A Healthy Balance: Stephanie Hill ’86

Stephanie Cole Hill ’86 sometimes feels like a woman in a man’s world.

Most of the other executives at Lockheed Martin Corporation, a major engineering firm which earns most of its income from contracts with the U.S. military, are men. Hill began to face feeling like “the only one in the room” early in her computer science career, a feeling she still experiences sometimes. However, she learned not to let that feeling get her down.

“I have learned that you have a choice. You can allow others’ perceptions to define you, or you can decide to define their perception and be a pathfinder,” she said. “Although some may still wonder initially if I have what it takes to make it, working hard and performing with excellence and professionalism at all times quickly answers their question, and I get to define their view in a very positive way.”

A Turning Point

As an undergraduate at UMBC, Hill originally planned to major in economics and become an accountant. However, she became interested in computer science after taking a programming class and decided to double major in economics and computer science. During her sophomore year, Hill interned at the U.S. Department of Labor, applying her computer science knowledge to the real world. It was a turning point in her education.

“I realized at that point that all of the things that I was learning in school would be applied as I entered the workforce as a professional,” she explained. “Although I was always a conscientious student, this experience reinforced the importance of the subject matter being taught and I was more invigorated to learn.”

Putting Knowledge to Work

After graduating in 1986, Hill quickly moved up in the corporate world. She currently works as a program director and site general manager at Lockheed, where she oversees 600 employees specializing in engineering, finance, business development and production and is responsible for business growth, program execution, community involvement, and site morale.

She credits UMBC with teaching her several important lessons that helped her to get to where she is today, from the necessity of working hard to the importance of teamwork.

“The variety of classes that I was fortunate enough to take also helped me to be better rounded and able to function in the corporate environment,” she added.

Lessons in Diversity

Additionally, UMBC taught her important lessons about diversity. As a member of the Black Student Union, she enjoyed the social interaction and support of the group as well as their work on serious issues. Additionally, the diversity at UMBC prepared her for conditions she would later encounter in the workplace.

“The diversity of the student population is so very representative of the real world,” she said. “Understanding how to interact and make things happen with multiple cultures and backgrounds was an invaluable experience in preparation for corporate America.”

Today, Hill passes on this lesson in diversity in several ways. She works with the Society of Women Engineers to encourage high school girls to pursue a career in engineering. She also mentors many younger employees at work.

“I hope that I help them to see that regardless of their obstacle, whether it is perception based on physical difference or personality type, that they can show their value and make the difference for the business and grow in their career,” she says.

A Great Support System

Hill has a passion for working with children as well. She leads the children’s ministry and directs the children’s choir at her church, and is active in sports and the arts with her three children, Kori, Cole, and Cameron. Hill admits that balancing a family and a career can be difficult sometimes. However, she doesn’t let her job get in the way of her family life.

“I am fortunate enough to have been able to have an incredible family and great career. It’s hard work, but it can be done. You need to have a great support system, good priorities, and personal courage, and you need to be clear about your personal boundaries,” Hill explains. “I am a wife, mother and executive – in that order.”

– Jennifer Matthews ’07
Originally posted November 2006

2007 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally published Spring 2007

Outstanding Alumnus
Social & Behavioral Sciences
Eric A. Carlton ’91, Africana Studies

After becoming the youngest high school principal in the country at age 29, Eric A. Carlton ’91, Africana studies, later launched Banner Schools, a private company that partners with public school districts to provide a successful educational environment for at-risk youth. The company has three schools in Chicago, one in Miami, and will open another in Detroit. Together, the schools serve some 500 middle- and high-school students from the most troubled environments. A former UMBC SGA vice president and president, member of the men’s soccer team and tutor for the Shriver Center’s Choice Program, Carlton has received numerous accolades for his services as an educator.

Distinguished Service Award
Eli Eisenberg ’86, Interdisciplinary Studies

Eli Eisenberg ’86, interdisciplinary studies, is connected to UMBC through both service and philanthropy, as a member of the board of UMBC’s Alex. Brown Entrepreneurship Center, the “Exceptional by Example” Alumni Campaign Committee and the 2016 Alumni Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, he has endowed a scholarship in the name of his parents that supports two students per year.  Eisenberg is founder and principal of VPC, Inc., a company providing multimedia production services, event management and studio and technology systems design. Guests at UMBC’s Commencement ceremonies and the spectacular 40th Anniversary celebration have seen VPC’s technical expertise at work.

Outstanding Alumna
Visual & Performing Arts
Sheila López ’92, Visual and Performing Arts -Theatre

After earning her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, Sheila M. López ’92, visual and performing arts/theatre, founded Antecesores, a non-profit organization in Buffalo, NY, that advances, nurtures and celebrates Latino cultures through theatre. Antecesores (translated as “ancestors”) focuses in particular on programs for children, to allow them to explore and discover their cultural heritage. She also works to bring different generations of Buffalo’s Latino community closer together and to provide a cultural bridge between Latinos and those of non-Latino descent.

Outstanding Alumnus
Engineering and Information Technology
Robert S. Marshall ’88, Mechanical Engineering

Robert S. Marshall ’88, mechanical engineering, is president and CEO of AWS Convergence Technologies, better known as “WeatherBug.” Marshall pioneered the networking of weather instrumentation and cameras using the Internet, and has built this capability into the single largest network of weather stations and Internet cameras in the world.  Since it was launched in 2000, WeatherBug has become one of the top 10 news and information sites on the Internet. It is the leading provider of real-time, local weather for broadcast television and, through a landmark agreement with the National Weather Service, now also provides critical weather data to federal, state, and local government agencies.

Outstanding Alumnus
Natural & Mathematical Sciences
Joseph P. McCloskey ’81 M.S., ’83 Ph.D., Applied Mathematics

Joseph McCloskey, M.S. ’81, Ph.D. ’83, applied mathematics, is a senior cryptologic mathematician for the National Security Agency, where he has worked since 1968. As technical director of the agency’s Mathematics Research Group for the past 11 years, he is responsible for coordinating and supervising the professional training of newly hired mathematicians and statisticians. Throughout his career, Dr. McCloskey has received numerous citations, including the prestigious Presidential Rank Award in 2006 and the President’s Award from the Crypto-Mathematics Institute, the agency’s oldest learned society, in 2001. He is the author of more than 80 professional papers, and he has taught one course each semester at UMBC for 20 years

Outstanding Alumna
Patricia A. Smith ’74, Ancient Studies

A distinguished attorney, Patricia A. Smith ’74, ancient studies, has acted as People’s Counsel for the State of Maryland, a special solicitor and chief counsel to the Baltimore Police Department for the City of Baltimore, and has served as an administrative law judge in the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, as an assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and an assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Maryland. She is also an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University.

2008 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally published Spring 2008


Eric Conn ’85, Computer Science, is an accomplished entrepreneur, executive, technologist, and software engineer and a member of the board of UMBC’s Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. He is the president and co-founder of Gloto Corporation, which specializes in the design, development, and deployment of innovative products that integrate mobile devices and computers. In 2006 Gloto launched Cellblock.com, which allows users to instantly publish photos and videos from their computers or camera phones to a shared, online photo album. This technology was used to highlight participation at UMBC’s 40th Anniversary. As guests watched from in front of the Library and other locations, real-time photos from events happening all over campus were instantly posted and shared, creating a unique, campus-wide experience for thousands of visitors that night – a new twist that took the concept of a traditional photo album and turned it into a social event.


Kara Lee Corthron ’99, Theatre, is an award-winning playwright whose works depict the challenges brought by economic circumstances and the power of the human spirit. “Wild Black-Eyed Susans,” which was performed during UMBC’s Homecoming in 2007, earned Corthron the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights in 2007.  Another work, “Like a Cow or an Elephant,” received the 2007 Theodore Ward Prize for African-American Playwrights and was produced at the DePaul Theatre School in Chicago. Her work “End-Zone Zephyr” earned Corthron the 2006 New Professional Theatre Writer’s Award. Corthron is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in New York, where she has been playwright-in-residence, and is also a three-time recipient of the Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Foundation Award


The Honorable Marcella A. Holland ’80, Political Science, is Chief Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. She was first sworn in as an Associate Judge in 1997, having served as an assistant state’s attorney for 13 years. Judge Holland oversees a $15 million budget and the work of 31 other active judges, several retired judges and several masters. Among her honors are Maryland’s “Top 100 Women” and induction in the “Circle of Excellence” in 2004; and the Ben Cardin Pro Bono Service Award from the University of Maryland School of Law, her alma mater. She has an extensive record of community service with organizations including Associated Black Charities and the Druid Hill YMCA. She is also active in bar associations, having served as President, Monumental City Bar Association; Member, Board of Governors, Maryland State Bar Association; and President, MD Chapter of National Association of Women Judges


Kevin M. Maxwell ’02 Ph.D., Language, Literacy & Culture, is the superintendent of schools for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, a position he has held since 2006. An educator for more than 20 years, he also has served as chief educational administrator in Prince George’s County Public Schools, where he also taught, and as one of six community superintendents within the Montgomery County Public Schools system, as well as a principal in both counties. Under his leadership as principal, Walter Johnson High School in Montgomery County was named one of the 100 best high schools in the United States. In 2000 he received the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award and he was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2004


Stephanie Reel ’85, Information Systems, is vice provost for information technology and chief information officer for the Johns Hopkins University. Since 1994, she has also been vice president for information services for the Johns Hopkins Hospital. As the CIO for all divisions of the university and health system, Reel leads operational redesign for information services, networking, telecommunications, as well as clinical research and instructional technologies. Her work to develop electronic patient records management has been honored by Computerworld magazine and the Smithsonian Institution, and she has been named CIO of the Year by the College of Healthcare Information Management executives. She is a member of EDUCAUSE, the Healthcare Information Systems Executive Association, and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology and she serves on the client advisory boards of IBM, GE Medical Systems, Verizon, the editorial advisory board of Healthcare Informatics magazine and the Information Systems Advisory Council for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Reid C. Thompson ’85, Biological Sciences, is vice chairman of neurological surgery, director of the Vanderbilt Brain Tumor Center, and associate professor of neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Thompson received his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he completed his internship and residency, followed by a fellowship in cerebrovascular surgery at Stanford. A diplomat of the American Board of Neurological Surgery, he also is the author or more than 30 published research papers and abstracts. Thompson’s expertise is in the surgical treatment of patients with complex brain and spinal cord tumors, particularly those involving the most critical parts of the brain such as the brain stem and skull base.

2009 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally published Fall 2009


Dr. James P. Clements ’85, ’91 & ’93, Information Systems, was recently appointed President of West Virginia University in Morgantown, WVa. He is the first UMBC alumnus to lead a major university. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Clements was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Towson University. A TU employee since 1989, he also served as a faculty member, Vice President for Economic and Community Outreach and Chairman of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. Dr. Clements has published and presented more than 70 papers on management, information systems and technology. The fourth edition of his project management book is used in more than 20 countries and published in four languages.


Jeffrey “Duff” Goldman ’97, History, is known for turning traditional confections into out-of-this-world creations on his Food Network show “Ace of Cakes.” After completing his UMBC degree, Goldman attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. His company, Charm City Cakes, has baked cakes for events including the “Kung Fu Panda” premier and the Maryland Zoo’s annual Zoomerang gala. In 2000 he was a featured speaker at UMBC’s Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. He also holds a Guinness Book record for baking the world’s largest cupcake, created in March 2008.


Dr. Crystal Watkins ’95, Biological Sciences, studied at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She received the David E. Rogers Award for the highest standards of professionalism, medical ethics and community leadership. Dr. Watkins’ graduate research was featured in the Wall Street Journal and led to a U.S. patent for a treatment of diabetic disorders. She has also traveled to Ghana and worked with the Princess of Ada and Ministry of Health to implement HIV/AIDS health education and prevention programs.


The Honorable Jon S. Cardin M.P.P. ’96, Policy Sciences, represents residents of northwest Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates where he serves on the Ways and Means Committee. Much of his legislation focuses on election, tax and education reform. In February he was awarded the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Legislator Award for developing legislation that gives shelters access to drugs needed to properly sedate animals prior to euthanasia. Cardin also serves as a member of the Board of Directors/Advisors for the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, the Camp Shohola Scholarship Fund, Baltimore Hebrew University, UMBC Hillel, The American Council of Young Political Leaders, Institute for Progressive Leadership and the Maryland Public Interest Law Project.


Laura Pasquini ’98, Visual Arts, is the director of Youth and Family Programs at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in the Washington, D.C. She oversees the operation of all classes, programs and camps for children and their families. In her time there she has redefined the overall vision and mission of the Corcoran’s after school program, Corcoran ArtReach. She installed and supported fundraising efforts for the annual ArtReach exhibit. At UMBC, Pasquini worked in the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture as an undergraduate intern where she worked to make art exhibits accessible and interesting to public school students through a series of creative projects based on gallery exhibits.


Gustavo Matheus, Esq. LLC ’90, Biological Sciences, is always thinking of new ways to connect with UMBC alumni and is particularly interested in engaging alumni in the Washington, D.C. area. He is intimately involved in growing and maintaining the Esperanza Endowment, which supports and inspires current and future UMBC students of Latino or Hispanic ancestry and/or students who are committed to the advancement of minorities. Matheus, who practices law in Rockville, Md., mentors student members of the scholarship committee and has been instrumental in connecting with alumni who choose to support the fund.


Alicia Wilson ’04, Political Science, is an associate at Gordon Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander, LLC. Prior to her position the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, she served as a clerk for the Honorable David Young for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. Wilson spent her third year of law school at Susan Leviton’s Juvenile Law, Children’s Issues and Legislative Advocacy Clinic. She also coached the Mock Trail team at the Baltimore Freedom Academy – a high school with curriculum and culture focused on social justice and activism.

2010 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners


Michael George ’87, Information Systems, has spent the past 12 years with Amazon.com in Seattle, WA. Mike started his Amazon career as the Director of Systems and Networking Operations. Since then, he has held senior positions that span several functional areas; Director of WW Third Party Platforms, GM/Dir of WW Marketplace, VP of Human Resources, VP of WW Payments, VP of Spoken Word Audio, and now VP of a yet-to-be-announced new business. Mike joined Amazon through the acquisition of the Junglee Corp. in mid-1998; where he was VP of Business Development. Prior to Junglee, Mike spent 14 years in the newspaper industry; working for the Baltimore Sun, USA Today and the Washington Post Co. Mike is named on several patents and pending patents related to marketplace, payments and group buying business processes and technologies.

Vikki Valentine ’96, English, is an award-winning science journalist and senior editor for NPR’s science unit and lead editor of NPR’s environment, energy and climate coverage. Before that, she managed the desk’s daily digital output of science, environmental, health and technology stories, and initiated major features and series. Prior to NPR, Valentine worked at Discovery.com and BaltimoreSun.com. Her writing has also been published by the Smithsonian Channel, The New York Times, National Geographic, Marketplace Radio, Science, and Washingtonian. Valentine graduated with honors from the University College London Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine master’s program in 2005; and magna cum laude from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1996, with a major in English and minors in anthropology and writing. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Michael I. Nishimura ’80 BA ’84 MS ’89, PhD Biological Sciences, has devoted his career to developing novel immunologic approaches for cancer therapy and is recognized for his talents as a scientific mentor. Building upon his strong genetics and immunology training acquired at UMBC, he pioneered the use of retroviral vectors encoding T cell receptor (TCR) genes to engineer an individual’s own lymphocytes to be able recognize and control the patients cancer cells or virus-infected cells. The first clinical trial using TCR gene modified T cells was conducted in Denmark using one of Dr. Nishimura’s TCR’s targeting the melanoma protein MART-1. Dr Nishimura serves as the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina and has assembled a strong clinical and scientific team committed to bringing this and other novel cellular therapies to the clinic.

Chad Cradock ’97, Psychology, was named to UMBC Athletics’ Hall of Fame in 2004 after a stellar career as a Retriever from 1993 until his graduation in 1997 and immediately became an assistant coach, but his greater contribution to the UMBC family would begin in 2001 when he became just the second head coach of the swimming and diving program. Since he took over, the Retriever men have won nine consecutive conference championships, including seven straight America East titles, while the women have won four conference crowns. In addition, the amount of alumni giving has gone up over 1,200% during his tenure. Cradock and his staff have been named Coach/Coaching Staff of the Year six times, including being named 2010 America East Coaching Staff of the Year.

Dean Alexander ’88, Visual Arts, is a photographer and the owner of Dean Alexander Productions, Inc., based in Baltimore Maryland. His work covers a broad range from advertising and editorial to fine art and has taken him to over 40 countries throughout the world. Clients range from corporations such as IBM and UnderArmour to non-profits such as the National Institute of Health and HealthCare for the Homeless. Subjects range from Oprah Winfrey and Lady Sutherland (Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen of England) to Baltimore’s homeless. He has been invited to speak at various institutions including, MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), Boston University’s Center For Digital Imaging Arts and the U. S. House of Representatives Page School at the Library of Congress. He has won nearly 100 international awards in his career.

Gene Trainor ’86, Health Science & Policy and Economics, is the Chief Operating Officer of Foundation Capital, a Menlo Park CA – based venture capital firm. Prior to joining Foundation, Gene served for 10 years as the Administrative General Partner and the Chief Operating Officer for New Enterprise Associates. Prior to joining NEA, Gene was an Executive Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer of Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn, LLC, and before that the CFO/Controller of a Mid-Atlantic venture capital firm and a member of the audit group for Ernst & Young, LLP. A certified public accountant, he earned BA degrees from UMBC in Economics and Health Science and Policy with certificates in Accounting, Finance and Managerial Economics. Gene received his MBA from Loyola College of Maryland. Gene serves on the board of the non-profit Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Aaron Merki ’05, Political Science, graduated from UMBC as a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar and then attended University of Maryland School of Law as the Bekman Leadership Scholar. While there, Aaron founded the FreeState Legal Project, which provides legal services to low-income LGBT clients throughout the Greater Baltimore region. Aaron was named the National LGBT Bar Association’s 2008 student leader of the year. After graduating law school, Aaron accepted a judicial clerkship with the Hon. Susan K. Gauvey of the United States District Court for Maryland. Now an Associate at Venable LLP, Aaron’s clients range from Fortune 500 companies to low-income individuals. He continues to serve as Chairman of the FreeState Legal Project Board of Directors, which now includes judges, professors, elected officials, and some of Walter Sondheim’s closest friends.