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Distinguished Alumni 2022

Dr. Brian Amison, DDS | Admiral King | 1988

Dr. Brian Amison is a 1988 graduate of Admiral King High School. During high school, he excelled academically as evidence of his graduating with honors (top 3%), member and President of the National Honor Society, and regular honors from the Lorain County Alliance of Black School Educators.

In addition to excelling academically, he was also a standout athlete on football field and baseball diamond. He earned 1st team All Erie Shores for football and baseball and earned a football scholarship to Kent State University. He still remembers his 109 kickoff his senior year against Sandusky, his parents’ high school.

Following high school, he was awarded an Honors College Scholarship at Kent State where he earned a BA in Chemistry. He would then win the Patricia Roberts Harris postgraduate scholarship to Ohio State University to study Dentistry, where he graduated in 1997.

He has worked as a dentist in the Canton area for the past 20 years and received the Robert M. Duncan Distinguished Alumni Award from Ohio State University and was a speaker for the Lorain County Alliance of Black School Educators.

Dr. VERNELL BENNETT-FAIRS | Lorain High | 1986

Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs is a 1986 Lorain High graduate. While in high school, she participated in Concert Choir, Choraleers, National Honor Society Cultural Awareness Club and Buckeye Girls State. She looks back fondly at the memories of being voted “most talented” by her peers and at her role performing the Mother Abbess in “The Sound of Music.”

Following high school Dr. Bennett-Fairs earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Fisk University, a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from Eastern Michigan University and a Doctorate of Education in Administration and Instruction from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs is the 13th president of LeMoyne-Owen College and the second woman selected to lead the only Historically Black College in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Bennett-Fairs’ career spans 26 years in higher education, having served as an associate professor and college administrator. She is also a trained and accomplished vocalist and orator, but her most cherished role is that of student advocate.

She has since taken her passion for student engagement and programming to higher heights as president of LeMoyne-Owen College, developing LOC Days (Loving Our Community) to strengthen and expand the relationship with the South Memphis community. Additionally, the inaugural 807 Day, the College’s single highest day of giving, was launched. Further connection with the community has also spurred more corporate investment, including partnerships with Fortune 500 companies.

Under her leadership, academic programs have boosted, including establishing the first Program of Distinction and Endowed Chair for Computer Science specializing in Cybersecurity and Information Technology. Three Fulbright Scholars will be onboarded as faculty members this fall, and accreditation is being pursued for multiple programs.

A native of Lorain, she spent the first 20 years of her career at Kentucky State University (KSU). First as an instructor of music eventually advancing to a tenured Associate Professor of Music role before transitioning to various senior administrative roles. Dr. Bennett-Fairs was a Governor’s Award in the Arts for Arts Education, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens of the Commonwealth. Her final role at KSU was as the Vice-President for Student Affairs.

Dr. Bennett-Fairs has also served as Vice-President for Student Affairs at Delta State University (DSU) where she transformed DSU’s Office of Admissions recruitment operations and marketing and developed collaborations across the campus and community that created pipelines for recruitment and increased student engagement and program offerings.

A former Who’s Who Among College and University Professors, she has been recognized by Memphis Business Journal (MBJ) as a 2021 Super Woman in Business and most recently as the MBJ’s 2022 Power 100. She is an alum of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI) and AASCU’s New President’s Academy (NPA). She was also a member of the inaugural cohort of the Higher Education Leadership foundation and the United Negro College Fund’s Presidential Leadership Institute.

She is an alum of the Executive Leadership Summit, the Hawkins-Scott Leadership Institute, Leadership Kentucky and Leadership Mississippi. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Memphis Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.

She is married to Patric Fairs and has one adult son, Jeffrey.

ELAINE GEORGAS | Admiral King | 1980

Elaine Georgas is a 1980 graduate of Admiral King High School. While in high school, she was a football and basketball cheerleader. Her favorite memories centered around Senor Popiel’s Spanish class, the cookies in the cafeteria, the 1980 run for the State Championship by the Boys’ basketball team, and the lifelong friendships that she formed as an Admiral.

After high school, Elaine received her Associate of Arts Degree from Lorain County Community College and her Bachelor of Science in Finance Degree from Cleveland State University.

Throughout her career, Elaine has been a professional grant writer. She has helped to secure $14 million in local, state and federal grant monies for Lorain County to enhance prevention, treatment and recovery supports for individuals with substance use disorders and/or mental illnesses. She was also instrumental in bringing Ohio’s Recovery Oriented Systems of Care to local communities. Elaine is a strong advocate that substance abuse use disorders and mental illnesses are chronic diseases that can be treated and that recovery is possible!

Elaine was the founder of Communities that Care of Lorain County—Lorain County’s Drug Free Community Coalition. It is definitely worth noting that Elaine has thirty (30) years of public service in Lorain County. She was the former Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County. Elaine retired as the Executive Director Emeritus of the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County.

A lifelong resident of Lorain, Elaine has been a member of the Lorain Rotary Club, where she has served as the secretary and treasurer. She also has worked on the Lorain Rotary Club Memorial Scholarship fund. Elaine is a member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Lorain. Her husband, the late Andrew Georgas, was the original owner of the Garden Basket and was a member of Admiral King’s class of 1979. They have one son, Peter.

JEREMY GOLDBERG | Admiral King | 1998

Jeremy M. Goldberg is a member of the Lorain Admiral King High School class of 1998. As a high school student, Jeremy was very involved in all facets of student activities. He was a varsity athlete on the soccer and tennis teams, as well as a member of the freshman basketball program. He had several editorial and opinion pieces published relating to civics and education, foreshadowing his future work. Jeremy hosted a voter registration drive in the cafeteria that included a visit from then Congressman Sherrod Brown. He fondly remembers his AP English classes with Thomas Ilcisko who he credits for deepening his appreciation of English literature and improving his approach to studying and his work ethic.

Following high school Jeremy matriculated to the University of Texas (Hook em Horns) in Austin receiving a BA in 2003 and proceeding to the University of San Francisco for a Masters Degree in 2012.

Following college, Jeremy has served many roles in the public sector including Deputy Chief of Staff for the city of San Jose, in charge of Civic Innovation; Director, Innovation Partnerships & Director of Startup in Residence; State Finance Director Chief Justice Eric Brown for Ohio; Founder & Executive Director Global Youth Partnership for Africa; Science, Technology, and Innovation Consultant to the World Bank; and others. 

His volunteer experiences are many as well: Vice-Chair Board of Managers–Bayview Hunters Point, YMCA of San Francisco, and District 2 Representative to the Parks Recreation & Open Space Advisory Committee for the City and County of San Francisco.

Jeremy has a stack of scholarly articles published in a variety of places including the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and several online and industry publications. He has received the American Jewish Committee Goldman Fellowship, the Congressman Bill Archer Fellowship, the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival Fellowship, and was recognized as the City and State of New York’s #2 on the Top 50 List of Technology in Government Leaders. 

Currently, Jeremey is serving as a Harvard University Innovation Fellow as part of the Bloomberg Center. Jeremy currently works at Microsoft, serving as Worldwide Public Sector Director of Critical Infrastructure.

HARVEY HERMANN | Lorain Educator | 1964-1991

Harvey Herrmann originated from the Cincinnati area. He graduated from Colerain High School in Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1956 where he earned 10 varsity letters plus 4 academic letters. After graduation, Harvey attended the Ohio State University and played varsity football under Woody Hayes. This team won a National Championship in 1957. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Education in December of 1959 and then continued his education at Xavier University earning a Masters Degree in Guidance Counseling. He later enrolled in classes at Baldwin Wallace to earn a certificate in Administration.

Harvey’s extensive career includes teaching at Northridge School in Montgomery County as a Math teacher from 1959-1960; teaching Math and Science plus coaching for the Princeton School District from 1960-1963; and then spent his remaining career with the Lorain City School District from 1964-1991. His tenure in Lorain provided Harvey with a multitude of experiences beginning at Lorain High School where he taught Math and coached football, then he was a Math teacher and the first head football coach for Southview when it opened in 1969, and continued his career as a Guidance Counselor at Whittier Junior High and Admiral King. At AK, he was the minority counselor. After retirement, he tutored Math at Southview High School to help students pass the state proficiency test. He also worked as an administrator (1993-95) at the Harrison Alternative Academy. He served as the evaluator for the Lorain Schools’ Bilingual/Bicultural Education Project in 1977-91 and spoke at the National Association of Bilingual Education Conference in 1980 in Los Angeles. Harvey wrote a remedial math textbook that was adopted by Lorain Schools and used in the developmental math program. He also created a Geometry honors summer school program in 1981 which allowed honor math students to take an additional high level math course. He taught the program for 10 years.

Some of Harvey’s special memories of teaching in Lorain are having his first All State (Ohio) football player at Lorain High, Tom LaForce, who went on to play at the Naval Academy; teaching several students who scored 800 in Math on the SAT, Southview beating Admiral King in football in 1970 when he coached; tutoring after retirement at Southview for eight senior girls who needed to pass the state Math proficiency test to graduate and having them ALL pass!

Harvey resides in Amherst with his wife Jan. On August 3, they will be married 59 years! Their two children, Douglas (Karen) and Becky (Mark), are honor graduates of Admiral King. Douglas is a project manager for Rolls Royce in Indianapolis, and Becky teaches Math and volunteers as a docent at St. Mary’s City. They have four grandsons and one granddaughter. One of the grandson’s is a third generation math teacher!

JANELLE JONES | Southview | 2002

Janelle Jones was 2002 graduate of Lorain Southview. She is also a graduate of the prestigious Spelman College where she received a degree in Mathematics and holds a Masters degree in Applied Economics from Illinois State University.

Jones made history on January 20, 2021, when she was appointed as the first Black woman to be the Chief Economist for the Department of Labor by President Joe Biden.

Prior to becoming the new Chief Economist, she served as the Managing Director of Policy and Research for Groundwork Collaborative, a DC based think tank that works to identify systemic inequities in economic policies and supports activists that are on the ground bringing issues into the fold. As a rising economist, Jones increased her presence on the public radar when she originated the term, “Black Women Best” while still at the Groundwork Collaborative. It is a philosophy built around the premise that when we advance the economic status of Black women, the nation collectively will get closer to economic equity across the board.

Jones' resume also includes being an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute through 2018, where her work focused on a variety of labor market topics within EPI's Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) and the Economic Analysis and Research Network (CEPR), where she worked as a research associate on topics including racial inequality, unemployment, job quality, and unions. Her research has been cited in The New Yorker, The Economist, Harper's, The Washington Post, The Review of Black Political Economy, and other publications. She has worked as an economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Jones also previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Sacramento, California, where she worked for a grassroots non-profit focused on community health issues. Similarly, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peri in the Small Business Development Program focusing on economic development.

NICOLAS MARSICO | Admiral King | 1994

Nicholas ”Nick” Marsico is a 1994 graduate of Admiral King High school. Nick spent his entire academic career in the Lorain City Schools and was an inaugural member of the Hawthorne Academy in the 4th grade prior to attending Admiral King High School.

During high school, Nick was a standout student as evidenced by his 6th place class rank and was also a four year letter winner on the AKHS golf team. He has two “life shaping” memories from high school that have shaped his life and career. First, taking an independent study Chemistry course with William Kipp his senior year. This class provided opportunities for growth academically and in real life scenarios dealing with politics, business, public opinion and emphasized integrity and character. The other high school memory comes from his experience in the musical “Barnum” with Mrs. Murrell. Though he had never been involved in any theatrical/ musical production prior to this event, the experience taught him about the value of stepping out of his comfort zone in order grow as a person; something that he still uses in his personal and professional life today.

Nick received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, cum laude, from the University of Toledo. He also completed a pharmaceutical care program through Ferris State University and the University of Purdue.

Following college, Nick began working as a pharmacist for Meijer in Toledo and quickly found himself developing on the administrative/management track. In 2006 he became the Pharmacy Director and Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton, Ohio. Four years later he would become the Administrative Director of Ancillary Services and by 2013 he would ascend to become the Vice President of Ancillary Services as Magruder. In 2016 Marsico was promoted yet again to Chief Operating Officer and in 2020 he became the President and CEO at Magruder Hospital.

Marsico is active in the Port Clinton community and serves on a variety of leadership posts in the Health Care Industry. He currently resides in Oregon, Ohio, with his wife Jenn and their two children.

CATHERINE MOLLENO | Southview | 2007

Catherine Molleno is a 2007 graduate of Southview High School. At Southview, Catherine was active in just about everything! She was a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society (President Sr. year), Tennis, Trivia Club, and directed mystery theatre during her senior year. Something that she found great value in during high school was participating in Model UN under Mr. White where she earned one excellent and two superior awards. She also played Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar her junior year and finished second in Southview Idol.

Following high school, she attended Ohio State University where she earned bachelors degrees in both Anthropology and International studies in 3 years. She then went on to Oklahoma State University where she earned a M.S. in International Studies and will earn a M.A. in Research, Measurement and Evaluation at Louisiana State university in the summer of 2022. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in higher education at Louisiana State University where she hopes to defend her dissertation by the Spring of 2023.

Her professional career is as varied as her high school and college career. She served in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan. She has over 10 years of experience in higher education and is a published author in higher education.

While Catherine has enjoyed a great deal of success academically and professionally, she take a great deal of pride in being a Southview graduate and being the first in her family to have earned a B.A., M.S. and soon to have a PhD.

CARL NIELSEN | Lorain High | 1978

During Carl Nielsen’s high school years, he participated in freshman, junior varsity, and varsity football along with being on the track team (discus and shot put). Carl could not participate in winter sports because he was already working in the family business from seventh grade on. He was a member of the National Honor Society, aided for Tim Szente in the library, and was in the ski club. His most memorable experience was being able to miss school in order to take his test for his pilot’s license at age 16.

Upon his graduation from Lorain High School in 1978, he attended Bowling Green State University. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1982. Carl returned to Lorain to continue the legacy of his family business which has been a main stay of downtown Lorain for the past 145 years (1877). He operates the business with his sister, Tina Nielsen Zaworski; and now proudly has his son, Carl Gregory, to add to the generations of Nielsens in the business. This business began in 1694 in Ballum, Denmark, and has its tenth generation of Nielsens in the jewelry business and fifth in Lorain.

Carl has contributed to Lorain and Lorain County throughout the years. He served on the Lorain County Airport Authority for 13 years, was on the Lorain Police Use of Force committee and the Lorain Development Loan Board, and is currently serving on the Lorain Port Authority Board as Vice Chairman with many years of experience. He has been in the Lorain Sailing Club where he was the Commodore for two years, raced Star Boats nationally crewing around the country for one year, and had his private pilot’s license (until he got married!).

Carl and Wendy (Churchill) Nielsen have been married for 39 years. They met in high school when he was 12 and she was 16 (bet Wendy will love this!). They have two children, Carl (Shannon) and Alex (Bridget). They also have one granddaughter Shaylyn.

Carl is a very unassuming person who does not enjoy being in the spotlight so it was like pulling teeth to obtain information about him! He finally came through, though.

GIOVANNI SANTIAGO-MILLENDER | Southview | 2004

Giovanni Santiago-Millender is a 2004 graduate of Southview High School. During high school, Giovanni was very active. He was a letter winner in soccer, basketball, softball, and cross country. He was also a member of the JROTC, Honors Choir, and Band. During high school, he had a special memory of being the runner-up for homecoming queen.

Following high school, he enlisted in Air Force and was honorably discharged due to a disability. He later earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Certificate of Life in Coaching and Mentoring, and an Associate of Arts Degree in Public Administration.

From an early age, Giovanni knew the importance of advocating for the rights of individuals who are marginalized. Consequently, in 2016, he founded META Center Inc., a nonprofit for transgender and gender non-conforming youth and young adults. In 2015, he also assisted the Louis Stokes VA hospital in creating the first ever clinic for transgender veterans in the entire VA system. He was the keynote speaker for the Metro Health Transgender Job fair in 2019. Finally, he created the first LGBTQ youth sports league in 2021 which is the only one in the nation.

Cleveland Magazine named him among the Most Interesting People in 2018, walked during the NY Fashion week in the largest LGBTQ show in 2018, and was a Cleveland Cavalier DIFF Maker for Pride Night in 2022.

PAULA SCROFANO | Lorain High | 1968

Paula Scrofano was born right here in Lorain. Her parents, Dolores and John Scrofano raised six daughters. Paula is the eldest.

She began her acting career when she was cast as Maria in WEST SIDE STORY at the Huntington Playhouse in Bay Village. She was 14. Locally, she sang for many gatherings, meetings, senior centers, always accompanied on the piano by her mother. Both parents continually supported her with transportation, homemade costumes, and lots of applause.

Graduating from Lorain High School in 1968, Paula credits Lorain High School choral director, Howard Hanson, with mentoring her to earn a scholarship to Northwestern University. She went on to graduate from Northwestern’s famed School of Speech and began a professional career that has lasted fifty years.

She has performed in regional theatres from the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, to the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, but most of her career was spent in Chicago, where she has been seen in more than 160 productions. She has received 17 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for her work, winning twice. In addition, she won an After Dark Award for her portrayal of Auntie Mame in MAME, and received two Sarah Siddons“Leading Lady” Awards for Eva Peron in EVITA and for Dot in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. In 2014, after a 40-year career in Chicago theatre, Paula received the Guy Adkin’s “Chicago Icon” Award for career achievement. The following year, Paula, along with her actor husband, received a special Joseph Jefferson Lifetime Award “Honoring hundreds of memorable performances that brought music, laughter, tears and cheers to Chicago audiences.”

Her family life has been equally rewarding. Paula and her husband of more than fifty years, John Reeger, have raised two grown and happily married children; and recently, Paula and John welcomed their first grandchild, Aiden Daniel Reeger, into the world.

JARED SHULLICK | Southview | 2004

Jared Shullick is a member of the Southview High School graduating class of 2004. While at Southview, Jared’s activities were numerous. Jared was Valedictorian of the class, President of National Honor Society, Class Vice President, JROTC Battalion Commander, Varsity Soccer Captain, Lorain Sports Hall of Fame J. Ed Uland Award winner, Model United Nations member as well as a member of the varsity football and track programs.

When asked of his special memories of Southview, Jared responded that during his sophomore year, he had Trigonometry with Ms. Stacey Vore. He credits her with sparking the realization that math could be useful. Following that class, at Southview as well as the United States Naval Academy, Jared said math became his “go to” subject.

After four years at the Naval Academy, Jared was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Navy. He continued his education receiving his Naval Aviator wings in 2011. He continued, graduating from US Air Force Test Pilot School and earning a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the USAF Air University.

Jared flew combat flights in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan from 2012-2015. While in Test Pilot School, Jared conducted a capstone test project flying an F-16D alongside a C-12J with experimental Short-Wave infrared targeting pod, the very first airborne side by side test comparison of targeting pods. Jared has also served as Developmental Test pilot VX-31, China Lake, CA as the Electronic Warfare Subject Matter Expert. Jared served in Iwakuni, Japan as a Department Head of the Strike Fighter Squadron 115, and he is currently stationed as future capabilities officer US INDOPACOM. He has been selected for Operational Command at Sea for Strike Fighter Squadron 136. Jared was named VFA-136 Pilot of the Year in 2014.
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