Seven alumni recognized as Alumni Difference Makers during annual Homecoming event

October 8, 2018

The recipients were honored for their contributions to their professional fields, communities and UM-Dearborn.

Alumni Difference Makers 2018
Alumni Difference Makers 2018
Seven Alumni Difference Makers were recognized by the university during a Homecoming week celebration. From left: CECS Alumnus of the Year Brett Bilbrey, CASL Alumnus of the Year David Norwood, CEHHS Alumnus of the Year Christopher Tremblay, COB Alumnus of the Year Farhan Latif, Jeanette Schumacher Alumni Service Award recipient Kevin Blue and Young Alumna of the Year Farah Harb.

University of Michigan-Dearborn recognized seven alumni for their contributions to their professional fields, their communities and the university on Thursday, Oct. 4. Nearly 140 attended the Alumni Difference Makers Awards Ceremony, which takes place annually during Homecoming week.

Mary Beth Kelly (’84 B.A.), lawyer and retired Michigan Supreme Court justice and previous award recipient, served as the event’s emcee.

“Equipped with a world-class education that combines academic excellence with real-world experiences, our graduates go on to build businesses, pursue successful careers in medicine and law and lead nonprofit organizations. They recruit fellow graduates and hire University of Michigan-Dearborn student interns. They also stay connected through the greater alumni community,” she said.

“All of the Alumni Difference Makers continue the legacy of leadership that has defined University of Michigan-Dearborn. They make us proud of our alma mater and what is nurtured on this campus.”

The 2018 award recipients are:

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

David Norwood (’89 B.S.) is the sustainability coordinator for the City of Dearborn where he is responsible for developing, implementing and coordinating the city’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, the city's Initial Climate Action Plan, Sustainability Plan, and energy efficiency projects.

He is committed to growing leadership among young people and guides the Dearborn Youth Commission, mentors UM-Dearborn students who intern with the city and has hosted Public Allies student interns in his office. He works with the Healthy Dearborn coalition with Beaumont Health and the Dearborn Public Schools to drive community-based solutions to chronic diseases and encourage healthy lifestyles. He is co-chair of the national Urban Sustainability Directors Network and a founding member of the Michigan Green Communities Network. Working with the Michigan Council on Government on walkability audit, he spearheaded the creation of the crosswalk spanning Evergreen Rd., connecting our north and south campuses.

College of Business
Alumnus of the Year

Farhan Latif (’05 B.B.A.) is a strategic philanthropic leader, social entrepreneur and cross-sector mobilizer on inclusion. He is the president of the El-Hibri Foundation, a private foundation that empowers and equips leaders to build thriving, inclusive communities. Previously, in his capacity as executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, he advised White House officials, Homeland Security and other agencies on issues around national security and equity.

Latif, who earned his master’s degree from Harvard University, spent over a decade in higher education focused on inclusion of underrepresented, low- income and first-generation students. He founded Strategic Inspirations, a social impact consulting firm focused on strengthening the ability of nonprofit organizations to build capacity, create a culture of learning and catalyze innovation through philanthropy. Latif also works with state and national faith-based organizations to promote religious understanding and inclusion. He serves as an advisory member on both the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council and the Leadership Committee of the ACCESS Campaign to Take on Hate. He is a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and served on UM-Dearborn’s recent chancellor search committee.

College of Education, Health, and Human Services
Alumnus of the Year

Christopher Tremblay (’14 Ed.D.) is the director of external engagement for the Michigan College Access Network and also serves as director of AACRAO’s Strategic Enrollment Management Endorsement Program.  He has held various enrollment management leadership positions at several colleges, including University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he was director of admissions and orientation, executive director of enrollment management and assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management. He has published articles in several professional journals and recently published a book on the life of Walt Disney called Walt’s Pilgrimage: A Journey in the Life of Walter Elias Disney.

Tremblay earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Michigan University. He has a post-master’s certificate in enrollment management from Capella University and was part of the first cohort for the new Ed.D. in educational leadership from UM-Dearborn. He led a successful alumni effort to create an endowed scholarship for Ed.D. students and serves on the Alumni Society Board.

College of Engineering and Computer Science
Alumnus of the Year

Brett Bilbrey (’82 B.S.E.E.E.) has a gift for solving problems by approaching things in a non-traditional way. He is the retired head of Apple’s top-secret Technology Advancement Group and prolific inventor and lead designer on projects including the Mac Mini, Apple TV and iSight technology for both the iMac and Mac portables. His name is on patents ranging from a wireless charging system, a 3D imaging camera and a new MacBook concept.

Prior to Apple, Bilbrey was chief technologist for Intelligent Paradigm, which made products for the broadcast television market. He was also executive vice president of Intelligent Resources-Integrated Systems, where he designed the video explorer, a computer video card that bridged the video and computer technology gap. He currently holds an astounding 59 patents for a variety of consumer product and electronic applications. Bilbrey serves on the CECS Industry Advisory Board and regularly travels back to campus from his home in Silicon Valley.

Jeanette Schumacher Alumni Service Award
Kevin Blue (’07 B.A., ’09 B.B.A., ’12 M.P.A.) brought stability and great ideas to the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Alumni Affiliate when he served the group as vice chair and then chair. He has been to countless events, including Move-in Day, Maize and Blue Bowl, MLK Day of Service, Dodgeball, Commencement and the Recent Graduate BBQ, at which he has been the grill master multiple times (and has the apron to prove it). Blue and his wife, Julie, also generously helped fund the 2017 Giving BrewDay Trivia competition. He continues to remain involved with GOLD, bringing new and fresh ideas to meetings and still volunteering his time.

When he is not volunteering behind the grill, Blue supports IT processes and corporate project services at Blue Cross Blue Shield, where he has worked for 10 years. Before that, he supported IT at Ford Motor Company.

Young Alumna of the Year
Farah Harb (’10 B.B.A.) is a College of Business alumna committed to helping UM-Dearborn students. As a student, she was awarded the 2010 UM-Dearborn Difference Maker Award to honor her volunteer service on campus. After graduation, she continued volunteering in the College of Business Internship and Career Management office. She currently participates in the 30-minute mentor program, she volunteers as a career coach, teaches Career Planning and Development and was a judge for iLabs Pitch Competition on several occasions.

Just after graduation, Harb was hired at Wayne State as an internship coordinator and two years later was promoted to assistant director of career planning and placement. In 2014 she was recruited to Ford Motor Company Fund as a program coordinator, where she works directly with top Ford Motor Company executives. She received the Top Achiever award from the Ford Motor Company Fund in 2017 and was recently promoted from programs coordinator to global education programs analyst.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award
Edward Elliott’s (’67 B.B.A.) career as a certified public accountant has taken him from auditing to tax law to private equity investing. His business career began with the UM-Dearborn School of Management, where he participated in the co-op program. Upon his graduation, Elliott joined the firm of Touche, Ross & Co.  Shortly after, he was called to serve in the United States Army.  After serving and receiving his honorable discharge, he returned to Touche, Ross & Co, eventually becoming partner. In 1984, Elliot left Touche, Ross & Co. and co-founded the private equity firm of Franklin Enterprises, a private equity placement operation, where he remains active as a general partner.

Elliott has demonstrated not only excellence and outstanding leadership in his field, but also a personal commitment to service within his community. He has been an avid supporter of UM-Dearborn, serving on several campaign committees. He established the Betty F. Elliott Initiative for Academic Excellence Fund in honor of his beloved first wife, Betty, who passed away in 2002. Elliot remarried in 2011, and he and his wife, Nancy, now live in Tequesta, Fla.

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