The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Our 2017 alumni award recipients

Dr. Kenneth M. Hale


Dr. Kenneth M. Hale

“When I think about all of Dr. Kenneth Hale’s many achievements and distill them down to what inspires me most, it’s without question his passion and commitment to improving lives,” said Steve Lawrence, senior vice president at Cardinal Health.

Kenneth Hale, RPh, PhD, currently serves as associate director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery, a premier national resource led by Ohio State, and as co-director for Generation Rx in Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy. He has dedicated his career to helping people, through his contributions to the pharmacy profession and the prevention of drug misuse.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Hale is driven to end this epidemic.

Hale’s work with Generation Rx has reached more than 37 million people throughout the United States. He helped spearhead this collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and the Cardinal Health Foundation to provide open-source educational materials for use by parents, teachers, healthcare providers and the general public, to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs. The program has been used in every state in the country, has been adopted by pharmacy schools nationwide, and is recognized by the American Pharmacists Association.

Hale also has been a champion for improving diversity within and outside the College of Pharmacy, as part of the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and as an advisor for the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. He is dedicated to making every student feel welcome in the profession.

Hale also has earned other recognition within and beyond Ohio State, including three Distinguished Teaching Awards, the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, the Linwood F. Tice Friend of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Award, and the Cardinal Health Pillar of Strength Award, with their its Generation Rx Champions Award renamed in his honor.

Ms. Diane S. DeLawder


Ms. Diane S. DeLawder

Diane DeLawder has devoted her career to motivating and encouraging central Ohio students to pursue higher education. She has been a tireless advocate for her alma mater, paving the way for more students in the area to attend by highlighting the quality education available in their backyard.

DeLawder’s commitment to increasing awareness of post-secondary education’s importance started while she was a student at The Ohio State University at Newark. After graduating with a BA in elementary education, she taught at Licking Valley School District and Lancaster City Schools. Realizing that waiting until high school to talk to students about higher education is not effective, she began early by inspiring elementary students to think about their paths to college.

In 1996, she was named executive director of A Call to College, an organization committed to increasing college access for students in the Newark City School District. DeLawder’s leadership at A Call to College has secured more than $3 million in need-based scholarships and student support for Newark graduates.

“I appreciate how well Diane engages her families and provides all the support imaginable for the college financial aid process,” said nominator Faith Phillips, director of financial aid at The Ohio State University at Newark.

DeLawder has helped scores of students in Newark become part of our big Buckeye community. Understanding the value of the entire college experience, she offers this to students touring the Newark campus: She makes participants feel like college students for a day, organizing campus scavenger hunts and even personally treating dozens to coffee.

As one nominator concluded, “She is the epitome of a dedicated and engaged alumna, and the impact of her work and generosity will last for generations.”

Dr. Patricia F.R. Cunningham


Dr. Patricia F.R. Cunningham

While serving in numerous roles at Ohio State, particularly as founder of Student Life’s Social Change, Dr. Patricia F.R. Cunningham touched the lives of thousands of students.

As an undergraduate, Cunningham, known to most as “Dr. Patty,” began advocating for those marginalized by society. She served on the first cohort of undergraduate students who helped create the Peer Power group in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, which led discussions on gender, race and sexuality in area high schools.

In Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology, she taught courses on race, poverty, gender, civic engagement and leadership, and oversaw several community outreach programs. She dedicated her time and resources to supporting underrepresented people both on and off campus.

Throughout her life, Cunningham stood up for people of any color, faith, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or age. She unlocked understanding of disadvantage and disparity as a mentor for many minority male students on campus through her Enigma Book Club.

She encouraged students to be agents of change.

“Patty inspired, reminded and taught us to be human,” said nominator Viral C. Patel. “Most amazingly, she did it all while living a very colorful though sometimes difficult life —and provided smiles and meals, in her home, to all she knew.”

Personal stories abound from students and alumni. “Patty taught her students how to have a voice and how they ought to give others a voice,” alumnus Jason Marion wrote for The Lantern.

Her legacy lives on at Ohio State through the untold numbers of students, alumni, faculty and staff who will carry her in their hearts, words and good deeds.

Honorable Charles F. Kurfess


Honorable Charles F. Kurfess

The Honorable Charles F. Kurfess is a dedicated public servant whose distinguished career in both law and politics serves as inspiration for many —and it all began here at Ohio State.

Before even receiving his law degree from Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, Kurfess made history as one of the youngest members of the Ohio House of Representatives at 26 years old. He served in the Ohio Legislature for 22 years, representing the people of Wood County, and for a portion of those years, Henry and Sandusky counties. For six years, he served as speaker of the Ohio House.

“He was instrumental in putting state finances on more solid footing and helping to address such major policy issues as support for mental health services and education,” said nominator Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State.

During his tenure as speaker, Kurfess led a historic vote to lower the voting age to 18 for local, state and federal elections. This vote made Ohio one of the key states responsible for the ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing more than 11 million men and women to be included in the electoral process. His service also went beyond the boundaries of Wood County and Ohio in other ways, as he was part of the U.S Army Counterintelligence Corps during the Korean War.

While serving as a leader here in Ohio, Kurfess was active in the effort to strengthen state legislatures' leadership and practices across the nation to provide more effective and independent legislative policymaking. During this period he served as president of the National Legislative Conference, an organization of all state legislators and legislative staff, and was a founder of its successor organization, The National Conference of State Legislatures.

Upon retiring from politics, he continued his 33 years of practicing law until 1990 when he was elected common pleas judge. On the bench, Kurfess was willing to undertake some innovative changes, including methods of juror selection and their role in the trial itself. After reaching the age term limit in 2003, he continued to serve as a visiting judge for 12 more years. He still mentors young men and women seeking careers in public service.

His service to his profession and community has never stopped. He currently serves as vice chair of the Constitutional Revision and Updating Committee, and as a member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. He also has recently been named as the recipient of the Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence by the Ohio Judicial Conference.

Ida Abdalkhani


Ms. Ida Abdalkhani

Ida Abdalkhani’s combination of determination and compassion put her on the fast track to success. At 14, she kick-started her career by working at the local library, knowing she would have to begin saving early for college.

She hasn’t slowed down since. She continued working and volunteering at her community’s hospital and homeless shelter. After earning several partial scholarships, she was ready to attend Ohio State. Here she became the youngest homecoming queen in university history, in addition to reaching junior year status when she was only 19.

As a student, Abdalkhani was president of the Business Builders Club, which grew under her leadership and became an integral part of a new venture at Ohio State, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She graduated magna cum laude with two bachelor’s degrees and an MBA.

After graduation, she was quickly hired and promoted to global brand manager at Procter & Gamble, becoming one of the youngest within the company to receive award recognition for her patents from the chief technology officer. She continued supporting the community, serving as a coach for Girls on the Run and a pro bono advisor for nonprofits.

Her entrepreneurial interest was still strong, so she resigned from Procter & Gamble to give her space and time to think about her next step. She backpacked around the world, solo, visiting nearly 50 countries over eight months. When she returned, she founded Ability to Engage, a consulting company specializing in brand equities, new ideas and customer insights. Ability to Engage has been recognized for consistently achieving 20 percent annual growth and as a member of Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community for executives in successful creative and advertising agencies.

Abdalkhani is also a laughter yoga instructor and teaches a creativity and innovation course at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business. She serves on the board of Ohio Business Week and advises small businesses and start ups. As nominator Luke Barbara wrote, “Ida believes that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

Daniel E. Kimmet


Mr. Daniel E. Kimmet

A proud two-time graduate of Ohio State’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dan Kimmet pays forward for today’s Buckeye engineers by volunteering on behalf of the department and through his generous personal philanthropy.

Since 2007, Kimmet has served as a member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board. His focus continues to be student support and success. He has motivated teams to grow scholarships including leading the effort to establish a scholarship honoring a longtime faculty member, Gary Kinzel. He also has spurred other efforts to acknowledge distinguished faculty members and fundraising for a new mechanical engineering building. He helped motivate teams to raise over $76 million during the But for Ohio State Campaign, which played a significant role in the College of Engineering exceeding its overall campaign goal.

In 2014, Kimmet took on an unexpected leadership role at the university. Shortly after retiring as senior vice president of Eaton Hydraulics Mobile Operations, he was presented evolving plans for Ohio State’s new advanced manufacturing initiative, the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME). During the search for an executive director to lead CDME, Kimmet clearly stood out as the best candidate. In one year, he put the industry-sponsored research model in place that has assured the center’s progress.

“He is scarlet and gray through and through, and is one of the folks who makes Ohio State the great research university it is,” said nominator Marty Kress, formerly assistant vice president for research business development at the university.

Kimmet also provides leadership and service as the College of Engineering’s representative on the Alumni Advisory Council. His advocacy for breakthrough technology and the ever-present need for scholarship support will benefit the college and the university for years to come.

James G. Roberts


Mr. James G. Roberts

James Roberts “has never faltered in his commitment to serving his community and helping it become a better place for its citizens,” one nominator wrote.

At a young age, Roberts developed a passion for community service. At just 16, his father passed away from a heart attack. To honor his legacy and raise awareness about heart disease, Roberts joined the American Heart Association and later became president of Licking County’s local chapter. He still mentors young men and women who also have experienced the pain of losing a parent.

Roberts is also a loyal supporter of Heath High School. He served on the Heath Board of Education for 16 years, 13 as president. During his tenure, he developed several projects to improve the school district and community, including the construction of a new high school and other upgraded facilities. Leading the effort to pass a $20 million bond issue to pay for these improvements is rightfully one of his proudest accomplishments, as is his part in constructing a new building for his church.

At the same time, Roberts is a dedicated professional, with a civil engineering firm in Newark. He created the Newark Stormwater Utility, improving drainage systems for the city and playing a major role in the utility design of large projects on Ohio State’s Columbus campus.

He continues to support his alma mater by serving as an usher in Ohio Stadium and donates to the university’s athletics programs. He also participates in Pelotonia each year, fundraising to help find a cure for cancer and encouraging others to ride as well.

He has received honors from the Ohio High School Athletic Association and was recently inducted into the Heath High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Most people know him for having an open-door policy in his heart and home, always willing to give a listening ear or helping hand.

Kristen A. Catton


Ms. Kristen A. Catton

Kristen Catton’s own words make a compelling case for why she is so worthy of recognition: “I work at my dream job in the best cancer hospital in the world where I get to coordinate care of cancer patients. I want to be the advocate for my patients and I don’t ever want them to worry when they are in my presence.”

She knows what it is like to be the patient, uncertain about the future. Catton is a 17-year cancer survivor who is living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

As a patient care resource manager at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Catton gives hope to all who meet her. Her own challenges and limitless empathy commit her to ensuring no one struggles alone.

“She is an incredible role model who wants everyone living with a disease or disability to reach his or her full potential and to not feel discounted or undervalued,” said nominator Ann Thomas-MacDonald.

An activist with the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Catton increases awareness about MS by educating the public and elected officials. Through her participation in Bike MS and Pelotonia, she has raised tens of thousands of dollars for both MS and cancer research.

Catton is also a founding board member of Camp Kesem at Ohio State, a program that supports children who have lost a parent to cancer, have a parent undergoing cancer treatment or whose parent is a cancer survivor —an estimated population of more than 5 million in the United States.

The advice she gives to patients and families is how she leads her life: “The best thing you can do to make yourself feel better is to make someone else feel better.”

Dr. Phillip D. Barnes


Dr. Phillip D. Barnes

From his time as an undergraduate student majoring in electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State, Phillip Barnes, PhD, has been personally committed to creating a strong support system for other students of color that would ensure their success.

Early on, Barnes found a home in the Minority Engineering Program at Ohio State and, shortly after, took on leadership roles in the undergraduate chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. In graduate school, he became a mentor for new students in the Minority Engineering Program. On the first day of graduate school, he met his late wife, Anishka. Together, they endured the rigors of earning their master’s degrees and, later, PhDs, while spending many hours helping other students in the program.

After graduating, when they both secured jobs at Intel, their passion for promoting diversity did not end. Barnes has worked to build and strengthen ties between the company and the college by leveraging the Minority Engineering Program. In addition to advising students, he and Anishka spent several years actively recruiting Ohio State students for Intel.

Retired assistant dean of the Minority Engineering Program, Minnie McGee, mentored Barnes during his time as an undergraduate and graduate student. Of his continued connection to the program, McGee noted, “Since graduating, Phil has been one of our most supportive alums.”

At Intel, he has helped raise funds for the Minority Engineering Program and other inclusion-oriented efforts. He and Anishka also established an honorary endowment under McGee’s name. He continues to rally support for this endowment, with the goal to raise well over $100,000 before 2020.

As nominator Patrick Lynch wrote, “It is one thing to say you believe in diversity; it is another to roll up your sleeves and do something about it. Dr. Phil Barnes’ sleeves cannot be rolled any higher.”

Buckeye Cruise for Cancer


Buckeye Cruise for Cancer

Buckeye Cruise for Cancer sets sail every year to raise money for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Founded by Lisa Cisco and Chris Quinn, Buckeye Cruise for Cancer has raised more than $12 million since its first departure a decade ago.

Every February, Buckeye Cruise for Cancer connects thousands of Buckeyes from all over the state of Ohio and across the country.

On its 10th anniversary alone, Buckeye Cruise for Cancer raised $2.5 million for The James. The Buckeye Cruise also provides additional funding to different partners across campus, including the alumni association and scholarships for the Department of Athletics.

One nominator writes, “The Buckeye Cruise brings together many different groups of people —cancer survivors, former athletes, Buckeye fans, alumni, physicians —who all have two things in common: They love Ohio State and they hate cancer.”

The huge network of volunteers involved in making the Buckeye Cruise happen each year are inspired by the two founders who have a true passion for their work.

“This was truly a grassroots effort and the first few years were a struggle, but it was a labor of love and they knew they had something special,” said nominator Dr. Michael Caligiuri, CEO of The James. “Lisa and Chris, along with their small but mighty staff and huge network of volunteers, have quite literally dedicated their lives to this cause and continually improving the experience for ‘Buckeye Cruisers’ each year.”

Cisco and Quinn are determined and push us closer to achieving the goal of a cancer-free world, truly exemplifying the spirit of Ohio State and the Buckeye belief in “paying forward.”