Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Distinguished Alumnus Award

B+G-Alumnus-Martins
The UCF Alumni Association presented its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award to Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, ’01.
Alex was unable to accept his award in person due to an NBA owners’ meeting in New York.
(PHOTO: UCF Today)
Alex Martins, ’01 | CEO, Orlando Magic

The UCF Alumni Association honored Alex Martins with its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest annual accolade given to a UCF graduate, in recognition of his career achievements, at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

With 25 years in professional sports management, Alex rejoined the Magic in June 2005 and was promoted to CEO in December 2011. He previously served as president for more than a year, and was the team’s chief operating officer from 2006-2010.

As CEO, he led the development of Orlando’s state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena, working tirelessly for eight years with community leaders on the massive project, which has been ranked one of the best of its kind in the world. During the same time period, the business of the Orlando Magic thrived, building the largest season ticket base in franchise history, and setting countless new records for sales.

Alex has also given much of his time and energy to serving his alma mater since graduating with his master’s degree from the UCF College of Business Administration, currently as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Counsel for the college, and as chairman of the critical Finance and Facilities Committee for UCF’s Board of Trustees. He was inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame in 2008, and was honored that same year with the opportunity to serve as a summer commencement speaker.

Learn more about Alex:

Distinguished Alumna 2014

UCF President John Hitt presents the 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award to Lesa Roe, '91. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
UCF President John Hitt presents the 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award to Lesa Roe, ’91.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Lesa Roe, ’91 | Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA

Balance doesn’t seem to be a concept too difficult for a rocket scientist, but striking equilibrium between her commitment to education and her desire to solve real-world problems prove to be among the top concerns for Lesa Roe. Fortunately, she was able to simultaneously work and study in UCF’s space program and currently serves as NASA’s deputy associate administrator. She continues to integrate the learning process with the implementation of logistic solutions and aims to further her education in all of her pursuits, whether working on orbiter communication systems or the Hubble Space Telescope.

Learn more about Lesa:

A Knight of Honor

The UCF Alumni Association will present its annual awards during Homecoming week

(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)

For the past 34 years, the UCF Alumni Association has been honoring Knights who “Reach for the Stars.” Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of this year’s recipients, who will be presented with their Knighty statues (as seen above) at the 2014 Black & Gold Gala on Thursday, Oct. 23.

The Distinguished Alumnus/a award is the association’s top award, given to someone who has risen in his/her profession to a national level. The Distinguished Student award is given to a current undergraduate student who is active on campus and in the community, and has displayed leadership and academic success. The Service to UCF award is given to an alumnus/a who has served UCF over a number of years either as a volunteer or lifetime employee. The Professional Achievement award winners are selected by each individual college and are given to alumni who are standouts in their respective fields.

Check out this year’s awardees:

Top Awards

Distinguished Alumna

Lesa Roe, ’91 | Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA

Distinguished Student

Cynthia Florentino, ’14 | Google Policy Fellow, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Service to UCF

Melanie Fernandez, ’86, ’91 | Partner, Cross, Fernandez & Riley LLP

Professional Achievement Awards

The Burnett Honors College

David Huffaker, ’97 | Senior Researcher, Google Inc.

College of Arts and Humanities

Rob Schaer, Ph.D., ’02 | Musician, self-employed

College of Business Administration

Mary Merrell Bailey, J.D., ’85, ’89, ’01, ’07 | Managing Partner, Your Caring Law Firm

College of Education and Human Performance

Pam Stewart, ’85 | Commissioner of Education, Florida Department of Education

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Vinod Philip, ’00 | CEO (Generators Business Segment), Siemens Energy Inc.

College of Health and Public Affairs

Lt. Jean-Marc Chanoine, J.D., ’07 | Navy Judge Advocate Corps, U.S. Navy

College of Medicine

James Norman, M.D., ’82 | Senior Surgeon, Norman Parathyroid Center

College of Nursing

Patricia Celano, ’10 | CNO/Vice President, Florida Hospital Orlando

College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL)

Michael Mielke, Ph.D., ’00, ’03 | Chief Scientist, Raydiance

College of Sciences

Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Stuart Newmark, ’08 | Executive Vice President/COO, Yedla Management Company


Stay tuned for more about these ambitious Knights:

  • Week of Oct. 27 — Lesa, Cynthia and Melanie
  • Week of Nov. 3 — David, Rob, Mary, Pam, Vinod and Jean-Marc
  • Week of Nov. 10 — James, Patricia, Michael, Gwen and Stuart