2017 Chancellor’s Citation recipients

Five to Receive Chancellor’s Citations at CBT 2017 in September

Five notable alumni will be awarded Chancellor’s Citations during the Coming Back Together (CBT) African American and Latino alumni reunion this fall. Organized by the Office of Program Development, CBT will be held Sept. 14 through Sept. 17.

The five citation winners will be honored Saturday, Sept. 16, at the CBT dinner gala at the Syracuse Marriott Downtown (formerly the Hotel Syracuse).

During the special presentation, the honorees will each receive a citation from Chancellor Kent Syverud and a commemorative plate created by David MacDonald, emeritus professor of studio arts.

“This event honors outstanding members of Syracuse University’s alumni community,” Chancellor Syverud says. “These five alumni are exceptional professionals who are inspiring to the next generation. They are wonderful representations of the Orange spirit and commitment to giving back.”

Awarded to African American and Latino alumni during CBT, the Chancellor’s Citation serves to recognize the significant civic or career achievements by the selected winners. Since 1983, the ceremony has been a signature event presented at the triennial Coming Back Together reunion.

“This year, our Chancellor’s Citation winners are exceptional,” says Rachel Vassel, assistant vice president, Office of Program Development. “They are not only accomplished leaders in their fields, but also generous University donors. We are grateful for their willingness to pay it forward to benefit the next generation.”

The honorees are the following:

Colline Hernandez Ayala ’89, partner, GTM Architects

Ayala has been with GTM Architects since 2004, and leads the multifamily/mixed-use studio practice specializing in the planning and design of large urban redevelopment projects. Experienced in synthesizing complex programmatic issues, spatially and functionally, she is well known for her collaborative work style and keen ability to build consensus among various stakeholders involved in each project.

Michael Blackshear ’91, chief compliance officer, Chubb

Blackshear serves as the North America chief compliance officer for Chubb Insurance Co., the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. Blackshear is responsible for providing leadership and management, within the Office of General Counsel, for developing and maintaining an effective compliance program in North America designed to establish compliance standards and to monitor, detect and prevent compliance deficiencies. He has over 20 years of financial service and executive experience in the areas of compliance and risk management. Prior to joining Chubb, he held various leadership roles for Marsh & McLennan Companies, and had management advisory roles for KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Zhamyr “Sammy” Cueva ’93, entrepreneur

Cueva turned what started as fraternity fundraisers at Syracuse University into a successful business. Today, that business, Sammy Cueva Entertainment Inc., has morphed into one of the most recognized event planning and networking companies in New York City. Having opened several New York City restaurants and related businesses, Cueva has become a leader in the restaurant industry. His Latin Fusion restaurant, Blend on the Water, has received major acknowledgments from People Magazine and Open Table, which listed Blend as one of the top 100 restaurants in the United States. In addition to owning businesses, Cueva continues to succeed in upper management in city government.

Constance “Connie” Orlando ’89, head of programming, Black Entertainment Television

Orlando, previously the senior vice president for specials, music programming and news at BET, now serves as interim programming chief. In her current role, Orlando leads the teams responsible for “The BET Awards,” “Hip Hop Awards,” “The BET Honors,” “Celebration of Gospel” and “Black Girls Rock!” Before joining BET, Orlando, who also serves on the Advisory Board for Clark Atlanta University’s TV department as the programming committee chair, launched her own full-service production company, CMO Productions. Not long after, CMO struck a partnership with music icon and businessman Jay-Z to produce the first of its kind, direct-to-video movie soundtrack “The Streets Is Watching.”

Gwynne Wilcox ’74, partner, Levy Ratner

Wilcox, a partner in the New York law firm Levy Ratner, has been involved with CBT since its inception, having helped plan the first reunion in 1983 with the late Wayne Brown ’78, Walter Braswell ’71 and Alfreda Mayer ’78, under the direction of Robert Hill, the Office of Program Development’s VP at the time. She started her legal career with the National Labor Relations Board before joining Levy Ratner. Wilcox is associate general counsel of 1199SEIU, a 300,000-plus member health care union, and devotes much of her practice to representing 1199 and other unions before administrative agencies and in arbitration, collective bargaining and litigation.

For a full listing of CBT events, visit http://programdevelopment.syr.edu/events/coming-back-together-2017/.