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12th Annual Torch Awards

Torch Home Location 12th Annual Sponsors 12th Annual Recap Past Recipients

We are proud to announce that we raised $40,000 during the 12th Annual Torch Awards Gala which will benefit the Alumni Center Building Fund and the First Generation Scholarship fund. 

"I have become a greater believer in what we are doing, as I see the growth and the quality of everything that FIU is doing. It was a Worlds Ahead event and in the true spirit of the Blue & Gold." -10th Annual Torch Awards Gala Participant


Congratulations to our 12th Annual Torch Awards Recipients


Charles E. Perry Young Alumni Visionary Award

Presented to an alumnus/a who has made great strides in the early stages of his/her career.

Shannon Forc

Shannon Ford ’99, College of Arts and Sciences
Regional Human Resources Manager, BDO

Three years ago, Shannon Ford was diagnosed with celiac disease, an illness that requires her to maintain a gluten-free diet for the rest of her life. The diagnosis meant an official change in lifestyle and diet, something she has embraced wholeheartedly. As an advocate for increased education about the disease, Ford is proud to support 1 in 133 Raising Awareness for Celiac Disease. A lifelong pageant queen, she used her recent reigns as Mrs. United States 2011 and Miss Florida USA as platforms to bring more attention to the illness and to advocate for better labeling of our nation’s food supply. She has traveled the country educating others and was featured on the cover of Paleo magazine. She offered tips for living a fit lifestyle in an article for Shape magazine and fans can catch her recurring column, “Ask Shannon,” in Delight Gluten Free magazine. Her blog, “The Contemporary Cavegirl,” offers insight into her gluten free lifestyle and much more. A graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s in psychology, Ford currently resides in Miami with her husband, Miami-Dade police officer Ray Quintana, and their pugs Honey Bear and Sugar Bear.

Community Leadership Award

Presented to an alumnus/a who has demonstrated exemplary service and civic involvement in his/her community.

Shannon Forc

Mike Tomás ’90, College of Arts and Sciences 
President & CEO, Bioheart

Mike Tomás, CEO of BioHeart and president of the ASTRI Group, is considered by many in the industry to be one of the most experienced marketers and operating executives for IT/communications and biotech/life sciences private equity and venture groups portfolio companies. The son of an entrepreneur, he spent nearly 20 years driving the evolution of telecommunications in the U.S. and Mexico in leadership roles in sales, marketing, customer service, telemarketing, engineering and operations. Upon retiring as chief marketing officer of Avantel, a $1 billion joint venture with MCI, Tomás joined other former-MCI executives to form Ineto, an integrated customer communications software solution that was successfully sold in 2001. That year Tomás helped launch The ASTRI Group, an early-stage private equity investment company providing capital, business development and strategic marketing support to emerging private companies. Tomás sits on the boards of Avisena, Perimeter Internetworking and Bioheart, and he is the current chairman of FIU’s Global Entrepreneurship Center. He is an inductee into the Miami-Dade College and WACE Halls of Fame for business and a winner of many awards. An avid athlete, he is also a Miami-Dade County Sports Commissioner.

Beth Davalos MSW ’94, LCSW, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work 
Coordinator of the Families in Transition Program, Seminole County Public Schools

Beth Davalos, a licensed clinical social worker, has dedicated her life to making a meaningful difference in the lives of homeless children and their families. She was hired in 2003 by Seminole County Public Schools to coordinate and implement a program called Families in Transition, a program that protects the educational rights of homeless children. In her role with the organization, Davalos has identified and served more than 10,000 homeless students, working with hundreds of agencies, organizations and community members to help stabilize their lives, access basic needs and provide opportunities for these children and their families. Additionally, she makes presentations to the community and works with the media nationally and internationally to increase awareness and understanding of child homelessness. Last year, Davalos was featured twice on the CBS’ news show 60 Minutes. Her efforts have stimulated more than $8 million in donations to Central Florida organizations to help homeless families.

Outstanding Achievement Award

Presented to a member of the FIU family who has crafted an extraordinary career

Adalio T. Sanchez MBA ’87
General Manager, IBM’s System x Server Unit 
Adalio Sanchez is general manager of IBM’s System x server unit responsible for all facets of IBM's multi-billion dollar x86 server business, including product development, marketing, sales, operations and overall financial performance. He is also a member of the IBM Performance Team, a group of IBM’s most senior executives. Sanchez has more than 30 years experience in the information technology marketplace. He has served as general manager of IBM Microelectronics, general manager of IBM’s UNIX server business, general manager of Storage Networking, general manager of Manufacturing Operations and Business Transformation for the IBM Personal Systems Group, and general manager of IBM’s ThinkPad unit. Sanchez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Miami and a Masters of Business Administration from FIU. He was named the 2007 U.S. Hispanic Engineer of the Year and has frequently been named to the list of the Top 50 Hispanics in Technology and Business. He is a member of the FIU Foundation Board of Directors, chairman of the FIU Engineering School Executive Advisory Council, and serves as chairman of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Advisory Board.

Outstanding Faculty Award

Presented to a faculty member who has made a lasting impression on the lives of FIU alumni.

Dr. Hilary Landorf 
Director, Global Learning Initiatives
Hilary Landorf has had two constant threads in her life – a desire to understand the world from multiple perspectives and the conviction that education is the most effective way to foster that understanding. She picked up these threads as a child in New Haven, Connecticut, during the tumult of the civil rights struggles of the 1970s, and held onto them in her formative years as a teacher serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco, to her more recent experiences as an educator, administrator, and researcher in all corners of the globe. She has published and presented internationally on integrating global learning into K-20 education and on the connection between global learning and liberal education. Landorf has a Ph.D. in international education from New York University, an M.A. from University of Virginia and a B.A. from Stanford. She is an associate professor and director of the Office of Global Learning Initiatives at FIU. In leading a university-wide effort to provide every undergraduate with courses and activities that enable them to act as global citizens, Landorf’s two threads combine as the vibrant hue of engaged education.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university through their notable record of service and achievement in a particular discipline, organization or cause.

Teresita Fernández ’90, College of Architecture + The Arts
Teresita Fernández was born in Miami and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is the recipient of a 2005 MacArthur Fellowship, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award, an American Academy in Rome Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Artist's Grant. In 2011, President Obama appointed Fernández to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal panel that advises the president, Congress and governmental agencies on national matters of design and aesthetics. Fernández is best known for her prominent public sculptures and unconventional use of materials. Her work is characterized by an interest in perception and the natural world. Diverse in materials and wide-ranging conceptually, Fernández creates experiential, large-scale works that are often inspired by landscape and place as well as diverse historical and cultural references. As one ARTFORUM writer put it in a review of the artist’s 2010 exhibition at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX, her works focus on “an interest in opacity, transparency and the psychology of looking.”

Digno E. Caballero ’88, College of Arts & Sciences
Vice President of Operations, Bacardi USA
Digno Caballero is vice president of operations for Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., and supply chain director for the Americas. In this role he is responsible for logistics, distribution and manufacturing planning for North America and the Caribbean. Caballero’s career spans more than 24 years with experience in business systems, logistics, distribution and management. His career with Bacardi began in 1995 at Bacardi Martini Inc. as a corporate planning analyst. After one year, he was promoted to director of business systems. In 1999, Caballero accepted a position as distribution/logistics manager in the Operations Department at Bacardi USA, Inc., and was promoted to vice president of operations in 2001. Caballero earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from FIU and an MBA in finance from the University of Miami. He is a life-long learner and is currently enrolled in a master’s level certificate program at Lehigh University where he will earn his certification in Supply Chain Management in December of this year.

Alberto Lorenzo ’74, Athletics
Principal, Quantum Results, Inc
A member of FIU's inaugural baseball team and a heavy hitter in the South Florida community, Al Lorenzo has excelled in baseball, politics and championing FIU. Born in Havana, Lorenzo came to the United States when he was 10 years old. He played on the Hialeah High state championship baseball team and then walked on to the Panthers team. A first-generation college graduate, Lorenzo received his degree in business administration from FIU in 1974. He had a successful career in banking before transitioning to politics where he has advised government leaders at all levels. Lorenzo is a staunch supporter of his alma mater and among the top fundraisers for FIU Athletics. Loreonzo lives in Miami with his wife Maggie, daughter Michelle ‘03 (a second-generation FIU graduate) and son Albert Jr.

Mario Trueba MBA ’87, College of Business
CEO and President, Sabadell United Bank
Mario Trueba entered the banking industry in 1984 with the Flagship/SunBank merger. Nearly 30 years later, he is CEO and president of Sabadell United Bank and serves as a member of its board of directors. Prior to his current role, Trueba was CEO and president of Mellon United National Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of BNY Mellon. In January 2010 he was instrumental in the sale of Mellon United to Banco Sabadell, a 130-year pillar of the Spanish banking system. A native of Havana, Cuba, he earned his bachelor’s from St. Thomas University in 1980 and his MBA from FIU in 1987. An engaged member of the South Florida community, Trueba is a graduate and past chairman of Leadership Florida. He has also served on the boards of Miami Children’s Hospital, Family Resource Center and is a past vice chair and member of the Coral Gables/University of Miami Community Relations Board. Currently, he is a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, the Board of Trustees of St. Thomas University and FIU’s College of Business Dean’s Council. Trueba and his wife Susana have two children, Alexander and Monica.

Conchy P. Argiz ’75, College of Education
Community Philanthropist 
Concepcion Argiz is a wife, mother, teacher and philanthropist. The Havana native came to the United States at the age of nine, preceding her parents by three years. In 1975, she graduated from FIU with a degree in education. For 10 years, as a teacher at Key Biscayne Elementary School, Argiz taught various grades, including kindergarten, first, second and fourth. She is an active member and supporter of many charitable organizations, including the Junior League of Miami; Guardian Angels of Jackson Hospital; the American Heart Association; the American Cancer Society; Mercy Hospital Foundation; the Annual ABCD and Capital Campaign for the Archdiocese of Miami; and Drug Free Youth In Town – a nationally recognized, community-based substance abuse prevention program that focuses on recognizing and rewarding students who choose to live a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. She also serves as a leader for many educational institutions such as the College of the Holy Cross and the University of Miami. Recently, Argiz and her husband Tony, whom she met while they were both studying at FIU, were recognized by the United Way of Miami-Dade with the Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy. The couple have three children – Carolina, Tony and Andy.

Jorge Munilla ’97, College of Engineering and Computing
Founder and President, MCM
Jorge Munilla is the founder and president of MCM, a construction company specializing in building and heavy civil construction since 1983. The company's areas of expertise include roads, bridges, rail work, educational, municipal and commercial facilities, and aviation infrastructure. MCM has offices in Florida, Texas and Panama. It is ranked the eighth largest construction firm in South Florida by the South Florida Business Journal and the sixth largest Hispanic-owned construction firm in the United States by Hispanic Business Magazine. Munilla provides leadership and executive support to the company in everything from corporate operations to the civil and building operations divisions. He also oversees day-to-day functions for all construction, project management and project administration activities. He is actively involved in several organizations in the construction industry such as the South Florida Association of General Contractors and the Latin Builders Association. He is affiliated with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and currently sits on the Industry’s Advisory Boards of the College of Engineering and Computing’s Civil Engineering department and OHL School of Construction, as well as the FIU Athletics Panthers Club and College of Business.

Joel Gandara ’03, Honors College
President, Underwear Station
Joel Gandara is the founder of Underwear Station Inc., a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of men’s underwear and swimwear. Founded while he was still an FIU student, Underwear Station didn’t become the industry powerhouse it is today overnight. When he wasn’t in class or working 40-hour weeks, Gandara was selling his products at flea markets and developing his business on eBay. After graduation, he took a hiatus from his own business to take a sales position with another company. The experience was his first training opportunity as a sales representative. Ten months into his new job, Gandara felt he had learned enough to give the underwear industry another try. Underwear Station now has a warehouse in South Florida and facilities in Europe and South America.

John McKibbon ’75, Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Chairman, McKibbon Hotel Group and Hotel Management
John McKibbon has worked in the hotel industry since he was a teenager. He began his career working in the family’s Holiday Inn and is now the third generation to head the family company, founded in 1926. He obtained his degree in hotel and restaurant management from FIU in 1975 and two years later, rejoined the family company as a general manager. After being named president of the company in 1991, McKibbon divested the company of its older properties and established a strong partnership with Marriott, becoming one of the first Courtyard by Marriott licensees in the country. Today, the company operates Marriott, Hilton and Starwood brand select service hotels throughout the Southeast. McKibbon also founded M3 Accounting Services, the nation’s largest hotel accounting software company, in 1998. Today, M3 services more than 3,000 hotels in the United States and Canada. McKibbon volunteers on various boards and is involved in a charitable mission in the Dominican Republic.

MacAdam Glinn, Esq. ’07, College of Law
Vice President of Aviation, Skanska USA Building
MacAdam Glinn is the vice president of Aviation for Skanska USA Building, overseeing  business development and contracts. Glinn helps manage on-going projects at nine different airports across the country. Prior to joining Skanska, Glinn served as senior manager for Major Projects at the Parsons Corporation. He was a legislative assistant for then-state Senator Debbie Wasserman Schultz and senior policy advisor and press secretary for Congressman Peter Deutsch. Glinn also distinguished himself as a procurement and governmental attorney at Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske P.L. He has had several articles published, including one on Florida public construction procurement for the Real Estate Finance Journal, and others in the Florida Bar Journal and the Florida Real Estate Journal on Florida’s new renewable energy finance legislation. Glinn was honored last year as one of the 40 Outstanding Lawyers Under 40 by the CF Foundation, and more recently he was picked as one of the Top 20 Under 40 emerging leaders in construction and engineering by ENR Southeast. He is a former president of the FIU College of Law Alumni Association, and a current member of the College’s Dean’s Advisory Council. He and his wife Denise have two daughters, Kennedy and Harper.

Reinaldo E. Jaffet ’81, ’94, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Director of Rehabilitation and Assistant Athletic Trainer, Miami Heat
Rey Jaffet is the director of rehabilitation and assistant athletic trainer for the Miami Heat. Prior to working with the Heat, Jaffet served as director of clinical services, administrator and market manager at Select Medical Corporation (formerly HealthSouth) where he handled patient care and management responsibilities. He was instrumental in growing the sports physical therapy product line to serve professional athletes from the NBA, MLB, soccer and tennis. Jaffet was the head athletic trainer at FIU from 1984-1996. While at the university, he was a consultant to the U.S. Soccer Federation and was a member of several delegations, including the 1990 World Cup of Soccer. Prior to his tenure at FIU, Jaffet was the head athletic trainer for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers soccer team. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico then attended FIU, where he earned a master's in physical education and physical therapy. He and his wife Grace have two children – Rey Jr. and Rafael.

Dianne Festa ’84, School of Journalism & Mass Communication
Director, NBC News
As director of NBC News since 1996, Dianne Festa is in charge of growing NBC News and MSNBC internationally from Europe to Asia to South America. In addition to working with international partners, Festa also manages the daily editorial and promotional content for network affiliates and its partners. In this capacity, she works with NBC News executive producers and bureaus to supplement news programming at the local level. Festa also plays a major role in the planning and implementation of affiliate support and participation for NBC News’ Education Nation project, which resulted in extensive use of network and affiliate education content by NBC stations and increased the impact of this important initiative. Festa has been with NBC News for 30 years and has served as an assignment editor and bureau chief, among other roles, during that time. Festa graduated from FIU in 1984 with a bachelor’s in journalism.  She lives in New York with her son, Lucas.

Carol Novak ’91, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work 
Founding Board Member, Kristi House
Carol Novak is committed to building a stronger and healthier community for children and at-risk families in Miami-Dade through her volunteer work. In 1993, she served on a Governor's Task Force to evaluate the system of care for children in our community. After that, she became an operations and management consultant to the Department of Children and Families until 1995. Novak left to form the Child Advocacy Center as a full-time volunteer. Novak is a founding member and has served on its Executive Committee since 1996. She has also served on the Board of Friends of Sylvester at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the board for the Statewide Network of Child Advocacy Centers. Novak is a graduate of FlU with a bachelor’s in social work. A 30 year resident of Miami, she currently lives in Pinecrest with her husband.  Together they have three grown children.

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