Florida Recognizes Outstanding Alumni
Northwood University Florida recently recognized four graduates for their contributions to industry and to the communities in which they live and work at its Outstanding Alumni Awards (OAA) Dinner. Held as part of Northwood Florida’s 30th Anniversary Homecoming Weekend, the event recognized alumni for leadership, volunteerism, service, and more. Among those honored were:
Alumni Achievement Award
David Menten 91’ (BBA)
President, Sawgrass Ford
After earning his Associate of Arts (AA) degree from Northwood University Michigan, David Menten transferred to Northwood Florida and earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Automotive Marketing and Management while working part-time as an automotive salesman at the family business. Soon after graduation, he married Cari (93'), his college sweetheart and joined the business full-time.
Now the President of Sawgrass Ford, the largest Ford Dealership in South Florida and a winner of the Partners in Quality and Ford 100 Club every year since its opening in 1997, Menten credits his Northwood experience as being instrumental to his success. “Northwood provided me with a great head start in a very competitive business. I particularly credit many of the university’s teaching staff with instilling the entrepreneurial skills I use today," said the business leader, while adding that one of his fondest memories of his alma mater is serving as Auto Show Ford Team Captain and that he values his many lifelong Northwood friends and business associates.
Menten has held a variety of leadership roles in the automotive field including President of Salute to Education, Committee Chairman of the Ford Dealer Council, and Vice Chairman of the Ford Dealers Advertising Fund (FDAF). His charitable interests include The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks and The Darrell Gwynn Foundation. He and Cari have three children and reside in Weston, Florida.
Alumni Leadership Award
Ryan Huether - 2003 (BBA)
Vice President of Business Development, Independent Can Company
As an alumnus whose degree has impacted his current success in business and in the community, Ryan Huether’s sales, marketing and distribution management expertise has played a key role in leading Independent Can Company toward refining its distribution unit while nourishing long lasting vendor relationships, creating new product lines, and improving its talent development processes.
“My time at Northwood taught me to think beyond how business is done today and look towards how business should be done in the future. This has allowed me to create and implement new strategies that have directly lead to growth and a leading position in our industry.”
Huether earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing from Northwood University in 2003 and has completed executive course work studies in Supply Chain Management at Penn State in 2011, and Corporate Level Strategic Planning at Harvard in 2013.
Huether has been a member of the International Packaging Association Marketing Committee for over seven years and a member of the General Assembly for the last three years, Huether is also a trustee for the Huether-McClelland Foundation, a foundation dedicated to education and advancement of young people. Through his work with HMF he has supported the Delaney High School Engineering Program and The Children’s Guild. When he is away from work, he enjoys racing cars and motorcycles, snowboarding, traveling, and spending time in California.
Alumni Service Award
John Kazanjian - 1998 (BBA)
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office Sergeant
Police Benevolent Association President
Retired United States Marine
After relocating to South Florida from Lowell, Massachusetts with his wife Joanne and their two young children John and Kristen, John Kazanjian joined the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) in 1986 before he and Joanne welcomed another daughter, Kaitlin, in 1987.
While serving as 15-year PBSO SWAT Team member, Kazanjian was eventually promoted to Sergeant, and attended college in the evenings, earning his Northwood University Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in 1998 and his Nova Southeastern University Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2000. He then was promoted to his current roles serving as a PBSO undercover narcotics agent and supervisor, a road patroller and supervisor, and more.
But it was the tragedy of November 5th, 2003, that changed the lives of Kazanjian and his family forever. “We tragically lost our daughter Kaitlin in an automobile crash,” said Kazanjian. “In 2004, to preserve her memory, and as a legacy to her, a Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Scholarship Fund was created in her honor to assist children with the cost of higher education. In 2004, I was elected Executive Vice-President of the PBA and in 2006, I was elected President. Since, the Kaitlin A. Kazanjian Charity Fund was established, over $2 million has been distributed to our local PBA community and to their children,” added Kazanjian, a former United States Marine who was honorably discharged in in 1980.
Young Alumni Volunteer Award
Jeremiah “Akeem” Saunders – 2009 (BBA)
Senior Assurance Associate
As a Senior Assurance Associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Akeem Saunders has extended his college love of volunteerism to the business realm by periodically sharing advice with Northwood University accounting majors regarding what to anticipate when they enter the professional world.
“The philanthropic spirit of Northwood coupled with the Judeo-Christian values it exhibits and cultivates continually remind me of the importance of giving back to the community and having a level of social awareness and social responsibility,” said Saunders. “The business foundation that I received at NU is second to none. I’ve been able to enter the workforce and exceed the expectations of my employer because I had all of the necessary skills. The entire Northwood experience helped me to amass transferrable abilities that I use in my professional career,” he said.
Having scored a 99 on the auditing section of the CPA examination, Saunders went on to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Barry University in 2011, is a top rated employee within PwC, and has been promoted to the position of Senior Associate far earlier than most. He is also an active volunteer at his church.