Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Updates from CLASmates

Congratulations to Kristen Downs

Tony Blair & Barbara J. Stephenson
Kristen Downs
Kristen Downs (B.A. 2006, Chemistry and French), who recently won a Jack Kent Cooke Fellowship for up to six years of graduate study at $50,000 a year. This scholarship is one of the largest and most competitive graduate scholarships in the country. She is attending Johns Hopkins University pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences Engineering. Nominated for the award based on her outstanding performance in a challenging major, wide-ranging undergraduate research, and extensive international experience, she has a powerful motivation to make a difference in the developing world in the area of water and sanitation.

Recruited to UF as a National Merit Scholar, in her second semester Kristen began undergraduate research with Professor Valeria Kleiman. She spent her junior year in Grenoble studying chemistry (taught in French). Her senior thesis on biophysics allowed her to graduate summa cum laude. Her professor’s have called Kristen a citizen of the world. Before the age of nine she lived for six years in Japan and Palau. She spent her junior year of high school in Grenoble. After graduation, the Peace Corps took her to Kenya as a secondary math and science teacher where she worked with students to address issues related to AIDS. On her return she volunteered in Ecuador in a Child Family Health Project. Each of these international experiences has helped her acquire a highly developed sense of the nuances of different cultures, which have shaped her intense desire to make an impact on the developing world.

Where in the World?

Alumni write in and let us know what they’ve been up to.

Gators in MosulMosul, Iraq

My buddy and I are both graduates of UF—and we are both graduates of the UF Army ROTC program as well. We are stationed together in the 43rd Combat Engineer Company as platoon leaders. My name is 1LT Benjamin Weaver (B.A. 2005, Political Science) and his is 1LT Andrezj Mikulski (B.A. 2004, M.A. 2006, Urban Planning). Our company assures mobility, counter mobility and survivability, which support the troopers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” who are currently conducting combat operations in the pivotal city of Mosul, Iraq. One of our primary roles is to conduct route clearance, basically hunt roadside bombs or Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) that injure and kill so many soldiers. Together, with Explosive Ordnance Detachments we have found over 250 and provided much of the current force protection in Mosul.

We have seen quite a bit of action, and the leadership taught to us by the CLAS and UF Army ROTC has been extremely useful. My fellow Gator and I have been instrumental in developing a positive security situation for the one-time insurgent stronghold of Mosul, Iraq. It is pretty rare that two members of the same university are stationed together. Here’s a photo of us pictured on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Go Gators!

Gators in Easter IslandEaster Island

I graduated in 1991 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and have been employed as an international currency trader since 1992.

I was in Iceland 6 months prior to heading to Easter Island. In Iceland I had a Gator Hat but no banner, then someone asked how far I would go to take a picture with a Gator banner and that is when Easter Island came into the picture. From Iceland it is almost as far as one can go in the opposite direction. I decided to take my own photo of the most remote place in the world in front of the Maoi (statues) with my Gator Flag.

In Brief


Charles Dils (M.A., Psychology, 1956) recently completed 4 years on Board of Trustees of Tacoma Unitarian Congregation, with one as president. He is a retired marriage and family therapist.

Betty Ann Good (B.A., Liberal Arts, 1954) is the founder of Youth Crime Watch of America. She previously founded organizations including the Crime Commission of Greater Miami’s Court Watchers in 1968 and Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County in 1975. The Florida Grand Jury Association, the International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners, and President Ronald Reagan, have recognized her work. In 1977, B’nai B’rith named her as the Dade County Outstanding Citizen of 1977. In 1996, President Bill Clinton honored her with the Presidential Service Award. She was a national Points of Light Award recipient in 1994.


John P. Hudock (B.S., Biology, 1969) joined the management staff of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions (AzDFI, then known as the Arizona State Banking Department) where he revised, and modernized the chapter of Arizona’s Administrative Code. He has served as the President of the Public Lawyers Section of the Maricopa County Arizona Bar Association, and was recently promoted to Administrative Counsel of AzDFI.

Capers Jones (B.A., English, 1961) published a translation of his 14th book, Estimating Software Costs, in both Japanese and Chinese. He was the keynote speaker at the annual Japanese Software Testing Conference in Tokyo in February and was the keynote speaker at the World Quality Congress in Washington, DC, in September. His 15th book, Applied Software Measurement, was published earlier this year.

Henry S. Katz (M.S., Physics, 1962 and Ph.D., International Studies, 1982) was hired by the Boeing Company to work on the Apollo mission, after receiving his master’s degree. In 1963, he moved to the Lockheed Martin Company to work on re-entry of nuclear-powered Navy satellites. This was followed by a stint at the Goddard Space Flight Center working on the Delta Launch vehicle, then by the National Security Agency, working as a director of an overseas deep space Collection site. He also was a part-time faculty member at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the Computer Science department.


Thomas R. Lindlof (B.A., English, 1973) is a professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky. The University Press of Kentucky published his latest book, Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, the Religious Right, and the Culture Wars, in 2008.

Wallace L. McKeehan (B.S., Chemistry, 1965) is the Endowed John S. Dunn Professor and Director of the Center for Cancer and Stem Cell Biology at Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Institute of Biosciences and Technology in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Dr. McKeehan was named Texas A&M Regents Professor in 2003, the highest honor for service in the system. This year he was named Texas A&M Distinguished Professor, the highest academic honor in the system.

Richard J. Oman (M.A., Theater, 1970) was married to Jennie Marie Naffie on May 6, 2008. He retired in July from a 37-year career as college instructor, the last 34 years of which were spent at Muskegon Community College in Michigan where he served more than twenty years as Director of Theatre and five years as Chair of the Creative & Performing Arts Department. As scenic and lighting designer he designed more than 150 productions for the college as well as community and professional theaters.

David B. Richman (Ph.D., Zoology, 1977) was named Curator of the Arthropod Museum in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces New Mexico in 2006. He was promoted to faculty as a College Associate Professor in 2007. He was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from New Mexico Cooperative Extension and made a Friend of New Mexico 4-H in 2007. He authored three chapters in the Encyclopedia of Entomology (2008) and co-authored eight chapters in Spiders of North America (2005).

Bruce Rocheleau (Ph.D., Political Science, 1974) is the author of two books: Public Management Information Systems (2006) and Case Studies in Digital Government (2007). He is Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University.

Michael Shay (B.A., English, 1976) was chosen to represent Wyoming in the State Blogger Corps at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. His blog,, focuses on Wyoming politics.

Chuck Sheehan (B.A., Political Science, 1978) has worked for the Hazelden Foundation Treatment center in Palm Beach, Florida and recently was hired as a Case Manager in the Synergy Substance Abuse Module of the Oakwood Mental Health Center of Palm Beach County.

John W. Sheets (B.S., Zoology, 1975) was recently named Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Bausch & Lomb.

Carol M. Towbin Greenberg (B.A., English and Speech, 1976) is the founder and Creative Director of MorningStar Cultural Arts Group which will be celebrating its 20th year in 2009. An educator for over thirty years and a Cultural Arts commissioner for Savannah for nine years, she holds many local, regional and national civic positions, has won many awards, and is a consultant for grant writers, curriculum developers and event planners. It’s always a beautiful day in her neighborhood (though she is a proud Gator among Bulldogs) because she has made her home with her high school sweetheart of 36 years—the last 22 in Savannah—and is most proud of the accomplishments of her two wonderful children.

Geoffrey S. Yarema (B.S., Environmental Sciences, 1975) is the chair of the Infrastructure Practice Group at the law firm Nossaman, LLP. He was appointed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to serve on a congressionally mandated commission to study transportation infrastructure. The blue ribbon commission is expected to issue its report with recommendations to the Congress and the Administration in November 2008.


Preston L. Allen (B.A., English, 1987) received his MFA in creative writing from Florida International University in 1994. Since 1994, he has been Associate Professor of English at Miami-Dade College. His short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (2003) was awarded the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright. His novel All or Nothing (2007) received great reviews from the New York Times Sunday Book Review (Sunday June 15, 2008). His short stories have appeared in the literary journals Seattle Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gulfstream Magazine, Drum Voices 2000, and Asili. He has also been published in anthologies Miami Noir, Las Vegas Noir, Here We Are: An Anthology of Southern Florida Writers, and Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction.

Harry Averell (B.A., English, 1985) lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he has his own consulting practice. He is a single father, raising his two high school children and coaching high school basketball in his spare time.

Catherine Russo Cobb (B.A., Political Science, 1986) is currently Southeast Bureau Chief with Nation’s Restaurant News, a subsidiary of NY based publisher Lebhar Friedman.

Laura Jane Deleruyelle (B.A., Speech Pathology and Audiology, 1984) is a family nurse practitioner in Palmetto, Florida. She is currently completing a doctorate in Nursing Practice from Case Western Reserve University.

Jeffrey Hocutt (B.A., Political Science, 1985) owns Hocutt’s Chemical Company and, in 2008, wrote a book, Stories From the Back of an Envelope.

Mark W. Klingensmith (B.A., Political Science, 1982) was elected in March 2008 to a four-year term as Commissioner for the Town of Sewall’s Point, Florida.

David P. Milian (B.A., Political Science, 1986) was selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of Commercial Litigation. In September, David joined the Miami/Washington, D.C., commercial litigation and intellectual property firm Carey Rodriguez Greenberg & Paul as a partner, following 15 years as a partner with the Miami firm Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton. David is a member of the Florida Bar’s Civil Rules Procedure Committee and was listed by Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida’s Legal Elite in commercial litigation.

Sandra Pavelka (B.S., Political Science, 1985) is an Associate Professor and Director, Institute for Youth and Justice Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Mitchell Roop (B.A., Philosophy, 1989) graduated in 1991 from the University of South Florida with a Master’s Degree Eastern Religion and a Master’s Degree in Information Sciences. In 2003 he was a graduate of Leadership Tampa. In 2005 he was a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay. In 2003 he formed Mitch Roop Inc., a management-consulting firm in areas of operations, internal audit, and management accounting. He has a corporate partnership in NPC Creative Services LLC, a public relations firm which focuses on technology and healthcare technology.

Gregory Thompson (B.A., Political Science, 1981) is currently Director of Sponsored Research Services at Florida State University.

Larry Nash White (B.A., History 1988) was named Program Director of the Master in Library Science program at East Carolina University and recently received a 2008 Excellence in Teaching Award from the North Carolina Distance Learning Association.

Dwight D. Wilson (B.A., Criminology, 1988) graduated from Leadership St. Petersburg Class of 2008. Wilson feels that leadership is his strong suit, as he has graduated from Leadership Gainesville, Focus on Leadership, American Council of Young Political Leaders, and the Executive Leadership Institute.


Tyrone L. Adams (B.A., Speech Communication, 1990) is the D’Aquin Endowed Professor of Journalism and Communication at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He specializes in computer-mediated communication and Internet discourse, but has a deep love for all things rhetorical. He is currently working on a book (which is being translated into Spanish) with the University of San Martin de Porres Research Institute titled Communication Shock: The Acceleration and Integration of Everything. His latest book, Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers, was published summer 2008.

Cheryl Priest Ainsworth (B.A., Political Science, 1998) practiced law with Holland & Knight LLP in Tampa for a few years, but recently accepted a position with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles. She practices in the areas of commercial litigation, antitrust and trade regulation litigation.

Larissa R. Baia (M.A., Latin American Studies, 1996 and Ph.D., Political Science, 2004) worked as an administrator in international programs and admissions at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, for 5 years. She and her family recently moved to Concord, New Hampshire where she accepted a position as Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at Manchester Community College. She is enjoying the challenge that the position brings, but missed the warmth of Florida this past winter!

Aileen Easterbrook, formerly Cheryl Aileen Russo, (B.A., English, 1990) was published in AppleSeeds Magazine for children. Her article, “Pathways into the Library,” detailing the life of former UF professor James Haskins appeared in their February 2008 Civil Rights Issue.

Mike Garner (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., Political Science, 1990, 1992, and 1999) was appointed President and CEO of the Florida Association of Health Plans (FAHP). Garner spent years analyzing Florida health care policy in his role as analyst at BCBS, OPPAGA, and most recently as the chief health policy staff person within the state senate.

Gavin I. Handwerker (B.A. and M.A., Political Science, 1991 and 1993) is a principal of Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC and the head of its litigation practice. He is a member of the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Bars. He was also admitted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the District of New Jersey, and the Second and Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rebecca L. Harris (B.A., Anthropology and Classics, 1993) was appointed to UF/IFAS Extension Faculty, 4-H, Youth Development, Orange County Extension in May 2008.

Bobby J. Hollis, II (B.A., English, 1996) is Assistant General Counsel of Invenergy LLC, a leader in the field of renewable energy generation, which is based in Chicago.

Richard Hujber (B.A., Political Science, 1993) recently opened his law firm, Law Offices of Richard Hujber, P.A., in conjunction with the Hujber Law Group, in Boynton Beach, Florida. He previously worked as an Attorney-Advisor in the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, at the Miami Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Robert McCormes-Ballou (B.A., Political Science, 1992) received his Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Leadership from the Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern University in 2006. In 2007, Minority Business News named him one of the Top 100 Men Impacting Supplier Diversity and named him one of America’s Top Diversity Advocates.

Melinda (Myrick) McMaster (B.S., Zoology, 1995) received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction of Science Education from the University of Central Florida in May 2007.

Jason D. Montes (B.A., English, 1991) graduated from Nova Southeastern University School of Law in 2002. In August, he ran for Circuit Court Judge in Hillsborough County, Florida. He is currently an associate with the law firm of Luks, Santaniello, Perez, Petrillo & Gold in Tampa.

Luis J. Perdomo (B.A., Political Science, 1992) is a trial litigator and resides in Palmetto Bay, Florida, with his wife, Julie, and twin girls, Kaitlyn and Kelsey. He recently became a named partner at Lane, Reese, Summers, Ennis & Perdomo, P.A.

M. Maximillion Wilson (B.A. and Ph.D., Sociology, 1990 and 2000) works as the Statewide Evaluation Consultant in the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS. His role is to provide research expertise to community-based agencies around the state that are developing new and innovative strategies for fighting HIV and AIDS.


Florent Allais (Ph.D., Chemistry, 2004) was nominated as a Senior Scientist at the French Institute of Agronomics and Food Sciences in Versailles, France, in September 2007. She received a tenured position in July 2008.

Leslie (Schaefer) Ballard (M.A., Sociology, 2002) is an Instructional Design Specialist at the home office of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Lebanon, Tennessee. She is also the Southeast Region Director of Cadet Programs for Civil Air Patrol, the USAF Auxiliary. She was the escort and coach of the 2008 Civil Air Patrol National Color Guard Competition champion team from Gainesville.

Victoria Eads (B.A., Religion, 2006) graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch’s School of Nursing and received her registered nurse license. She began work in August at Duke University Hospital as a Medical Intensive Care Unit Intern.

Michael Gale (B.S., Zoology, 2003) has completed his Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and currently works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Special Assistant in the Office of External Affairs, Washington, D.C.

James Andrew “Andy” Howard (B.A., Criminology, 2003) was recently promoted to Director of Education and Community Relations for the Orlando Opera Company.

Alexis Lambert (B.A., Spanish, 2000) has a “day job” as Deputy General Counsel to Attorney General Bill McCollum of Florida, but is also an adjunct professor of Communication at Florida State University, teaching media law. She was recently featured in Florida Trend on the subject of public records law.

Clifton Molina (B.S., Computer Science, 2006) is webmaster for the City of Pensacola, Management Information Services Department.

Thaddeus D. Phillips (B.A., Political Science, 2002) graduated from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2005. From 2005 to 2007, he was the Assistant State Attorney for the 19th Circuit State Attorney’s Office of Florida. He is currently an intelligence officer in the United States Navy.

Eva Rosales (B.A., Political Science and French, 2005) enrolled in Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs master’s program. Her main concentration is in International Security Policy with a regional concentration in the Middle East, focusing research in the military doctrine, political policy, and counterterrorism strategies in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Lebanon.

Matthew Schaefer (B.A., English, 2000) resides in Franklin, Tennessee, and is working for Cisco Systems as a Channel Account Manager covering Central and East Tennessee.

Tara (Williamson) Underwood (B.A., Political Science, 2000) is a budget analyst for SAIC at the Kennedy Space Center for Constellation program. She earned a Master of Science in Management from FIT in 2005. She and her husband had a little girl in November 2006, who is already a huge Gator fan.

Brian P. Williams (B.A., Political Science, 2004) previously worked for the Executive Office of the Governor (2004-2008) and is now at the U.S. Department of Commerce (2008-Present).

David E. Winchester (B.S., Microbiology, 2000) (B.A., Sociology, 2000) is completing his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia and will be returning to Shands for a fellowship in Cardiology. He was recently appointed to the American Medical Association’s Council on Legislation.

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