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African American, Latino Alumni Gather for Coming Back Together 2014
Coming Back Together 2014, Syracuse University’s African American and Latino alumni reunion, will take place on campus Sept. 18-21. The theme is Celebrate, Inspire, Empower! Celebrar, Inspirar, Empoderar! This is the 11th CBT Reunion—the events take place every three years. This year’s alumni co-chairs are Kimberly Blackwell ’92 and Reinaldo Pascual ’85. Student co-chairs are Chantal M. Felice ’15 and Anthony Herbert ’15.
“It is fitting that CBT 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, two of the most important civil rights moments in recent history,” says Larry Martin, vice president for program development at Syracuse University. “As someone who lived through the turbulent ’50s and ’60s, I want to acknowledge those who participated in the civil rights movement and helped to move this country forward. I dedicate CBT 2014 in honor of civil rights and social justice advocates from all backgrounds, genders and races who took a courageous stand.”
One of the highlights of this year’s CBT is the awarding of Chancellor’s Citations to five outstanding alumni. The recipients will be honored Saturday, Sept. 20, at a reception and gala dinner to be held in the Oncenter Ballroom. There, they will each receive a certificate from Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud and a commemorative plate created by David MacDonald, SU emeritus professor of studio arts. The honorees are:
Jaime Alicea ’88 M.A., public education advocate and leader
Alicea is chief operations officer for the Syracuse City School District, previously serving as deputy superintendent. Alicea has been instrumental in increasing participating in the regional oratorical event, Community Wide Dialogue school exchanges and the National African American Parent Involvement Day celebration. He has received numerous awards from the community, including the Latino Educator of the Year from the Association of Neighbors Committed to Latino Advancement in 1996 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Community Service Award in 2006. He serves as secretary of the board of the Gifford Foundation.
Kimberly A. Blackwell ’92, marketing and public relations
Blackwell is the founder and chief executive officer of PMM, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that has expanded from advertising and marketing to encompass employment brand, inclusion, event production, public relations and talent representation. She was listed earlier this year as one of Black Enterprise’s Women of Power, and received the 2014 Enterprising Woman of the Year Award from the Columbus YWCA. In 2012, she was featured in Savoy magazine and the “Power” issue of Black Enterprise. Blackwell is co-chair of this year’s CBT.
Gisele A. Marcus ’89, global business management
Marcus is global operations and Americas group account leader for Johnson Controls, a Fortune 75 global diversified company in the building and automotive industries. Before joining Johnson Controls, she was a successful entrepreneur and had a six-year career at Ameritech, a former regional Bell operating company. Marcus is vice president of the Syracuse University Alumni Board and a board member and treasurer of the Child & Family Institute. She organized her Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters to create a scholarship endowment for the Our Time Has Come scholarship campaign.
Jesse Mejia ’97, corporate finance
Mejia has created a successful finance career in the automotive industry, working first at GMAC Financial Services and then as the strategy manager for the Volkswagen Group of America. But his real passion is helping others become successful by gaining admission to America’s top business schools. In 2007, he launched M.B.A. Catalyst, a consulting firm to advise prospective business school candidates on gaining admission to top programs by helping them overcome potential red flags in their applications and highlight personal strengths. Mejia is also an accomplished public speaker, partnering with The Economist to host a series of free webinars.
Shawn Outler ’89, retailing and multicultural development
Outler is group vice president of fashion forecasting and operations, leased businesses and multicultural development for Macy’s. Previously, she served as group vice president of multicultural merchandising and vendor development, where she was responsible for identifying developing strategic initiatives to better serve Macy’s multicultural customers. Outler has been featured in both Black Enterprise and Upscale magazines. She serves as vice president of finance for the Black Retail Action Group and is active in BRAVO (Black Retailers Actively Vying for Opportunities).
In addition to the dinner dance and awarding of Chancellor’s Citations, other highlights of CBT include a panel on “Carving through Borders: Discrimination, Immigration and Citizenship,” a Chancellor’s reception for alumni and students at his residence, La Lucha’s 25th Anniversary Dinner, Syracuse University’s Got Talent Show, a football game vs. Maryland and a Black Celestial Choral Ensemble Reunion Choir Rehearsal. All this is on top of a full slate of workshops run by alumni on a wide range of topics, from “Fatherhood” to “Turning Your Passion into a Business” to “How to Rise to the Bench.” For a full listing of CBT events, see http://cbt.syr.edu.