For nearly 40 years, UM-Dearborn has honored outstanding alumni for their contributions to the University and community.

These men and women are "difference makers" who have continued the University's legacy of leadership in their lives and careers.  On October 26, the University once again recognized several distinguished alumni at its annual awards celebration.  The following CASL alums were honored as 2017 UM-Dearborn "Difference Makers" at the event:

  • Founder and partner of Sargon Partners, Inc., Jeffrey Golota (’85 B.A.) is a successful business executive, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Prior to founding Sargon Partners, Golota was chief executive officer and founder of the e-business company, J. Thomas for 20+ years. He is involved in the Ann Arbor Angels organization which focuses on investing in early stage innovation. He supports local nonprofits through his family foundation in public service and leadership like North American Intervention Center and North Star Reach. He nurtures and mentors CASL economics and communications majors as well as CECS students to promote student research and innovation.  He has also been a dedicated supporter of the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters, serving as an active member of the Dean’s Advisory Council since 2014.

  • MaryAnn Wright (’84 B.A., ’96 M.S.E.) is the owner of TechGoddess LLC, a consulting service firm for Tier 1 automotive suppliers. She earned the title as one of the “Leading 100 Women in the Automotive Industry” by Automotive News. Wright began her career at Ford Motor Company and became the first female plant engineering manager. She went on to serve as director, sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs. After becoming a leader at Ford, Wright became executive vice president engineering for Collins and Aikman Corporation. She was later recruited to Johnson Controls to serve as vice president and power solutions CEO. Wright has received numerous awards for her professional and community involvement including the “Top 50 Women to Watch” by the Wall Street Journal. Wright’s volunteerism includes involvement in STEM initiatives for kids, mentoring F.I.R.S.T. Robotics students, and animal welfare and advocacy through The Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit.

  • Leah Johnson-Olajide (’11 B.A.) is the CEO of Colorblind Magazine, an online publication devoted to showcasing the beauty and strength of teen girls and women. Johnson-Olajide demonstrates alumni leadership and service to UM-Dearborn through her dedication to UM-Dearborn’s African American Alumni Affiliate and her contribution to the CASL blog to recreate the CASL community in cyberspace for alumni. Johnson-Olajide was also a member of the CASL Alumni Affiliate Board and has mentored countless UM-Dearborn students. Her role as a volunteer leader has led her to become a member of the CASL Dean’s Advisory Council. She has also taken a leadership role as an alumna to address one of campus’s top priorities: inclusion. Johnson-Olajide wants to help UM-Dearborn achieve an inclusive environment for students, staff and alumni.