UM-Dearborn will recognize its 2011 Alumni Award winners on Oct. 28. Meet the eight graduates who will be honored at the ceremony.

October 26, 2011

DEARBORN / Oct. 26, 2011---The University of Michigan-Dearborn will honor this year’s Alumni Difference Makers on Friday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. in the Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems (IAVS) Building.

Meet the 2011 Alumni Difference Maker Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year

Tom Wille (’10 CASL) is owner, director and producer of Constant Motion Productions, a local production firm with clientele, including The United Way and the Islamic Society of North America. Tom has donated more than $7,000 of film and video assets to regional nonprofit organizations.  He is vice chair of the campuswide Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Alumni Affiliate. Tom is a frequent volunteer on campus, participating in Parent Orientation, Opportunity Scholarship Interviews, Maize and Blue Open House, serving as an unpaid course assistant for the journalism and screen studies program and guiding Campus Video Network in the 48 Hour Go Green Film Festival.

Matthew Zelman (’01 COB) is project manager of product analysis at Blue Care Network. He cofounded and led the College of Business’ Graduates of the Last Decade from 2002-2010. Through his leadership, the group organized a professional speaker series for business graduates, mentored campus honor students and created networking and professional development opportunities for UM-Dearborn alumni. Matthew also serves as vice chair of the College’s Alumni Affiliate. He was named the National Management Association’s 2010 Member of the Year for his work as the treaurer and vice president of his local chapter of the organization.

School of Education Alumnus of the Year

Tracy Blakely-Thompson (’92 SOE) is president of Inspiring One, LLC, an organization that supplies therapy and training to individuals and organizations. She has consulted for companies such as Comcast and Jaguar. Tracy received her master’s degree from Ashland Theological Seminary and her doctorate in ministry from United Theological Seminary. She is a committed volunteer for HAVEN and UM-Dearborn’s Womens’ Resource Center, serving as a guest speaker for Take Back the Night and The Vagina Monologues. She is an active member of the American Society for Training and Development, the Council of Clergywomen of Metropolitan Detroit and the UM-Dearborn School of Education Alumni Affiliate.

College of  Engineering and Computer Science Alumnus of the Year

Nancy Gioia (’82 CECS) is director of global electrification at Ford Motor Company. During her 29 years at Ford, she has held 17 different leadership roles. Upon graduation from UM-Dearborn, Nancy earned a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering at Stanford University. She was named one of Automotive News “Top 100 Women” in 2005 and 2010, and among its “Electrifying 100” in 2011. Nancy is a board member for the Electric Drive Transportation Association and California PEV Collaborative, and serves as an advisor to the UC Davis PEV Center and Wayne State University’s Electrification Center.

College of Business Alumnus of the Year

Alan Schultz (’81 COB) is chairman, president and CEO of Valassis Communications, LLC. Today, the company has more than 7,000 employees and operates in 28 states and eight countries. Through Alan’s leadership, Valassis has received more than 30 awards and honors, including Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” the Bain Award for Strategy Excellence, and Business Ethics Magazine’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens.” Alan also sits on UM-Deaborn’s College of Business Board of Advisors, where he serves on the Internship Committee, creating career placement opportunities for UM-Dearborn students.

College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Alumnus of the Year

James Miller (’78 CASL) is a fellow at Hewlett Packard, a title awarded to the most innovative technical leaders, where he serves as the chief technology officer for the General Motors account. Prior to this position, he was the chief architect for GM’s global purchasing and supply chain. James is the treasurer of UM-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Alumni Affiliate, where he also sits on the Scholarship Committee. When James is not organizing fundraisers or supporting scholarships, he also can be found assisting the Department of Mathematics by volunteering at programs, including the annual Career Paths in Mathematical Sciences panel.

Jeanette Schumacher Alumni Service Award

Tina Russette (’93 CASL) has been a member of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Alumni Affiliate since 2001, and currently serves as chair of the group. During her time with the Affiliate, Tina helped revamp and coordinate the College’s signature fundraiser, November Indulge. Through this fundraiser, $78,000 has been raised to support the education of more than 60 UM-Dearborn students. Tina also volunteers for several campus programs including graduation receptions and prospective student call nights. She is an active volunteer with the Commerce Township Community Library and City of Dearborn Homecoming. Tina is also an engaged member of the Mercy High School Alumnae Association.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

James Brailean (’85 CECS) is cofounder, president and CEO of PacketVideo, the world’s leading provider of carrier-grade infrastructure software. His software can be found in 275 million devices worldwide. James earned his doctorate in philosophy at Northwestern University, where he currently serves on the McCormick Advisory Council and Center for Entrepreneurship Boards. James received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mobile Entertainment Forum and was featured as a 2004 Innovator in Telecommunications by Newsweek and Wall Street Journal. In 2005, he was named Northwestern University’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

For more information contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 313-593-5131 or