2013 CoLA Outstanding Alumni


College of Liberal Arts graduates exhibit many fascinating paths to success. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni at an Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony.


Concetta Haldeman Blechschmidt

'06 B.A., French and Spanish

Concetta Blechschmidt holds a Master of Arts in Spanish Literature from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French from Wright State University.  Ms. Blechschmidt has a wide range of experience teaching Spanish at the university level and in non-traditional corporate and public agency settings.  In 2012, Ms. Blechschmidt started up a company, Traveling Professor, Inc. through which she recently authored an introductory textbook, workbook and video program specifically tailored to the needs of a large company that does a significant portion of its business with Spanish-speaking clients in the US and abroad.  Currently she continues to explore the needs of professionals to effectively communicate with all of their clients or patients.

Ms. Blechschmidt has been serving as a Visiting Spanish Instructor in the Department of Modern Languages at Kenyon College since 2010 and this year is serving as their Director of the KILM (Kenyon Intensive Language Model) Program.  In fall 2014 she will begin working on her doctorate in Foreign Language Pedagogy in the Department of Education at The Ohio State University.

Tips for a Successful Future in Foreign Languages

Walter (Kim) Boas

'77 B.S. Geography

Walter "Kim" Boas is the 2013 Outstanding Geography Alumnus.  Kim completed his Geography degree in 1977 and then went to work for the City of Dayton.  As a staff member in the Office of Budget and Management, he created a data system to track energy use in city buildings.  This experience led to a career in energy conservation and innovation with the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company.  There he became an energy efficiency program manager and developed an initiative  to purchase photovoltaic panels and developed and managed programs promoting home, industrial and commercial energy efficiency. 

Kim also serves his home town of Williamsburg, where he is a member of the finance committee and chair of the Williamsburg Green Community initiatives. Finally, Kim chairs the Williamsburg rail-to-trail committee.  Kim Boas' career exemplifies how science and social science spark innovation and meet community needs.     

Gregory Brush

'85 B.A., Sociology

Gregory Brush graduated from WSU with a B.A. in Sociology in 1985.  He earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University in 1990.  Greg has a long and varied career of service to the citizens of Montgomery County.

Greg started his career as a police officer for the City of Vandalia in 1986.  During his more than twenty years of service, he worked as a patrol officer, crime scene technician, hostage negotiator, shift sergeant, and emergency medical technician.  In 1999, Greg was elected as the Fiscal Officer for Butler Township and served in that position until 2007.  On January 24, 2007, Greg accepted the appointment to the position of Montgomery County Clerk of Courts.  He was then elected to his first four year term in 2008 and later           re-elected to the position in 2012.  The Clerk of Courts and the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court have received national and international awards that recognize effective and innovative programs which enhance county government.  Among these was an award for the new eFiling service that promotes intergovernmental cooperation in addressing shared problems.

Greg was president of the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association in 2011 and is an active member of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers; the Ohio Association of Municipal/County Court Clerks; the Montgomery County Township Association; and the Dayton Bar Association.  He and his wife Kym currently reside in Butler Township, Ohio.

Brian DeGennaro

'97 B.A. Political Science

Brian DeGennaro received his B.A. in political science in 1997, and was then commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force.  He has subsequently earned a MS degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas (2005) and a MA in Organizational Management  from the George Washington University (2006).  Brian served as Director of the AF Intelligence and Analysis Branch (2002-2004) that developed the first  ever intelligence assessment of  “non-state actors” and authored the first Special Operations Forces Dynamic Targeting Concept of Operations which contributed to the surrender of Iraqi Forces in northern Iraq in 2003. He was recognized in the AF Internship Program (2004-06) as one of the top 30 junior executive officers, and completed a six month rotation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. 

In 2009, Brian became Chief of the USAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Strategy and Plans Division at Wright-Patterson AFB.  Today, Brian lives in Lebanon, OH, where he is running for election to the school board, and he now works for GE Aviation at the Dayton ELANO facility in Beavercreek.  Brian has advised the department on its revision of the national security politics course, and will teach that class for the department in Spring semester, 2014.

Frederick Enderle

'75 B.A., Urban Affairs

Frederick Enderle is the 2013 Outstanding Urban Affairs Alumnus. The faculty selected Fred because of his service to communities and for his advocacy of civic stewardship...indeed all three of our department awardees provide exceptional service to communities and practice civic stewardship but do so in quite different ways.

Fred graduated with a BS in Urban Affairs in 1975 and went to work as a planner for the City of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  He continued to serve in planning and development positions over the next nineteen years, spending 12 years in Green Bay, and seven years in the cities of Jackson, Michigan and Champaign, Illinois.  Fred shifted to city management in 1994 when he became an Assistant City Manager for the city of Concord, New Hampshire, and then City Manager of Loveland, Ohio, in 2001.  During his last six years of public service, Fred was the City Manager of Piqua.  In Piqua, he encouraged broad public participation in Grow Piqua as he tackled the challenges of transforming the city's economy after the loss of many good manufacturing jobs and reviving a declining downtown. 

In true Wright State fashion, we recognize Fred for his hard work, his commitment to inclusion and his commitment to public service and community.

Fred Finney

'77 B.A. Anthropology

Fred A. Finney is a professional archaeologist specializing in the Midwest, and owner and principal investigator of Upper Midwest Archaeology, which specializes in archaeological surveys. He received a 1977 BA from WSU in anthropology. The next six years were spent working on the FAI-270 Archaeological Mitigation Project while also obtaining a MA in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fred earned his PhD in anthropology (archaeology) from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1993.

Fred worked at the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist from 1991 to 1994 as a principal investigator for surveys and excavations throughout the state. He was briefly a professor at Cleveland State University where he    ran the 1995 field school in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and worked at the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology where he conducted pipeline surveys. Fred returned to Urbana-Champaign to join the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program before founding Upper Midwest Archaeology.

Fred has written more than 450 archaeology reports in addition to numerous academic papers on archaeology. He lives with his wife, Nancy Finney (a.k.a. NY Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt), and their two daughters in Urbana, Illinois.


Ellen Reinsch Friese

'04 M.A., Humanities

Ellen Reinsch Friese is a 2004 graduate of the Masters of Humanities Program with an emphasis on Women’s Studies.  The topic of her thesis was the Dayton, Ohio Women’s Suffrage Movement and its impact on the advertising found in the Dayton Daily News during the time period of 1912 to 1918.  The focus on women’s history and women’s suffrage in particular was a direct result of interactions with faculty members in the Humanities Program, especially during discussion and classes taught by Dr. Nancy Garner in the Department of History. 

Ellen has never left Wright State University, where she has been employed  in Research and Sponsored Programs since 1995.  She has served as the Assistant Vice President for Research since 2008.  During her tenure at Wright State, she has served on several University committees, including   the Wright State Organization for Women and “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” and as a member of the Friends of the Library Board   for six years, with a three-year stint as the Chair.  Ellen is married to Carl Friese, and they have one daughter, Sarah.

Iesha Gray

'05 Minor, Criminal Justice

Iesha Gray is in her sixth season as head women’s basketball coach at Wilberforce University, where she is also the strength and conditioning/player development coach for both men’s and women’s basketball programs.  During her first five seasons Ms. Gray garnered six all-AMC Honorable Mention, three all-AMC Freshmen Team, and three All-AMC Scholar Athlete honorees awards.  During the 2010-2011 Season the Wilberforce Women’s Basketball Team was a NAIA Scholar-Team candidate, posting a team GPA of 3.22.  The Lady Bulldogs have been nationally ranked in six different statistical categories under her leadership, including offensive rebounds, scoring, steals, and total rebounds per game.  In the community, she and her athletes collaborate with various non-profit organizations in both the Dayton and Columbus area, inculcating the core character values of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Ms. Gray was a standout player for WSU in NCAA Division I, where she earned a spot on the Midwestern Collegiate Conference All-Newcomer Team in 2001.  In the summer of 2002 she travelled to Zimbabwe and South Africa with Athletes in Action, an international sports ministry organization. During the 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons she was named co-captain and received Most Valuable Player honors in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 from the Raiders. Ms. Gray also served as a Horizon League Representative on the Student Athletic Advisory Council.  She was a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, serving as vice president, historian, and interim president between 2003 and 2005.  In the spring of 2005, she graduated from CoLA with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in both African-American Studies and Criminal Justice, maintaining a 2.9 GPA.

Joel Huxley

'98 B.F.A. Art

Joel Huxley grew up in Fairborn, OH.  After graduating from Wright State in 1998 with a BFA degree in painting, he began working as a teller at Wright-Patt Credit Union. During the past 15 years he has worked in many facets throughout the credit union- 14 of his 15 years have been dedicated to management/ leadership roles. Currently, he is the Director of Retail Support.  In addition to participating in the United Way Loaned Executive Program and attaining his Masters of Business Administration in 2008, Joel is presently participating in the University of Dayton Emerging Leaders program. His goal is to become a Vice President of Operations with Wright-Patt Credit Union.
Joel lives in Centerville, OH with his partner of nine years, Ryan King, and both are avid volleyball and tennis enthusiasts. Additionally, they are regular attendees at Ft. McKinley United Methodist Church and are committed to investing into organizations within their community. Joel is still an ardent fan of the arts and is interested in working more closely with the WSU Robert and Elaine Stein Art Galleries.

Chauncey Jenkins

'06 B.A., Acting

Chauncey Jenkins is a television, film and commercial actor who has performed in North America, Internationally and on Broadway.

The Wright State University musical theatre alum’s credits include Eddie in the North American tour of Mamma Mia, The Color Purple Broadway and National tours and Dreamgirls National Tour. He now resides in Los Angeles, California, where he has appeared in The Newsroom (HBO), How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Vegas (CBS), America’s Most Wanted (Fox), and independent films The Scam and Secret Agenda. Jenkins has also shot national commercials for Sobe Life Water, Amica Insurance, and McDonald’s. He currently plays the role of Caleb in a new web series called "The Choir.”

While at Wright State, Chauncey performed in numerous productions includingRagtime, and The Piano Lesson. During his down time, the Columbia, South Carolina born and Georgia native enjoys teaching master classes for middle and high school theatre students and at Universities.

Bryan Lakatos

'99 B.A., Latin

Bryan Lakatos began his career as a high school Latin teacher before graduating from WSU in 1999.

As a senior Classics major, he took a part-time position with The Miami Valley School, a local independent K-12 school. After growing that position to full-time, Bryan discovered an outlet at the school for his other lovecomputers and technology.  Eventually overseeing all technology at the school, he recently brought his focus to best practices of using technology to activate teaching and learning, fulfilling a new role for the school: Director of Technology & Innovation.  He currently heads up a major professional development project and is guiding the high school through the first year of its bring-your-own-device program. 

Bryan has not abandoned the Classics thoughhe still teaches Latin and just this past summer co-created the new middle school Latin program at MVS.  He and his wife Robyn Case live in Kettering with their two dogs.

Robert Leonard

'89 B.A. Communication Studies

As the 2013 Western States Communication Master Teacher honoree and the 2012 National Communication Association’s Outstanding Community College Educator recipient, Dr. Robert Leonard is celebrated by the Communication Department not just because he earned his BA in Communication in 1989 at WSU but also because this Kettering native continues to share his pedagogical excellence with the field of communication in a multitude of ways.

Dr. Leonard is celebrated by his students because of his teaching innovations and because he inspires them by having earned his graduate degrees from two of the premier communication programs in the US. This dedicated Raider’s MA thesis was advised by Dr. Raymie McKerrow at the University of Maine. His University of Utah dissertation was entitled Identification, Representation, and Meaning Making: A Symbolic Interaction Analysis of Visiting The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Dr. Leonard’s scholarship builds upon identification and meaning in communities. His spring semester WSU class will study the implications of signs and symbols with Hospice’s outreach program.

In WSU’s classrooms, at theater and music productions and at art exhibits, Dr. Leonard is on campus on a regular basis. Students note that he bleeds green and gold while faculty observe that this scholar always took advantage   of the events WSU has to offer. That is of course when he is not rooting for WSU’s athletic teams. He already has his schedule for basketball mapped out.

Rita Mack

'04 B.A., Social Work

Rita Mack is a 2004 graduate from the WSU undergraduate social work program and a 2011 MSW graduate from the Ohio State University College of Social Work program offered at Wright State University.  While at Wright State, Rita received the Gladys Turner Finney scholarship, a competitive endowed scholarship in the social work department.  She is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III.  Rita is currently an emergency trauma center support social worker at Miami Valley Hospital.  Her social work experiences have centered on providing individual and group counseling for persons with substance abuse concerns and working with sexual abuse offenders.  Her social work positions were at the Chillicothe Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, Volunteers of America New Life Inpatient Sex Offender Program, the Dayton VA Medical Center, and the Salvation Army Booth House substance abuse program. 

In 2008, Rita served as a community mentor for a WSU grant-funded program called WorkSmart.  She worked with Dr. Marjorie Baker to provide monthly contact with African American women in the social work program who were balancing raising a family and completing the requirements for the BSW program.  Rita provided an excellent role model for the students in the WorkSmart program.  In 2012, Rita Mack received the Emerging Leader   Award from the Dayton region chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.  Rita is also a leader in her church.  The social work department is proud of the contributions Rita Mack has made to the community.

Joseph Mason

'98 M.A. History

Dr. Joseph Mason is the historian of the Air Force Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he writes the official history of developmental tests of new weapons systems.

Dr. Mason completed a Master of Arts degree in history in 1998 at Wright State University while serving as an aerospace engineer at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. He received a fellowship from the University of Iowa to pursue a doctoral degree in history.  He received his Ph.D. in 2004.

Dr. Mason joined the civil service in 2003 as an Air Force historian, working initially at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and later at headquarters, U.S. Central Command. During this time, Dr. Mason deployed to the Persian Gulf region to document coalition air force operations in Afghanistan and wrote a history of U.S.-Pakistan security cooperation after 9/11.  His history of the Air Education and Training Command’s response to Hurricane Katrina won an Air Force award for best historical publication in 2006.

Darius Prier

'01 M.A., Urban Administration

Darius Prier is the 2013 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus.  Darius completed a bachelor's in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies in 1999, and then he continued his education, completing a MPA degree in 2001.  As a student at Wright State, Darius advocated in the classroom and among faculty and students for social justice.  After graduation he worked in student affairs for Miami University and received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University in 2009.  He is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership at Duquesne University.  In 2012 he published a book titled Culturally Relevant Teaching: Hip Hop Pedagogy in Urban Schools.  Darius' book demonstrates that educators can learn about race, class, gender and community from hip hop music and that will make them better teachers.  He has also introduced social justice criteria for Duquesne's Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership program. 

Recently, Darius was selected to become an Education Policy Fellow, which is a nationally recognized program that brings scholars, practitioners and policy advocates together to work for youth, families and schools.  For his part, Darius is developing a "cradle to college" program at a local church in an underserved Pittsburgh community.

Elhadji Malick Sakho

'10 B.A. International Studies

Elhadji (Malick) Sakho graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wright State University in 2010, with a BA in International Studies and a minor in Political Science.  He completed a Masters degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Bellevue University in 2012.  Since graduation from WSU, Malick has been working in Washington D.C on national security programs.

Mr. Sakho began his career in 2010 in the Federal Government as a Senior Program and Management analyst at United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology, where he received an award of excellence for his leadership and subject matters expertise. Mr. Sakho is currently working for ICE- National Security Division as a Section Chief.

Mr. Sakho also has received several specialized certifications such as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Program Manager Certification, Immigration Law Certification and DHS Fundamentals of Leadership.

Prior to his federal career he worked at Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices as the Associate Director of Nutrition and Dietary Services.
Mr. Sakho is originally from Dakar, Senegal. He is married to Christina Sakho, a native of Ohio, who works for the Montgomery County Auditors Office. They have been married for 10 years.

Sharon Short

'82 B.A. English

Sharon Short earned her B.A. in English from Wright State University in 1982, graduating magna cum laude. She went on to earn an M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University.  A successful working writer, she is the author of two mystery series (Josie Toadfern and Patricia Delaney), a columnist for the Dayton Daily News, and director of the renowned Antioch Writers' Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She is also an adjunct instructor of creative writing and composition at Antioch University Midwest. She was the featured author at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival in May.

Most recently, Ms. Short is the author of the novel My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penguin Plume, 2013) in which a pair of siblings escape the strictures of their 1950s industrial Ohio town on the adventure of a lifetime. Opening chapters of this novel earned her a 2012 Ohio Arts Council individual artist's grant and a 2011 Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District Literary Artist Fellowship.  My One Square Inch has garnered enthusiastic reviews from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and the Saturday Evening Post, to name just a few.  Ms. Short’s finely honed ear for language, sensitive evocation of past times and local spaces, her dedication to her craft, and her commitment to the development and furtherance of literary community here in Dayton and southwestern Ohio exemplify literary and cultural values central to the Wright State University Department of English.

Foday Sulimani

'07 M.A., International and Comparative Politics

Foday Sulimani defended his thesis, “The False Promise of International Institutions in Building Stable Democracies in Third World Countries” in the Spring of 2007.  He examined Ghana and Mauritius to understand how aid programs might be used more effectively to promote successful political transitions.  His thesis was selected by the WSU Graduate School as the university’s entry into the state-wide competition for the best Master’s thesis completed during Academic Year 2006-2007. 

After graduation, Foday served as a research associate at the Kettering Foundation, an internationally-recognized non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of civil society.  At the Foundation, Foday served on a variety of research projects and worked closely with international fellows. He was the Editor for the Foundation’s International Civil Society Consortium for Public Deliberation, and wrote articles and research memos appearing in multiple publications.

Foday currently serves as a Management and Program Analyst in the United States Department of Homeland Security, serving on the quality control team within the Overstay Analysis Unit.  His duties include applying immigration laws to traveler compliance, reviewing biometric information and applications, conducting interviews related to potential overstay cases, and training junior analysts. Foday     also holds a B.A. in International Relations and Development from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Freetown.  He currently lives in Landover Hills, Maryland with his wife and two children. 

Kyle Young

'05 B.M., Music Education

Kyle Young is Associate Director of Bands at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana.  His responsibilities at Carmel include directing concert bands, jazz bands, pep bands and serving as marching band assistant director.  Prior to arriving in Carmel, Mr. Young taught in the Mason City School District in Mason, Ohio for seven years. The band programs in both Carmel and Mason have received international accolades for excellence.

Mr. Young is a 2005 graduate of Wright State University, graduating cum laude with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education.  In 2010, he received his Masters Degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois.