Eight business executives honored at 14th Annual Robinson College Alumni Awards
The Robinson College of Business honored eight top business executives on November 17 at the 14th annual Alumni Awards.
Kevin LoftonAt the 14th Annual Robinson College Alumni Awards, Kevin E. Lofton, chief executive officer of Englewood, Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the largest healthcare systems in the country, received the Hall of Fame Award, the highest honor bestowed by the college.
In presenting the award to Lofton, Robinson College Dean Richard Phillips said, “Kevin Lofton is one of the most innovative and respected healthcare executives on the planet. We’re proud to call him one of our own and we’re prouder still to present him with the 2016 Robinson Hall of Fame Award.”
The Robinson Hall of Fame Award is reserved for alumni and non-alumni who have made sustained and meritorious contributions to business during their careers and who serve as a role model to Robinson College students.
Upon receiving the Hall of Fame Award, Lofton said he was humbled to receive the honor in the presence of so many strong business leaders.
For many years, Lofton, who earned his master’s in health administration in 1979, has funded participation by Robinson students in the Everett Fox Student Case Competition at the National Association of Health Services Executives Educational Conference. Dozens of students in the Master of Health Administration program have taken part in the competition because of his support.
Lofton currently serves on the boards of Gilead Sciences Inc. and Rite Aid Corp., and the board of visitors at the UAB School of Medicine. He previously served on the Robinson College of Business Advisory Board (2005-11).
In recognition of his outstanding leadership, innovation, and management accomplishments, Mr. Lofton has been included in Modern Healthcare magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” for 12 consecutive years. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Robinson College’s Institute of Health Administration in 2016.
Joy AtkinsonThe Robinson Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Joy Atkinson, president of Firmenich’s Body & Home Care Division of North America. Firmenich is a privately owned company in the perfume and flavor business. Today, Atkinson and her body home care team hold the leadership position in the fragrance industry in the U.S.
Presenting the honor to Atkinson was Georgia State University student and sorority sister, Bethany Sheely, who shared, “Joy is extremely generous in sharing the experiences of her 30-year career in beauty and fragrances with Robinson students as a mentor in the Women Lead program.”
The Robinson Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves in the field of business and have made outstanding contributions to the business profession.
Atkinson graduated from the Robinson College in 1983 with a B.A. in business management. Upon graduation, she joined the JCPenney Management Training program, which gave her the first glimpse into the cosmetic and fragrance industry. She later joined Rich’s Department Stores, a division of Federated Department Stores (today know as Macy’s), as a young merchant. She began work at Firmenich in August 1994 as senior account executive in the fine fragrance office. In 2008, Atkinson accepted the position of vice president of sales, body home care North America, and moved into her current position in 2010.
Beyond her professional success, one of Atkinson’s favorite roles is helping other young women navigate the challenges of international business.
Regynald WashingtonRegynald G. Washington, CEO of Hojeij Branded Foods, was presented with the Robinson Honorary Alumnus Award. The award honors individuals for their unique contributions that singularly qualify them for special recognition as a member of the Robinson college community and family.
In 2015, Washington gifted a one-million-dollar endowment to support Robinson’s Master of Global Hospitality Management program, which is now named the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management in recognition of his impact.
Upon presenting the award, Debra Cannon, director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration, said, “As a mentor, Regynald is second to none. He wants to bring out the potential in everyone he meets. And that’s exactly what he does.”
Washington began his career in hospitality at age 13 busing restaurant tables. He graduated from Florida International University with a degree in hospitality management. In 1997, he joined The Walt Disney Company, rising to vice president of worldwide food and beverage operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Washington joined Atlanta-based Hojeij Branded Foods as chief operating officer in 2010. He was named its chief executive officer in March 2015. In his role, Washington oversees more than 70 restaurants in 12 of the nation’s largest airports with brands such as P.F. Chang’s, Gordon Biersch, LongHorn Steakhouse, Celebrity Chef Cat Cora, Celebrity Chef G. Garvin, and Chick-fil-A.
Washington has served on the School of Hospitality advisory board for more than 15 years.
Eleanor FultonThe Robinson Outstanding Young Alumna Award was presented to Eleanor Fulton, vice president of risk management for Purchasing Power, a fast-growing company that created a unique and innovative employee purchase program. The Outstanding Young Alumna Award honors alumni who have graduated from the Robinson College within the last 15 years for outstanding contributions to the fields of business or public service.
When presenting the award to Fulton, Andy Wise, chair of the Georgia State University Alumni Association board of directors and past recipient of the award, said, “Eleanor was a leader in growing the Robinson Council of Young Business leaders into one of Atlanta’s most vibrant alumni organizations for young professionals.”
Fulton earned a master of international business in 2004. She also participated in Robinson’s Lean Six Sigma and Business Innovation executive education certificate programs. It was the combination of her experience with Robinson and exposure to a variety of businesses in various cultures that inspired Fulton to find her current career as vice president of Risk Management at Purchasing Power.
Fulton also volunteers as a youth soccer coach and serves on the board of directors of the Georgia State University Alumni Association.
Panthers on Wall Street Celebrates 10 Years
Four individuals were recognized for playing instrumental roles in the success of Robinson’s signature program, Panthers on Wall Street. Now recruiting for its 10th cohort, Panthers on Wall Street is a highly selective, multi-faceted program for Robinson’s best and brightest students that culminates in a four-day experience visiting some of the top financial firms in New York.
Jason Aldrich, Robinson’s Assistant Dean for Strategic Partnerships and Career Advancement, presented the Alumni Awards for Service to the Robinson College to Jefferson Harralson, Michael Ivie, Thor O’Connell and Travis Steed. The award honors those alumni whose dedication and volunteer service have significantly enriched the substance of the Robinson College.
Jefferson HarralsonJefferson L. Harralson earned his MBA in finance from the Robinson College as well as his chartered financial analyst Designation in 1991. In 1997, Harralson joined the sell side analyst community at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Equity Capital Markets. He joined Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in 2002 and is responsible for its small and mid-cap bank research groups.
Harralson was instrumental in the launch of the Panthers on Wall Street program and has personally hosted the group annually since its inception. He regularly serves as a coach and mentor to program participants, and demonstrates authentic leadership by challenging program alums to “pay it forward.”
Aldrich said of Harralson, “Jefferson knew Robinson students were every bit the equal of their peers from schools that were better known in the financial capital of the world. We just needed a way to introduce our students to the top firms in New York. Jefferson wasn’t going to quit until we got there.”
Michael IvieMichael J. Ivie received a master of science in finance and an MBA in risk management & insurance from the Robinson College. He runs the risk & finance consulting practice for Linium in New York City where he guides financial services clients through complex transformations on the “Journey to the Modern Enterprise.”
Ivie is an alum of the Panthers on Wall Street program and supports the annual selection and preparation process each class engages in by returning to Atlanta to attend recruiting events and deliver presentations. He also is a founding member of the Panthers on Wall Street advisory board.
Of Ivie, Aldrich shared, “Michael not only hosts the group when they come to New York, he flies to Atlanta on his own dime to prep them, both for how they should interact with New York financial bigwigs and what they need to do to turn those face-to-face meetings into job offers.”
Thor O’ConnellA 2007 graduate of the Robinson College with an MBA in finance, O’Connell served 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an AH-1W attack helicopter pilot and retired in 2013 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is employed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a credit analyst in the Global Loan Portfolio Management group and serves as co-chair of the New York Metro chapter of the Military Support and Assistance Group, the bank’s military- and veteran-focused employee network.
O’Connell played a key role in the development of the Panthers on Wall Street program by providing a great location and lodging for the participants through his involvement in the New York Athletic Club. In addition, he has regularly hosted the group and served as a resource to students since the program’s inception.
In presenting the award to O’Connell, Aldrich said, “Service is in Thor’s blood. Not only service to his country, but also service to his alma mater. Each year Thor hosts the Panthers on Wall Street group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and he didn’t even participate in the program himself.”
Travis SteedTravis L. Steed earned a master of science in finance from the Robinson College in 2011 and is currently a vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in equity research on the Institutional Investor (II) ranked medical technology team. Previously, he worked at Macquarie Capital on the life science tools and diagnostics equity research team in New York.
Steed participated in the first class of Panthers on Wall Street and has been actively involved in the program since 2008. He is a founding member and serves on the Panthers on Wall Street advisory board and is a former member of the Robinson Council of Young Business Leaders.
Of Steed, Aldrich shared, “When it comes to Panthers on Wall Street, Travis is a lifer. He has stayed involved in the program since he was in it as a student.”