University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Alumni Awards Evening

Alumni Awards Evening 2014

Save the date. Ticket information available soon.

November 14, 2014

Hyatt Regency Milwaukee

5:30-9:30 p.m.

Alumni Awards Evening 2013

The Alumni Association hosted the 2013 Alumni Awards Evening on November 8 at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Guests filled two pre-event receptions and were treated to a special presentation by alumnus Jim Rygiel, three-time Academy Award winning visual effects artist. The reception was followed by dinner and a special awards ceremony with alumnus Gale Klappa as guest MC.

awards recap

Awardee Video Spotlights

 arreaga  pelisek   contorno
 dumas  jackson  rygiel  schneiger

Awardee Bios

Luis Arreaga, U.S. Ambassador to Iceland (Washington, D.C.)

Arreaga has dedicated over 32 years of service to the United States. He currently serves as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland. Read JSOnline's article about Arreaga returning to UWM to accept lifetime award.


Jim Rygiel, Visual Effects Artist (Pacific Palisades, CA)
Rygiel is recognized globally for his innovative visual effects work on films including Night at the Museum, The Amazing Spiderman and The Lord of the Rings trilogy which earned him three Academy Awards. Read JSOnline's article about UWM honoring Rygiel with the Chancellor's Recognition Award.

Jill Pelisek, Adjunct Professor/Executive-In-Residence, UWM Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business (Milwaukee, WI)
Pelisek, a retired vice president of Firstar Bank, has taught business courses in operations and strategic management at UWM for more than 10 years. She also has served on numerous civic and arts boards, and was the recipient of The Business Journal’s 2011 Mentor Women of Influence Award.

Nicholas Contorno, Conductor/Musician/Composer (Dousman, WI)

Contorno served for 24 years as the director of music programs, bands and orchestra at Marquette University. An award-winning composer and arranger, he performed with many national shows and artists. He was one of only a handful of university band directors ever invited to serve as a guest conductor of the United States Marine Band.


Tyrone Dumas, Contract Compliance Officer, Milwaukee Public Schools (Milwaukee, WI)
Dumas is consistently recognized for his community leadership, work against violence and efforts to better the lives of Milwaukee’s disadvantaged youth. In his position with Milwaukee Public Schools, he developed and implemented a broad range of support services for disadvantaged families.

Derrick Jackson, Op-ed Columnist, The Boston Globe (Cambridge, MA)

An award-winning columnist and a 2001 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, Jackson has volunteered for many years with the Boy Scouts of America. He is recognized for revitalizing a local urban troop, providing leadership and for advocating equality, tolerance and diversity.

Frank Schneiger, Founder, Human Services Management Institute (New York, NY)
Schneiger’s community activism goes back to the 1960s with his involvement in the civil rights movement and anti-poverty programs in New York. He has been recognized for his work in reforming prison health care systems and child welfare services.


Johnson Controls
UWM’s partnership with Johnson Controls is focused on research into next-generation energy storage devices and batteries. The Energy Advancement Center, a state-of-the-art dry lab built by Johnson Controls, is housed within the College of Engineering & Applied Science. It is unique in the United States. Johnson Controls has donated more than $4 million to UWM over the years, and employs over 300 UWM alumni.

Rockwell Automation
A UWM corporate partner for more than 30 years, Rockwell Automation employs more than 850 alums, and most recently, established the Supply Chain Institute at the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business with a $2.5 million endowment.

Stephanie Allewalt Hacker, Senior Planner, GRAEF, Adjunct Professor, UWM School of Architecture & Urban Planning (Milwaukee, WI)

Shahla Anders, Clinical Assistant Professor, UWM College of Health Sciences (Racine, WI)

Joseph Braun, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Brown University (Providence, RI)

Benjamin Engel, President/Owner, J.F. Cook Co. (Oak Creek, WI)

Michael Hacker, Associate/Architect, Bray Architects (Milwaukee, WI)

Betsy Leonhardt, Executive Director, (New York, NY)

Jose Omar Martinez Lucci, Associate Professor, Universidad Europea de Madrid (Spain)

Lauren Baker, Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Schools (Milwaukee)

Katherine M. “Kate” Nelson, Chief Sustainability Officer, UWM  (Milwaukee, WI)

Katherine Pakieser-Reed, Director, Center for Nursing Professional Practice & Research, University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago, IL)


Nominations for 2014-2015 Alumni Awards will open through May 2, 2014.