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Third Annual Alumni Honors Dinner Set for Oct. 14

The Old Dominion University Alumni Association will present Distinguished Alumni, Alumni Service, Outstanding Achievement and Honorary Alumni awards Friday, Oct. 14, at the 3rd Annual Alumni Honors Dinner.

The Alumni Association will also recognize its 50th reunion class members during the dinner program at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

The following ODU graduates will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards:

• Wendy Bahr '83, who received a bachelor's degree in administration in communication, is the senior vice president of Global and Strategic Partners for the Worldwide Partner Organization for Cisco. Previously, she was senior vice president of the U.S. and Canada Partner Organization. With a team of more than 800 employees and 12,000 partners, she was responsible for partner enablement, partner profitability, and product and services growth for this important market sector.

Before that she was vice president of U.S. Commercial and Field Channels, operations director of Federal Civilian Agencies and operations director of network service providers. During her time at Cisco, Bahr has received numerous industry accolades and was most recently recognized in the Top Women of the Channel by CRN for 2007-11 and as a 2009 and 2010 CRN Channels Chief for Networking and Unified Communications.

Passionate about diversity, Bahr is a member of the Women's Action Network at Cisco and a former member of the Gender Diversity Operations Committee. She is a coach and mentor for Cisco's Women Unlimited program and a personal mentor to more than a dozen Cisco employees.

Prior to joining Cisco, Bahr spent more than 10 years with Verizon, ending her work there as director of enterprise sales.

She lives in Los Gatos, Calif.

• Cmdr. Benito E. Baylosis '87, who received a bachelor's degree in engineering technology from ODU, is on the staff of Commander, Naval Surfaces, Atlantic, as a type desk manager. He was commissioned via ODU's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program upon earning his degree at the university. He also earned a master's in engineering management from ODU and a master's of electrical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Baylosis began his naval career as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) with assignments aboard frigates, destroyers and cruisers. While chief engineer of Aegis cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, he was selected for conversion to the Engineering Duty Officer community. Engineering and combat systems tours of duty in Port Hueneme, Calif., Norfolk and Naples, Italy, followed.

In Naples, Baylosis volunteered with the Multi-National Corps-Iraq in Camp Victory and served as lead engineer for a Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell. His team analyzed 5,500 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with Baylosis personally handling more than 1,000 roadside bomb detonators. He was credited with providing critical countermeasures that saved the lives of countless Coalition forces. Considered the leading expert on enemy IED technology in Iraq, Baylosis was awarded the Bronze Star.

He lives in Norfolk with his wife Anna, a 1988 graduate of ODU.

• Jeff Cogen '79, who received a bachelor's degree in psychology from ODU, became the chief executive officer of both the Nashville Predators, an affiliate of the National Hockey League, and the Bridgestone Arena in August 2010. Previously, he served two stints with the Dallas Stars, beginning in 1993 as vice president of marketing and returning in 2007 as president.

After the Stars' Stanley Cup championship in 1999, Cogen became executive vice president of marketing and communication for the Southwest Sports Group, the management organization of the Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. He also served as alternate governor of the NHL's Board of Governors.

From 2004-07, in the interim between his two positions with the Dallas Stars, Cogen was president and operations chief of the Texas Rangers, a major league baseball club. Along with Thomas O. Hicks and Thomas O. Hicks Jr. of Hicks Holding, he represented the club in quarterly major league baseball owners meetings. Cogen increased Rangers' revenues by 20 percent over three years and oversaw a landmark naming-rights deal for the Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas. He also spent two years as chief operating officer of the Florida Panthers.

Cogen is a native of Newport News.

• Jeffrey A. Cotter '85, who received a bachelor's degree in management information systems from ODU, is a psychiatric social worker specializing in trauma recovery and HIV/AIDS case management. Founder and president of Rainbow World Fund (RWF), he practices in San Francisco.

Cotter has worked in the HIV/AIDS and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) civil rights fields since 1987. In 2000 he founded RWF to promote worldwide humanitarian aid to the LGBT community and to provide a platform and a united voice for LGBT compassion and concern.

RWF has evolved into an active national organization and is the world's first and only LGBT-based humanitarian aid organization. Cotter's rationale for organizing LGBT-funded relief around the world is based on what he calls the solidarity model, and the group's fundraising encourages donors to specify the projects they wish to support, including global HIV/AIDS, water development, landmine eradication, hunger, education, orphans and disaster relief.

U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the California State Assembly and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have recognized Cotter's work. Named to the OUT 100 list as one of the most intriguing people of 2005, Cotter created the World Tree of Hope displayed each December in the Grand Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall.

Cotter received a master's degree in social work in 1990 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

• Wilbert W. "Wil" James Jr. '78, who received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology from ODU, has spent almost 20 years with Toyota Motor Manufacturing. Since July 2010, he has been president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. Toyota's first African American plant president, he now represents the company on the Board of Affiliates for the National Society of Black Engineers.

Impressed by Toyota's high regard for employees and teamwork, James joined the company in 1987. His early interest in supervisory work led to his appointment as a group leader, running the mechanical maintenance division at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. He spent two years in Long Beach, Calif., first as senior vice president of operations and later as president of TABC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota. Before returning to Kentucky, he spent two years in Evansville, Ind., as senior vice president of manufacturing and quality, assigned to help the company respond to changes in the automotive industry resulting from the recession.

In both 2006 and 2008, U.S. Black Engineer Information & Technology magazine recognized James as one of the "Most Important Blacks in Technology & Business."

James received an associate degree in applied sciences at ODU in 1976. A native of Norfolk, he lives in Lexington, Ky.

• Louis G. Morris '76, who received a bachelor's degree in financial management from ODU, is president and chief executive officer of Old Point National Bank and executive vice president of Old Point Financial Corp. He joined Old Point National Bank in 1982 and rose to his current position in 2000. He has been a director since 2000. Old Point National Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Old Point Financial Corp., with 21 branches and more than 60 ATMs throughout Hampton Roads. A full-service bank, Old Point National has served Hampton Roads since 1923.

Morris graduated from both the School of Financial and Funds Management, sponsored by the American Bankers Association, and the Executive Management School at the University of Virginia, sponsored by the Virginia Bankers Association.

Adding to a long list of community activities, for which he received the 2008 Volunteer Award from The Volunteer Center of the Virginia Peninsula, Morris has served ODU in various roles. As a student in 1976, he received the Tom Scott Award as the top senior athlete at ODU and was later inducted into the ODU Hall of Fame for tennis. Since 2002, he has been on the ODU Educational Foundation board as chair and, currently, as chair of the Committee on Trustees.

A Portsmouth native, Morris lives in Hampton.

The Alumni Service Award will be presented to Richard F. "Rick" Kiefner '69, who received a bachelor's degree in pre-med/pre-dental from ODU. Kiefner, who has been in the insurance industry for 37 years, is a financial representative for the Hampton Roads branch of Northwestern Mutual, a 154-year-old company with more than 3 million clients. He has been designated a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP). In numerous years, he has been a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, the premier association of financial professionals.

He is a member of the Hampton Roads Estate Planning Council, the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

Kiefner received a certificate of advanced study at The American College.

He has been a member of the President's Council for ODU men's basketball and a trustee and past chair of the Intercollegiate Foundation. A season ticket-holder for both football and men's basketball, he is a frequent guest at ODU athletic events and other campus activities.

Kiefner is also active in the community, having been director of Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia, Norfolk Collegiate School, Bon Secours Hampton Roads and the Greater Norfolk Corp., among others.

He lives in Norfolk with his wife, Hays L. Kiefner, a 1969 graduate of ODU.

The Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Anna Tunnicliffe-Funk '05, who received a bachelor's degree in business administration from ODU. She is the skipper for the U.S. Olympic Team; the U.S. Sailing Team, AlphaGraphics; and Team Tunnicliffe, also known as Team Maclaren, in the Match Racing class.

Born in Doncaster, England, Tunnicliffe-Funk immigrated to the United States at age 12. In adolescence, she joined the Cape Yacht Club in La Salle, Mich., and soon established herself as a top skipper. At 13, she became - and remains - the youngest helm on record at the Rolex Women's International Keelboat Regatta. Recruited by colleges to run track and cross country, she chose instead to attend ODU, where she credits her coaches and team for the opportunity and training she needed to pursue her goal - to bring home an Olympic medal.

After finishing fourth in the 2003 U.S. Olympic trials in Europe, Tunnicliffe-Funk qualified in 2007 in China and in 2008, brought home the first U.S. women's Olympic gold sailing medal in 20 years. In 2010 she became the first woman ever named three times as the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. She is one of four women's division finalists for the 2011 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award, the sport's ultimate recognition of individual achievement.

From her home in Florida, where she lives with her husband and training partner, ODU graduate Brad Funk '03, she has her eye on a new prize - the 2012 Olympic Games.

Two well-known Hampton Roads citizens, Dennis M. Ellmer and Angelica D. Light, will receive Honorary Alumni Awards.

Ellmer founded Priority Automotive in 1998 with the purchase of Kline Chevrolet and Kline Toyota in Chesapeake, and changed the names to Priority Chevrolet and Priority Toyota. Emphasizing customer service, the dealerships prospered and became the market leaders their first year of operations.

Ellmer has since opened or acquired seven additional dealerships - Acura, Honda and Hyundai in Chesapeake; Kia, Nissan and Toyota in Richmond, Va.; and Honda in Charlotte, N.C. Priority Automotive dealerships exceed national averages in customer service satisfaction and lead their respective name plates in retail sales each year.

Before founding Priority, Ellmer worked in sales management with the Kline Automotive Group. He opened new markets for Kline in Northern Virginia and Maryland and became general manager of several dealerships. In 1991, he was named chief operating officer, overseeing eight dealerships with more than 400 employees and annual sales exceeding $240 million.

A native of Chincoteague, Va., Ellmer graduated from Norview High School and attended ODU. He donates both time and money to many civic and charitable organizations. Priority Automotive is a generous contributor to the March of Dimes. He has served on the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association and Hampton Roads Automobile Association boards and currently serves on Cape Henry Collegiate School and Monarch Bank boards.

Light is the president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, a position she held with the foundation's predecessor, The Norfolk Foundation. Under her leadership, the foundation assets and annual grants and scholarship distribution have more than doubled to $244 million. Last year the foundation awarded more than $12.3 million in grants and scholarships.

During her tenure, the community foundation has incubated Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads; established the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence in 2004; created ArtsMatch in 2003 and Charters Basic Needs Relief Program in 2008 in response to economic downturns; and merged The Norfolk Foundation and the Virginia Beach Foundation in 2010 to form the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

Before joining the foundation, Light was vice president, general counsel and secretary of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company in Roanoke, Va., and a general attorney for Norfolk Southern Corp. She received an undergraduate degree from Smith College and law degree from Washington and Lee University.

Light is the chair of Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads and serves on the boards of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Law Foundation. She has received leadership and distinction awards from LEAD Hampton Roads, YWCA of South Hampton Road, and Inside Business.

This article was posted on: October 13, 2011

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