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Class Notes
1940s 1950s 1960s
1970s 1980s 1990s
2000s    
       
 

1940s
Marjorie Easter Kemp, B.M. ’45, celebrates 25 years at the Rochester Presbyterian Home. At 83 years of age, she is the oldest member of the home and is still very musically active there.

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1950s
Leon R. Noe, B.B.A. ’52, of Boynton Beach, Florida, was honored at the 25th anniversary conference of the Organization of Travel Marketing Executives, which he founded in 1979. More than 250 members—international travel marketing executives representing all segments of the industry—attended the event, where Steve Winn also was honored with the organization’s Atlas Award. Noe was editor and publisher of Travel Market Yearbook, which he sold in 1980 upon exiting the travel industry.

Myrna Sandler Fistel, B.Ed. ’55, M.Ed. ’73, was elected president of the Temple Samuel Or Olom Sisterhood in Miami, Florida, for 2005-2006.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, J.D. ’57, is included in an online exhibit from the Jewish Women’s Archive (jwa.org/feminism) of 100 Jewish women who contributed to women’s rights in the United States. This is in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Jewish community in the United States. She was the first female attorney in the general counsel’s office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and is one of the founders of the National Organization of Women. She is the author of the memoir Eat First—You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter.

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1960s
Richard Coyle, B.Ed. ’61, is dean of students at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, Massachusetts.

William F. Vitulli, A.B. ’61, M.S. ’63, Ph.D. ’66, is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of South Alabama. He recently published an article in the academic journal Psychological Reports, titled “Humor and Gender Roles: Does Age Make a Difference?”

Judith Welsh, B.Ed. ’61, M.A. ’68, is a writer, book author, and independent journalist in Coral Gables, Florida.

Eric T. Ehlers, B.S.M.E. ’67, has retired from teaching high school mathematics, which he did following an industrious career as a professional engineer for various organizations, including the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA, Eastern Airlines, and IBM. He has been married for 32 years.

Michael L. Stephans, A.B. ’67, M.Ed. ’69, and Ron M. Weisberg, B.B.A. ’68, have coproduced a jazz recording featuring famed woodwind artists Dave Liebman and Bennie Maupin (both Miles Davis alums), bassist Scott Colley (currently with Herbie Hancock), and percussionist Munyungo Jackson (also a Miles Davis alum). Stephans and Weisberg met as members of UM’s Band of the Hour.

Marjorie D. Abrams, M.Ed. ’68, Ph.D. ’75, retired college professor and administrator, has published Murder on the Prairie, A North Florida Mystery, about an actress/activist who attempts to fight development in an ecologically sensitive area while preparing for her role in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Abrams also is the author of the play, The Cellphone, produced at the Hippodrome State Theatre, and a winner in the 2005 Mt. Dora Music and Literature Festival.

Richard C. Milstein, A.B. ’68, J.D. ’73, received the 2005 Humanitarian Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at the 9th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner. A Miami native and partner at the law firm of Akerman Senterfitt, Milstein has contributed countless hours of pro bono work and volunteerism to foster human rights and cultural development.

Philip Marraccini, B.B.A. ’69, has established Communicative Media Arts, Inc. and the South Florida Acting Group in Homestead, Florida. Working with teacher and director Jim Culler, the organizations aim to introduce top-quality, original works to the area. Marraccini is a local farmer, president of the Dade County Agri-Council, and an amateur writer.

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Joel McNeely Scores on the Silver Screen

omposer-director Joel McNeely, B.M. ’82, has scored scads of films, including The Stepford Wives, Uptown Girls, and Virus; animated works such as Mulan II, Lilo & Stitch 2, and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie; and TV shows such as The Court, All Souls, Dark Angel, and George Lucas’s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. As the Frost School of Music’s 2005 Distinguished Alumnus, McNeely recently lectured on campus for several days. “Miami has a real tradition of producing wonderful jazz musicians,” McNeely says. “The level of playing in the top jazz ensemble is just amazing.”

Influenced by classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Patton, and Jaws, McNeely says, “Each is an icon in film music,” noting that effective scores are integral to storytelling. The Emmy-winning composer starts with pencil and paper, either at his desk or at the piano, then transfers his compositions into a computer that synthesizes his work. International musicians ultimately perform his creations under his direction.

For McNeely, music is in the family. His wife, Margaret Batjer, is concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and a member of the University of Southern California music faculty. Their two children play violin, and together the family enjoys hiking, mountain biking, tennis, and skiing. A Wisconsin native, McNeely lives near Los Angeles, though he has worked as far away as Perth, Australia.

“That was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen,” McNeely says of watching the late Elmer Bernstein conducting while the film being scored appeared on a big screen behind the orchestra. McNeely was ten years old at the time. “That moment really planted a seed,” he says, adding that other mentors have included his father, writer and producer Jerry McNeely, and the late Jerry Goldsmith, with whom McNeely collaborated on Air Force One.

“If you absolutely have to do this, then pursue it,” says McNeely, who would love to score a Harry Potter film one day. “But don’t think it’s going to be easy. You’re a blade of grass, and you’ve got this big concrete sidewalk over you, and you’re just looking for a crack to find your way through.”

— Leonard Nash

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1970s
Mark J. Safferstone, B.S.Ed. ’70, M.S.Ed. ’72, has published Organizational Leadership: Classic Works and Contemporary Perspectives, a bibliographic essay summarizing the 100 seminal works on the topic of organizational leadership. He works at the University of Mary Washington’s College of Graduate and Professional Studies in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he is responsible for corporate professional development and institutional assessment functions. He also is earning his MBA at the University of Mary Washington. He and his wife, Sharon, have three grown children.

Carmen Blake, B.G.S. ’72, is president of International Pan American Travel, a club that gives members opportunities to travel, network, and enjoy other group benefits.

Cruz D. Garcia, B.S.Ed. ’72, has retired after teaching elementary school for 23 years at Auburdale Elementary School in Miami and now lives in Duluth, Georgia.

Mark King Leban, J.D. ’72, was elevated by Governor Jeb Bush to preside over the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, serving in the criminal felony division.

Franc Talarico, B.G.S. ’72, is a sculptor living in Venice, Florida, with his wife, Dottie. His work is displayed in museums, businesses, and private collections throughout the country. His most recent bronze life-size statue of Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams is on display at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Hortensia Hacker, B.B.A. ’73, director of marketing at the Florida-based accounting and management consulting firm, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra LLP, has been named president of the Cintas Foundation, which promotes the development of Cuban artists outside of their native land.

Thomas Schwartz, J.D. ’73, former general counsel of the Miami Free Zone (privately operated duty-free trade zone), is an actor under the name of Tom Derek. His recent role is a bum who sees cars flying over buildings in the movie Transporter 2.

Bruce Posner, B.F.A. ’75, has curated Unseen Cinema, a DVD series from Image Entertainment that includes work by 100 avant-garde, professional, and amateur filmmakers working before World War II.

Carol L. Stevens, B.S.N. ’76, M.S.N. ’79, is a nurse practitioner in Wesley Chapel, Florida. She is completing training in psychiatric evaluations and medication management.

David Vincent, D.M.A. ’76, sometimes called “Dr. Longball,” keeps all official home run statistics for the Society for American Baseball Research in his laptop database. Every day he updates the stats, which date back to 1871. His feature profile appeared in the August 21 issue of Parade magazine.

Darcy LaFountain, B.B.A. ’77, a former University of Miami swimmer, won the 50-54 age bracket in the U.S. Masters Swimming Open Water 2.5K National Championship in Chicago in September.

Mirtha T. Shideler, A.B. ’77, M.S.Ed. ’93, is a Spanish teacher at Bradley Middle School in Huntersville, North Carolina.

Peter Feaman, J.D. ’78, a former shareholder with Adorno & Yoss, P.A., has joined the Boca Raton law office of Hodgson Russ LLP as a partner in its Business Litigation Practice Group. His practice focuses primarily on litigation involving real estate, construction, securities, and health care.

Carol Lucius, M.S.Ed. ’79, is director of the Fleet and Family Support Center in La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy, which is an agency of the U.S. Navy that provides financial, career, and personal counseling to service members and their families.

Bruce Meyerson, J.D. ’79, has joined Brown Raysman Millstein & Steiner LLP as a partner in the real estate department of the firm’s New York office. His experience includes transactions involving lending, development, construction, securitization, leasing, acquisitions, and sales of real property.

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Gia Tutalo-Mote Mixes Broadcasting
with Benevolence

hile living in Boca Raton, where she worked for Globe Communications writing mini-books and horoscope calendars sold in supermarket checkout aisles, Gia Tutalo-Mote, M.A. ’98, says her condominium neighbors urged her to write a letter protesting the proposed children’s shelter across the street. “Wrong person,” Tutalo-Mote says triumphantly. “I ended up volunteering at the shelter.”

Tutalo-Mote’s “Forever Family” segments, which have run weekly on Miami’s NBC 6 television station since 2002, have found adoptive homes for 23 youngsters, and several more have “homes identified.” As well, the segment has raised more than $50,000 in cash, goods, and services for needy foster children and families.

Born in Rhode Island and raised in Florida, Tutalo-Mote has always counted on her courage to achieve her goals. When Thom Mozloom, then a producer for Miami’s Channel 10, visited her University of Miami broadcasting class, Tutalo-Mote had no qualms about making herself known. “I was so desperate to break into the business that I left class early and followed him out to his car. I said, ‘Look, how do I do this?’ A week after I graduated, he took a management position at NBC and called me.”

Despite her fortuitous beginning and a 2002 Emmy for a promotional spot, Tutalo-Mote has since resigned as promotions producer from NBC 6 to raise her own children and focus upon her nonprofit organization, Forever Family (www.nbc6.net/foreverfamily), which produces the TV segments. Tutalo-Mote promotes Forever Family in weekly radio appearances on South Florida’s Magic 102.7 FM, and gradually she’ll take Forever Family nationwide, featuring local children from each new broadcast market.

Tutalo-Mote and her husband plan to adopt one or more children once theirs are a bit older. She credits attorney William T. Coleman, A.B. ’66, LL.M. ’85, and his firm for their assistance with running a nonprofit. Her advice to prospective parents is that adoption is not as complicated and expensive as many people assume, and the rewards are profound. “I’ve seen kids go from shelters to private schools, football leagues, and cheerleading teams—they’re just different kids. They have a glow about them. They’re happy and they’re loved.”

—Leonard Nash

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1980s
Benjamin Baum, M.B.A. ’81, M.S.I.E. ’84, was chosen for the second time by the U.S. Olympic Committee to carry the Olympic torch, first in 1996 in Atlanta and last year in Athens, Greece. He is a senior vice president and wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley in Miami, Florida.

Donald C. Works III, J.D. ’81, a partner with the labor and employment law firm of Jackson Lewis LLP, has been selected for inclusion in the 2006 edition of the Best Lawyers In America.

Juan Pedro Lluria, A.B. ’82, is founder and president of Lluria Fine Arts Services, which offers appraisal services of fine art, antiques, and objets d’ art for insurance, estate, and divorce purposes. The firm also brokers fine art and antiques for individual collectors and estates. He serves as a trustee and member of the board of the Foundation for Villa Vizcaya.

Elaine A. Solomon, B.B.A. ’83, is a science and technology principal in the Phoenix, Arizona office of HDR One Company, an architectural, engineering, and consulting firm. She is an active member of the Arizona State University Alliance for Construction Excellence, the Arizona Chapter of the Society of Marketing Professional Services, the Arizona BioIndustry Association, and other professional and community organizations.

Andrew J. Cohen, B.B.A. ’84, has completed the acquisition of 211 Broadway in Lynbrook, New York, as an addition to his portfolio of strategic investment properties.

George H. Mazzarantani, B.Arch. ’84, is an attorney who has his own firm in Sarasota, Florida, specializing in real estate, business, and land-use law. He has been elected to the board of directors of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, an independent, not-for-profit organization that raises funds and supports educational opportunities that benefit all of Sarasota County, Florida.

Michael Welner, B.S. ’84, M.D. ’88, is chairman of The Forensic Panel, a national consultation practice. He also is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and an adjunct professor of law at Duquesne University. He has developed the Depravity Scale Project, which aims to standardize legal distinctions of the worst crimes.

Nicolas J. Gutierrez Jr., A.B. ’85, is a founding partner of Borgognoni, Gutierrez & Arza, LLP, in Miami, Florida. He also is former chairman of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and was featured in Miami Today and the South Florida Business Journal.

Joseph L. Herman, A.B. ’85, is a general dentist limited to pediatrics in Delray Beach, Florida, serving the Medicaid community. He received his D.D.S. from Case Western Reserve University in 1990. He is married with four sons.

Nancy Pettersen Strelau, M.M. ’85, has accepted the position of music director/conductor of the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra in Rochester, New York. She still teaches conducting and composition at the Hochstein Music School and conducts the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Virtuosi Scholarship Chamber Orchestra, and the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic.

Donna Ballman, J.D. ’86, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, was certified as a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million-dollar and multimillion-dollar verdicts, awards, and settlements. Founded in 1993, the organization has roughly 3,000 members throughout the country.

Donna DiMaggio Berger, A.B. ’86, J.D. ’89, was named shareholder with the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also serves as executive director of the Community Association Leadership Lobby, a statewide advocacy group representing 4,000 community associations.

Andrea Goldblum, B.S.Ed. ’86, is director of student judicial affairs at The Ohio State University.

Bruce McGuire, A.B. ’87, is president of the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association, whose members include Tudor Investment Corp., GE Asset Management, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, and Yale University.

Spencer Aronfeld, B.B.A. ’88, J.D. ’91, is host of Ask the Lawyer, a two-hour, talk radio open forum on South Florida’s 1360 WKAT-AM station. The show is a liberal-sided look at the law and how it affects people in Florida.

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Michelle Kaufman Catches the Personal Stories

f you want to find Michelle Kaufman, B.S.C. ’87, there’s a good chance you’ll find her in the men’s locker room. A graduate of Miami Killian High School, the Miami Herald sportswriter’s first brush with the athletic world came when she wrote an article for the school paper revealing that the football coach was sabotaging potential player scholarships, which eventually led to his firing.

At the University of Miami, Kaufman took the only gig The Miami Hurricane student newspaper had to offer at the time—covering sports—and by the time she graduated, she had witnessed one baseball championship, two football championships, and one Heisman Trophy winner (Vinny Testaverde).

Realizing she was in a heavily sought-after sports market, Kaufman also took it upon herself to venture outside of the Miami market, working as a stringer for the St. Petersburg Times and writing profiles of players on the University of Miami’s opposing teams. “I would literally go down their roster,” Kaufman recalls, “find out where everyone was from, call their hometown paper, and pitch them a story.”

After stints at the St. Petersburg Times and Detroit Free Press, Kaufman moved back to Miami. She had met her future husband, fellow Miamian and writer Dave Barry, and started working at The Miami Herald. Although she has covered everything from the Olympics to Wimbledon, Kaufman, who teaches a course at the University on sportswriting, says even after more than two decades in the business, being a female sportswriter is still a challenge. She has been harassed, knocked aside, and simply told she has no business writing about sports.

“People say to me, ‘You’ve never even played sports, what do you know about sports?’ You don’t have to be a former actor to write about theatre or a politician to write about politics.”

Being a woman in a predominantly man’s world does have its upside, though. “I think an athlete is more likely to open up to a female writer because we’re more likely to ask them personal questions,” Kaufman says. “If he’s got a picture of his kids taped to his locker, we’ll ask about it. A male sportswriter could interview the same guy over and over and not even notice that picture. And it’s those stories, the ones that show the personal side of an athlete, that really stand out.”

— Jessica Sick, B.S.C. ’00

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1990s
Tonya (Swearingen) Smith, A.B. ’90, recently won second place in the Kansas Authors’ Club annual statewide contest for professional writers. She has been working as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers, and the proposal for her first novel is under consideration with a major national publisher. She lives in Topeka, Kansas, with her husband, Scott, and their 9-year-old daughter, Ariel.

Michael Hettich, Ph.D. ’91, has published Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems (New Rivers Press). He teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College.

Joseph H. Bogosian, J.D. ’92, was appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of International Aviation. He is responsible for coordinating all of the FAA’s international activities and advancing U.S. leadership in aviation with particular focus on international standardization. Previously he served as deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing in the U.S. Department of Commerce. He and his wife reside in Arlington, Virginia.

G. Michael Grammer, Ph.D. ’92, associate professor of geosciences at Western Michigan University, is a co-recipient of the Robert H. Dott Sr. Memorial Award, which honors the best original publication dealing with petroleum geology that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists publishes. The selected work is a book coedited by Grammer, called Memoir 80: Integration of Outcrop and Modern Analogs in Reservoir Modeling. Many of the techniques described in the text are implemented in an ongoing U.S. Department of Energy project that Grammer is leading.

Andrea S. Greenwald, B.B.A. ’92, is president of Andi Greenwald Development Group, in Miami Beach, Florida. She has received two Miami Beach Design Preservation League awards, the key to the City of Miami Beach, and the “Doc Baker” award from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Lisa S. Walsh, J.D. ’92, an attorney with the law firm of Gonzalez & Walsh LLP, was recently installed as secretary of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Miami-Dade Chapter. The organization has 400 members and was established in 1980 to promote the recognition and encouragement of the contributions of women within the legal profession and to elevate judicial standards.

Marwan Abderrazzaq, B.S.C. ’94, a producer for the video game industry, has worked for Electronic Arts, Vivendi, and Universal and is presently a producer for The Collective.

Carlos F. Garcia, B.B.A. ’93, was made partner in the accounting firm of Goldstein Schechter Price Lucas Horwitz and was named a finalist in the South Florida Business Journal’s Up and Comers Award.

Karen Mace Sartain, J.D. ’93, worked as a Miami-Dade assistant public defender from 1993 to 1999, leaving to raise a family. She lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband and two children, Shannon (6) and Will (4).

Gina Z. D’Amato, B.S. ’94, M.D. ’98, is assistant professor in hematology/oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida. She was a featured speaker on the panel Concepts and Controversies in Oncology Drug Development at the Bear Stearns 18th Annual Healthcare Conference.

Richard D. Morales, B.S. ’94, has received the Fellowship Award from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). To receive this honor, he completed 500 hours of continuing dental education, passed a comprehensive written exam, and fulfilled three years of continuing membership in the AGD. Morales practices in South Miami, where he lives with his wife, Cecilia, and four children.

Peter Valori, J.D. ’94, a partner with the law firm Damian and Valori LLP, was selected as one of Florida’s Legal Elite in the categories of labor and employment and commercial litigation by Florida Trend Magazine. Lawyers throughout Florida nominate their peers for the honor, the Florida Bar reviews the submissions, and a panel of attorneys reviews the list of finalists.

Jeffrey N. Estis, B.S.C. ’95, was appointed associate head men’s basketballcoach of the new basketball program for Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Yvette Lisa Clements, A.B. ’96, J.D. ’99, joined the Miami office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, P.A., as an associate practicing in the areas of commercial litigation and general liability.

Melanie Damian, J.D. ’96, a partner with the law firm Damian and Valori LLP, was selected as one of Florida’s Legal Elite in the categories of labor and employment and commercial litigation by Florida Trend Magazine.

Gloria Romero Roses, M.B.A. ’96, is spearheading the new Office of Community and Employee Relations for The Continental Group, a property management and maintenance firm with more than 3,400 employees throughout Florida.

Tricia A. Russell, B.Arch. ’96, formerly senior project manager at Clemens Construction Company, has started Vericon Construction Company in Linden, New Jersey, with partners Charles DeAngells and Stephen Mellett. After four months in business, the firm has acquired work in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Crissa-Jean Chappell, B.S.C. ’97, M.F.A. ’99, Ph.D. ’03, recently sold her debut novel at auction to HarperCollins. It will be published in 2007.

Mary Davis, A.B. ’98, earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Florida in 2003. She is the visiting scientist in environmental health at Harvard University and an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts. She studies biostatistical methods and environmental health risks. She recently married Candice M. Darcy, a massage therapist in Boston.

Riccardo G. Firmino, M.A.L.S. ’98, is co-owner of three firms in Coral Gables that provide continuing medical education credits toward physicians’ recognition awards. His firms also organize conferences that provide physicians with ACCME-accredited courses to help them maintain their licenses.

F. Jay Haran, B.H.S. ’98, spent the summer, for the second consecutive year, working with scientists in the Neurosciences Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. A doctoral student studying motor control at the University of Houston, Haran examined the effects of microgravity on motor function during the summer internship, provided by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

Peter Bielagus, B.S.C. ’99, author of Getting Loaded: A Complete Personal Finance Guide for Students and Young Professionals, has signed a development deal with Hearst Entertainment to develop a personal finance reality TV show. The financial makeover show (www.brokefolk.com) will feature unusual and entertaining stories about real money messes from people who are starting their financial life off on the wrong foot.

John L. Urban, J.D. ’99, and Carl-Christian Thier, LL.M. ’97, have formed Urban & Thier, P.A., a law firm with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Munich, Germany. The firm’s primary focus is on domestic and international transactional and litigation matters.

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TV’s Judge Alex Ferrer Sees Law from Many Angles

s a cop, I’d seen victims when they’d been victimized, and I’d seen defendants before they’d been cleaned up and presented in court,” says Alex E. Ferrer, J.D. ’86, star of Judge Alex, which debuted in September as the top new syndicated show this season. “It gave me an invaluable perspective into what really happens.”

His producers tout Ferrer as “the only TV judge with extensive police, legal, and judicial experience,” but he is not the first Hurricane to preside over a nationally syndicated courtroom program. “We’re very good friends,” Ferrer says about The People’s Court’s Marilyn Milian, A.B. ’81, a fellow former Miami-Dade County judge. “Actually I’m a big fan and we talk about our shows all the time.”

The industrious Ferrer managed a gas station in high school and served as a City of Coral Gables police officer throughout college and law school. After nine years of private practice, he was elected to the circuit court bench in Miami-Dade County, where he presided for ten years. “I was a tough judge, no question about it,” says Ferrer, a key proponent of Miami-Dade’s alternative boot camp sentencing program. “I wanted them to know that if they didn’t do what they were supposed to do, I’d launch them to prison.”

In its debut season, Judge Alex, which tapes in Houston but adheres to the laws where each case was initially filed, has presented feuds over money between coworkers, family members, and friends; dog bites; car accidents; and “cat fights” between wives and ex-wives.

Ferrer, who presided over several televised high-profile murder cases in Miami, acknowledges that being publicly recognized goes with the job. “I’m used to being in a fishbowl,” he concedes, noting that his wife and their teenage son and daughter enjoy seeing him on TV.

Ferrer, a licensed single-engine pilot whose family emigrated from Cuba when he was an infant, enjoys sculpture, bass guitar, marathons, and lobster diving. He also arbitrates and mediates cases in his free time, and he teaches at judicial colleges and conferences. “It keeps me real,” says Ferrer. “After all, I’m not just an entertainer. I’m a real judge.”

— Leonard Nash

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2000s
Brad E. Coren, J.D. ’00, has been appointed sergeant at arms for the Rotary Club of Weston, responsible for member adherence to club policies and procedures. Coren’s practice in Weston, Florida, specializes in business, corporate, and commercial matters. He also handles personal injury cases.

Adrienne Denaro, B.S.C. ’00, a copywriter for ClearChannel Broadcasting, has won a spot on the top 25 radio commercials in the country through ClearChannel’s Creative Services Group. She is engaged to Nasri Mukhar, B.S.C.E. ’01, a computer engineer for Blue Point Data and owner of a computer consulting company, Macro SG.

Jason E. Havens, LL.M.E. ’00, is cofounder of Havens & Miller, P.L.L.C., with law offices in Destin and Bluewater Bay (Niceville), Florida, and New Orleans. He was selected for inclusion in the 14th edition of Who’s Who in American Law (2005-2006) under the areas of estate planning, probate, and taxation. He also was selected for inclusion in the 60th edition of Who’s Who in America. Both are published by Marquis Who’s Who.

Jordan M. Lewin, J.D. ’00, has opened his own law firm, Jordan M. Lewin, P.A., after practicing for five years as a criminal prosecutor with the Office of the State Attorney for Miami-Dade and attaining the position of division chief. He is engaged to Loretta B. Todzia, J.D. ’01, who is associate counsel for Baptist Health South Florida, following a three-year stint at the firm McDermot, Will, and Emory.

Christopher J. O’Rand, J.D. ’00, an associate with the civil practice law firm of Markowitz, Davis, Ringel & Trusty, P.A., received a 2005 “Put Something Back” Pro Bono Award in the Family Law category. The award is the result of a joint project between the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and the Dade County Bar Association.

Virginia de la Guardia Infante, M.S.Ed. ’01, has established DownTime Kids, the first resourceful program in Miami for children with Down syndrome and their families.

Carlos B. Castillo, J.D. ’01, formerly a special counsel to the United States attorney for the southern district of Florida and an assistant U.S. attorney, is a new partner at Seidman, Prewitt, Dibello & Lopez, P.A.

Joseph Wall, B.S. ’01, was promoted to captain in the United States Air Force and has become a KC-10 aircraft commander. He is engaged to Trysta Malm, B.S. ’03, whom he met in scuba class before graduating from UM.

Elisa Rodriguez, B.S.I.E. ’02, resigned from Florida Power & Light Co., where she worked as a project manager for three years, to become a full-time MBA student at Yale University.

Justin Ziegler, J.D. ’03, was a guest on 1360 WKAT-AM’s Ask the Lawyer, hosted by Spencer Aronfeld, B.B.A. ’88, J.D. ’91.

Veronica Villegas, B.S.C. ’03, has been named director of the Latin American Division at the Coral Gables-based public relations firm Kreps DeMaria. She is responsible for developing and furthering public relations strategies for companies throughout the United States that seek to increase their visibility within Latin America.

Nubia Villegas, B.B.A. ’04, is chief of staff to Florida state representative Julio Robaina (R-Miami). She is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education administration and enrollment management.

Matthew J. Zipay, J.D. ’04, LL.M.E. ’05, has joined the Trusts and Estates practice section in the Naples, Florida, office of Quarles & Brady LLP.

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Dany Garcia Johnson Is Rocketing Ahead in Business

orking hard has always been a defining characteristic of Dany Garcia Johnson, B.B.A. ’92. “In order to keep my horse, I ran a barn of eight stalls and drove tractors,” she says of earlier endeavors. In high school she sold suits in a men’s store, her first exposure to the business world. And during her UM years, she worked in the dean’s office in the School of Business Administration and rowed on the crew team. “My university experience was fully rounded,” she says. “I had wonderful mentors at the University of Miami who influenced me greatly.”

After graduation, Johnson spent ten years with Merrill Lynch as a financial consultant, and in 2001 she founded JDM Partners, a Miami wealth management firm with client portfolios averaging $5 million. Like her clients, Johnson and her husband, actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, A.B. ’95, are financially secure, but it wasn’t always that way.

“I even sold my Eric Clapton boxed set,” she laments, recalling her favorite CDs. When the couple first met, she was earning $18,000 a year and Dwayne couldn't work because he was on a football scholarship as a University of Miami Hurricane. “Times were difficult, but it gives me an appreciation of where we are today.”

This appreciation fuels Johnson’s involvement with many charitable organizations. As founder and president of The Beacon Experience, Johnson helps “mold outstanding members of society” by guiding a selected kindergarten class through high school and ultimately funding college scholarships for them. Johnson also is founder and vice president of The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, honorary chairperson for the Mercy Hospital Emergency Department Campaign, on the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and a regional director for the University of Miami Alumni Association.

Johnson, whose parents are Cuban immigrants, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Succasunna, where she studied classical piano, flute, and French horn. Today she and Dwayne enjoy homes in Davie, Florida, and Los Angeles, California, which they share with their four-year-old daughter, Simone. “I still play the piano,” Johnson adds. “At least I can impress the heck out of my daughter.”

— Leonard Nash

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