The William Taylor Alumna of the Year Award is given to a graduate who has made a significant contribution to the profession. This year's winner, Stephanie Danes Smith, ‘79, was an officer for the Central Intelligence Agency for 26 years before retiring with distinction in August 2011 after holding a series of senior executive positions focused on global support operations, strategic planning, organizational development, leadership development, legislative relations, brand and reputation management and corporate communications. Smith was the recipient of the CIA Director’s Award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA Certificate of Distinction, 20 CIA Exceptional Performance Awards and a Special Act Award from the U.S. Navy.
The Fast Track Alumni Awards honor graduates with less than 10 years’ experience who have made significant contributions to their profession.Andy Alt, ’04, is an entrepreneur and musician based in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in advertising, Alt began his recording and touring career as a guitar player with rock and pop artists on Interscope Records, Epic Records, MTV, USA Network and most recently, a world tour with Nickelodeon's Drake Bell (of "Drake and Josh" fame). Kirk Yuhnke is an Emmy award-winning morning news anchor at ABC15 in Phoenix and the proud father of two children. Yuhnke was raised just outside of Buffalo, New York, and moved to Northeast Ohio while in high school. While at Kent State, he served in various roles at TV2 and as an anchor/reporter on NewsOhio.
Finally, JMC honored its Friend of the Year, Steve Savanyu, for his contributions to the school as a volunteer, educator and director. Savanyu has worked tirelessly over the years to provide JMC students with real-world experience in producing live sports events, filming movies and working with high-tech audio equipment.