2014 Alumni Awards

Our alumni are more than former students. They are ambassadors of the institution, representatives of the quality of the education available to students at UAB, and advocates for the College and university in a broad and complex world.
Our alumni are more than former students. They are ambassadors of the institution, representatives of the quality of the education available to students at UAB, and advocates for the College and university in a broad and complex world.

The honorees whom we recognized at this year’s Alumni Awards celebration have accomplished great things since they left UAB, and they are shining examples of what we value: hard work, dedication, service, and compassion.

This year’s winners come from Mathematics, English, Government, and Psychology. They have gone on to launch their own start-up companies, rise to chief executive positions, shape federal policy, and establish the very best standards in research and patient care. We are very proud of their accomplishments.      

We also honored representatives from Bruker Corporation, which has been instrumental in supporting the Department of Chemistry in maintaining its strict accreditation requirements.

We are very delighted for our graduates and very grateful to all of those who support the College of Arts and Sciences.

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

- Meet the Winners -

Debbie Jo Severin

Alumni Awards SeverinDean Palazzo and Debbie Jo Severin Severin graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics from UAB in 1981 and 1983, respectively, and has crafted an impressive career in marketing, brand awareness, and strategic planning in the ensuing three decades.

Currently the Vice President of Marketing for 8X8, Inc., Severin directs the marketing and lead generation initiatives for the $130 million publicly traded company, which has a focus on cloud-based telephony, unified communications, and video services.

Prior to her executive position at 8X8, she was Vice President of Marketing at a number of Silicon Valley companies, including Valiant Networks, Northpoint Communications, and Pacific Bell/Primeone-Tele-TV. Severin began her career as a market research manager at BellSouth Telecommunications in Birmingham.

As a student, she was a Miss UAB Scholarship recipient, and as an alumna is an active member of the National Alumni Society and serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council.

Kristal Quarker Hartsfield

Alumni Awards Hartsfield Kristal Quaker Hartsfield, center, with Dr. Angela Lewis and Dr. Wendy Gunther Canada. Quarker Hartsfield received her B.S. in Political Science from UAB in 2004 and her M.P.A. (Public Administration) in 2007. Originally from Atmore, Alabama, Quarker Hartsfield is now a Washington, DC, resident, where she is the National Director of African American Initiatives at the Republican National Committee.

In her role at the RNC, she is in charge of crafting and implementing the party’s nationwide African American engagement strategy. Prior to the RNC, Quarker Hartsfield was a senior staff member at the US House of Representatives House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

As the first African American to hold a senior position on the Republican side of the aisle, she was an authority on all Africa-related issues for the GOP Congressional majority. Prior to working on the committee, she was the director of communications and business outreach for the House Republican Policy Committee and Senior Legislative Advisor to former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

Quarker Hartsfield was named one of the “Top 25 Women of Washington” by the National Journal in 2013, a “Top 40 Under 40 on Capitol Hill” in 2012, and was a National Brand Ambassador for UAB in 2013.

Russell Clay McDonald

Alumi Awards McDonaldDr. William Hutchings, left, with Russell McDonald.McDonald received his B.A. and M.A. in English from UAB in 1985 and 1989, respectively, and then went on to complete a MLIS (Library and Information Studies) degree from the University of California, Berkley, in 1992.

After a distinguished academic career at UAB, in which he proved himself adept at understanding challenging languages, including the Old English of Beowulf and the dense syntax of James Joyce, McDonald learned the new languages of information science and technology, helping libraries across the county transition from old-fashioned card catalogs to computerized databases via his employer, Innovative Interfaces, Inc.

Within just a few years, McDonald became director of Sales in North America for Interfaces, Inc., leading the company with more than $7.5 million in signed contracts. From there, he held senior positions at Elsevier Science, Ex Libris, and iPost, where he was CEO.

Today, as an independent consultant, he remains on the forefront of technological change in higher education and information technology.

Leanne R. Cianfrini, Ph.D

Alumni Awards Cianfrini Dr. Karlene Ball, left, with Dr. Leanne Cianfrini Dr. Cianfrini graduated from UAB with an M.S. in Psychology in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2004. After UAB, she completed Pre- and Post-Doctoral Fellowships (Health Psychology and Pain Psychology) from the University of Florida Health Sciences Center.

Today, she is a clinical/medical psychologist at the Doleys Clinic/Pain and Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham. As Program Director of the clinic, she coordinates community workshops and develops unique evidence-based interdisciplinary programs for clinic outpatients.

She is an Adjunct Professor at UAB and teaches graduate courses in medical psychology. She has received the President’s Award for Excellence in Pain Management from the Southern Pain Society (2008), was an Exchange Intern at the University of Oxford (2004), received a Merit Fellowship from UAB (2003), and a Preceptorship from the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation (2002).

Bruker Corporation

Bruker Corporation has been a long-time partner with UAB.

Alumni Awards Bruker Dean Palazzo, center, and Dr. David Graves, far right, with representatives of Bruker Corporation. Throughout the years, Bruker and its many divisions have worked with various departments across the university, including the UAB School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry to foster novel research and drug discovery.

Thanks to Bruker’s continued support, last year we brought to campus the largest and most advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility in the state of Alabama, among the best in the region.

The NMR facility brings together researchers across the UAB campus and represents the true interdisciplinary spirit that is a hallmark of our institution.

Together, we have established a state-of-the-art research facility that serves not only the scientific community at UAB, but also researchers and businesses in the Birmingham community and beyond.

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