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Anchor Awards Honor Outstanding Alumni
Five alumni who have distinguished themselves with outstanding professional achievements were honored with Anchor Awards on Oct. 13 as part of this year’s Hawktober Weekend festivities.
The Anchor Award is the most prestigious award presented by the University of Hartford Alumni Association. The awards were established to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves by achieving the highest level of professional accomplishments, and who possess absolute standards of integrity and character, to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the University of Hartford.
After the presentation of this year’s Anchor Awards, the recipients participated in a panel discussion in which they discussed their career paths and gave advice to students based on their experiences.
Following are descriptions of the 2012 Anchor Award winners.
Victoria J. Cerami ’81
Victoria Cerami is chief executive officer of Cerami & Associates, Inc., a global leader in acoustical, audiovisual, and technology consulting. She recently formed Cerami Technology LLC, which enables the firm to provide additional expertise in strategy consulting, program management, and critical facilities design.
Under Cerami’s leadership over the last 25 years, the firm has grown strategically, from a small acoustical engineering practice headquartered in New York City to a multidisciplinary consulting firm whose clients number among Fortune 100 companies, world-class developers, universities, hospitals, and top architects and engineers. As CEO, Cerami focuses her time on exploring new markets and emerging trends in acoustics and technology. Cerami is passionate about the firm’s role in public outreach, and encourages all staff to participate in community and charitable organizations. She serves on many boards and is a past member of the University of Hartford Board of Regents.
Cerami holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hartford and is currently pursuing a master’s degree through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Executive MBA program.
Annie Garcia Kaplan ’79, M’81, EdD’97
As volunteer coordinator in the Volunteer Services Department at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Annie Garcia Kaplan is responsible for screening, interviewing, orienting, and placing volunteers in 20 different volunteer programs throughout the hospital system. Previously, Kaplan was director of the Friends of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, where she managed a 35-member volunteer board of directors and a 30-member junior board.
Volunteering has always been a big part of Kaplan’s life. In the past, she has served as president of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Auxiliary, as co-chair of the Toy Closets program, and as a member of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Board of Trustees. She was a member of the Parenting Advisory Board at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, and has served on the boards of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Guilford Art Center, and Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer. She has also volunteered with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Discovery School and the United Way of Greater New Haven’s Community Impact Cabinet.
Kaplan met her husband, Ben ’79, M’80, while they were undergraduates at the University of Hartford. She has a trio of degrees from the University of Hartford: a bachelor’s degree in political science (1979), an MBA (1991), and a doctoral degree in educational leadership (1997).
Deborah Kline ’90
Deborah Kline has created strategic branding and graphic design for some impressive global corporations. Her roles have included director of branding, packaging, and merchandising for Group 4 Design, and designer and project manager for Spalding Sports Worldwide. Kline’s design work has been represented in large-scale branding projects for Johnson & Johnson, Caterpillar, Sherwin Williams, and Panasonic, and her work has received awards from the Connecticut Art Directors Club, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and Graphic Design USA.
Kline is actively involved in the design community as a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and is currently serving on the Board of Corporators for the Hartford Art School. As chair of the board’s Communications Committee, Kline has provided graphic design work for the board’s marketing, communications, and fundraising needs.
In addition to managing her own design business, she currently works as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Visual Communication Design at the Hartford Art School. Kline says she is grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the Hartford Art School, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1990.
Ayn S. LaPlant ’76, M ’85
Ayn S. LaPlant is president and chief executive officer of Beekley Corporation in Bristol, Conn. Since its founding in 1934, Beekley has evolved into the world’s leading supplier of simple, innovative medical products that help imaging, surgical, and radiation therapy professionals. More importantly, Beekley has remained a family-friendly organization that encourages its employees to work hard and make time for themselves as well as family, friends, and hobbies.
LaPlant started her career at Beekley Corporation in the summer of 1977 as a sales associate. Within a decade, she became vice president of sales, and in 1990, was named president. In 2001, LaPlant was named the corporation’s third CEO, the first female named to this position as well as the first person to be named CEO who was not a member of the Beekley family.
The company’s confidence in LaPlant has paid off. In 2007, Beekley Corporation was named one of the Top 25 Best Places to Work in the state (Connecticut Magazine), fourth best among small- to medium-sized companies. Two years ago, LaPlant was honored as one of the region’s Remarkable Women in Business by the Hartford Business Journal. LaPlant has been featured in multiple books, magazines, and newspapers detailing Beekley Corporation’s culture and the high regard she has for all associates and customers.
LaPlant holds two degrees from the University of Hartford, having earned a bachelor’s degree in politics and government from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1976 and a master’s in organizational behavior from the Barney School of Business in 1985.
Douglas V. Riahi A’86, ’88
Douglas Riahi is a director at UniCredit Bank AG’s New York office. The company is a leading financial institution and the largest bank in Central and Eastern Europe. Before joining UniCredit in 2010, Riahi was managing director and group head of the Diversified Industries team at Fortis Bank. Prior to that, he was a senior member of Fortis’s Private Equity Coverage Group in North America.
Riahi joined Fortis Capital in 1994, and rose to the position of managing director. He planned and implemented the firm’s strategic direction, with emphasis in providing financing in the industrial, food, and metal sectors. Riahi’s creative drive has resulted in mandates awarded the firm in strategic acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and cross-border financing.
As a student at the University of Hartford, Riahi was involved in a variety of activities from student government to Greek life, and he was elected by fellow students to serve on the Board of Regents. Riahi earned an associate’s degree from Hillyer College and remained at the University of Hartford to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from the Barney School of Business. He has additionally earned an MBA from the University of Connecticut.
In 2006, Riahi was awarded the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from Hillyer College, and subsequently was appointed to its Board of Visitors. He has served as a member of the board since 2007, and most recently, has been co-chair of the Nominations Committee.