2022 Alumni Difference Makers
Abdullah Hammoud (‘10 B.S.), the city of Dearborn’s seventh mayor, is committed to reinventing government to deliver results for working families and residents in every corner of the city. Before becoming mayor, he held three terms representing Dearborn in the Michigan House of Representatives, and shaped policy to create a more resilient city. Hammoud’s deep roots in environmental advocacy date back to his election as the youngest member for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters in 2014. He has also served as a state and national health expert advising major health care systems. A product of Dearborn Public Schools and three-time graduate of the University of Michigan, Hammoud believes in the transformative power of education and participated as the keynote address at UM-Dearborn’s Spring 2022 commencement.
Altair (James Scapa, ‘83 M.B.A.), established in 1985, is a leading provider of software and cloud solutions that enables innovation, reduced development times, and lower costs through the entire product lifecycle, from concept design to in-service operation. Their comprehensive, open-architecture solutions for data analytics & AI, computer-aided engineering, and high-performance computing, enable design and optimization for high performance, innovative, and sustainable products and processes in an increasingly connected world. Headquartered in Troy, MI, Altair operates 86 offices throughout 25 countries and employs more than 3,000 people and serves more than 5,000 customers. An award winning workplace, Altair’s accolades include the Top Workplaces USA 2022, the Inc. 2021 Best-led Companies, and the 2021 Investors Business Daily Best Environmental, Social & Governance Companies.
Nicole Corso (‘16 B.A., ‘18 M.S.) is a rising star in the Psychology field with a deep passion for community service and learning. Currently a Ph.D. student at Stanford University, she is focused on Neurodegenerative Disease, Amyloid and Tau Pathology, Clinical Neuroscience. Corso continues to support the University of Michigan by volunteering virtually from Palo Alto, with Ele’s Place, a local non-profit based in Ann Arbor, and serves on the UM-Dearborn CASL Scholarship Selection Committee. She is a writer for the Stanford Daily, and is compelled to go beyond the research to translate the information in an easy to understand way. Corso currently works in the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Department as an Image and Data Specialist.
David Yesh (‘83 B.A.), a past UM-Dearborn Student Government President, earned his law degree from the Detroit College of Law, graduating with honors in 1986. He began his career as a member of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. He worked as both a prosecutor and defense council participating in two high profile espionage cases. For the past 31 years, Yesh has worked for Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk advisor as a Senior Vice President and Senior Claims Advocate. On UM-Dearborn’s campus, Yesh has served as a CASL Alumni Affiliate member, Chair of the Alumni Leaders Summit, trusted advisor and member of the Alumni Society Board, Talent Gateway and alumni mentor, and a personal finance seminar presenter.
Dr. Hamada Altalib (‘96 B.A.) is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine. He has published over 60 academic articles and book chapters on neuropsychiatric illness, mental health policy in the Middle East, and the role of culture in mental illness across a diverse spectrum of Muslim populations. Altalib is the founding and current Chief Editor of the Journal of Muslim Mental Health and co-founder and current President of the Institute for Muslim Mental Health. He provides clinical care for people with complex neuropsychiatric conditions such as traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, and somatization disorders, and has developed and scaled a national tele-mental health service for people with complex neuropsychiatric disorders.
Michael Surmanian (‘76 M.M.) spent 20 years working in engineering and senior management roles in the automotive and precision connectors fields. In the early 1990’s, he founded Microtech Engineering, Inc., and co-founded Cartesian Technologies and BioDot, Inc. Surmanian served as President of BioDot, a leading manufacturer of automation equipment for producers of rapid diagnostic tests, until 2002. Upon leaving BioDot and Cartesian Technologies, he co-founded DCN, a custom developer of rapid diagnostic tests, where he recently retired as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Surmanian serves on UM-Dearborn’s National Advisory Council, and he and his wife established the Michael and Vana Surmanian Family Scholarship, which provides need-based support to a student participating in the Study Abroad Program.
Robin Wilson (‘18 B.A.), the founder and director of Robin Wilson Educational Consulting LLC, combines her lived experiences and research knowledge to guide organizations in developing effective strategies for serving youth. Currently, Wilson teaches kindergarten French at a foreign language immersion school in Detroit. She also serves as a citizen diplomat for Global Ties Detroit and is a United States Fulbright Hays GPA Brazil Fellow. Wilson was recognized as a Spirit of Detroit Awardee for her commitment to literacy efforts in the city of Detroit. She was featured in the UM-Dearborn Alumni Engagement Speaker Series highlighting her published children’s book, and has established the Robin M. Wilson Scholarship for students studying business or education and have a documented learning difference.
Monika Minarcin (‘09, M.S.E.) is an accomplished thought leader in the areas of automotive and semiconductor industries, mobility, AI, UX/UI and digital disruption. She is the Security Ecosystem Industry Solutions Development Director responsible for defining and implementing Accenture Security’s industry partnership portfolio strategy. Prior to joining the Accenture team, Minarcin worked as the Automotive Market Manager of the Americas at Omron. In FY21 she was named an Accenture Inventor Award Program Nominee. Minarcin holds over 50 US patents and has authored technical papers in the areas of connected, electrified and autonomous systems. At UM-Dearborn, Minarcin served on the Industry Advisory Board for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is newly appointed to the CECS Visiting Committee.