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State's Stars



  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Summer 2012

Karen Morris, ’84, senior vice president of Human Resources for Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids, has been named among the 25 influential black women in business in 2012 by  e Network Journal. Prior to Meijer, Karen was vice president of Human Resources for Tyco International, Boca Raton, FL; vice president of Human Resources for Starwood Hotel and Resorts, White Plains, NY; and spent 15 years with General Mills, Minneapolis, MN, in various HR positions. Morris was inducted into the Wall of Fame at MSU’s School of Criminal Justice in 2011.

Joseph Burke, ’78, has been appointed by Gov. Snyder to the 15th District Court in Washtenaw County. Burke began his career as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the county before going into private practice as a partner at Burke and Rennell, PC in 1986. Six years later, he returned to Washtenaw County where he served as chief assistant prosecuting attorney and remained in this position until his recent promotion.

Jennifer Zybtowski Belveal, ’92, partner in the litigation department of Honigman Miller Schwarts and Cohn LLP, Detroit, has been elected to the Board of Trustees for Detroit Public Television. She is a member of the Pro Bono Initiative of the Committee on Justice Initiatives for the State Bar of Michigan and serves on the Executive Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association Inn of Court. She serves on the American Bar Association’s Woman Advocate Committee, the Women Lawyers Alliance and Inforum. In addition, she serves on the boards of the Canton Community Foundation and the Giving Hope Women’s Giving Circle.

Joseph DeVito, ’92, has been named chairman of the corporate practice group for Howard & Howard Attorneys PLCC, Detroit. He began his career in the corporate securities department of Dinsmore, Cincinnati, OH. DeVito went on to become partner and member of the strategic planning committee at Butzel Long and was an assistant general counsel at  yssenKrupp, both in Detroit. Prior to his current position at Howard and Howard, he also served as the firm’s CFO and treasurer.

Midori Yamanouchi, ’58, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Scranton, PA, has been selected as Professor of the Year by Universal Who’s Who. She is the past editor of Sociological Viewpoints and is the managing editor of the Comparative Citizens Review. She has been a delegate at the United Nations, representing the International Organization for Uni cation of Terminological Neologisms. She has been an advisor/ interpreter at negotiation Sessions in New York, London and Tokyo for multinational corporations. She is an MSUAA life member.

Brian O’Connor, ’91, director of public relations for Cunard Line, Los Angeles, CA, has been named vice president of North American sales for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line. He began his career in 1991 at Hilton Hotels Corporation, Beverly Hills, CA. He went on to serve as the public relations director for the Beverley Hilton. O’Connor joined the Cunard Line in 2006 as the director of public relations overseeing the line’s public relations strategies, programs and policies and media management for special events. He is an MSUAA life member.

Barbara Wells, ’95, professor of sociology at Maryville College, TN, has been named vice president and dean of Maryville College. A professor of sociology, Wells also served as the chair of Maryville’s social sciences division. She has written and co-written many publications specializing in social sciences. Wells has conducted much research on Latino families, and has published a variety of academic articles on the subject and received numerous grants and fellowships for continued study.

Marie Vanerian, ’76, senior vice president at Merrill Lynch, was recognized on the Barron Magazine’s “America’s Top 1,000 Advisors: State-by- State” list.  rough out her career, Marie has worked with 401(k)/403(b) plans, public and private pension plans, foundations, endowments, religious organizations and private family offices to provide institutional consulting and advisory services. Marie has been an active member of the Michigan Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems for over 20 years.

Michael Hekker, ’06, has been named product sales manager for the Aerospace Aftermarket group at the Timken Company, Canton, OH. Hekker most recently worked for Pratt & Whitney Component Solutions as the manager of aftermarket sales. He has over 15 years experience in aviation maintenance, sales and management, including five years as a crew chief in the U.S. Navy. His experience includes managing a sales team, driving continuous improvement and developing sales personnel.

Nelson Blish, ’70, senior counsel at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, was recognized as a Kodak Distinguished Inventor for reaching a milestone of 20 U. S. patents. Prior to Kodak, Blish was a patent counsel at Philip Morris Research Labs, Richmond, VA, and at Cooper Industries, Houston, TX. He authored two novels, Ishmael’s Son, and The Taking of the King. Both publications are being adapted for screenplays. Blish is an MSUAA life member.

J. Patrick Lennon, ’90, a partner in Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP’s Kalamazoo Real Estate Dept., has been elected chair of the Urban Land Institute- Michigan (ULI), Western Region. He was also appointed to the ULI-Michigan Executive Committee, which is comprised of leaders in the real estate profession throughout the state. Lennon has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as an “Up and Coming” attorney.

Sherrie Farrell, ’97, has been named managing member of Dykema Gossett PLLC, Detroit. Prior to joining Dykema, Farrell worked as a journalist and public relations practitioner. She served as a national coordinating counsel and as a national discovery counsel for a Fortune 25 manufacturer in asbestos and other toxic tort litigation, and as counsel for a national retailer in consumer collection and credit matters. In addition, Farrell serves as chair of Dykema’s diversity committee. In 2011, she received the Robert Millender Visionary Award from the MSU College of Law’s Black Law Students Association.

Michael Heberling, PhD ’91, president of Baker College’s Center for Graduate Studies, Flint, has been named vice president of the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME). Previously he was a senior policy and business analyst at Ateon Corporation in Dayton, OH. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 21 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, having logged 1,500 hours of  flying time with the B-52H Stratofortress Bomber. His last assignment was with the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he served on the faculty as a program director and department head.

Rachel Touroo, ’03, sta veterinarian for animal care at the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Richmond, has been named the senior director of the Veterinary Forensics Dept. at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Gainesville, FL. In 2011, Touroo began her career in animal welfare as a research assistant at the animal behavior welfare group at MSU and also worked as an associate veterinarian in Bethesda, MD.

John Thomas, ’78, retired senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, Detroit, has been named president of the board of directors for the International Council on Systems Engineering. Prior to spending 20 years with Booz Allen,  omas served as a technician and then officer with the U.S. Air Force, retiring from the U. S. Air Force Reserves in 1998. He was also an engineer at the National Reconnaissance Office and engineer/program manager at E-Systems Corporation. In Addition,  omas is a sought-after spokesperson to both professional, lay groups and media for systems engineering.

D. C. Coston, ’76, North Dakota State University’s vice president for agriculture and university extension, has been named president of Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND. He was previously associate director and chief operating officer of Oklahoma State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station, Stillwater, and was the interim associate director of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Coston also served as a faculty member and administrator at Clemson University, SC, and was a faculty member and extension specialist at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.

Megan Muter, ’00, has been hired as marketing manager at BauerLatoza Studio, Chicago. She serves on the board of directors for the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Marketing Professional Services. She is a judge for the National Marketing Communication Awards and a consultant on the Certified Professional Services Marketer accreditation exam. Muter also sits on the planning committee for Chicago CANstruction, a charity committed to ending hunger through the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Heather Lorenzo, ’93, interim vice president of medical a airs at Meritus Health, Hagerstown, MD, has been promoted to chief medical officer. She has also served as the company’s chief medical information officer and physician advisor to Care Management. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the Wright- Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and became the associate program director for Internal Medicine Residency at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, CA. She has worked at numerous Maryland hospitals including Shady Grove Adventist, Inpatient Specialist and Montgomery General.

Dorene Allen, ’81, Midland County probate and family court judge, has been named chairwoman of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice by Gov. Snyder. Allen has served on the Michigan Permanency Forum and was the treasurer and secretary for the Judicial Conference, State Bar of Michigan Committee. She has held numerous positions within the Michigan Probate Association. In 2011, she was awarded the Women In Law Award by Lawyers Weekly.

State’s Stars Submissions:

MSU Alumni Magazine Michigan State University Spartan Way 535 Chestnut Rd., Room 300 East Lansing, MI 48824 or baor@msu.edu