Difference makers: Seven alumni recognized for impact on workplace, community

October 12, 2015

Alumni Difference Makers

UM-Dearborn honored seven alumni during the 2015 Alumni Difference Makers Awards. From left: Kevin Cunningham (’82 B.S.A.), Honor Potvin (’05 B.A.), John Junge (’64 B.S.E.I.E.), Lou Ann Hamblin (’05 M.A.), Doug Krizanic (’81 B.B.A.), Mary Beth Kelly (’84 B.A.) and David Knezek (’12 B.A.).

Mary Beth Kelly (’84 B.A.) said she was bitten by the legal bug at a young age. And her time at University of Michigan-Dearborn only solidified her feelings: She discovered her love for politics as a participant in UM-Dearborn’s Washington D.C. internship program—where she spent a summer as an intern for Representative Sander Levin—and gained a new appreciation for the law and politics through friendships developed on campus.

“I had a group of friends who were political science or philosophy majors,” Kelly said. “We spent a lot of time together talking politics. For us, the campus wasn’t just a commuter environment. It was a highly charged political atmosphere.”

That atmosphere was good practice for Kelly, who went on to have an illustrious law and judicial career, receiving numerous honors for her judicial leadership. Since taking office in 2011 as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, she has served as chairperson of several statewide committees primarily focused on child welfare and family matters. Kelly received her law degree from University of Notre Dame. Before her election to the Supreme Court, she served as a judge on the Wayne County Circuit Court, and worked as a lawyer and commercial litigation partner in the law firm of Dickinson Wright in Detroit.

Kelly returned to her alma mater Friday to accept UM-Dearborn’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, given to a graduate who demonstrates excellence in their field and commitment to service within their community.

“Mary Beth certainly has impacted our region with her dedication and motivation to succeed,” said UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little during the Alumni Difference Makers Awards.

Kelly was among seven UM-Dearborn alumni honored Friday at the annual awards ceremony. The awards recognize alumni for having a positive impact on their workplaces and communities, while also serving as strong role models for the next generation of UM-Dearborn victors.

Read more about each recipient below and view their tribute videos.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year:
Mary Beth Kelly (’84 B.A.) joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2011, serving as the liaison for treatment courts, drug courts and veterans’ courts. Governor Rick Snyder appointed Kelly as Chair of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice. As co-chair of the Michigan Race Equity Coalition, she examined the need for the juvenile justice and foster care systems to improve policies and racial disparities in these systems. Kelly recently resigned from the Supreme Court to return to private practice, at the Detroit law firm of Bodman PLC.

Young Alumnus of the Year:
David Knezek (’12 B.A.) became the youngest member of the 2013-2014 House Democratic Caucus at 26 years of age. He has the distinct honor of being the first Iraq War Veteran elected to the Michigan Legislature. Knezek serves as chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Senate Democratic leadership team and is a strong advocate for Michigan students, seniors, working families and veterans.

Jeanette Schumacher Alumni Service Award:
Doug Krizanic (’81 B.B.A.) is senior partner with Deloitte Tax LLP, providing international tax and compensation consulting to multinational companies and their employees on international assignment. He has more than 32-years experience with the firm, having started there as a UM-Dearborn intern. Krizanic serves as chair of the COB Board of Advisors and is a member of the Victors for UM-Dearborn Campaign Steering Committee.

College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Alumnus of the Year:
Honor Potvin (’05 B.A.) serves as chief operating officer of the Genessee Community Health Center. She has been involved in programming at local and national levels across diverse sectors including education, research, health care and the legal system. She co-led a successful effort to achieve the first-ever Federally Qualified Heath Center designation for a public community mental health authority, Genesee Health System in Flint, MI. Her efforts have resulted in expanded access to primary care for thousands of low-income and homeless residents.

College of Business Alumnus of the Year:
Kevin Cunningham (’82 B.S.A.) is head of dealer operations at TD Auto Finance where his career has spanned for 33 years. Between coaching and developing his employees, Cunningham is accountable for the company’s retail credit and funding functions. Outside of work, he has served on the COB Board of Advisors for nearly a decade.

College of Education, Health, and Human Services Alumnus of the Year:
Lou Ann Hamblin (’05 M.A.) served the law enforcement profession for 22 years before retiring. She now specializes in training female officers. Hamblin conceptualized the nationally recognized Building Warrior Women training event for women in public safety. She is only the second female to hold a seat on the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Board. Aside from providing in-person trainings, she has contributed to several national training publications.

College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumnus of the Year:
John Junge (’64 B.S.E.I.E.) started his career with Ford Motor Company, and later with Rockwell International and Rohr Industries, eventually rising to his own success as an entrepreneur. He started his own property management company in 1989 known as Champions of the West, a private holding company for All Star, Inc., providing base operating support and military family housing services through more than 27 locations domestically and internationally.