Alumni Award Winners 2023

Spring Summer 2024 Issue

Image of Taiisha Swinton-Buck, Alysha Melnyk, Fernando Ramirez, Jennifer Rojeck Barton and President Jonathan Green. L to R: Taiisha Swinton-Buck ’08, Alysha Melnyk ’14, Fernando Ramirez ’82, Jennifer Rojeck ’98 Barton and President Jonathan Green.

FERNANDO RAMIREZ ’82 | Achievement Award

Fernando has an entrepreneurial spirit rooted in a desire to improve life on earth for all. He has founded several consulting firms that focus on energy and water, aiming to advance the awareness and understanding of sustainability and climate change in the United States and abroad.

Early in his career, Fernando held several executive positions in the energy sector at Azavea, EnerNOC, Phoenix Energy Technologies, Silicon Energy and Energy Concepts. In 2010, Fernando became vice president of international business development for SCIenergy Inc., overseeing international business development and expansion throughout Europe and Asia. In 2020, Fernando joined Netherlandsbased Hydraloop as its managing director, leading the company’s North American expansion of innovative decentralized water recycling products.

In 2021, Fernando founded Bridges 2030 International, a developing global nonprofit with a mission to support disadvantaged and forcibly displaced citizens. Additionally, Bridges 2030 aims to educate and empower university students — the next generation of changemakers — about global challenges and the ways in which they can make an impact. The organization’s current projects include the support of the crisis in Ukraine and assisting relocated Ukrainian citizens in Philadelphia. Read more about this project in this issue’s article A Tale of Two Visionaries.

Fernando graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business with a concentration in management.

TAIISHA SWINTON-BUCK ’08 | Leadership Award

Taiisha is the executive director of instructional leadership for Baltimore City Public Schools, and formerly served as principal of the district’s Digital Harbor High School. She was recognized in 2021 when she was named Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals for her success in bonding with students, leading by example on campus and making record-setting impacts in attendance, grade averages and graduation rates. Those results also inspired The TODAY Show’s Al Roker to feature her story on a television segment. She became NBC’s Once in a Lifetime Principal and National Principal of the Year nominee.

During Taiisha’s time at Susquehanna, she was a strong advocate in advancing the university’s efforts in inclusion, equity and justice. She was the founding president of the Rho Theta chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, a historically African American sorority and the f irst Black Greek letter organization at Susquehanna. She was also president of the Class of 2008 and of the Black Student Union.

Taiisha graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in English – secondary education. She went on to earn a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision and a Doctor of Education in educational leadership and administration, both from Drexel University. 

WILLIAM “BILL” SORDONI ’97 | Service Award

For nearly 20 years, Bill has focused much of his community involvement on the economic and business development of northeastern Pennsylvania. He served four years as board member for Penn’s Northeast, a nonprofit economic development organization. At the same time, he joined the board of directors of The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development, a data analysis, research and consulting organization that serves the Wilkes-Barre area. Most recently, he served as board member — including time as chairman — for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the board of the Greater Scranton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bill also has served as board member for Geisinger, the United Way of Wyoming Valley and Susquehanna University. In 2022, he joined the Commonwealth Foundation board and is chair of the board of trustees for the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School. An avid outdoorsman, Bill currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Hunters Sharing the Harvest, a statewide venison donation program.

In addition to his community roles, Bill is chair of a fourthgeneration family business, Sordoni Construction, the largest construction firm in Northeast Pennsylvania. He formerly served as its chief executive officer from 2010 to 2023. Bill graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business administration.

JENNIFER ROJECK ’98 BARTON | Service to Susquehanna Award

Upon graduating, Jennifer immediately became an active alumna, serving as a longtime member of the university’s alumni board from 1999 to 2012. Her service on the board included a term as president. Currently she serves as secretary for the university’s Philadelphia Alumni Chapter, a role she’s held since 2012.

Jennifer often returns to campus as a panelist for Break Through, the university’s annual student-alumni networking conference, and volunteers her time with résumé review, mock interviews, job shadowing and other career preparation services.

She is a frequent participant in the university’s Signe S. Gates and Dawn G. Mueller Women’s Leadership Symposium and has hosted several female students during networking treks organized by the Women’s Leadership Initiative. She also guides students as part of the Sigmund Weis School of Business Mentorship Program. Jennifer is passionate about engaging with other alumni who work in business and technology and is eager to help expand the visibility of Susquehanna’s programs in those fields.

Outside of her time spent volunteering with the university, Jennifer is an associate director for Ernst & Young. She graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business administration & information systems and received an MBA in the same emphasis from the University of Scranton.

ALYSHA MELNYK ’14 | Outstanding Recent Alumna

Alysha is manager of client implementations and onboarding at ECRI, an independent medical nonprofit committed to improving the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care across all healthcare settings worldwide.

At ECRI, Alysha is actively involved with the organization’s culture committee, serving on its steering committee, overseeing employee resource groups and being a mentor for colleagues through their Odyssey Mentoring Program. She has received three ECRI awards, and in 2023, she was the recipient of the Sandra Parker Leadership Scholarship from Professional Women in Healthcare.

As an active and engaged alumna, Alysha often participates in Break Through, the university’s annual student-alumni networking conference, and connects with students in classes and during career fairs. In 2022, she returned to campus for the university’s Signe S. Gates ’71 and Dawn G. Mueller ’68 Women’s Leadership Symposium and provided valued networking and career advice to student participants. Alysha has taken the time to actively coach and mentor Susquehanna students, serving as an S-STEM Student Mentor. She also serves as the volunteer vice president of scholarship for Susquehanna’s chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority, and recently accepted a position on Susquehanna’s Alumni Association Executive Board.

Alysha graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in biology and completed the honors program. She earned her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Drexel University.

Return to top
View this full issue Return to Spring Summer 2024 Issue