Doctor of Business Administration
Class of 2022
After a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, Leroy Alexander now is a global source manager working for Convergent Solutions at MacDill Air Force Base, where he coordinates intelligence operations while enabling combined joint military activities with allies and coalition partners.
During his post-graduate education in the Executive MBA program at the Muma College of Business, Alexander learned the finer points of research and he hopes the DBA program will strengthen his abilities to conduct meaningful and relevant research that will assist him in his career as a civilian intelligence officer. Alexander’s goal is to assist local area federal government agencies and private sector defense contractors produce better contracts and to facilitate beneficial outcomes for contract disputes. A long-term goal is to expand his expertise to other geographic combatant commands and national-level agencies.
Alexander earned an Executive MBA from USF and a bachelor’s degree in management from Wayland Baptist University.
Justin Belcher is focused on artificial intelligence in business and supply chain management and it is that passion that drives him to examine and improve customer and employee experiences. As a senior leader of information systems at BlueGrace Logistics, he plays an integral part in developing the company’s strong focus on innovation and planning.
He is a proponent of the implementation of A.I. strategies to create new business opportunities and increase profitability and he is set on using emerging technologies to achieve a competitive advantage and reduce capital expenditures. He has held various technology positions within the transportation and telecommunication industries including several key roles at Verizon Data Services.
Belcher earned a master’s degree in supply chain management from the Pennsylvania State University, an MBA and a masters’ degree in management information systems from the University of South Florida, and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University with a concentration on information systems and management.
Instinct Dog Training
Brian Burton has merged his passions in business and animal behavior and is the co-CEO of Instinct Dog Training. He is an experienced Inc. 5000 executive with a unique blend of computer science expertise with a behavioral science education that has enabled him to scale and grow organizations through his career. He has a keen interest in operational efficiency and worker-friendly environments that unleash team potential to create synergy that is driven and motivated by customer success.
He has helped Instinct Dog Training share its vision of “A Kinder World through Dog Training” across the country. His research lies in determining different ways of teaching complex behaviors to employees and how those behaviors improve efficiency, as well as workplace changes that better support low-wage workers. Formerly, he was a management consultant with Sapient and he has consulted for Fortune 500 companies including Caesar’s/Harrah’s Entertainment, the Wall Street Journal and the Food Network.
Burton earned a master’s degree in animal behavior and conservation from Hunter College in the City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Dalhousie University.
University Area CDC
Sarah Combs is the CEO of the University Area CDC, joining the organization in 2010 and under her leadership, it has more than tripled the number of adults and children reached through education, health, workforce and cultural arts programming, among others. Her main focus is the holistic redevelopment of the Uptown/University Area and in partnership with the community, she created a three-year neighborhood strategy to stabilize the community holistically.
Sarah moved from Colorado to Tampa nearly 16 years ago, taking a position as area director of Best Buddies of Tampa Bay, working to create employment and friendship opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. She created more than 20 middle school and high school chapters in Hillsborough County, started an employment program and launched a networking group. She was recently recognized as a Tampa Bay Business Journal “40 Under 40” honoree, a WFTS-TV “Game Changer” and a Tampa Bay Times “Top Business People” honoree.
Combs received a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice and a minor in legal studies from the University of Northern Colorado.
As director of regulatory affairs with Morphogenesis, Ashraf Dehlawi has a special interest on quality management, continuous quality improvement and regulatory compliance. His career focus areas include clinical development strategy, regulatory compliance, clinical trial design and clinical trial management. Morphogenesis develops novel cell and gene therapies with an eye toward changing the way chronic diseases are treated.
He has served as director since January 2018. Over the previous five years, he was the chief clinical officer for Morphogenesis. And before that, Dehlawi was the hematology product manager for Abbot Diagnostics in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Dehlawi earned a masters’ degree in biotechnology and bioinformatics from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from King AbdulAziz University. He is certified in clinical laboratory quality management.
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners
Jacob Dorff has a varied background. He currently serves as a fiscal analyst with Hillsborough County’s Board of County Commissioners in the Enterprise Solutions and Quality Assurance Department. He previously worked as a program coordinator with the county’s Management and Budget Department, Risk Management Division. Prior to working with the county, he served as operations supervisor at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park for three years. In 2014, he helped drive more than $2.1 million in membership revenues, a 34 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
Academically, Dorff has studied personnel relations, employment law and motivational theory. In addition, he has conducted public-policy research, with interests in the green economy, collaborative governance and leadership. His goal is to improve government and public services through research because there has rarely been a time, he says, in which strong public sector leadership is needed more than now.
Dorff earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Joshua Epstein has a keen interest in decision neuroscience and behavioral economics. He is intent on learning strategies to influence consumers’ perception of value. He aims to study the neuroscience behind irrational consumer decision making to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies. This, he says, will yield scholarly evidence of ways consumers make decisions.
Epstein works now for Posco Daewoo, a Korean automotive supplier. He provides technical expertise in sales and business development responsibilities across North America. Previously, he worked as new business development manager for Ahresty, a Japanese automotive supplier.
He earned an MBA from American University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan. He has also attended the Harvard Executive Business School certification program.
USF, Institutional Research & Analytics Department
James Farley has a love of learning and has flourished in the world of technology. In a field that is constantly changing, he evolves and grows with it. Reconciling and working on data while making sense out of chaos has been a skill he has developed over the years and continues to nurture. He currently is a graduate assistant in the Institutional Research & Analytics Department at the University of South Florida’s Office of Decision Support.
As a grad assistant, Farley researches and creates dashboard metrics for USF and compiles reports that are forwarded to various government agencies. Prior to his current position, he was an operations specialist for over 20 years at a number of hedge funds and investment banks, specializing in derivatives and institutional trading.
Farley earned a master’s degree in business analytics and information systems from USF, an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in finance from St. John’s University and a bachelor’s degree in data analytics from St. Petersburg College.
MacDill Air Force Base
Matthew Forrester started out as an art major, but then turned to the U.S. Army to learn Arabic. He has since entered the realm of counterterrorism intelligence analysis and currently works as an intelligence professional at MacDill Air Force Base, where he is responsible for a team that performs due diligence, compliance checks, background research and risk assessments on people, units, organizations, missions and operations for the special operations community.
For the past 13 years he has supported special operations intelligence analysis and targeting, identity and signature management, and strategic risk assessments.
His career path is not typical, but he still counts art as a foundation in his life, making him a better analyst by providing the creativity needed to gain unique perspectives on national security that has had unexpectedly profound and positive impacts.
Forrester received a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Texas at Austin.
Debra Frank comes from a family of entrepreneurs, starting with her great-grandmother, an immigrant coming into Ellis Island by herself at the age of 21, with no English-speaking skills. Frank currently teaches college-level accounting, financial accounting and managerial accounting at Valencia College. Her major interests include learning new ways to show students how accounting is exciting and full of opportunities. She enjoys teaching students, who are not accounting majors, how accounting is used in their everyday lives and be used to become an effective manager or even a successful entrepreneur.
Frank is a CPA with more than 15 years’ experience as an accountant. To stay knowledgeable with the real-world application of accounting and business entrepreneurship, she owns and operates an accounting and tax practice.
She earned an MBA, as well as, a master’s degree in accounting and taxation, and a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Florida Gulf Coast University.
International Institute of Business Analysis
Ken Fulmer has a passion for blending business with technology and data to enable change in business models as well as the implied workforce. He considers himself a lifelong learner with good people and technical skills that strengthen his ability to help find practical solutions to real problems and to be able to implement those solutions in large enterprises. As CEO and president of the global non-profit International Institute of Business Analysis, Fulmer has conducted research in the areas of digital business and has found the need to change core business practices to include more digital technology skills to meet the demands of the future.
As CEO, he is responsible for all financial and operational aspects of the business as well as a chief advocate for the profession. He formerly worked as chief technology officer for Sunoco and was the CIO of Delek, a Nashville-based refining and marketing products company.
He earned an MBA from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in economics from LaSalle University.
Federico Giovannetti has 30 years’ experience in computer systems research and information technology, having worked in software engineering, embedded systems, storage systems, IP network management, mobile software systems and information security. His background includes stints ranging from academia and research in software systems to leading commercial grade software design and development.
He has published several research papers, presented at industry conferences and was granted three U.S. patents in software design. Additionally, he was awarded the coveted research position of “Distinguished Member of Technical Staff” at Bell Laboratories. Giovannetti also is an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded Ogangi Corp. and taking it from two employees to over 30 with annual revenues of more than $4 million. He is fluent in English and Spanish and speaks some Italian.
Giovannetti earned a master’s degree in computer science from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the Universidad Simón Bolívar.
In her role as the global head of tax for Conduent, a $5 billion, publicly traded company, Sonia Hollies leads the global tax function, with responsibility for all aspects of federal, state, local and international income and indirect taxes, as well as tax planning, provision, policy, compliance and controversy. She partners with business leaders on planning activities, acquisitions, dispositions and other transactions to minimize tax cost and manage risk.
Prior to her current position, Hollies served as senior director of tax operations at Xylem, senior business leader and vice president at Mastercard and senior manager at United Technologies Corp. She is a results-driven, high-energy executive with more than 20 years of diversified experience.
She earned an MBA from Pace University, a master’s degree in taxation from Bentley University and a master’s degree in finance from Keller Graduate School. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pace University.
Michael R. Holmes
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Michael R. Holmes Jr. is a physician assistant at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs providing clinical and surgical care to veterans. He recognizes the complexities within the healthcare industry and the need for clinicians to have a business acumen to improve the delivery of health services.
As health care expenditures continue to rise to an unsustainable rate, there is a precedent to reduce cost without sacrificing access and quality. Holmes has a passion to blend his clinical experience with a business acumen to drive strategic change within his organization. Through the University of South Florida’s DBA program, he aims to be a better interpreter, writer and implementer of research to improve clinical outcomes and financial performance. In his down time, he enjoys traveling and motorsports.
Holmes earned an MBA with a focus in health care at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business in 2019, a master’s degree in physician assistant studies at Chatham University in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 following his military service.
Catrina Hopkins possesses a strong drive to move forward in life and that’s why, after more than 20 years in management, she has returned to education to reinvent herself. She credits her positive attitude and continued perseverance for how she has moved forward along her career path remaining focused along the way.
She currently serves on the customer success team at Stratus Video. In that role, she manages a technical team that supports both internal and external clients. Developing new strategies for operational procedures, she has streamlined daily processes for the customer success team. As a pillar in the medical interpretation industry, Stratus Video provides her the opportunity to make a daily difference in the lives of people. Prior to her current position, she managed customer service teams in excess of 500 members at big-box retailers and has helped users with technical needs around the globe.
Hopkins earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity from the Florida Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in business management/security assurance from St. Petersburg College.
Harvard Business Publishing
As delivery director for Harvard Business Publishing, Gregory Kober leads a talented team of 18 leadership development consultants, instructional designers, project managers and moderators who design, formulate and deliver leadership development solutions to clients in the United States and around the world. He has spent more than 15 years leadings teams that partner with clients to develop their most valuable assets: their current and future leaders.
Over the course of his career, he has focused on designing change in Fortune 1000 organizations to improve their success during turbulent times. He has been recognized through numerous awards, including the Association of Talent Development’s Best of Series Award for transformational training solutions.
Kober earned a master’s degree in public health from Drexel University, a master’s degree in education from the Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree in government from Franklin and Marshall College.
With the passion for real estate fueling his business career, Kevin Lee founded his first real estate investment company in 2014 and since then, he has started three other companies. He currently is the founder and managing partner of LuCapital Management, a residential development company in Tampa, a co-founder and team leader for Bay Lux Group with Keller Williams South Tampa, a brokerage focused on luxury properties as well as a co-founder of Stridis Renderings, which provides 3D architectural visualization services throughout the country.
He considers himself a life-long learner, always curious and willing to learn and understand to be as resourceful as possible.
Lee earned an MBA from St. Leo University and bachelor’s degrees in marketing and international business from the University of Tampa.
Mingyuan Li is on a path she hopes will lead to an executive position. She currently is project manager at Amgen and is focused on that career climb. Armed with a well-defined management acumen and communication, analytical and problem solving skills, she is capable of multitasking in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment. She speaks English, Chinese and German.
Over the course of her career, she has successfully built and led several teams in senior management positions and she is passionate about learning the latest trends in leadership. That interest began when she was in graduate school in China when, for the first time, a course in management science was offered. After graduation, she worked in a number of positions, ranging from engineer to consultant to project and general manager. The broad base of knowledge helped her achieve success throughout her career.
Li earned a master’s degree in management science and engineering and a bachelor’s degree in information engineering from Jilin University.
With more than 25 years of demonstrated success spanning the food and beverage, hospitality, hotel, environmental services, logistics and delivery industries, Jerry Mallory now serves as a client executive of Sodexo, providing direct and indirect management of on-site operations for food and facility services. In this role, he also oversees contract management and negotiations, human resource accounting and financial functions.
In his most recent capacity Mallory has used detailed knowledge of the contract services business and project management skills to assist units in correcting operational issues and client relationships returning them to profitability and re-establishing partnerships with clients at those facilities. He has a sound history of cross sales, service enhancement and has increased top-line and bottom-line results.
He earned an MBA from the USF Muma College of Business and a bachelor’s degree in applied science in business and industrial operations from USF. Additionally, Mallory achieved a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.
Quintin McGrath is an experienced IT leader on Deloitte’s Global Technology Executive team. Together, they lead a 2,000-person internal IT group serving the organization’s 330,000 professionals worldwide. Building high performance multi-cultural, multi-generational teams is a trademark of his career as is growing the next generation of leaders. As a result, the HMG Strategy Group recently named him as a “Top Technology Executive to Watch”.
Born in South Africa, he became the first CIO of the South African Post Office, where he created its IT team, earning him the Computer Society’s “IT Manager of the Year” award. He also founded an internet solutions company for Q-Data and served as Deloitte’s first local CIO. Since 2001, he has been based in the United States.
McGrath earned a master’s degree in electronic engineering from the University of Cape Town, South Africa; a master’s of business leadership from the University of South Africa and a master’s degree in missional church movements from Wheaton College.
Lisa Melson currently works in a strategic interface position for PepsiCo’s warehouse delivery business, serving a wide array of customers across the nation. She is responsible for the corresponding customer service team as well. During her 27-year tenure with the food and beverage giant, she has filled many roles spanning the supply chain spectrum from manufacturing to planning to warehouse operations to transportation to customer integration.
What sets her apart is the variety of responsibilities she has experienced over the course of her career, including the manufacturing of food products and working with sales and the customer to ensure success. One of her previous jobs was working at Northwest Airlines, where she once negotiated a successful bid to transport the White House press corps on an international trip.
Melson earned an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
Bank of America
At the Bank of America, Shirley Morejon is a senior relationship manager in global commercial banking and is responsible for managing a portfolio of clients for whom the bank consults on global treasury and commercial lending needs. She also is the enterprise co-chair for the bank’s Employee NetworkHOLA the Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership & Advancement.
Previous to her current position, Morejon was an operations market manager for the bank, leading more than 150 employees who serve customers in 25 financial centers in Tampa.
During her 15 years with the Bank of America, she has held several positions, including consumer market manager, market growth leader and small business specialist. She is a first-generation, Cuban-American who has dedicated her career to delivering performance results while being an agent for change in her community and organization. Her passion is developing a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Morejon earned an MBA from the University of Tampa and a bachelor’s degree in international business with a concentration in marketing and a minor in economics from the University of South Florida.
Karun Nama has been a software and product delivery lead for 15 years. In this role, he defines product strategy and release scope, manages product managers and product owners, establishes budgets and schedules, assesses product quality and evaluates the results. He is currently working as a senior manager at Fortna, a warehouse distribution company in Tampa.
He started as a software engineer and transitioned to a successful delivery manager, implementing large programs in various industries, leading teams spread across different regions. The main focus of his job is to identify complex problems and solve them through the newest management techniques. In his current role, he leads the product-development team that is responsible for the timely delivery of products to customers across the nation and beyond. He also serves as the governance leader, implementing best practices and approaches.
Nama earned an MBA from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from Osmania University, India.
A American Container & Trailer Leasing
An entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in the container industry, Angelia Payne is the owner, president and CEO of A American Container & Trailer Leasing, a company that has grown from a concept to a rental and sales fleet of more than 1,100 containers and one of the top providers for portable storage in the region.
Her ultimate goal is to retire in 10 to 12 years and then pass on the business acumen she has acquired over the years to the next generation in a university forum. Setting goals such as this is of interest to her. She has seen in her employees that many of those unhappy in their careers and lives are the ones who are unable or unwilling to set achievable goals. She set out on a mission to educate her employees about goal setting. The process was not easy and she now has a focus on conducting research on goal setting and its impact on the workers in their workplace and in their personal lives.
Payne earned an MBA with a concentration in accounting and management and a bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in accounting from St. Leo University.
The Hackett Group
Chris Sawchuk leads a global team responsible for advising the supply management leadership of hundreds of companies globally. He has overall responsibility for the success of this global business within The Hackett Group which includes research development, sales and marketing as well as third party alliances. His marketing duties include being an invited speaker to many professional events annually on the subject of global supply management.
Additionally, Sawchuk is a member of The Hackett Group’s Global Advisory Leadership Team and is responsible for the reimagining and transformation of Hackett’s global advisory business. Previously, he served as a senior manager at Gibson & Associates and was a sales and marketing professional and development engineer with IBM.
He earned an MBA from Binghamton University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Union College. He currently sits on the advisory board of two emerging technology companies.
Resolute Financial, Hampton Insurance Brokers, Hampton Securities Limited
In a career that has lasted 30 years, Howard Schwartz is proud of what he has accomplished. He has learned about and seen businesses operate from very unique perspectives and he has worked under some amazing leaders in analytical, sales and marketing, finance and operations positions. He has experience in six different industries and has led several companies through rapidly changing times. He wants to be an example, through his perseverance, to his children, nieces and nephews, to show them nothing is out of their reach, to pursue their dreams and challenges, personal and professional, and not be afraid of failure.
His drive and desire to exceed expectations has instilled a discipline and dedication that has helped him make to the most of his opportunities. He is an accomplished wealth adviser and serves on the board of directors for Hampton Insurance Brokers and Resolute Financial. Through this involvement, he sees an approaching technical revolution in the financial services world, that last for years to come.
Schwartz earned an MBA from Queens University, is a Certified Professional Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant.
St. Petersburg College
Jackie Skryd is the chief of staff at St. Petersburg College, supporting collegewide operations and strategic initiatives at an institution with more than 47,000 students and 11 learning sites. She has served the public sector for more than 16 years in the areas of workforce and education and now plays a key leadership role in the collective impact work that is transforming education across Tampa Bay.
Her goals are to work with industry, education and government partners to collaborate solutions that expand student access to higher education and improve college completion-to-careers metrics that help close workforce gaps and grow regional economy. Prior to her current role, she was responsible for securing more than $90 million in grant funding for the region as the college’s executive director of grants development and grant director at WorkNet Pinellas.
Skryd received a bachelor’s degree in international studies (business and French) from the University of Michigan and attended the Paris-Sorbonne University on a semester-abroad study program as part of her undergraduate studies.
University of Belize
Cindy Thompson is a self-motivated, dedicated individual with a passion for business who is focused on inspiring others to achieve their goals. She currently is a full-time accounting and finance lecturer at the University of Belize. Her research interest is analyzing the proper implementation of accounting concepts in small, medium and large enterprises in developing countries.
As part of her job, she coordinates accounting and finance courses and organizes lecturer series on business-related topics. Prior to her work at the university, Thompson served as a senior auditor at Crowe Horwath Belize Limited, where she assessed company records and financial statements to provide recommendations about policy and strategic plans.
Thompson earned an MBA with a concentration in finance from Galen University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Belize. She has successfully completed seven courses in the DBA Advanced Accounting program at North Central University.
InvestDefense Investigation Agency & Research Lab
RJ Toledo possesses a passion for learning and exploring and is always on the lookout for new adventures, which led him to become founding director of the InvestDefense Investigation Agency & Research Lab. His first love is space, so he became a missiles and engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office, serving as space operations and engineering commander, program manager of national security intelligence programs and flight director of a spacecraft launch.
His interest in investigations led him to become an FBI special agent, leading probes into a multitude of criminal and national security cases. His third love is business, so he began investing early on in real estate and equity markets, which has evolved into a privateequity investment portfolio. He founded his company to create a platform that applies science and innovation to solve prevalent problems.
Toledo earned a masters’ degree in space science from the University of North Dakota and a master’s degree in strategic intelligence from the American Military University. He also received a bachelor’s degree in engineering, industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.
Sonia Weinhaus, senior global planner with Honeywell Aerospace, has a wide spectrum of interests and a varied background. Besides the technical position she now fills, Weinhaus once owned a television and media production company. And this: She has visited the stadiums of all 30 Major League Baseball teams.
Currently, Weinhaus works in supply chain planning for commercial aerospace products at Honeywell. She manages production supply and demand and coordinates the transition of manufacturing from one site to another. She has also worked in sales and operations planning, master scheduling and strategy for defense products. Prior to her supply chain career, Weinhaus was a television and media producer. In that role, she created content for such networks as PBS, Discovery, History and National Geographic.
Weinhaus earned an MBA from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College. She is a Certified Supply Chain Professional, Six Sigma Specialist and Microsoft Office Specialist.
Mary Hodges West
Zebina Whistle-Stop Farms
Mary Hodges West balances olive growing, state and federal lobbying and the leadership of an international life-sciences company from her family farm in southeast Georgia. Over the course of the last four decades West has enjoyed successful careers in the law, the military, elected politics and business. It is her current interest in research and publishing that brought her to the University of South Florida’s DBA program.
West’s favorite projects involve overcoming obstacles that others say can’t be resolved. In each career field she pursued, she set herself apart by fixing problems that others had either abandoned or wouldn’t touch. She credits her father with teaching her a technique for seeing difficulties with a fresh, unbiased perspective which reveals the pathway to answers.
West graduated in 1980 from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in history and international relations.
Willy Wolfe has approximately 27 years of experience in executive-level financial planning, analysis and risk management. He currently serves as the vice chairman, CFO for Maple Financial Holdings. Before founding the company, he held various executive finance positions at Ernst & Young, AIG, and MUFG Union Bank, where he was responsible for managing Union Bank’s $140 billion balance sheet and $25 billion investment portfolio.
During his tenure with Union Bank, he also served as vice chairman of UnionBanCal Equities, the private equity arm of UnionBanCal Corp. Previously, Wolfe served as senior vice president and head of credit for ING Direct USA.
He earned an MBA with a concentration in finance from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and graduated from New College of the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in math/economics.