2016 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards

Recipients of an NSU 2016 Distinguished Alumni Achievement AwardThis year’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients include an entrepreneur who travels globally coaching CEOs; a young English major whose Student Government activity fueled a quick succession of appointments and positions in government affairs and public policy; the chief of applied architecture for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration; the managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the founder and CEO of SMP Pharmacy Solutions whose annual sales exceed $78 million; and seven other individuals worthy of NSU’s highest honor bestowed on an alumni base that is now 177,000 strong.Join us in congratulating the following 12 alumni. View Photo Album


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Gayle Carson, Ed.D. (’82), has worn many hats: as an entrepreneur who built her own company; traveling globally as a speaker, coach, and consultant; and as a producer of more than two dozen books and CD/DVD-based programs.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emerson College, Dr. Carson moved from Boston to Miami and secured her first job. A year later, she bought the business from her boss and diversified its sales base from one to seven divisions. While serving as CEO, Dr. Carson received her doctoral degree at NSU and eventually sold her business for more than 20 times its initial value.

As president of Carson Research Center, she is an adviser and coach to CEOs and entrepreneurial managers worldwide. Dr. Carson holds designations as a certified speaking professional (CSP) and a certified management consultant (CMS), the highest certifications in their fields.

A member of NSU’s Ambassadors Board since 2012, Dr. Carson is cofounder of the Internet Association of Information Marketers and a recipient of the Best Seller Quill Award. She  currently hosts a dozen radio shows per month and is the founder of sobradionetwork.com. Dr. Carson has received numerous peer honors. She is cited in more than 50 Who’s Who books and has been featured in media including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Readers Digest as well as on the Larry King radio show and several television networks.

College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Sheela VanHoose, B.A. ('09), is the director of government affairs and public policy at Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), a Fort Lauderdale-based education management company where she oversees local and state government affairs in Florida.

Prior to joining CSUSA in 2015, VanHoose was the director of legislative affairs for Broward County Public Schools. She worked for three years in the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott, for which she served as director of scheduling and advancement and as a special assistant/regional representative to the governor. In 2014, Scott appointed VanHoose to the board of the North Broward Hospital District, the ninth largest public hospital system in the United States.

At NSU, VanHoose was an English major who was active in the Student Government Association and College Republicans. She was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. She is a second-degree black belt champion and a former member of the U.S. National Karate Team.

VanHoose participated in Leadership Broward’s Class of XXXIV, and serves on the boards of the Broward County Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Broward Days, and the Village Square—Broward College.

“I will always remember the lively debates in the Student Government Association and the battle of wits using Roberts Rules of Order. But my fondest memory at NSU was the 9-11 memorial we set up in 2007,’’ she said. “We invited students to help us put up 2,996 U.S. flags representing the lives lost [on September 11, 2001]. It was incredibly moving to see students from different political, religious, and cultural backgrounds come together. I would not be where I am today if not for NSU. I would never have imagined a career in politics, but NSU helped me cultivate a passion for politics that changed my life trajectory.”

College of Engineering and Computing

Laura L. Downey, Ph.D. (’15), is chief of applied architecture at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, where her work in systems, applications, information/data, security, and networking helps support national transportation safety. With a doctoral degree from NSU in information systems, Dr. Downey has more than 20 years of experience as a senior researcher and technology professional. Her expertise and  research focus on human-computer interaction (HCI), user experience (UX), and using technology to promote well-being.

Dr. Downey has published in national and international journals and magazines, technical reports, and book contributions. She served as an associate editor at the Journal of Usability Studies. She is active in the HCI/UX community in conference leadership, review roles, and supporting women in technology initiatives.

Dr. Downey received a Master of Science in Computer Science in 1997 from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Information and Computer Science in 1993 from Hood College.

College of Health Care Sciences

William J. Hanney, D.P.T., Ph.D. ('12), is an assistant professor in the Department of HealthProfessions at the University of Central Florida (UCF). A licensed physical therapist and athletic trainer, Dr. Hanney had extensive experience working at hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Florida and Illinois before joining the UCF faculty in 2012. In 2016, he was the recipient of the university's Excellence in Research Award and the Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award.

At NSU, Dr. Hanney earned his Ph.D. in Physical Therapy, for which his dissertation was titled “Development of a Clinical Prediction Rule to Identify Patients with Neck Pain Likely to Benefit from Education and Exercise.” He received a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Master of Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science/Athletic Training from the University of West Florida.

“NSU has had a significant impact on my career. As a Ph.D. student in physical therapy, I was able to gain knowledge and expertise in teaching and research, which has allowed me to grow professionally. The professional relationships I developed at NSU also have been important,’’ Dr. Hanney said.“One of my greatest professional accomplishments is the completion of my Ph.D., and the defense of my dissertation is one of my greatest memories at NSU.”


College of Nursing

Rose Allen, D.N.P. (’15), is the bioethics and palliative care director at Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF), where she oversees ethics consultation services, ethics education, integration of ethics policies, and organ donation compliance and training. Before assuming that role in 2008, Dr. Allen was the bioethics and patient rights coordinator at BHSF for five years.

With more than 30 years of nursing experience, Dr. Allen also had more than 18 years in critical care nursing before she advanced to clinician/care coordinator at Baptist Hospital in Miami. At BHSF, Dr. Allen has developed a system-wide bioethics program and provides leadership in health care ethics and patient rights through policy development and implementation, ethics consultation services, and ethics education.

“The training I received from the faculty at NSU while completing my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree allowed me to grow professionally by expanding my knowledge and skills and [providing] a positive impact on my clinical practice through the utilization of research," she said. "My capstone research project, 'Addressing Moral Distress in Critical Care Nurses,' proved successful in providing the education and tools that help critical care nurses manage moral distress."

Dr. Allen recieved a Master of Science in Management degree, with a specialization in health care management, in 2002 from St. Thomas University in Miami. She recieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida International University in 1992.

College of Optometry

Stuart I. Kaplan, B.S. (’99), O.D. (’01), practices optometry at Tyson Eye at Cape Coral Eye Center in Cape Coral, Florida. He is the director of the center’s dry eye treatment program and involved in multiple clinical trials relating to glaucoma management, intraocular lenses, and dry eye therapy.

Dr. Kaplan serves as the governor-appointed chairman of the Florida Board of Optometry, and he is the immediate past president of the Southwest Florida Optometric Association. He is active in professional, veterans, and youth athletics groups.

A Gulf War veteran, Dr. Kaplan served four years in the U.S. Army and an additional four years in the Florida Army National Guard. He is the finance officer and past commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 9-1 in Fort Myers Beach, FL.

“After receiving my degrees from NSU,’’ Dr. Kaplan said, “I developed a peer relationship with professors and the administration by being involved in local and society memberships, legislation, and lecturing, which has helped me realize the importance of advocating for the profession of optometry.”

Dr. Kaplan's first degree from NSU was a Bachelor of Science in Vision Science.

College of Pharmacy

As the founder and chief executive officer of SMP Pharmacy Solutions, Armando Bardisa,Pharm.D. (’97), describes himself as a pharmacist by trade and an entrepreneur at heart.

In 2003, Dr. Bardisa opened South Miami Pharmacy to provide more personalized pharmacy service. With sales exceeding $78 million and a second location, he changed the company name to SMP Pharmacy Solutions in 2015 to redefine its position as a top independent pharmacy. Today, Dr. Bardisa’s company is cited as one of the fastest-growing private companies by Inc. Magazine and recognized by J.D. Power & Associates for earning the highest rating in customer satisfaction. The company also is named as one of the Top 500 Hispanic-Owned Business by Hispanic Business Magazine.

At NSU, Dr. Bardisa serves as an instructor to pharmacy interns and is a member of the College of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Board. He is on the board of directors at Pharmacy Development Services and a member of several industry groups.

Dr. Bardisa supports philanthropic partnerships such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His company has provided medicine and supplies for medical missions to Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida International University (FIU) and his consultant pharmacist license from the University of Florida. In 2010, Dr. Bardisa was awarded an honorary M.B.A. from FIU.

“Some of my fondest memories of NSU are with the professors. I really got to know some of my professors and establish great relationships with them because they took the time to coach and guide me along the way,’’ Dr. Bardisa said. “I was encouraged to think outside the box and create my own path, which I have done by opening my own specialty pharmacy in South Florida.”

College of Psychology

Brad Donohue, Ph.D. (’95), is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Having joined UNLV in 1998, Dr. Donohue teaches and serves as director of Family Research and Services; an adviser to doctoral students; and the principal investigator in federal, state, and private grants, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Cirque du Soleil.

After earning his doctoral degree in clinical psychology at NSU, Donohue completed a psychology internship and post-doctoral fellowship, also at NSU. He taught as an adjunct professor and served as director of NSU’s Youth Center. During the early 1990s, while still a graduate student, he worked as a clinician at several counseling programs at Nova University and the University of Miami. Dr. Donohue received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kansas in 1989.

He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2016 Faculty Excellence Award at UNLV and the title of honorary faculty representative of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society in 2015.

“The faculty and institutional infrastructure at NSU prepared me in every aspect of my career,” Dr. Donohue said. [Some of my fondest memories include] longstanding relationships with my mentors at NSU.”

Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography

Theodore Kerry Chamberlain, B.S. (’07), D.M.D. (’10), is a practitioner and owner of Chamberlain General and Sedation Dentistry in Clearwater, Florida.

Dr. Chamberlain received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and was a member of NSU’s Honors program prior to continuing his studies at NSU's College of Dental Medicine. He completed his post-doctoral general practice residency at The Ohio State University, then returned to Florida and opened his dental practice. One of his proudest accomplishments is founding Believe in Smiles, a not-forprofit foundation that strives to perform pro bono dental work to those in need who are “on their quest for personal development through their own faith,” he said.

With a fellowship status in the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Chamberlain is a member of the Oral Cancer Foundation. He is also a board trustee at UPARC Foundation, a  member of the Skip Cline Society, and active with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Special Olympics Dental Workshop.

"At NSU, I was in the Dual Admission Program for dentistry," Dr. Chamberlain said. "Throughout my entire tenure at the university, I matriculated with the same group of  classmates. It gives you a sense of appreciation for everything you have accomplished.

H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship

Alan Koenigsberg, B.S. ('92), M.B.A. ('94), is managing director and corporate banking group head at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Koenigsberg worked for more than two decades for financial firms J.P. Morgan and American Express, where he held leadership roles in areas such as sales, banking, marketing, and operations.

Koenigsberg, who earned two business degrees at NSU, serves as a key speaker at industry conferences and is featured in leading periodicals. Recognized as an industry expert, he has held leadership roles on numerous industry boards and councils, including co-chair and founding member of the International Payments Framework.

“NSU is an amazing institution that I was honored to have attended for my M.B.A.,’’ Koenigsberg said. “I have lasting memories and experiences that I cherish throughout my career. The friendships made then, last even now.”

NSU University School

Avi Jay Stein (’95) is an emergency management specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is assigned to the Office of  Public Health Preparedness and Response. Since joining the CDC, Dr. Stein has helped lead the response to public health emergencies, including the Zika virus in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and served as one of the first CDC members on the ground during the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) in 2012. Prior to joining the USPHS, Dr. Stein worked as a firefighter and paramedic. He is the recipient of several honors, including the Public Health Service (PHS) Commendation Medal, the PHS Citation, and the Presidential Unit Citation. Dr. Stein received his Master of Public Health degree in 2001 and a Bachelor of Science in Psychosocial Medicine and Public Health Care in 1999 from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His Ph.D. in Epidemiology is from Walden University.

“While I was at the NSU University School, I could tell that the faculty and administration truly cared about each student,’’ Dr. Stein said. “The school offered a cooperative and safe  environment to learn as well as share ideas and beliefs."

Shepard Broad College of Law

Summer L. Robertson, B.S. ('97), J.D. ('00), is a managing partner at the Broward law firm of Hackley & Robertson, P.A., as well as an advocate and fund-raiser for research and charitable organizations.

Robertson is a member of the Royal Dames of Cancer Research, an organization that raises money for research at NSU’s Rumbaugh-Goodwin Institute for Cancer Research.

“My passion is serving the community, to give back. I believe in paying it forward,’’ she said. “I have a passion for helping others and demonstrating to my children that it is our responsibility to give back to those in need.”

In 2013, Robertson was named one of the Top Attorneys in Florida by Super Lawyers. She was named among the 100 Outstanding Women of Broward in 2009 and 2016. She is a member of the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council and was a member of the former NSU President’s Advisory Council. In addition to graduating cum laude in 2000, Robertson  received her Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies.

“I have developed relationships on a significant level because I am an NSU graduate. There is an instant connection and respect when meeting someone who also graduated from NSU. My best friends were made at NSU during my undergraduate years,’’ she said. “I also had the opportunity to travel to London as a legal studies major. Being a founding sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority (Beta Tau chapter) and having my name imprinted on the walls of NSU for my children to see is a great honor.”