Florida to Recognize Outstanding Alumni as Part of Homecoming Weekend Activities

David Menten
Ryan Heuther
John Kazanjian
Akeem Saunders

Northwood University Florida will recognize four graduates for their contributions to industry and to the communities in which they live and work at its Outstanding Alumni Awards (OAA) Dinner on Friday, February 21st, 2014 beginning at 5pm at Northwood’s Jeannette Hare Art Gallery. Tickets are $25 and a table of eight is $160. To RSVP please call (561) 681-7983.

Held as part of Northwood Florida’s 30th Anniversary Homecoming Weekend, the event will be held in conjunction with the university’s annual Auto Show of the Palm Beaches and a variety of other activities. The 2014 Outstanding Alumni Honorees are:

Alumni Achievement Award

David Menten 91’ (BBA)

Weston, Florida

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 Heuther -  2003 (BBA)

Baltimore, Maryland

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)

Stuart, Florida

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)

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

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.

“Our present day academic, student activity, and athletic programs are designed, in many cases, on our alumni's Northwood experiences. Through their efforts and contributions, they have made a positive difference in the lives of those around them in their work, community engagement, and daily living. In the same way each of us reflects the values of our respective families, our Northwood alumni (which literally means "foster sons and daughters") reveal the principles and values of their "alma mater" (or "dear mother") to the world,” stated Northwood University President Keith A. Pretty, JD in a weekly message titled Northwood Alumni: The Key to Our Long-Term Success. “With this in mind, we created the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awards. Honoring our outstanding alumni this way not only allows us to properly recognize and thank those who have done, and continue to do, so much on our behalf, it gives us the opportunity to show our appreciation to them that each of us can emulate in our own lives,” he said.


ABOUT NORTHWOOD UNIVERSITY

Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in seven states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.