FIU will pay tribute to distinguished alumni and members of the FIU community at its 10th annual Torch Awards Gala on Saturday, March 19. It recognizes the university’s most outstanding alumni and members of the FIU faculty for contributions to their fields, the community and their alma mater.
“This year’s ceremony will be a very special one for the university,” said FIU Alumni Association President Joaquin “Jack” Gonzalez. “It marks the 10th anniversary of the event and honors luminaries such as Carmen Reinhart ’78, who has attainted international prominence as an economist at a time when the economy is center stage.”
The Torch Award honors the memory of Senator Ernest R. Graham, the forward thinking champion who helped to create the university. This year, the highlight social event for the FIU Alumni Association will be held at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, Wells Fargo Center (Met 2), 255 Biscayne Boulevard Way in Miami. A cocktail reception will start at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation at 7:30 p.m.
Pamela Silva Conde, five time Emmy Award winning journalist and FIU alumnus, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Conde, who graduated in 2003 with honors, is the co-anchor for “Noticias 23 Al Amanecer” for Univision and for Telefutura 69.
The ceremony also will include a performance by the FIU SOM Charanga Ensemble directed by Nestor Torres, Latin Grammy Winner flautist and FIU professor. The charanga is an ensemble made up of winds, strings and percussion instruments that perform traditional and modern versions of the folk music from Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.
“In only one decade, this event has become a tradition among our alumni,” said Senior Vice President for Advancement Howard R. Lipman. “As in years past, it will be an evening of pride for the Blue and Gold.”
Previous winners of the Torch Awards include: Mike Lowell ’97, who helped the Boston Red Sox defeat the Colorado Rockies to capture the 2007 World Series Championship, Elizabeth Balmaseda ’82, the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, Dany Pino ’96, lead actor in Cold Case, Andy Garcia, Academy Award-nominated for his role as Vincent Mancini in The Godfather Part III and Stephanie Burns ’77, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dow Corning and voted one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
This year, the FIU Alumni Association will honor the following individuals
- Distinguished Alumni Awards
Anabella Vogeler Smith ’81, Principal-Director of Interior Design, Zyskovich. Nominated by: College of Architecture + The Arts
David Cohen ’86, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The New York Mets Baseball Club. Nominated by: Athletics
Alfredo Cepero ’88 MAcc ’90, Audit Partner, BDO. Nominated by: College of Business Administration
Cristine E. O’Hara ’99 MS ’04, Teacher, Miami Dade County Public Schools – Palmetto Middle School. Nominated by: College of Education
Javier Rodriguez ’90, Executive Director, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. Nominated by: College of Engineering and Computing
Cesar A. Gonzalez ’97, Chief of Staff, Congressman Mario Diaz Balart. Nominated by: Honors College
Adam Mark Stewart ’03, Chief Executive Officer, Sandals Resorts. Nominated by: School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Rainier Gonzalez, Esq. ’95, Chief Executive Officer, Pacer Corporation. Nominated by: College of Law
Captain Jacinto J. Garrido, ’86 MSN ’94, Captain, Chief of Special Operations, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs, Enforcement-Health Services Corps. Nominated by: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Krista Casazza, Ph.D ’06, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Nominated by: Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
E.R. Bert Medina ’84, Senior Vice President and Operating Manager, Telefutura. Nominated by: School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Allan Phipps, MS ’00, Teacher, Broward County Public Schools – South Plantation High School. Nominated by: College of Arts and Sciences
Alfredo J. Hernandez M.D. ’96, Gastroenterologist, Pedro J. Greer Jr. MD & Associates PA. Nominated by: College of Medicine
- Charles E. Perry Young Alumni Visionary Award
Monique Hamaty-Simmonds ’96, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tortuga Imports, Inc. Nominated by: College of Business Administration
- Community Leadership Award
Stan Hills ’86, Chief, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Nominated by: College of Engineering & Computing
Tony E. Crapp, Jr. ’95, City Manager, City of Miami. Nominated by: College of Arts and Sciences
- Outstanding Faculty Award
Steven Oberbauer, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, FIU. Nominated by: College of Arts and Sciences
- Outstanding Achievement Award
Carmen Reinhart ’78, Professor and Economist, University of Maryland. Nominated by: College of Arts and Sciences
- FIU Service Award
Albert E. Dotson, Sr., Chair, FIU Board of Trustees
For more information about tables, tickets, program ads, and sponsorships, please contact Elena Balsinde at 305-348-0159.
Media Contact: Jean-Paul Renaud at 305-348-2716.