Editor’s Note: The following class notes reflect news about Ball State alumni that was received and processed during Spring 2021 semester and published in our Summer 2021 print issue of Ball State University Alumni magazine.
Jim Andrew, ’71, was presented the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Pursuing an entrepreneurial career in the building supply industry, he bought Henry Poor Lumber and, through all economic cycles, has grown the business and implemented best-of-class management controls and processes. His service to Ball State includes having served as president of the Alumni Council.
David Cook, ’72, was appointed Indiana Inspector General by Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. Previously, he headed the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
A business major at Ball State, Cook was chief public defender and judge in Marion County. His goal has always been to “try and improve the product that’s coming out of whatever agency I have a leadership position in.”
Cook relishes time with his wife, Chris, and their family, but has no plans to retire. “As long as I can contribute, I’d just as soon be involved and active and accept a new challenge.”
Otis D. Alexander, MLS ’83, is the author of Second Coming or Second Trade-off: Contemporary & Relevant Literature During the Pandemic, recently released by Mansa Books. Alexander has directed and managed academic and public libraries in the United States and throughout the world. His research has appeared in Scribner’s Encyclopedia of American Lives, African American National Biography, Public Library Quarterly, and other publications.
Pete Fritz, ’83, was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He joins an elite group of longtime AICP members recognized for “excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, and community service and leadership.” Fritz is the healthy communities planner with the Indiana Department of Health, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, and has more than 35 years of experience in planning and designing active transportation networks.
Tina K. Pierce, ’87, was inducted into the Miller College of Business Hall of Fame. She is vice president and CFO for Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies and lives in Atlanta. Majoring in finance at Ball State, she established the Pierce Scholarship Fund to provide assistance to students receiving course credit in study-abroad or domestic travel opportunities.
Y. Michelle “Shelly” Wilson-Merriwether, ’92, Chesterfield, MI, was the first person of color voted in as commissioner of Parks and Recreation for Chesterfield Township, MI, in December 2020. She also is the first person of color, elected or appointed, to an office in the township.
Mario Garcia, ’95, became the first judge of Hispanic heritage to serve the Southern District of Indiana. The new judgeship was created by the Judicial Conference of the United States. A registered civil mediator, Garcia has appeared in more than 500 hearings in federal and state courts over the past five years. As a member of the Southern District’s Criminal Justice Act panel, he has represented indigent clients, and has provided pro bono services for a court program that helps individuals re-enter society after incarceration. He was a criminal justice major at Ball State.
Chris Hermon, ’95—an Air Force veteran and group RV manager for Heartland, Jayco, KZ and Thor in the Elkhart, IN, area—encourages Ball State alums to consider working in the RV industry where opportunities abound.
Ben Seal, ’97, principal; Jeff Morris, ’89, executive creative director; and Erin (Ogle) Haskett, ’97, VP of Client Services, all work at The Flatland, a growing Indianapolis advertising agency that made a clean sweep at the 2021 Indianapolis Addy Awards. The agency won Best of Show and eight golds for its work for client Milto Cleaners, as well as Judges’ Choice Awards for its work on behalf of clients Delta Faucet and Triton Brewing Company.
Erin Theis, ’98, Indianapolis, has been named media director by Borshoff, an award-winning creative and PR agency. Her 23 years in the advertising field includes 15 years as a media director. She specializes in a comprehensive approach of traditional and digital advertising strategy, planning, and buying.
Lisa Wills Swedarsky, ’98, Indianapolis, was awarded The Black Excellence Award for her work as a teacher at Victory College Prep. Much of her career has centered on at-risk, inner-city youth. She has taught elementary school, coached basketball in Atlanta, and led a mentorship program at a juvenile detention center.
As president of the nation’s largest non-profit provider of college scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs), Noël Harmon, MA ’01, is unlocking educational opportunities for America’s fastest-growing racial group. Based in Washington, D.C., APIA Scholars provides opportunities and resources for students to succeed after post-secondary education so they may develop into leaders who excel in their careers and communities. Harmon is a graduate of Ball State’s Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education master’s program.
Nina Johnson-Pitt, ’03, Paragon, IN, former central region director for Little League International, has been promoted to senior strategy executive engaged in restructuring the League’s international operations department. She joined Little League as central region assistant director in 2006 and was named region director in 2011. She serves as a volunteer coach for the Little League program in Zionsville, IN.
Matt Sparling, ’03 BAR ’05, Fort Wayne, IN, was selected for Building Design+Construction’s 40 Under 40 Award. As a principal for MKM architecture + design, Sparling has played an essential role in the firm’s designation as one of the top healthcare architectural firms in the country by Modern Healthcare Magazine for 14 consecutive years.
Adam Weesner, ’03, Fort Wayne, IN, has been promoted to director of architecture and partner for Barton‐Coe‐Vilamaa Architects & Engineers. As a registered architect and valued employee since 2013, Weesner brings a wealth of architectural design knowledge to the firm’s K‐12 education clients.
Malina Jeffers, ’04, Indianapolis, has co-founded the cultural development firm GANGGANG. With initial investments from the Central Indiana Community Foundation and other philanthropies, GANGGANG seeks to promote and invest in culture entrepreneurs, with a strong commitment toward racial equity. Jeffers’ background includes serving as Love Indy’s project manager for Plan 2020, Indianapolis’ bicentennial planning agenda, and director of marketing at the Madame Walker Legacy Center.
Ashley Parker, ’05, Indianapolis, senior property manager for Buckingham Companies, was selected as a member of the inaugural class of the Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute. Launched by Indiana Philanthropy Alliance in 2021, the Mutz Institute provides leadership training to professionals serving in board and executive roles at foundations, corporations, and social impact organizations across Indiana.
Nichlas Emmons, ’06 MA ’07 EdD ’20, St. Paul, MN, served as a co-creative director and co-producer of the educational video game, When Rivers Were Trails, launched in Spring 2019. Following a displaced Ojibwe person, the game explores the history of federal land allotment and indigenous peoples, while exposing players to indigenous cultures, languages, and social issues.
Jason Guinn, ’07, has written a third fiction book, The Wretched: Lucifer Chronicles, Book 1, available on Amazon in Kindle edition. The book pulls from his love of 1980s horror films, action/adventure, and what he describes as his own “morbid sense of humor.”
U.S. Air Force Captain Doyle McIntosh, ’08, completed training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II as an active-duty fighter pilot. After completing officer training school, he spent seven years as a weapon systems officer.
Seth E. Davis, MA ’11, Cordova, TN, received a 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship for his work, Shade: Literacy Narratives at Black Pride, published in Volume 7, Issue 2 of Literacy in Composition Studies. CCCC awards are bestowed annually in association within the National Council of Teachers of English.
Seth Johnson, ’13, Indianapolis, founded Together Estranged, a nonprofit that supports people estranged from family members and works to destigmatize estrangement. The organization started with a monthly podcast club and opportunities to attend meaningful discussions on estrangement.
TCOM grad Alicia Herder, ’14, co-produced a film selected for premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, widely recognized as the largest and most prestigious independent film festival in America. The film she co-produced with her boyfriend, Marcel Perez, in 2018, La Leyenda Negra, has been screened and honored several times after its Sundance world premiere. It can be watched on the HBO Latino channel and streamed on HBOMax.
Brandon Townsend, ’18, recently produced and directed an Indiana-based, independent film, Smokestack. Released online in September 2020, the film garnered more than 22,000 views, causing it to be included as an Amazon Prime Video and selected for Lift-Off Global Network’s First Time Filmmaker Sessions. Townsend attributes the film’s success to his having studied video production at Ball State.