Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Updates from CLASmates

Bridging Business

Mark Trowbridge
Mark Trowbridge
It’s common knowledge that a liberal arts degree can open the door to a number of fields. But how does a person with a degree in zoology make the jump from science to heading up the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce?

“My liberal arts degree at UF has given me the necessary tools to recruit and communicate with a diverse membership, work with our elected officials, forge partnerships and problem solve in our community,” said Mark Trowbridge, who earned his B.S. in zoology in 1990. “I understand the value of my UF degree every single day as I work side-by-side with our business leaders to encourage commerce, build community and enhance our quality of life.”

Trowbridge took over as president and CEO of the chamber in August. He had previously served as deputy executive director for business development for the Miami Parking Authority, where he was responsible for planning and managing capital construction projects and directing the agency’s public relations and marketing strategies. He also holds a master’s in education from UF and has been active in the South Florida community since moving to Coral Gables to become director of student activities at the University of Miami in 1992.

Sunny Forecast

Meteorologists Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes
Meteorologists Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes
CLAS alums from the 1990s may notice a familiar face the next time they click over to The Weather Channel to get the latest forecast. Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams, star of the series Abrams & Bettes: Beyond the Forecast, graduated from UF with a B.S. in geography in 1999. Ironically, co-host Mike Bettes is an alumnus of new rival Ohio State University.

“Mike and I made a bet,” Abrams said. “If your team lost the national championship football game, then you had to wear the winning team’s hat or shirt and do one of their chants live on the show. It was fun watching a Buckeye wear a Gator hat while chomping and singing It’s Great to be a Florida Gator on national television. Our web producer also put it on our website,, and it was one of our most popular clips!”

Abrams landed her job at The Weather Channel in 2003, having earned a meteorology degree from Florida State University one year earlier. She became unforgettable to millions of viewers during the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season, when she crossed her home state of Florida several times to cover three major storms. A year later she was given her own prime-time show, which premiered Sept. 25 as the first in the channel’s 25-year history named after its personalities. It airs nightly at 8 p.m., EST.

In Brief


Dawn FitzGerald (B.S. & M.S., Psychology, 1987 & 1990) has been appointed CEO of QSource, a non-profit healthcare consulting firm and the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization of Tennessee.

William S. Williams (B.A., Political Science, 1984) was recently appointed to the Board of Overseers of Stetson University’s College of Law. He was also recognized as a Top Lawyer in the 2007 edition of The South Florida Legal Guide and is a partner at Lytal, Reiter, Clark, Fountain & Williams in West Palm Beach.


Marc Betinsky (B.S., Mathematics, 1995) resides in St. Paul, Minnesota and is working in his fourth appointment as a clerk for a federal judge.

Paul S. Comeau (B.A., Criminology, 1997) is operations manager for Martin Outdoor Media and is pursuing an MBA at Nova Southeastern University.

Juan Carlos Diaz (B.A., Political Science, 1991) was recently named vice president and relationship manager of commercial lending for Intercredit Bank. In September 2006, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation honored him as an outstanding professional for the South Florida market for his community involvement.

Jeffrey T. Donner (B.A., Political Science, 1996) recently established Donner Law Firm in Miami, concentrating in the areas of appellate, government, administrative and commercial litigation.

Edd Harrison, Jr. (B.A., History, 1995) is troop commander of the Second Stryker Regiment of the U.S. Army based in Vilseck, Germany.

Stuart J. Henderson (B.A., Japanese, 1993) is working as a Japanese translator for several businesses and is enrolled at Harvard University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in liberal arts.

Deborah J. Hooker (M.A., Latin American Studies, 1999) is a Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.

Steve Howell (B.A., Anthropology, 1993) has been an Army officer since 1994 and is an Afghanistan veteran. He received his master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 2006 and now serves with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He plans to spend a year in Iraq in the fall.

Gabriel A. Kotch (B.A., Political Science, 1999) is associate corporate counsel for a national real estate development company in Orlando.

Debbie Matisoff (B.A., Political Science, 1994) received her MPA from American University in 1996 and served in the Peace Corps in Lithuania from 1997–1999.

Nikitah O. Imani (M.A., Political Science, 1991; Ph.D., Sociology, 1995) serves as an associate professor of sociology at James Madison University. A poet, filmmaker, rapper and musician, he also runs his own entertainment company, Reapalife Multimedia Edutainment.

James Rose (B.S., Microbiology, 1994) is a liver disease specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he serves as a transplant hepatologist.

Sean Simon (B.S., Psychology, 1994) opened a plastic surgery practice in July, having completed medical school at the University of Miami in 1999.

Eva Nowakowski Sims (B.S., Psychology, 1997) recently received a Ph.D. in social work from Barry University and is currently interviewing for faculty positions throughout the country.


Jill Bodgan (B.S., Chemistry, 2006) is a laboratory technician in the bioassay department of GEL Laboratories, LLC.

Jennifer Joy Campbell (B.A., English, 2006) is pursuing an M.S. in English education at Nova Southeastern University and teaches English and reading at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida

Michael Deffenbaugh (B.S., Geography, 2004) is a professional land surveyor and project manager for Stroud Engineering in Wilmington, North Carolina.

David Feinman (B.A., Political Science, 2005) is a legislative correspondent for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton.

Matthew Fieldman (B.S., Psychology, 2000) was recently the distinguished 2006–2007 Roslyn Z. Wolf-Cleveland JDC International Fellowship, which he will use to serve as a management consultant to the Jewish community in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Aline Gubrium (Ph.D., Anthropology, 2005) has spent the past year as an assistant professor of comparative women’s studies at Spellman College, helping establish a health concentration. She is now an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Matthew R. Kelly (B.S., Computer Science, 2006) is a software developer at Blade Software in Gainesville.

Rian M. Kinney (B.A., English, 2004) is a law degree candidate at Nova Southeastern University.

Alexis Lambert (B.A., Spanish, 2000) served as the deputy finance director of the successful Bill McCollum for Attorney General campaign in 2006 and is an assistant attorney general in Tallahassee.

Kelly A. Mongiovi (B.A., Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2000) was awarded a Master of Education in student personnel and higher education from UF in May 2006. She is a counseling specialist at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville.

Thomas A. Occhipinti (B.A., Sociology, 2004) is currently a Chef de Cuisine in the Islamorada islands in the Florida Keys.

Barbra Perlick (B.A., Sociology, 2001) is pursuing a master’s degree in guidance counseling at Argosy University in Tampa.

Christine Portela (B.A., Spanish, 2004) is a digital media producer at WTVJ-NBC6, the NBC affiliate in Miami.

Kristen Potter (B.A., Political Science, 2005) interned for U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney before earning an M.S. in business management from UF in 2006. She was recently named an account leader at Strategic Communications, a corporate communications firm in Jacksonville.

Eva Luz Rosales (B.A., French and Political Science, 2001) was recently named an administrator for the European Union’s Cabinet of Humanitarian Assistance.

Michael A. Simon (B.S., Psychology, 1994) is a urologist in Weston, Florida.

Ally Taboada (B.A., Political Science, 2006) is a first-year law student at UF’s Levin College of Law.

Jayne Truckenbrod (B.A., Spanish, 2002) graduates from medical school in May at the University of North Texas and will begin her residency in pediatrics.

David Winchester (B.S. & B.A., Microbiology and Sociology, 2000) earned an M.D. at the University of South Florida in 2005 and recently completed his residency at the University of Virginia. He is currently applying for fellowships in cardiology.


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