Member Bios - Part II

Our Hall of Fame members have extensive and diverse backgrounds in industry, interests, and areas of study. They have been brought together by their shared passion for The W. A. Franke College of Business and its dedication to business students. To read a biography on any of our members, please click on their name below.

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Note: FCB alumni honored by the NAU Alumni Office 1996-2001 were inducted into the 2003 Hall of Fame.

If you would like more information on the FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame, please contact Connie Ott at (928) 523-0538 or

Mark Layton ('81) 2003

Mark Layton, 1981 BSBA in business administration and management information systems. Mr. Layton is currently COO of VideoPlus Inc. a leading provider of digital agency and publishing services in the direct sales industry. For over 25 years, Mr. Layton served as chairman of the board and CEO of PFSweb, Plano, Texas, since its inception in 1994 and as past chairman, president, and CEO of Daisytek International, the former parent of PFSweb. He is a recognized leader in the utilization of technology in business. He served as a management consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. SC, Accenture, from 1981–88.

Mr. Layton currently serves on the board of directors of Johnstone Supply Group and as an advisory board member for Agilone, a leading silicon valley “Big Data” software company. Previously, Layton served as chairman of the board for both PFSweb and Daisytek and has also served on the public company boards of uBid, Inc. a leading internet auction site, ISA PLC, a European office products distributor, and with PC Mall. Mr. Layton has also served on the private board of Stampede Brewing Co. and is the owner of Markian Enterprises, a franchise restaurant operator. He is a past NAU Foundation Board member and chairs the NAU-FCB National Advisory Board. 1997 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Bruce Leadbetter (1958–1960), 2003

Bruce Leadbetter, 1958–1960 at NAU. Mr. Leadbetter was the CEO of Sponsor Investments, LLC, Dallas, Texas. He was a partner of the Beta Capital Group, LLC and the CEO of Dalfort Aviation, Dallas, Texas. Mr. Leadbetter served on the boards of Adam Aircraft, iSecuretrac, and North American Technologies Group. He also served on the boards of the Post Company as director and CEO, as director for Fore Golf Partners, The Dropout & Truancy Prevention Network, and Levitz Furniture Company. He also served as director and chairman of the executive committee for Braniff II. Though he is retired, Mr. Leadbetter still serves as CEO of the Astraea Companies and on the Board of Millennium Partners, a golf course ownership company. 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Dr. Alden Lorents, 2013

Alden (Al) Lorents, PhD, professor of computer information systems, joined the faculty of the College of Business in 1971 as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 1975. He got his start in computing in 1959 as a student intern with Honeywell in Minneapolis. In 1959 Honeywell’s computer was a Datamatic 1000 that used vacuum tubes. He continued to work for Honeywell as a programmer/analyst for six years after graduating in accounting and math from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. In 1966 he took over responsibilities for computing at Bemidji State College, where he installed their first computer and taught beginning courses in data processing. Al did his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota obtaining an MBA in 1963 and a PhD in MIS in 1971. He was the third graduate out of a program that was one of the first MIS doctoral programs in the nation.

During his 37 year tenure at NAU he participated in a number of faculty internships that included Lawrence Livermore Labs, Sandia Labs, McDonnell Douglas, Arizona Public Service, and Micron. He was invited by the Secretary General of Kuwait University to consult with their faculty in developing a data processing curriculum. His research centered around the development of curriculum content and curriculum standards in a field that was new and rapidly changing. He was also very active in managing the continuous upgrading of hardware and software for the computer labs in the business building. Dr. Lorents was well-liked by students, faculty, and staff and was known for his high energy and can-do spirit. He was always willing to jump in to do a task, whether it be stirring beans at homecoming tailgates or building steps in the dirt outside the business building to improve access to the building. 2013 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Mark Malinski ('77) 2003

Mark Malinski, 1977 BS in accountancy and data processing management. In addition to his degree from NAU, Mr. Malinski graduated from Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1996. He is currently a co-founder, executive vice president and CFO of PetroEdge Energy III LLC, an independent oil and gas company in Houston, Texas. Mr. Malinski began his career with Pennzoil Co. as an EDP auditor. He later became corporate secretary and finally group vice president - accounting and information technology. 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Vince McKee ('79) 2003

Vince McKee, 1979 BSBA in management and marketing. He is currently the president and CEO of Pinal County Federal Credit Union in Casa Grande, Arizona. While at NAU, Mr. McKee was a member of the Quarterback Club, the NAU-FCB Community Advisory Board, and the Skyjacks. He was with Arizona State Savings and Credit Union, Flagstaff, Arizona, for 24 years, most recently as the vice president and northern regional manager. 1999 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Brad Meuli ('79) 2003

Brad Meuli, 1979 BSBA in marketing. Mr. Meuli was named president and CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission in January 2001. He joined the Mission after an extensive career in banking and having served as chairman of the mission’s board of directors. Mr. Meuli has served as president of the board of trustees of the Bonfils Blood Center, is an alumnus of Leadership Denver, has his MA in Leadership from Denver Seminary, and an honorary doctorate from Colorado Christian University. 2001 NAU Alumni Honoree; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Tom Modisette ('70) 2003

Tom Modisette, 1970 BSBA in finance. In 1980, Mr. Modisette formed the RAM Group, a management services company to the food services industry, and served as president and CEO until 1986. In 1985 he led a team to acquire six macadamia orchards in Australia and a large macadamia orchard and processing facility in Hawaii, becoming the largest vertically integrated macadamia company in the world. The business was sold to Campbell Soup in 1990. He bought Honey Hill farms frozen yogurt in 1993 and sold the company in 1998 to Cool Brands International. In 2002, he founded the Greater Pacific Food Holdings, which bought MacFarms of Hawaii and Jeremiah’s Fine Foods (2004), and Buderim Ginger America (2005). These businesses were sold to Buderim Ginger in 2010. Today Mr. Modisette owns and operates Pan Pacific Foods in Hawaii. This company is a food distributor to all the islands. 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Bob Montoya ('72) 2006

Bob Montoya, 1972 BSBA in management. Mr. Montoya is a third generation resident of Flagstaff. While attending NAU, in 1968 he founded Bob’s Shamrock and U-Haul Moving Center & Goodyear Tire Store. In 1970, Bob founded Sun Mountain Real Estate and Development which he has turned into a successful real estate/development/consulting firm. He, along with various business partners, has developed many of the beautiful buildings in downtown Flagstaff. Mr. Montoya serves on the Arizona Department of Transportation Board, Flagstaff Medical Center Board as past chair, and is currently the chair of Northern Arizona Health Care System. 2006 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Don Murray ('61) 2003

Don Murray, 1961 BSBA in economics. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from NAU, he holds an MBA from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California. Prior to Mr. Murray’s retirement, he was the group vice president after serving as international vice president for the Clorox Company, Oakland, California, with responsibility for more than half of the company’s sales and profits for the last 11 years of his career. He is past president of the NAU Foundation Board. Mr. Murray was conferred the Doctor of Humane Letters by NAU in 2004. 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Julie Nackard ('78) 2003

Julie Nackard, 1978 BSBA in marketing. Ms. Nackard is the executive vice-president for the Nackard Companies, Flagstaff, Arizona, which include Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, Nackard Beverage, Hi-Line Vending, and Jewel Trucking. While maintaining multi-faceted executive responsibilities, she has provided leadership to a myriad of community organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Flagstaff Main Street Foundation, Make-a-Wish, Oktoberfest, St. Mary’s Parent/Teacher organization, and the Flagstaff Alpine Ski Team. Ms. Nackard is an NAU Foundation Board member as well as a FCB Community Advisory Board member. 1997 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

R. Keith Newlon ('79) 2010

R. Keith Newlon, 1979 BSBA in finance and economics. Mr. Newlon is the president of Pioneer Title Holding Company which owns Pioneer Title Agency and Yavapai Title Agency. Pioneer Title has 51 offices and Yavapai Title has eight offices throughout Arizona. Mr. Newlon has served in many community and professional organizations. 2010 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame Inductees

Gregory Norwood ('79) 2004

Gregory Norwood, 1979 BS in accountancy. Mr. Norwood is the chief financial officer of First Niagara Financial Group, a top 30 bank serving the northeastern U.S. Prior to joining First Niagara in 2011, he held various leadership positions with Ally Bank, the successor organization to GMAC Financial Group. Previously, Mr. Norwood was treasurer of Wachovia Corporation responsible for funding, liquidity, analytics, and balance sheet management. Mr. Norwood joined Wachovia in 2005 and held various positions in the Treasury Group. Prior to that, he was the corporate controller of Bank of America from 2001 to 2005 and a partner in the Charlotte office of KPMG, LLP. He served as the relationship partner for Wachovia Corporation. He began his career with KPMG in 1980 in the Houston office. Mr. Norwood served a two-year appointment as a professional accounting fellow in the Office of the Chief Accountant of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Norwood also served as an accounting policy advisor to Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C. Mr. Norwood received the FCB Outstanding Senior Award in 1980 and the Beta Alpha Psi Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1994. 2004 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

J. Duross O’Bryan ('78) 2003

J. Duross O’Bryan, 1978 BS in accountancy. Mr. O’Bryan is a managing director of AlixPartners, LLP, Los Angeles, California. Previously with PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was the partner-in-charge of the dispute analysis and investigations practice of the western U.S. region, partner-in-charge of the New York Metro practice, and an audit partner of the Los Angeles office. Mr. O’Bryan has provided numerous services to the FCB accounting area, including recruiting and speaking with student accounting societies. 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Dr. Jon Ozmun, 2012

Jon Ozmun, PhD, came to NAU in 1974 as an assistant professor of economics. He was promoted to associate professor in 1978 and to full professor in 1982. He served as assistant dean for three years and served as interim dean from 1980–81. In his tenure at NAU he served on, and chaired, numerous committees for both the college and the university.

His most notable service was to the students as both a teacher and an advisor. He taught many economics and management courses and was respected for his knowledge, personal teaching style, concern, and encouragement of each individual student. He had a unique ability to pinpoint student problems and concerns, to anticipate questions, and to develop individualized academic and career plans for students. He routinely followed through with those students as they progressed through the business program. Dr. Ozmun once wrote an email to the faculty which included “… changing lives is the fulfillment of the opportunity that comes with the territory of our chosen profession – college education.” This quote epitomizes his service to the students, faculty, and staff of NAU.

2012 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame

Tom Palmer, JD ('67) 2011

Tom Palmer, JD, 1967 BS in accountancy. Mr. Palmer grew up in Flagstaff and attended NAU where he graduated in 1967 with a BS in accountancy. He obtained his JD from Arizona State University in 1970 and practiced law in Mesa, AZ from 1970-1974. In 1974, he was hired as an assistant professor of business law for FCB, where he taught for 26 years with enthusiasm and integrity. Mr. Palmer retired as Professor of Law Emeritus in 2000. The extended Palmer family was recognized by NAU as winners of the Nth Degree Contest in 2008, with 47 family members having attended NAU. Since his retirement, he and his wife Gretna have spent several years overseas in India, Indonesia and the Caribbean as humanitarian volunteers and trainers through their church. Mr. Palmer returned to Flagstaff and NAU in 2010 and once again enjoyed being in the FCB and the classroom teaching one section of business law in 2011. He is now serving in the Snowflake, Arizona Temple with his wife on a three year assignment from the church. 2011 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Rick Rodriguez ('84) 2012

Rick RodriguezRick Rodriguez, 1984 BS in accountancy
Vice President - Finance & Accounting
Sony Pictures Television International Production
Culver City, California

Mr. Rodriquez played four years of basketball at NAU. After graduating in 1984, he played one year of professional basketball in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

Mr. Rodriguez, a 27-year veteran of the entertainment industry, has held various finance and accounting positions for media giants MGM, Turner Entertainment Company, and Columbia Tristar Television. Currently he serves as vice president of Finance and Accounting for Sony Pictures Television International Production. With offices worldwide, Mr. Rodriguez travels extensively throughout the year.

He has shared his career experiences with NAU business students through on-campus lectures as well as participating in NAU's FCB Executive Job Shadow Program.

Mr. Rodriguez lives in Costa Mesa, California with his wife Melody and is the proud parent of twin daughters, Briana and Brittany.

2012 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Mike Santellanes ('60) 2003

Mike Santellanes, 1960 BS in accounting. Mr. Santellanes also attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He is retired as senior partner and chairman of Price Waterhouse Interamerica and is currently president of Compania Agropecuaria Las Brisas, S.A. in Costa Rica. Mr. Santellanes also served as a member of the Price Waterhouse World Firm General Council and the Price Waterhouse World Board. 1987 Alumni Achievement Award; 1990 The Jubilee Year Distinguished Alumnus Award; 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Ronald Simonsgaard ('66) 2003

Ronald Simonsgaard, 1966 BS in marketing. While at NAU, Mr. Simonsgaard participated in many student activities, including Sophos, Pi Sigma Epsilon- Marketing, Sigma Pi, and Blue Key. He also represented married housing as a student senator. After graduating from NAU, he worked in sales for Xerox. Now, he is a retired senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis Co.1998 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Tony Skrelunas ('92) 2003

Tony Skrelunas, 1992 BSBA in management; 1994 MBA. Mr. Skrelunas directs a highly innovative program for the Grand Canyon Trust that assists Hopi and Navajo communities with focused sustainable economic development expertise. He is a partner in several companies including Southwest Tradition Log Homes and Keya, Inc. He is the former director of Navajo Nation Economic Development Division, helping secure Federal delegation of business site leasing authority, leading efforts to create business friendly legal changes ranging from delegation to Chapters allowing for Local Governance, privatizing several Tribal owned companies including the Shopping Centers and Navajo Times Newspapers, and institution of a sales tax at the local level. He served as the first president of the newly privatized Navajo Shopping Centers Corp., a $50 million asset management company. 1998 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Sherri Slayton ('85) 2007

Sherri Slayton, 1985 BSBA in finance. Ms. Slayton, a Chartered Financial Analyst, is executive vice president and northern region manager for Alliance Bank of Arizona. In 2006 she organized the expansion of Alliance Bank into northern Arizona with its first offices in Sedona and Flagstaff. A veteran banker with more than 25 years of experience, Slayton oversees the northern Arizona group as well as sales teams across the state. She is a member of Flagstaff 40, on the board of St. Luke’s Health Initiative, and the Coconino Regional Council of First Things First. She remains actively involved with FCB serving on the NAU-FCB National Advisory Board. 2007 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Thomas P. Smith ('91) 2009

Tom SmithThomas P. Smith, 1991 MBA, is co-founder and former chairman of the board of TASER International, headquartered in Scottsdale. Mr. Smith served as the company’s president from April 1994 through October 2006. As the prime manager of domestic and international sales, he travels worldwide to conduct presentations for government officials and law enforcement agencies.

Along with his brother Rick, Mr. Smith was awarded the 2002 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, awarded by CNN, AT&T, NASDAQ, and USA Today. Mr. Smith now serves on the board of EPIC Diagnostics and is involved in two new startups, SetJet and All Clear Fire Systems. Mr. Smith holds a BS in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. 2009 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Richard Stone ('77) 2007

Richard Stone, 1977 BS in accountancy. He also completed Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development in 1994. Mr. Stone is currently a consultant with Gray Stone Advisors (business aviation industry), after eight years in public accounting (Arthur Andersen & Co.) and 24 years in the recreational marine industry, including serving for several years as the president of the Sea Ray Boats, Knoxville, Tennessee. Sea Ray Boats is the world’s largest manufacturer of superior quality pleasure boats and is part of Brunswick Corporation’s Boat Group. Rick also serves on the board of directors of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (1986), The Tennessee Theatre Foundation (2007), and The Fort Loudoun Lake Association (2009). 2007 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Renee Teran ('78) 2003

Renee Teran, 1978 BSBA in business administration and communications. Ms. Teran currently is the president of Polaris Business Solutions, San Diego, California. She was the principal of the San Diego based New York Life insurance practice, Lorena International, specializing in asset preservation of world wide, executive benefit planning, and investment consultation to companies. In 1991 she received the NAU Alumni Achievement Award. 1998 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Jana Turner ('77) 2005

Jana Turner, 1977 BSBA in marketing. Ms. Turner is president of JT Solutions, a consulting firm assisting commercial real estate companies with organizational, operational, and marketing issues. She is also a principal and partner with RETS Associates, a staffing and recruiting firm offering the commercial real estate industry interim, permanent, and executive position placements. Previously, she was president of the Asset Services division for Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. Under her leadership, the division was responsible for managing approximately 650 million square feet of investment-owned real estate encompassing more than 700 clients, 3,000 properties, and 3,000 employees in every major market across the U.S. A 32-year industry veteran, Ms. Turner began her career with R&B Commercial Management in Los Angeles. She joined Koll Real Estate Services in 1990, which was purchased in 1997 by CB Commercial, later becoming the current CB Richard Ellis. She was named president of Asset Services in 1998. 2005 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame

James Umland (1978–1980) 2003

James Umland, 1978–1980, later graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in accountancy. While attending NAU, Mr. Umland was a Phelps Dodge Scholar and president of Sophos. He is now the owner and CEO of Johnson Precision, Hudson, New Hamshire, one of New England’s fastest growing plastic injection molding companies. Previously, he was a CPA with Price Waterhouse, an investment banker and a founding partner of a Wall Street private equity firm and then director of acquisitions and strategic planning for Ferro Corporation, a $2 billion manufacturer of specialty chemicals and director of corporate development at LTV Corporation, a $5 billion dollar manufacturing conglomerate. 1996 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Jim Upchurch ('80) 2009

Jim UpchurchJim Upchurch, 1980 BS in accountancy, is the president and CEO of Caltius Capital Management, a mezzanine and private equity firm headquartered in Los Angeles. Founded by Mr. Upchurch in 1997, Caltius Mezzanine completed the closing of its fourth fund, Caltius Partners IV, LP, with $500 million of committed capital. He also manages Caltius Equity Partners which closed its second fund, Caltius Equity Partners II, LP, in 2007 with capital commitments of over $133 million. Since Caltius’ inception, Upchurch has overseen the deployment of more than $500 million of capital in over 50 transactions. Prior to founding Caltius, he was the president of U.S. Bancorp Libra and its predecessor, Libra Investments. 2009 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Cheryl Wilson ('69) 2003

Cheryl Wilson, 1969 BS in accountancy. Ms. Wilson, a CPA, earned her MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. She began her career with Ernst & Young then moved to Coopers & Lybrand, now PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she became their third woman partner and served as a partner for 18 years. Prior to retiring, she was president of THEATREplex Entertainment Properties, Inc. Ms. Wilson is a past governing council member of the AICPA, a past chairperson of the Illinois Society of CPAs and recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. She is a past chairperson and a current member of the State of Illinois Board of Examiners. 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame.

Larry Wilson ('67) 2003

Larry Wilson, JD, 1967 BS in accountancy. After NAU, Mr. Wilson earned a law degree from the University of Arizona. He was a CPA and a practicing lawyer before he made his way to radio. Prior to Mr. Wilson’s retirement, he was CEO of Citadel Communications Corporation, which was sold in 2001 to Forstman Little. 1997 FCB Centennial Alumni; 2003 FCB Alumni & Faculty Hall of Fame

Nomination Criteria

Criteria fall into the following categories: professional achievements, community service, and loyalty and support to NAU-FCB. Nomination guidelines can be found HERE.