Class Notes


The Honorable Charles Kurfess ’51 of Perrysburg, Ohio, was honored Aug. 31 as the recipient of the 2017 Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence at the Ohio Judicial Conference Annual Meeting in Columbus. Ohio State Bar Association President Randall Comer presented the award.

“Through a lifelong career committed to the advancement of the rule of law and the administration of justice, Judge Kurfess has demonstrated these qualities in spades,” Comer said.

In addition to serving 12 years on the bench as a Wood County Common Pleas Judge, Kurfess served in the Ohio General Assembly for 22 years, including six as Speaker of the House, where he was at the forefront of judicial reform, criminal justice reform, civil rights and access to justice issues.



Ed Fell part of BGSU’s 1963 national champion ROTC rifle team

Ed Fell ’65, who has received the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, 34 air medals, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, will be inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame in May of 2018.

“We didn’t get much publicity at all at the time, so this might seem like small potatoes to a lot of people, but for those of us who were part of it, this was big stuff,” said Fell, who was on the BGSU National Championship ROTC Rifle Team in 1963.

“We were a very competitive group with a number of really strong marksmen, and we ended up winning the whole thing,” Fell said.

The Bowling Green ROTC team entered a national championship event sponsored by the prestigious Pershing Rifles military organization that traces its roots back to the 19th century. The format called for each participating unit to receive a number of targets, and then fire their rounds under the supervision of a Pershing Rifles representative. The targets from groups across the country were then sent in for judging and scoring and once they were all reviewed, the Falcons were declared the 1963 national champions.

“I was just a sophomore at the time, and I had come to Bowling Green with no formal background in competitive shooting,” Fell said. His father had been an accomplished marksman who bought a 12-year-old Fell a small-caliber rifle that they used to target shoot at cans sitting on top of a fence.

“But I was never in any kind of competitive environment until I got to BG, so this was all new to me. You hear about natural athletes all of the time, and this sport just came naturally to me.”

One specific lesson from his father, who passed away in the final month of Fell’s senior year in high school, proved invaluable in Fell’s competitions as a shooter. “The biggest thing he taught me is, ‘Son, you squeeze the trigger, you don’t pull it.’ When I got to BG that was a big advantage for me – I was squeezing the trigger while other guys trying out for the team were pulling it.”



Beverly Evans Smith ’70 of Marietta, Georgia, was elected national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. in a unanimous vote at the 53rd National Convention in August. Smith, who will serve as the national president during the 2017-19 biennium, is the assistant commissioner and Georgia state director for adult education and GED testing through the Technical College System of Georgia. She also is the senior vice president of The HR Group Inc., a management consulting firm that she has co-owned with her husband, Stephen, for 27 years. She formerly served on the BGSU Alumni Board of Trustees, chairing the strategic planning committee.

Katherine Hatton ’74 of Pennington, New Jersey, was elected secretary of the board of directors of the Forum of Executive Women, a membership organization of more than 450 influential women representing diverse businesses in the Greater Philadelphia region. Hatton is a vice president and general counsel and secretary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

U.S. Public Health Service Capt. (ret.) Susan Rooks ’77 of Oral, South Dakota, recently was awarded the Public Policy Award at the American College of Nurse-Midwives 62nd annual meeting and exhibition in Chicago. The award recognizes legislative, regulatory or health policy effort that furthers the profession of midwifery or has a significant impact on the practice of midwifery either nationally or locally. Rooks is an active member of the South Dakota Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Coalition, founded in 2016 for the purpose of bringing South Dakota’s nursing laws into compliance with national standards. Rooks chairs the South Dakota affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The affiliate received the Exemplary Affiliate Award for the Midwest region (Region V) of ACNM, also at the Chicago convention, for its efforts in this 2017 legislative challenge.



Commencement speaker Brady Young: ‘Drive, determination to succeed will win the day’

Grit. Not a pretty word, but an essential quality for success in life, and one that Bowling Green State University students tend to possess, Brady Young told graduates in his commencement address Aug. 5. That “drive and determination to succeed and accomplish your goals will ultimately win the day.”

“Thirty-five years ago I was sitting where you are – excited and maybe a little nervous about leaving the familiar and friendly world of Bowling Green,” Young said.

Today Young, who graduated from BGSU with a degree in business in 1982, is principal owner of Strategic Risk Solutions (SRS) and serves as the firm’s president and CEO. SRS sets up and manages insurance companies for various businesses and institutions. It is the largest independent captive management firm in the world. Young has been with SRS since its inception in 1993 and led the management buyout of the company to establish it as an independent entity in 2002. He has more than 30 years of experience working with major public, nonprofit and privately held organizations to help them manage risk, develop risk financing strategies and optimize the role of their captive insurers.

“I have sat in business meetings over the years in London, New York and elsewhere surrounded by colleagues and others with advanced degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and other Ivy League schools and was not intimidated by them one bit,” said Young, who resides in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell. “What I learned at BGSU and at graduate school (at Georgia State University) combined with great work experiences gave me, a kid from Zanesville, Ohio, the confidence that I could compete with anyone in my field.

“I have met many other BGSU alumni who have achieved amazing things in their respective fields. I don’t care what your major is, you can go as far as you want to go. Why? Because besides our degrees, we Falcons share something else that it is also critical for life: determination.”

Mike Ford ’81 of Blossom Valley, California, is president and co-founder of Pro Back Office (PBO), which recently was ranked No. 892 on the INC. 5,000 2017 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. Headquartered in San Diego, PBO provides outsourced accounting, human resources and strategic consulting services for businesses.

David J. Folkwein ’82 of Cincinnati has joined GBQ Holdings LLC as the director of business development for the firm’s Cincinnati location. Folkwein has more than 30 years of commercial banking and accounting experience, holding various executive positions at several banks. Prior to joining GBQ, he was an executive vice president at Fifth Third Bank, where he oversaw all commercial banking activities in northeast Ohio.

Mike Kovack ’82, ’83 of Medina, Ohio, has been appointed to the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) standing committee on economic development and capital planning for a three-year term. The GFOA is a world-wide association comprised of financial experts working in the public sector. Kovack has served as auditor of Medina County since 1993.

Dr. Richard J. Goeke ’85 of Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, an associate professor in the Widener University School of Business Administration and a Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, resident, recently received the 2017 Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. The Lindback Award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated a history of teaching at the highest level. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching. The honor is bestowed annually to a member of Widener’s faculty. Since 2011, Goeke has mentored 80 students in research projects. He also collaborated with 96 students to build web-based systems that address real-world problems.



BGSU alumna Dr. Rachel Shelley ’94 named Florida’s top principal

For decades, Bowling Green State University’s education programs have turned out exceptional educators who go on to impact lives around the nation. Dr. Rachel Shelley ’94 is one of those proud graduates, and her exceptional work as a high school principal recently earned her the title of Florida Principal of the Year.

The award, presented by the Florida Department of Education, recognizes outstanding school leaders for contributing to increased student performance, safe learning environments and successful partnerships with parents and community members. With more than 28 years of experience in K-12 education, Shelley has been praised by her colleagues for her dedication to helping every student succeed and for relationship-based leadership.

“When I found out I was being nominated, I was surprised and I was humbled,” said Shelley, who graduated from BGSU with a master’s degree in special education before earning her doctorate in leadership from Argosy University. “This award is not about me. I believe it’s a testament to the hard work we do – and when I say ‘we,’ it’s the faculty and staff, parents and people in the community who support our initiatives to help our students succeed.”

More than 70 percent of students at Booker High School in Sarasota, Florida, where Shelley is principal are considered economically disadvantaged, and as a result, she has spearheaded a number of programs to create a culture of college and career readiness.

Among them is a mandate that every student have a post-secondary plan that helps them to explore their goals after high school and to create concrete steps to help them achieve those goals.

“If we don’t prepare our students to transition so they can work above minimum wage, that vicious cycle of being economically deprived will continue,” Shelley said. “When you tell an economically disadvantaged student to dream big, what does that mean? We have to show them what it means to be college- and career-ready.”



BGSU alumnus Michael Hernandez ’95 named one of Wisconsin’s most powerful Latinos

The 20-30 kids in front of me, a hundred kids total. The most important thing in the world was what was happening in my class. As a principal, I’m thinking about 1,800 kids, 200 teachers, 3,000 parents, a community of 300,000.”

As the first Latino high school principal in Madison, Wisconsin’s history, he’s not just thinking, he’s doing.

“We’re breaking down barriers,” he said. “I’ve never shied away from conflict; I stand for what I believe.”

As a result, Madison365 recently named Hernandez, who majored in education at BGSU, one of the 29 most powerful Latinos in Wisconsin. The website ranked him as No. 13 on the list highlighting Wisconsin residents of Latino heritage who have made an impact in business, education, government, media and the nonprofit sector.

Hernandez said the recognition was humbling.

“I don’t take it lightly,” he said. “Now even more eyes are on me and what I do and how I do it. I won’t let down my family or my heritage.”

Originally from outside Bowling Green, Hernandez was president of the National Honor Society and involved in Upward Bound, a program for low-income, first-generation students, at Lakota High School in Scott Township, near Kansas, Ohio. Despite offers from other Ohio universities, he chose BGSU, partially because of its size – not too big and not too small.

“I liked that you weren’t going to see the same people every single day, and that you could get to know a lot of people,” he said. “And it is a strong education school; I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.”

After surviving ovarian cancer, Amy Breitmann ’91 of Augusta, Georgia, became the co-founder of the Lydia Project, which supports hundreds of volunteers to serve thousands of women and their families each year, providing spiritual, emotional and financial support. Breitmann co-authored her first book, “A God for All Seasons,” which was published in the summer.

Khaled Khorshid ’91 of Chicago is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Yalllo, a digital telecom startup designed to revolutionize the way customers know, buy and use their mobile voice and data services. Khorshid’s son, Karim, is a freshman at BGSU.

Brian Schweinhagen ’91 of West Covina, California, joined some rare running company recently when he became the 1,266th certified finisher to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

Alumna named one of top 100 in advertising

Esther (Duda) Fabian ’93 of Waterville, Ohio, a senior account executive at Hart and Associates, was recognized nationally as one of the 100 people who make advertising great. The American Association of Advertising Associations, the leading trade association representing the marketing communications agency business, presented awards in celebration of 100 years in business. The list recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to make a difference in the advertising industry, both in creating great work and inspiring others to achieve greatness.

“We’re so proud that Esther has earned this national recognition along with such a distinguished group of leaders in the advertising industry,” said Mike Hart ’83, ’84, president/CEO at Hart. “Esther is truly an inspiration to all of us here at Hart. She has made a positive impact on the organization by leading great work and through her optimistic attitude and infectious laugh. Beyond being passionate about producing good work, she is diligent, self-motivated and unafraid to tackle any new challenge.”

Fabian has overcome many obstacles in her life, both personally and professionally. Despite going through two breast cancer diagnoses, treatments and recoveries, she says her biggest life obstacle has been trying to balance being a good mother and excelling in her career.

“I’m so lucky to work at a place that values its people and promotes a fun and collaborative work environment. I was surprised and honored that a coworker would nominate me and that I actually made the list,” said Fabian, who was nominated by coworker JoAnna Sorosiak, an assistant account executive. “I come to work every day wanting to do good work and give my best effort. I credit the rest of my success to working with a strong team.”

“After everything Esther has been through, she has never once let her spirits down,” Sorosiak said. “She’s passionate about her work and always helping make the business better. Esther is a personal mentor for me and someone I can trust for life advice. She deserved to be recognized as an advertising great, even in a sea of agency founders and CEOs.”

Fabian was featured in an issue of Adweek and acknowledged at the 4A’s 100th Anniversary Gala in New York City.



BGSU alumna a top woman to watch in tech

Tiffany (Ripley) Poeppelman ’08 has always been fascinated by people and what motivates them.

Poeppelman’s passion for understanding human behavior led her to earn a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Science in industrial-organizational psychology from Northern Kentucky University.

“The core skills I learned at BGSU helped me to explore which field of psychology I would ultimately pursue in graduate school and to shape my core skills that allowed me to grow as a consultant and serve as a trusted adviser to any business,” said Poeppelman, who grew up in Oregon, Ohio. “Skills such as research methodology and measurement have always served me well in my roles over the years. Measurement becomes a real key in industry, as it represents a core piece of understanding return on investment.”

Inc. Magazine recently named Poeppelman one of “30 Inspirational Women to Watch in Tech in 2017.”

Poeppelman is a senior sales performance consultant in sales readiness for LinkedIn, based in London, after having served as an evaluation project manager at Google. In her professional service, she also is a columnist and board member for The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, task force lead for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and serves on the Women at LinkedIn U.K. Board.

“Understanding people is at the heart of organizational change and learning-centered initiatives, which I drive and support every day in my role at LinkedIn and previous jobs I’ve had, including Google,” she said.

At LinkedIn, Poeppelman identifies areas for improvement and creates development opportunities for more than 250 sales staff members across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She has published several papers, recorded a recent podcast, and regularly speaks at LinkedIn and external events.

Melissa Fraterrigo ’00 of West Lafayette, Indiana, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, published her second book, “Glory Days” (University of Nebraska Press), in September.

In summer 2017, Sarah Pappalardo ’00 of Laurel, Maryland, studied coral reef ecology and the conservation of marine systems along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Pappalardo is a teacher and department team leader at Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City, Maryland.

In summer 2017, Dan Dunlap ’02 of Cincinnati studied desert and marine landscapes through ecological and social field methods on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. Dunlap is an educator curator at WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky.

Marissa Rex ’07 of Toledo was recognized by for her blog, “Marissa’s Blog,” on as one of the Top Counseling Blogs of 2017. Rex regularly reviews children’s books, TV shows and other media and provides free counseling lesson plans. She also hosts comprehensive lists of counseling resources from around the internet. She is a school counselor at Hiawatha Elementary in Washington Local Schools.



BGSU alumna combines fashion and psychology

Some things, like peanut butter and chocolate, obviously go together. But other pairings aren’t so observable. Bowling Green State University alumna Dawnn Karen ‘10 has recognized the potential of one unique combination, and is on her way to making it the next peanut butter cup.

Fashion psychology. There is a lot of buzz around this concept, which Karen defines as styling from the inside out by bridging the gap between perception and reality.

“Oftentimes I think we are on autopilot,” she said. “We just throw on clothes. Let’s deal with these clothes, counsel through issues and then decide what to wear.”

In 2016, after seeing so much potential for this service, she trademarked fashion psychology as an academic field.

“The fashion psychology field is a newly applied academic discipline focused on the study and treatment of color, beauty, style, image and shape and its effect on human behavior while addressing cultural sensitivities and cultural norms,” Karen explained.

The field aligns with two of Karen’s other initiatives, fashion psychology success, which provides fashion psychological services to meet the needs of professionals across any industry – corporate businesses, nonprofit organizations, individuals, families and relational groups – all around the world, and the online Fashion Psychology Institute, the first-ever academic organization dedicated solely to the study of fashion psychology. The institute offers a wide range of courses relating to the fashion psychological aspects of fashion, culture, design, business, politics and more.

“As I worked to expand fashion psychology, I found that people from around the world strongly desired to be a student of this new field,” she said. “There was a gap in the education, so I had to create an institution where they could learn.”

In summer 2017, Katie Pollifrone ’11 of Sarasota, Florida, studied what it takes to save species in the wild and engage with local partners developing and testing site-specific methods of community engagement to sustain ecological and social health in Hawaii. Pollifrone is a science teacher at Riverview High School in Sarasota.