Meet This Year’s Alumni Award Winners
Stetson University will present awards to distinguished alumni during Homecoming Weekend at the annual President’s Breakfast and Awards Presentation on Nov. 9.
This year’s event will move to a new location on the Stetson Green Saturday, Nov. 9, at 9 a.m. Guests will enjoy breakfast, hear an update on the university and see the presentation of Alumni and University Awards. The cost is $10 and guests can register at Homecoming 2019.
This year’s award recipients include:
• The 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Orestes “Gino” Santos ’82, Miami
Orestes “Gino” Santos grew up the son of Cuban bandleader Orestes Santo, who wrote and arranged many classic big-band pieces in the 1950s. Like many others, the Santos family left Cuba when the Castro regime came into power.
Santos identifies himself as having been raised in a “lower middle-class household.” He attended Stetson from 1978 to 1982, graduating with a BA in psychology, and was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He went on to the University of Miami Business School and earned an MBA with a concentration in marketing in 1985. In addition, he participated in the Entrepreneurial Master’s Program at MIT from 2010 through 2012.
Santos is president of AMN Distributors/Premium Blend, co-founded in 1990 by him and his brother. The company was built with a focus on wine-based liquors, which can be used by nightclubs and restaurants that have limited licenses (beer and wine only). The products allow restaurants to serve cocktails, just as if they had a full liquor license without the expense of securing one. Premium Blend wine-based liquors now are sold in 39 states.
The newest endeavor is a retail wine store that is run by his wife of 24 years, Yaniros. They have three children: Valen- Marie (21), Gia (17) and Gino (13). After attending Leadership Stetson in 2018, he established the Orestes Santos Music Scholarship at Stetson in honor of his father.
• Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient (2018) will be presented to Andrew P. Daire ’91, MS ’93, Moseley, Virginia
Andrew P. Daire graduated from Stetson in 1991 with a BS degree in biology and clinical mental health counseling. He received a Master of Science degree in mental health counseling in 1993 from Stetson and a doctoral degree (combined program) in counseling psychology and school psychology in 2001 from Florida State University.
In 2016, Daire was named dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education. Prior to that role, he served as the associate dean for research in the College of Education at the University of Houston.
Daire has served more than 14 years in teaching, research and administrative leadership positions in the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida, where he also earned the rank of professor of counselor education and school psychology, and co-founded the university’s Marriage and Family Research Institute.
In addition to more than $16 million in sponsored research funding, Daire has authored more than 50 publications and presented at 80 professional conferences. He has conducted counselor training and evaluation workshops in Germany, Kenya and Jamaica.
Daire has received numerous awards, including the American Counseling Association’s Association for Adult Development and Aging Outstanding Journal Article Award, 2014; and the European Branch of the American Counseling Association’s Organizational Service Award, 2013.
This October, Daire was named by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to the Commission on African American History Education.
• Distinguished Service Award Recipient 2019 will be presented to William “Ray” Holley ’91, JD ’97, Jacksonville, Florida
Ray Holley, JD, has served as an assistant state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, a corporate in-house attorney and an attorney in a private firm, where he focused on workers’ compensation and automobile and premises liability.
In 2010, Holley was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist as a judge of compensation claims for the Jacksonville District. He was recently reappointed by Gov. Rick Scott for a third term.
Holley has served in numerous leadership roles for the following organizations: E. Robert Williams American Inn of Court; American Inns of Court; Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims; National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary; Rotary Club of Southpoint; Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Temporary Loan Closet – Independent Living Center; Jacksonville Bar Association; Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee; Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Executive Committee; Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Rules Advisory Committee; Christ Renews His Parish; and Alpha Tau Omega.
As an alumnus, Holley has attended Leadership Stetson and served on the Alumni Board of Directors from 2011 to 2019; he was board president from 2016 to 2019. He has been recognized for his work in drafting a District Handbook for the Alumni Board, and he recruited and developed future leaders. In addition, he re-established a volunteer regional management system, creating a pool of trained/developed candidates for future board service.
Holley and his wife of 18 years, Jacqueline, have two daughters: Charlotte (15) and Jennifer (14).
• Distinguished Service Award Recipient 2019 will be presented to Rebecca K. “Becky” O’Mara ’03, Atlanta, Georgia
Becky O’Mara is the co-founder and director of Operations and Advancement at Bearings Bike Shop, a youth-development organization where children in Atlanta can earn and maintain a bicycle while developing the skills and character to succeed in adulthood. She and her husband founded the nonprofit organization in 2008 and credit their Christian faith for believing in the value of each and every person.
O’Mara provides opportunities for children to learn hard and soft skills, such as bike assembly/repair and critical thinking/communication, as well as character strengths such as perseverance and responsibility.
O’Mara has successfully completed a $2.25 million campaign to extend the reach of Bearings Bike Shop.
• Doyle E. Carlton Award Recipient 2019 will be Rev. Priscilla J. “Prissy” Tunnell ’66, Rome, Georgia
Tunnell’s ministry service began with the Southern Baptist Convention, where she worked in Vietnam as a missionary, Dean of Women and teacher at the Baptist Seminary of Vietnam, and Minister of Music for a church. Upon returning to the States, she continued working with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Home Mission Board as assistant director of the Refugee Resettlement Office.
Throughout her career, Tunnell has held a wide variety of church positions, including weekday education director, assistant minister of music, minister of music, minister to children and families, and minister of faith development. In addition to her Bachelor of Music degree from Stetson, Tunnell holds a Master of Arts in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Tunnell has served on the board of directors of Ruble International Education Initiative, as well as coached graduates of McAfee Seminary, and she received the Jack Naish Distinguished Christian Educators Leadership Award (in 2002).
• George and Mary Hood Award Recipient 2019 will be Nancy W. Bayless ’62, Hendersonville, North Carolina
Nancy Bayless taught high school math and later became a programmer and systems analyst, working with researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
After “retiring,” Bayless, along with her husband, established a consulting firm, Bayless Associates, which has worked with school systems to analyze assessment and survey data to be used in developing strategic plans. She serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors.
• Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipient 2019 will be Pedro “Peter” Urscheler ’06, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Peter Urscheler received his Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in marketing and a minor in management information systems in 2006. During his time as a student, Urscheler was involved in several organizations and served as one of Stetson’s youngest-ever Student Government Association vice presidents.
During his two-term tenure as SGA president, he grew the organization to incorporate more than 100 student representatives, 25 cabinet members and seven work-student employees.
Upon graduating from Stetson, Urscheler was recruited by the CEO of SEI, a financial services company based in metropolitan Philadelphia, and worked in a variety of capacities, such as technology implementations, due diligence, relationship management and leadership development, before eventually becoming director of communications for the Private Banking business unit. In addition, Urscheler worked with SEI leadership to establish a Stetson recruiting team, which has since placed more than 15 Stetson students in SEI’s top leadership development program.
In 2014, Urscheler decided to further pursue his passion for marketing and small businesses. He opened 235 Bridge, a boutique consulting firm serving the needs of small businesses and municipalities. Through 235 Bridge, he works with numerous organizations on strategy, communications, marketing and growth initiatives. In November 2017, he was elected mayor of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, becoming the youngest mayor in the borough’s history.
Most recently, Urscheler was named one of the Nation’s Ten Outstanding Young Americans for 2019, presented by JCI USA.
• Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipient 2019 will be Kristina D. Tsipouras ’07, Milton, Massachusetts
Moroccan Magic is a lip-balm company that Kristina Tsipouras started developing a few years ago. A friend brought her a bottle of the pure, cold-pressed organic argan oil from Morocco. She told Tsipouras that, in Morocco, argan oil is more commonly used on lips and skin than on hair, such as it is in the United States.
Tsipouras researched and found that while there were a few companies making high-end argan oil lip balm with a premium price tag, no one had created this high-quality product for the mainstream market at a reasonable price.
Today, Moroccan Magic lip balm is sold in CVS and Target stores nationwide. Also, another major retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond, recently picked up the product for distribution.
With all her accomplishments after years of hard work, Tsipouras credits her family and her experience at Stetson with shaping her into the person she has become. Her grandparents immigrated to Boston from Greece and started a family business. Tsipouras said their work ethic and their love for life inspired her — making “me want to jump out of bed in the morning,” she said. Yet, it wasn’t until she transferred to Stetson during her sophomore year that she was ready to take school seriously.
A communication studies major with a women and gender studies minor, Tsipouras also was an active member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. She credits the experience of planning socials for her sorority with helping to launch her initial career as an event planner.
Then, after several years as a high-level event planner in New York, she launched her first business, ZOOS Greek Tea. She authored a book, too, titled “Busy Girl’s Guide to Happiness,” and is in the process of creating several other products to introduce to the Moroccan Magic line.