Class notes by the Decade

Person to Person


Robert Vince, PhD 1966, BS 1962, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design, was elected to the rank of fellow by the National Academy of Inventors for inventions that have improved “the welfare of society.” Vince and two colleagues developed an antidote to cyanide poisoning that converts cyanide in the body into a less toxic compound in under three minutes. Vince also helped develop a method designed to detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage through a noninvasive eye test. He lives in Mendota Heights, Minn.


Francis X. Daumen, BA 1971, was inducted into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame after playing for nearly 20 years as a fast-pitch pitcher. A special education teacher in Buffalo schools for more than three decades, Daumen now works as a licensed financial planner in East Amherst, N.Y.

Randy Simon, BA 1977, of Montclair, N.J., a former executive coach, now works as a clinical psychologist. Simon, who also worked as a human resources executive for Fortune 500 companies, said she changed careers in order to help individuals as opposed to organizations.

Michele Softness, BS 1979, of Miami, Fla., joined the Carlton Fields real estate and commercial finance group, which includes more than 70 attorneys. Softness previously worked for the Miami law firm Isicoff, Ragatz & Koenigsberg. She also serves as a fundraiser for various civic and health organizations.

Lake Effect Ice Cream.

Elliott Brender, MD 1970, founder of Surgeons for Cambodia, Inc., completed his seventh trip to Cambodia, where he and his team of seven surgeons and two nurses performed 57 surgeries in two weeks. They also brought new equipment to donate to area hospitals and established a rotating, year-round residency program. Brender lives in Villa Park, Calif.


Christopher Tirabassi, BS 1980, was named CEO of Medical Health Associates of Western New York, the largest pediatric primary-care practice in the 17-county area. He lives in Getzville, N.Y.

Francis J. Carey, MLS 1989, is the new curator of the Historical Association of Lewiston and its museum. Carey previously worked for Daemen College in Amherst, N.Y., for UB’s Lockwood Library and for Duke University in Durham, N.C. He resides in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

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Tara A. Ellis, BA 1992, is the new president and CEO of the Food Bank of Western New York. She previously was president and CEO of Meals on Wheels for Western New York. Ellis serves on the board of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. She lives in Derby, N.Y.

Jonathan Loew, BA 1993, was appointed CEO of AppGuard, a cybersecurity company, after it acquired KeepTree, a secure video messaging service for which Loew was CEO. Loew also now serves as CMO 80 and board director of Blue Planet-works, of which AppGuard is a subsidiary. He lives in Merrick, N.Y.

Michele Alfano, MArch 1994, owns Michele Alfano Design, one of four firms selected to the 2017 DXV Design Panel. Alfano created DXV’s Modern campaign for luxury bath design, featured in such magazines as Elle Décor, Vanity Fair, Metropolitan Home and Architectural Digest. She resides in Montebello, N.Y.

David Lundvall, BS 1994, published his first novel, “Squish the Fish,” a comedy about Buffalo, under his pen name, Dave Lundy. Though his degree is in computer sciences, Lundvall credits UB with providing him “the tools to accomplish something outside my primary study focus.” He lives in San Francisco, Calif.

Michael McManus, BS 1996, won an Oticon Focus on People Award, which celebrates the contributions of outstanding individuals with hearing loss. McManus, a lieutenant commander in the Navy, served with the Marines in Kuwait during the Gulf War and was deployed multiple times with the Navy Seabees during the Iraq War. Today, he campaigns to reduce the stigma of hearing loss in the military. McManus is currently assigned to U.S. Pacific Command headquarters and lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Michelle Kiec, BA 1996, MusB 1995, was named dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Kutztown University. A clarinetist, she has performed with the Harrisburg, West Virginia and Kentucky symphony orchestras. She also previously taught music at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. Kiec resides in Kutztown, Pa.

Nicole Gavigan, EdM 1997, BA 1993, is co-owner of the new interior design firm Gavigan & Gruppo in Williamsville, N.Y. Gavigan, who left a career in higher education, will oversee all management and business practices for the firm and will also be part of the creative process. She lives in Amherst, N.Y.


Ryan Renshaw, BPS 2000, has joined Foit-Albert Associates architecture group as a project manager. Renshaw has 18 years of experience in projects involving commercial buildings, hotels, casinos, and single- and multi-family dwellings. He resides in Kenmore, N.Y.

Melissa Franckowiak, MD 2003, BA 1999 & BS 1998, an anesthesiologist at several Western New York hospitals, won $5,000 in The Pitch business competition as part of 43North Week. Franckowiak will use the money to market her company, PneumaGlide PC, which provides gentle airway solutions to surgical services in emergency care communities. The holder of two patents for airway devices, Franckowiak is a volunteer faculty member at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She lives in Grand Island, N.Y.

Greg Bohall, MS 2007, a graduate of the UB rehabilitation counseling program, published the manual “The Psychologist’s Guide to Professional Development.” Bohall lives in Bellflower, Calif.

Mark Ziemba, BS 2008, has opened Thoughtful Plan, a financial advisory firm that donates a portion of its profits to nonprofit programs and services that benefit disadvantaged Buffalo residents. Ziemba resides in Blasdell, N.Y.


Hannah E. Borden, MS 2011, BS 2010, was promoted to manager of the accounting firm Brock, Schechter & Polakoff LLP in Buffalo. Borden’s work focuses on international tax, multistate businesses and construction contractors. She resides in Williamsville, N.Y.

Dominic Sellitto, MS 2014, BS 2013, co-authored a white paper, “Identifying Security Weaknesses in Your Enterprise,” that was published by ISACA, an international professional association focused on IT governance. Sellitto is a consultant at Loptr, an information security company in East Aurora, N.Y. He lives in Lancaster, N.Y.

Brigid E. Purcell, MS 2015, BS 2014, was promoted to senior accountant at the accounting firm Brock, Schechter & Polakoff LLP in Buffalo. Purcell prepares corporate, individual and estate income tax returns. She resides in Williamsville, N.Y.

Alyson Sion, MS 2017, BS 2016, joined the accounting firm Chiampou Travis Besaw & Kershner LLP in Amherst, N.Y., as a staff accountant. Sion lives in West Seneca, N.Y.

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