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SU Alumni Awards presentation
From left: Austin Whitehead, SU Alumni Association President; 2024 SU Alumni Association award recipients Michele Garigliano, Niya Brown, Kelly Griffith, Julia Glanz and Brian Anderson; and SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre.

SU Alumni Association Recognizes Eight with 2024 Alumni Awards

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Eight lifetime Sea Gulls making major contributions to their communities — in areas including children, education, business, government and more — were lauded during the Salisbury University Alumni Association’s annual awards ceremony.

Winners were recognized in four categories: Young Alumni, Service to Society, Alumni Leadership and Lifetime Achievement.

Young Alumni Achievement Award

The Young Alumni Achievement Award honors SU graduates who have achieved high levels of success within 10-15 years of earning their degrees, with a commitment to excellence in post-collegiate life and a significant or ongoing commitment to extraordinary work, research or volunteerism.

This year’s recipients included Brian Anderson ’18, M’19; Niya Brown ’15, M’18; and Rhett Burden M’12.

As an undergraduate, Anderson earned SU’s A.K. Talbot Leadership Award and Dale Graham Service Award for his dedication to Multicultural Student Services. He also started an organization, Be the Mogul, that he since has transformed into a successful business. At SU, Be the Mogul hosted entrepreneurial skills sessions, events connecting SU students with local businesses, and volunteer days with area schools and organizations. The program provided skills to other SU students who since have established their own businesses.

While pursuing his M.A. in conflict analysis and dispute resolution from SU, he was selected for a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bosserman Fellowship, receiving a consulting position at UNESCO in Paris following graduation. He currently is pursuing his doctorate in international conflict management at Kennesaw State University, GA, on a fully funded graduate assistantship.

Following her graduation from SU, Brown pursued her dream of becoming an early childcare teacher, serving as a role model for her students. She also serves as a clinical faculty member in SU’s Early and Elementary Education Department, giving back to her Alma Mater while helping current students achieve their goals.

Burden serves as assistant director of residence life at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In that role, he earned the 2020-21 Charles L. Miller Award for Leadership and Service from the Western Association of College and University Housing Officers, representing the highest honor for university housing professionals in the California/Hawaii region.

He also serves as the inaugural director of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for Compass Family Services, a nonprofit organization serving homeless and at-risk families. Since graduating from SU, he has written several books, including two on professional development and five children’s picture books with a focus on empowering Black children.

Service to Society Award

The Service to Society Award is presented to alumni demonstrating contributions of service made for the betterment of society in a professional or volunteer capacity. This year’s recipients were Christopher Bellias ’09; Julia Glanz ’11, M’13; and Hannah Muller ’16.

Bellias has developed unique and successful programs to serve under-supported populations, including veterans with disabilities, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome, historically marginalized populations, women, individuals with disabilities and those with traumatic brain disorders.

He currently serves as a supervisor with Philadelphia-based JEVS Human Services, one of the largest non-profits in the tri-state area. There, he operates five programs that specialize in case management and employment services for individuals with disabilities. He also has spoken on disability topics at many universities in the region, volunteered as an advisor on the implementation of disability policy for multiple state and federal agencies, and advised community policy for multiple businesses, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Glanz served as city administrator for the City of Salisbury from 2016-2023, including a year as acting mayor from 2020-21, during which she led the city through the challenges of COVID-19. As city administrator, she was at the forefront to dramatic changes in Salisbury’s infrastructure that saw the city and its metropolitan district named among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” and “Best Places to Retire” by U.S. News & World Report. During that time, the city also received five perfect audits and saw a continued reduction in crime.

Currently, Glanz serves as assistant secretary for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Services.

As an SU senior, Muller learned about the terrible poverty many children in Uganda are subjected to each day after forming an online friendship with Ugandan educator Zalambi Joseph. Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a minister who instilled in her the value of helping others and the importance of ministry, she founded Child Crisis Center Uganda (CCCU), a non-profit supporting education and wellbeing in the country’s Magooli community. (Joseph serves as executive director.)

Through CCCU, the community now has a seven-room school building, including two water tanks and a kitchen. The organization assists community members with a wide-range of needs, including medical bills, housing, bedding, clothing and handwashing stations. As its founding president, Muller also takes on a variety of other roles, including managing communications, finances, volunteers, partners, fundraisers, outreach efforts and internal operations.

Alumni Leadership Award

The Alumni Leadership Award recognizes alumni who participate in the life of SU through personal involvement on leadership committees, association with the student body and engaging with fellow alumni, augmented by their enhancement to the University’s financial welfare. This year’s recipient was Michele Garigliano ’83.

Garigliano retired from K&L Microwave, a subsidiary of Dover Corp., as general manager and vice president in 2018, following a long and successful career with the company. She also has been a strong advocate of SU, serving on the Salisbury University Foundation, Inc. board of directors for the past decade in positions including board chair, vice-chair and treasurer, as well as sitting on many of the foundation’s committees.

In addition to her service to the SU Foundation, Garigliano has given back to her Alma Mater as a judge for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business’ Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition and student Entrepreneurship Competition, as a leader of the SU Women’s Circle and as a member of SU’s Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation Committee.

She also is active in the greater community through organizations including the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore and Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to alums who have demonstrated long-term success in their careers and who exemplify the attributes of an SU graduate in areas such as leadership, citizenship, community service and/or service to their businesses or industries.

This year’s honoree was Dr. Kelly Griffith ’83, M’91, superintendent of Talbot County, MD, Public Schools.

Griffin began her career as a teacher in Talbot County and served as an administrator before being appointed superintendent in 2014. During that time, she has been involved with a number of educational and professional organizations, serving as president of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium, Public School Administration Association of Maryland and Maryland Association for Elementary School Principals.

She also has been a team leader for Middle States accreditation visits and a judge for the Maryland Teacher of the Year program. In the community, she has served as president of the Rotary Club of Easton, MD, and an executive board member for the Talbot County Chamber of commerce. She also volunteers with Meals on Wheels, the Waterfowl Festival and Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore.

University Catering Recognition

Beyond alumni, the association also honored University Catering for its service to the University and the Alumni Engagement Office, which makes “all the events held at SU sensational,” said Jayme Block, SU associate vice president for alumni engagement and annual giving. “This group is great to work with, and it is always comforting to know that one thing we won’t have to worry about for an event is … if the food will be good.”

For more information about alumni engagement at SU, visit the SU Alumni webpage.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.