Lerner College Honors 2024 Alumni Award Winners

Headshot collage of 2024 Lerner Alumni Award winners.

The University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics honored seven individuals during its annual Alumni Awards of Excellence ceremony on May 31 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.

“Part of this job that I love is meeting Lerner alums, and I consider that a privilege,” said Oliver Yao, dean of Lerner College. “I travel quite a bit to meet many of you, and next year I hope to travel a bit more. Our alumni have been doing tremendously impressive work in today’s world. You are the ones who make a Lerner degree appreciate each year, so tonight is a special time to celebrate your achievements.”

Alumni Award of Excellence: Rudi Bless (’82, B.S., Accounting), Gail Colbert (’75, B.A., Social Studies – History; ’97, M.A. Economics for Education), Mark Fogel (’91, B.S., Accounting)

Bless, who was unable to attend the event, is the chief accounting officer at Bank of America where he is responsible for the company’s financial filings to the U.S. and SEC, as well as the financial, statutory and regulatory reporting at a consolidated level and for all legal entities globally. Prior to joining Bank of America in 2014, Bless worked at Credit Suisse for 12 years, holding various roles including deputy chief financial advisor and chief accounting officer. He also has worked 20 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York, Frankfurt and Zurich.

Colbert is currently the personal finance program coordinator for UD’s Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship (CEEE). She was a high school teacher in Delaware before joining the CEEE staff in 1985 as the Stock Market Game coordinator and then in 1994 as the program coordinator. She then served as a high school teacher in the state of Minnesota for 20 years, before retiring from full-time teaching in 2015 and beginning her current role at CEEE in 2016.

Fogel founded ACRES Capital in 2012, recognizing the need for providing financing to the underserved middle-market commercial real estate space. He leads the management team as the chief executive officer and president. He is also chief executive officer, president, and a board member of ACRES Commercial, a publicly traded commercial mortgage REIT. Fogel has over 25 years of experience in commercial real estate finance, with a particular focus on providing developers and entrepreneurs with innovative debt and equity solutions.

Jeffrey Kleintop, who was honored with the 2023 award but was unable to attend last year’s ceremony, also took part in this year’s event. Kleintop is currently managing director, chief global investment strategist and 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.

Rising Star Award: Kristina Schaberg (’19, B.S., Marketing)

Schaberg is currently the marketing manager of strategy & technology at Fortegra, where she plays a pivotal role in enhancing the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and MarTech integrations. Starting as a leadership development program associate, Schaberg rapidly advanced through various roles, demonstrating significant leadership in transitioning Fortegra’s marketing processes to advanced digital platforms. She also actively contributes to community welfare through her involvement in the nonprofit organization Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville and the Fortegra Network of Women.

Brad Scott Excellence in Mentoring Award: Jenni Fleck Jones (’95, B.S., Business Administration, Marketing)

Fleck Jones is currently a marketing and college recruiter at Belfint Lyons & Shuman, CPAs where she strives to promote and improve the firm’s image through a variety of projects and regular communication with firm shareholders and key team members. Along with day-to-day activity, she oversees the facilitation of internal processes and projects of her marketing team. Additionally, Fleck Jones is primarily responsible for the firm’s college recruiting and internship programs and attends campus events, mentors students, and guides them through a transition into a career at the company.

The award is given in recognition of Brad Scott, an engagement specialist in UD’s Career Services Center who died in January 2023.

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