Lerner College Honors 2023 Alumni Award Winners

The University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics honored six individuals during its annual Alumni Awards of Excellence ceremony on June 2 in Lerner Hall.

Presented each year to select UD and Lerner College alumni, the awards recognize those who have exhibited exceptional accomplishments, including professional success, contribution to the community, giving back to Lerner College, and a commitment to excellence.

“I’m thrilled to be here; it’s really special to bring back and honor our graduates,” said Bruce Weber, then dean of Lerner College. “So many of the things we learn in college become obsolete, but there are so many other things we learn about ourselves that will last forever. That’s what this evening is about. That sense of reliability, continuous learning, being responsible for your own work, being a productive member of the community [is] what lasts forever. So I think that is what makes this night special, to recognize graduates who have excelled in those areas.” 

Alumni Award of Excellence: Jeffrey Kleintop, Michael McMullen, Tony Skiadas

Kleintop is currently managing director, chief global investment strategist chartered financial analyst at Charles Schwab. He is responsible for analyzing and discussing international markets, trends, and events to help U.S. investors understand their significance and financial implications. Prior to joining Schwab, Kleintop served as chief market strategist at LPL Financial and earlier in his career was chief investment strategist at PNC.

“Thank you for this honor. I owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated administrators and educators (and other supporting alumni) who have inspired and shaped my academic and personal growth,” wrote Kleintop, who was unable to attend the event.

“I still remember the day and time, professor, room, and even the chair I sat in during the moments of eye-opening revelation that came during my ECON 101 and 103 classes at Lerner.  That was when it happened: I knew what I wanted to do with a passion that has fueled me to this day.”

McMullen was appointed Agilent CEO in 2015 and has more than 30 years of industry experience and senior management experience. He was president of the company’s Chemical Analysis Group from 2009-14, when he transformed the business, consistently delivering market-leading growth and profits. McMullen championed strategic acquisitions and architected Agilent’s China strategy, and also built the Agilent CrossLab Group, which includes services, software and consumables.

“I’m very honored and humbled by this recognition,” McMullen said. “I’d also like to congratulate the other recipients who are being honored as well. I look back with great fondness at my time here at the University of Delaware. I learned a lot from my fellow students and was very lucky to have faculty who were experts in their field and very passionate about teaching.”

Skiadas, who also was unable to attend, is currently executive vice president and chief financial officer at Verizon, as he is responsible for the company’s finance operations. Prior to becoming CFO in early May, Skiadas was the senior vice president and controller of Verizon, where he was responsible for corporatewide accounting, finance operations, compliance, financial policies and SEC financial reporting. He is also a licensed certified public accountant in the state of New Jersey.

Rising Star Award: Alex Huey

Huey is currently a manager, client experience digital at the global marketing and communications firm Weber Shandwick. In his role, Huey focuses on building and executing digital marketing, public relations and communications programs, with a particular emphasis on social media. Prior to Weber Shandwick, he worked for the Walt Disney Company supporting the marketing strategy team at Disney Vacation Club.

“Thank you for inviting me here this evening, and I would like to congratulate everyone who is also being recognized. Today anyone that knows me will say that I bleed blue and gold, and that pride stems from my experience here at the university. I have plenty of fond memories from my time as a student such as serving as a social media ambassador, winning the Ammon Case Competition, and helping build the Lerner Ambassador Program. Choosing to attend UD and continuing my education with Lerner is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made,” Huey said.

Women’s Leadership Initiative Catalyst Award: Meghan O’Donnell

O’Donnell is the founder and CEO of Character Plus Consulting, the premier character analytics research and reporting service used by professional sports front office executives. She is a sports analytics and communications professional with experience working for ESPN’s Statistics and Information Group, College GameDay, and the Philadelphia Eagles. She launched Character Plus Consulting in 2022 to bring character analysis to the forefront of pre-draft evaluations.

After experiencing sexism and harassment in the sports industry, O’Donnell has become an advocate for women in sports and is helping change the narrative. She and her business partner launched empowHERed, a career services and mentorship platform designed to provide much-needed guidance and mentorship to young women in sports.

“I’m very honored to receive this award, because this is where my journey into the sports industry began. I specifically remember being in Dr. (Tim) DeShriver’s class as he explained the challenges and obstacles that females working in sports face. His words have echoed in my mind throughout my career in sports, as I’m trying to really advance gender equity in what is such a male-dominated environment. So I’m very passionate about this work, and very honored to receive this award, and grateful to the University of Delaware,” O’Donnell said.

Brad Scott Excellence in Mentoring Award: Mary Ellen Payne

Payne, a pioneering leader throughout her successful career as a marketing and sales executive in the telecommunications industry, served as senior vice president of sales and marketing with Verizon prior to her retirement. She chairs the Women’s Leadership Initiative at UD Steering Committee and is involved with the Lerner Executive Mentoring Program. Payne also is a member of the Lerner Advisory Board and in 2014 established the Strong & Powerful Scholarship to support Lerner undergraduate students with financial need.

The newly created award is given in recognition of Brad Scott, an engagement specialist in UD’s Career Services Center who died in January.

“I am filled with great gratitude and deep appreciation for this recognition, because this is such a special award as it’s dedicated to Brad Scott. He was a remarkable man and was a true advocate for mentorship. He’s left an indelible mark on Lerner College and was an inspiration to all of us,” Payne said. “I want to express my gratitude to the students who trust me in mentoring. It’s been an honor to watch their growth and development and play a small role in their road to success. Their enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to learn – that’s what continues to inspire me and why I continue to sign up for the program.” 

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