Music and Dance: Stanislav Ioudenitch (Performance Certificate ’03)
Winner of the prestigious Cliburn Gold Medal, a world-renowned piano competition, Ioudenitch has performed at cultural centers around the world including Carnegie Hall in New York, Conservatorio Verdi in Italy, the Mariinsky Theater in Russia and Théâtre du Châtelet in France. Ioudenitch founded the International Center for Music at Park University where he is artistic director and master teacher of piano. Additionally, he is director of the Young Artists Music Academy and vice president of piano at the Piano Academy of Lake Como. Since 2017, he has served as associate professor of piano at Oberlin Conservatory.

School of Dentistry: Terry G. O’Toole (D.D.S. ’81)
Prior to his retirement in April 2018, O’Toole served the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration for more than 35 years holding various roles including chief of dental service and, most recently, director of dental informatics and analytics. In the latter position, O’Toole oversaw the development of strategic plans, healthcare budget and national policy initiatives including the implementation of an integrated electronic medical/dental health record. He has served as chair of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Dental Practice.

School of Dentistry – Dental Hygiene: Rebecca L. Stolberg (M.S. ’96)
A leader in both the profession and education of dental hygiene, Rebecca Stolberg serves as senior director of allied dental education and faculty development at the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Prior to joining ADEA, Stolberg led the Department of Dental Hygiene at Eastern Washington University (EWU) for 15 years.

School of Education: Deborah Siebern-Dennis (B.A. ’05)
As a seventh-grade teacher at Bode Middle School in Saint Joseph, Missouri, Siebern-Dennis was the only Missouri teacher to receive the Milken Educator Award in 2015. She is currently one of 45 middle school science teachers from across the U.S. selected to participate in a two-year teaching and learning project funded by the National Science Foundation. Siebern-Dennis is known for her engaging lessons, understanding of students’ needs and passion for learning.

School of Law: Paul F. Kavanaugh (J.D. ’84)
As a trial lawyer specializing in medical malpractice, Kavanaugh has represented seriously injured clients for more than 30 years, been ranked in the top 100 trial lawyers by “The National Trial Lawyers” and lectured on the prevention of medical negligence at UMKC School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical School and University of Arizona College of Medicine. As co-founder of the Kavanaugh Charitable Foundation, started with his wife, Debbie, he has funded elementary schools in Cambodia, donated 1,500 wheelchairs to the underserved and created a fully endowed scholarship for students in need at UMKC School of Law.

School of Medicine: William Arthur Cooper (M.D. ’92)
Going above and beyond a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon, William Cooper is founding medical director of a nationally recognized heart surgery program, has served 30 years with the U.S. Army Reserve, including four tours of duty, and received his MBA from Emory University. Since joining WellStar Health System in 2004 as medical director, Cooper has paved the way for new technologies that have transformed the standard of care for cardiac patients.

School of Nursing & Health Studies: John Stevens (D.N.P. ’12)
As CEO and clinical director of deNovo Health in Dallas, Texas, Stevens puts his 18 years of experience in aesthetic services to work. He began his career serving as a trauma nurse and member of the United States Army during Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia. A lifelong learner and entrepreneur, he has started multiple companies, earned his doctorate of nursing practice at UMKC and is studying metabolic and nutritional medicine with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

School of Pharmacy: Alan W. Carter (B.S.P. ’79, Pharm.D. ’02)
With more than 35 years of experience in clinical pharmacy management and research, Carter has worn many hats including: educator, board member and researcher. Currently serving as a consultant, Carter also donates his time as an adjunct professor at the UMKC School of Pharmacy and as a board member for the UMKC Pharmacy Foundation. Earlier this year, a study Carter completed on the concentration and efficacy of insulin garnered national attention and resulted in a formal confirmatory study commissioned by the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Tags: .
  • Recent UMKC News

    $20 Million Scholarship Article in The Kansas City Star

    KC Scholars partnership also in U.S. News and World Report … Read more

    Geosciences Professor’s Research Cited in New York Times

    Fengpeng Sun co-authored study on California wildfire seasons The 2015 … Read more

    Bloch Faculty Interviewed on NBC Nightly News

    Brent Never teaches about Kansas City’s racial dividing line Never … Read more