Class Notes

Class Notes

See What Your Peers Are Up To


William Duncan '58 BSBA (Business Economics) had a long career working in the missile defense industry, including acting as general superintendent of the fabrication of the 700-ton Titan II missile, doing missile building at Vandenberg Air force Base and working on the Titan I missile sites in Northern California in the 1950s.

Mary Kay Crockett '52 BSBA (Finance) writes to say: "I think I may have been the first female finance major at Eller. Glenn Strickler was one of my professors. He was terrific. Karl Eller was a classmate and friend. Arizona gave me a very good business education. I was hired to be Valley National Bank's first management trainee. I left that program to care for my mother when she became ill. After several more jobs, a marriage, two children and seven years living in Africa, I went to work for Merrill Lynch in Washington D.C., as their first female trainee (and then manager). I stayed there 30 years. I have lived happily in Carmel since 1978. I'm thankful to Arizona for my preparation."

Gene Lasser ’58 BSBA (Marketing ’59 MBA writes to say his fifth book on Amazon called Gold Mountain Express won a gold first prize award in this year’s national contest on The book is a historical thriller that takes place in World War II, based on events of the time. Lasser was commissioned an officer in the Army after completing ROTC at the University and served two years at Camp (now Fort) Irwin, California. He then worked in various industries over the years including aviation, real estate and the travel industry. He earned a private pilot’s license and then continued under the GI Bill for advance ratings. He and his wife Linda travel extensively and have visited approximately 190 countries. They plan to return to the Middle East at the end of 2021. He says: “There were approximately 5,000 full time students when I attended the University. Times change.” The couple has four sons and seven grandchildren and live in Lakewood, California.


Following retirement as vice president at the Bonneville Power Administration, Michael Weedall '78 MPA released his first historical novel Iva: The True story of Tokyo Rose which was recently named on of the best Indie books of the year by Kirkus Reviews. The book was also highlighted in a program sponsored by the Ninth Circuit Historical Society and three national Japanese American organizations about the injustice served in the racially and politically charged Presidential election of 1948.

In celebration of the Class of 1972, one master of public administration graduate is looking to reconnect with his class. Aussie Graham Gourlay says “Good Day” and would love to catch up! You can email him at to celebrate your 50-year reunion!

Robert Eckert ’76 BSBA (Marketing) ’77 MBA become board chair of Levi Strauss & Co. Eckert has been on Levi’s board for 11 years and also sits on the boards of McDonald’s, Uber, Amgen, Eyemart Express Holdings and Quinn Group.


Prabhudev Konana '91 MBA '95 PhD has been named dean of the University of Maryland Smith school of Business. Previously, Konana was an associate dean and professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

Keith Oltchick '96 BSBA (Accounting) '06 MBA has been named senior vice president of acquisitions and development at Remington Hotels, headquarters in Dallas. Oltchick will be responsible for the growth and expansion of Remington Hotel's third-party platform and supporting clients in acquisitions, management transitions and new build development efforts. He began his career as a controller for Claris Services and has since held a variety of senior leadership roles Hersha Hospitality Trust, Marriott International and Pyramid Hotel Group. 

Lorrie Bottrill ’90 BSBA (Accounting and Finance) was awarded the 2021 Community Lifeline Award by Teen Lifeline.

Brian Frakes ’97 BSBA (Finance) was profiled in July in the Phoenix Business Journal. Frakes is the founder of Common Bond Development.

Henry Hendrix ’97 MBA has left his role at Make A Wish America to join Coca-Cola North America as the multicultural strategy and engagement lead for North America, reporting directly to the CMO of North America. 

Gilbert Davidson ’98 BSBA ’04 MPA joined the town of Prescott Valley as town manager. Davidson was previously town manager in Marana, city manager in Willcox and chief operating officer of the State of Arizona Governor’s Office.

Julie Klewer ’99 MBA was honored in 2020 as an ASCPA Life member.


A letter Chris Tompkins '00 BSBA (Marketing) wrote his six-year-old nephew went on to become a published article, a TEDx talk, a workshop and most recently, a book that will be published in May 2021 by Rowman & Littlefield called, Raising LGBTQ Allies: A Parent's Guide to Changing the Messages from the Playground. The purpose of the book is to encourage families to have open and authentic conversations and to prevent homophobia, transphobia and bullying before they begin. The book is available here for order.

Adriana Kong Romero '01 BSBA (Finance) was named commercial banking market executive in the Southwest for Bank of America. She will lead a team of bankers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara in California; Southern Arizona; El Paso and Amarillo in Texas; and the state of New Mexico. She will also continue her role as Tucson Market President for Bank of America. Kong Romero joined the bank in 1998. 

In March 2020, Izetta Morris '02 BSBA (Business Management) '08 JD started as inaugural director with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Charitable Organization which is dedicated to improving the lives of people living in the Pascua Yaqui communities. Since starting her position, she has secured more than $85,029.76 in competitive grant funds, individual contributions and foundation grants. The primary program area of the nonprofit is the Tu'l Bwa'ame (Good Food) Pantry, which serves approximately 300 families per month. Learn more about the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Charitable Organization.

Freshly, a company founded by Mike Wystrach '02 BSBA (Finance) and Carter Comstock '09 BSBA (Business Management) was acquired by Nestle.

Shayne Neuwirth '03 BSBA (Marketing) was featured in AZ Big Media as one of the top give influential accountants for 2021. 

After Andrew Acedo '04 BSBA (Business Management/Marketing) graduated from the University of Arizona, he spent a few years in California but found himself itching for something bigger. "I didn't quite know what I was looking for, but I wanted to be in a big market," he says. "I had a lot of drive." Part of his ambition had been fostered through his experience at Eller, which, he says, mapped well with exploring the world and putting out feelers for new adventures. He landed in New York City in 2010 and has been there ever since, working in a software sales capacity and running a global team. His company partners with more than 2,000 brands on digital marketing initiatives and customer experience. Now that he's got some successes under his belt, he's ready to pay it forward—by creating a scholarship in his name in the Eller College. "I was able to go to college because of my parents' support," he says. "But tuition is challenging for many young people—especially under-served populations. I want to open up opportunities like the ones I had for someone else." Equally as important, Acedo hopes to inspire others to do the same. "Alumni should be giving back," he says. "Especially people within my age demographic. We're still young professionals and there are mechanisms in place to be impactful, that can scale to our own means. In other words, even if we don't have $10 million to name a building, we can still make a shuge impact. 

Congrats to Anna (Suarez) Plumley '05 BSBA (Marketing) who is featured in Billboard's "40 Under 40 Young Executives Pushing the Industry Forward." She is currently senior director of tour marketing, U.S. concerts, for Live Nation. 

Research titled "High Policy Uncertainty and Low Implied Market Volatility—an Academic Puzzle?" by Huong Dang '06 MBA, senior lecturer at University of Canterbury, is being published in the Journal of Financial Economics. Dang is an Eller MBA mentor. She earned her PhD at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include credit ratin, financial distress, IPOs, portfolio management, financial institutions and national culture.

Congratulations to Joe Stapleton '06 BSBA (Finance/Entrepreneurship) for being named the 2020 Citizen of the Year by the New Port Beach Chamber of Commerce. The award is presented annually to an individual who best represents long term, continuing commitment to the community and for "being there" when there is a service called for. Currently, Stapleton serves as a member of the finance committee for the City of Newport Beach Foundation. He also serves on more than a dozen boards of directors for community and civic organizations.

June, a smart cooking startup co-founded by Matt Van Horn '06 BSBA (Marketing/Entrepreneurship) has been acquired by outdoor cooking and kettle-grill-maker Weber. June will continue to operate as it's own brand wholly owned by Weber-Stephen Products and will continue to both sell and develop the June Oven and related products. Van Horn will act as president of June under the terms of the new arrangement and will continue to lead development of its current and future products.

Congrats to Bryan Schachter '07 BSBA (Marketing/Entrepreneurship) who was named one of Tucson's Next Great Leaders under 40 by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

Adriana Kong Romero ’01 BSBA (Finance), Susan Gray ’01 MBA and Calline Sanchez ’01 BSBA (MIS), ’05 MBA are all included in BizTucson’s Women Leading the Region issue.

Habib Azizz Pierce-Byrd ’97 BS (Public Administration) ’02 MBA/JDhas been a staff attorney with Four Rivers Indian Legal Services since 2005. He represents members and residents of the Gila River Indian Community in legal matters ranging from divorce to estate planning. He is married to Miral Pierce-Byrd ’03, a graduate of the MBA/JD dual degree program. They have been married since 2008 and have three children: Ari and Alena (twins) and Peja.

A business co-owned by Mohit Asnani ’05 BSBA (MIS) has expanded into recreational marijuana sales. The company has created several new product lines in the last few years and is on track to expand to more than 200 Tucson-based employees in 2021.

Congrats to two Eller alums, Chris Hanson ’05 BSBA (Entrepreneurship), owner of Hanson Capital Group, and Kris Pugsley ’16 MBA, senior director of marketing and communications at ON Semiconductor, for being recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of Phoenix’s 40 Under 40.

Avery Freeland ’06 BSBA (Finance) was named regional director in the west for state, local and education with Zscaler, a cloud-based security company based in San Jose. 

Ahmed Suria ’06 BSBA (Accounting), who works at Koch Disruptive Technologies, was featured on a YouTube interview with She-VC.


Jon Carpenter '09 BA (Economics) '12 MBA and Marisa (Trevino) Carpenter ' 09 BSBA (Marketing) married in December 2020 Although they met after college, they love that they share the Eller bond. Jon worked for Pima county as a manager in their data governance and analytics division, and Marisa has the honor of engaging with Eller MBA alumni.

Congrats to Mike Kintner '13 MBA for being named senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino.

Yvette-Marie Margaillan Tapia '14 BSBA (MIS) '15 MS MIS has been named one of Tucson's Next Great Leaders under 40 by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Kathryn Hunnicutt '15 BSBA (Marketing) has been added as a law clerk to Jones, Skelton & Hochuli. 

Melissa Rose '15 BSBA (Finance) was promoted to vice president at Goldman Sachs.

Andrew Nurse '16 BSBA (Finance) has successfully completed the requirements for the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) credential from the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA). He is currently a wealth management advisor at HawsGoodwin Wealth in Nashville.

Cynthia Aragon '17 MBA has been appointed White House liaison with the Department of Commerce. She is part of the team tasked with vetting political appointees, called the White House Presidential Office.

In November 2020, Valerie Kading '19 MBA was featured in a Q&A with AZ Big Media.

Bryanna Samuels '19 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship) was featured on Lazard's main LinkedIn page. She is a Lazard analyst.

Emmanuelle Tapia '19 BSBA (Marketing) won Ellen's "Game of Games" in January 2021.

Simply Noted, an automated handwritten letter company founded in 2018 by Eller MBA attendee Rick Elmore (2017-2019) recently moved to larger headquarters on South Ash Street in tempe. The new Simply Noted headquarters spans 3,000 square feet and will be able to produce more than 250,000 handwritten notes per month. Simply Noted has grown by more than 300 percent in the last year.

Blake Konrardy ' MBA is the author of Millennial Millionaire. Starting with $232 in his bank account, Konrardy became a self-made millionaire at age 28. He shares his money optimization findings in Millennial Millionaire, which distills complex financial concepts into actionable tactics for everyone seeking to accumulate wealth at a young age. Konrardy is the founder of a protein beer company. He is also a former professional sports bettor, a licensed pilot, and creator of more than 40 patents granted by the U.S. Patent Office.

Kirk Eickhoff ’10 MAcc has been promoted to vice president of finance/CFO for the Tucson Airport Authority. 

Mark Blitzer ’12 BSBA (Finance) moved to ETF Trading at Citadel Securities, a hedge fund and market-making firm. He was at Citi (and briefly Deutsche Bank) since graduating and has been active in helping Eller students acquire positions in trading.

Boys & Girls Club of the Valley President and CEO Marcia Mintz ’13 MBA was awarded the IMPACT Business of the Year (Large Employer) by the Greater Phoenix Chamber at its 34th Annual IMPACT Awards.

Rob Ryberg ’13 MBA has partnered to build an alternative equity fund called The Opportunity Collective focused on the creation of opportunities for entrepreneurs and communities.

Garrett Gomez ’13 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship) works at Miramar Capital on the investments/acquisitions team. He earned his MBA at the University of Southern California with a concentration in real estate investing.

Alison (Althof) Stine ’13 BSBA (Finance) was featured in KNOW Phoenix. She got married in March 2020 and launched her financial advising firm, Stine Wealth Management, in November 2020. Stine Wealth Management has a focus on empowering and educating employees and clients. The firm helps clients plan and invest through the three phases of wealth: Accumulation, Distribution and Wealth Transfer.

Crystal Adams ’14 MBA, Josh Belhumeur ’10 BSBA (Marketing), Gabriela Cervantes ’02 BSBA (Marketing) ’10 MBA, Yvette-Marie Margaillan ’14 BSBA (MIS) ’15 MIS and Eric Smith ’12 BSBA (Marketing and Entrepreneurship) ’18 MBA were all featured in BizTucson’s Next Generation Leaders issue.

Taylor Jaworski ’14 PhD earned tenure at the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

Libby Stropko Baird ’14 BSBA (Finance) will clerk for Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the U.S. Supreme Court for the 2021 term.

Alessandra Navidad ’14 MBA was recently appointed president and CEO of The Arizona Animal Welfare League. 

Stefanie Ramirez ’14 PhD (Economics) formally received promotion and tenure at the University of Idaho. 

Stephanie Smith ’14 BSBA (Marketing) was one of the featured speakers at an event co-organized by United Talent Agency, UA’s School of Theatre, Film & Television and Delta Kappa Alpha Professional Cinematic Society. Smith is an IQ Strategy Agent with UTA.

Co-founders of CHELLY Stuart Francis ’17 BSBA ’19 MBA, Hunter Goheen ’17 BSBA and Nicolas Guerrieri ’17 BSBA won an award at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Michael Mendelsohn ’19 BSBA (Finance) accepted a position at Citadel hedge fund in New York City. He was previously an investment banking analyst at Bank of America. 

Cannon Winkler ’19 BSBA (Business Management and Entrepreneurship) was featured in the Arizona Daily Sun for work creating artistic expressions of hippos, leopards, lions, rhinos, cape buffalo and giraffes to raise funds to protect wildlife and nature preserves under threat on the African continent. Winkler is calling his project the Walks of Life with up to 40 percent of each sale of canvasses going to a South African preservation nonprofit, the African Parks Network, which works in anti-poaching and animal rehabilitation efforts.

Beatris Mendez Gandica ’18 MS MIS was chosen for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “If/Then” campaign to raise awareness of women in STEM.


 Samuel Anderson '20 MSF has been appointed vice president of exploration at Heliostar Metals. Anderson has 19 years of experience in exploration, development and production geology including a 17-year old career with Newmont Gold, where he held successive positions from exploration project manager to senior manager of exploration business development. As superintendent of the Merian Mine in Suriname, Anderson hired and trained staff, defined operating and safety procedures and built strong interdepartmental relationships through construction and start-up stages from an initial inventory of less than one million ounces of gold. His other accomplishments include: being part of the Newmont team, which he discovered the Saramacca deposit in Suriname, currently being mined by Iamgold; acting as exploration project manager in Haiti; and contributing to numerous other mines and project evaluations throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and North America. In addition to his MSF from Eller, he holds a bachelor's and master's degree in geology from the University of Idaho.

The dissertation by Jacob Jaggi ’20 PhD (Accounting), titled “When Does the Internal Audit Function Enhance Audit Committee Effectiveness?”, was chosen for the AAA 2021 Outstanding Auditing Dissertation Award at the 2021 Auditing Section Virtual Midyear Meeting. Jacob and his PhD co-chairs Preeti Choudhary, associate professor, and Jayanthi Sunder, vice dean, all received plaques for this recognition. Jaggi now teaches at Washington State University.

David Laskin ’21 BSBA (Finance) was awarded the Pac-23 Tom Hansen award, given annually to each member institution's outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership. 

Class Notes is a professional way to share news as a way to foster community and strengthen connections among Eller alumni. Submissions are moderated and are updated twice annually. Eller relies upon an environment of trust and mutual respect for the rights and differences. Any views and opinions expressed by alumni are theirs alone, and are not endorsed by the Eller College of Management or the University of Arizona.