Young Alumnus of the Year Award
Congratulations to the inaugural class of the Young Alumnus of the Year Award.
This award recognizes alumnus members under the age of 35 and awards up to nine young alumni for their professional accomplishments, contributions to their community, and their involvement as a volunteer for Pi Kappa Alpha, all while displaying the values of a True Pike.
The Young Alumnus Award is presented biennially at each International Convention.
Ryan C. Collett
(Kansas State University, Alpha Omega ’04)
Category: PIKE Involvement
Collett has made his commitment to PIKE a significant aspect of his life. In his final year of college, he served on the Supreme Council as the Undergraduate Vice President. He then spent the next four years in Memphis, Tennessee, working as a member of the International Fraternity staff as the director of expansion where he established over 30 new colonies and chapters and initiated over 2,000 men.
For the past seven years, he has worked for Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, as a strategic client executive, selling electronic medical records (EMRs) to large health systems. In his top performance year, he eclipsed $40 million in sales.
While in Kansas City, Collett has actively continued his involvement with PIKE. He currently serves as president of the Kansas City PIKE Area Alumni Association as well as the recruitment advisor for both Alpha Omega Chapter and Beta Gamma Chapter (Kansas). He recently served on the PIKE 150th Anniversary Planning Committee, has been an advisor to the International Fraternity’s directors of expansion, and has presented at PIKE University events. In addition, while traveling across the country for Cerner, he regularly stops by the local chapters and provides recruitment presentations and Fraternity best practice consulting.
(Arizona State University,Delta Tau ’06)
Tim Harris is CEO & Creative Director of Insight Public Relations, a Sacramento-based communications agency focused on leveraging strategic communication strategies to grow new business, position companies to attract talent and align teams.
Since founding the agency in 2012, Harris has worked with clients ranging from regionally-based startups and established organizations to national brands. In 2015, he was recognized as a 40 Under 40 Award Recipient by the Sacramento Business Journal. His experience ranges from consulting through the hands-on design and implementation of communication strategies built to unlock growth opportunities and strategically position the products, services, thought leaders and companies he serves.
Over the last two years, Harris has focused his approach to specialize in the complex needs and issues surrounding the construction, professional services and technology industries. Through his work both as a consultant and marketing lead with D. Brown Management, he has worked to better understand the complexities and value associated with unlocking the talent challenges that currently face contractors.
(New Mexico State University ’09)
In addition to his bachelor’s degree, Herrea holds a master’s degree in theology from Harvard Divinity School and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University’s T.H. School of Public Health. He is on schedule to complete his doctoral work in three years, the fastest ever for Harvard’s immunology and infectious disease program.
As part of his dissertation research, he has made substantial and lasting contributions to the field of virology (the study of viruses). His work focuses on developing diagnostics of two viruses, Zika and Dengue, that are threats to human health. There is a lack of good diagnostic tools for these two viruses, and the current methods are costly and slow which can hinder efforts to control and treat these diseases. Herrea developed a novel diagnostic that not only detects both viruses within an hour, but can be done cheaply and efficiently. In addition, his test can distinguish between which disease is infecting someone.
Herrea has also greatly improved the medical community’s knowledge of Zika virus epidemiology, with studies that show transmission of the virus in Africa, which was previously unknown. He has published five academic papers with another two submitted for publication. After his Ph.D. is complete, he will complete a postdoctoral fellowship to further study Zika and Dengue.
(Virginia Tech University, Epsilon ’06)
Horn is a Brooklyn-based social entrepreneur, writer, and activist. He is a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, was selected for StartupBoost's 33 Under 33 list in 2017, and received the Washington D.C. Mayor’s Community Service award at the age of 23.
One year after graduating from Virginia Tech, he started an award-winning children’s nonprofit, Dreams for Kids DC. In three years, he established the organization as one of the premiere adaptive athletic providers in Washington, D.C. He was able to build a succession plan and stepped down in 2011 to start another nonprofit venture, AbilityList, which FastCompany called a “Craigslist for people with disabilities.” Both organizations are still operating, and he serves as an honorary chairman.
In 2014, Horn launched Tribute.co, which The New Yorker recently called “Hallmark 2.0.” Tribute makes it easy to create a collaborative video montage you can give as a gift on any important occasion. He is on a mission to spread gratitude and meaningful connection in the world and is responsible for 100,000+ Tributes since launching. Tribute closed a $1.2 million seed round in 2016 and is planning large-scale expansion.
He writes and speaks frequently on communication, finding purpose through service, and meaningful human connection. He has been interviewed, quoted, and profiled on the Today Show, CNN, Fast Company, CBS, Fox News, US News, The Washington Post, DailyWorth, and is a frequent columnist for MindBodyGreen, HuffPo and TheMuse.
(Wake Forest University, Gamma Phi ’10)
Upon graduation, Machayo moved to Washington, D.C. to work on human rights issues for Congressman Frank Wolf. He then became a fellow for Organizing for Action, President Barack Obama’s Political Action Committee. Following his tenure with Organizing for Action, he was selected as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Policy. In December 2013, he became a legislative correspondent for Senator Kristen Gillibrand. There, his work focused on foreign policy, education, labor, and health care. Recognized for his outstanding work, he began working for the Department of Homeland Security. In this role, Machayo assisted the Chief of Staff in coordinating efforts to advance collaboration between DHS departments/agencies, the White House, the news media, members of Congress, industry executives, labor organizations, local governments, foreign embassies, and missions. His stent at the Department of Homeland Security caught the eye of President Obama and in May 2016, Machayo joined the White House as the principal deputy associate director of public engagement. In this role, he managed President Obama’s environmental policy initiatives and was tasked with engaging with diverse stakeholders across government agencies to enhance and establish domestic and international climate change, energy, and environment framework.
After leaving the White House in January 2017, Machayo briefly served as a strategic advisor of external engagement at the US African Development Foundation where he supported African-led, African-driven development solutions via catalytic financial investments and local technical assistance to African grassroots communities and local enterprises. Today he serves as chief of staff to Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair, Phyllis Randall.
He received the distinction of a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum and is currently the curator for Washington D.C. Hub I. He graduated from Wake Forest University with two bachelor of arts degrees in economics and international politics & affairs and speaks three languages. Inspired by his background as a first-generation African American with parents from Uganda and Kenya, he has remained involved, serving in organizations including a nonprofit organization he co-founded, Global Inheritance. For the past four years, he has enjoyed coaching elementary and middle school girls’ basketball. He also serves as a mentor to youth throughout Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
Parker L. Ramsdell
(University of Texas, Beta Mu’04)
Following graduation, Ramsdell turned down lucrative job offers and instead moved to Glendale, Arizona, to teach social studies and reading to underprivileged middle-school children through Teach for America. After a two-year tenure with Teach for America, he went to Capitol Hill where he served as a legislative correspondent for Congressman Tom Perriello. In 2011, he was a Regional Field Director for soon-to-be President Obama’s campaign. Simultaneously, Ramsdell coordinated the first-ever Unified Sports Experience, 23 athletic competitions providing over 900 opportunities for people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete together as teammates, which generated over $127,000 in donations.
Today, he continues working with children through a youth-oriented golf organization, The First Tee, and coaching swimming at a swim club and a high school. Professionally, Ramsdell works at Perfect Sense, full-service product company, and leads their mission projects supporting a variety of different non-profit organizations.
Joshua T. Ronk
(Virginia Commonwealth University, Lambda Chi '10)
Category: PIKE Involvement
Ronk started volunteering with Lambda Chi Chapter in 2011 as chairman of the alumni advisory board and as the education advisor. Although he lives in northern Virginia, nearly an hour and a half away from the university, he attends chapter events several times a month. He was also a founding member of the Lambda Chi Chapter Alumni Association and currently serves as its director of communications and secretary, and he transitioned into the role of chapter advisor last fall. In addition to his own involvement with the chapter, he has been able to consistently recruit other engaged alumni.
Shortly after taking on the roles of chairman and education advisor, Ronk enlisted as vice president of the house corporation, serving alongside the board as they have navigated the process of acquiring chapter housing. His support has ensured a successful relationship between the chapter, property owner, and the hose corporation.
Outside of Lambda Chi Chapter, Ronk has served on initiation teams for various other chapters and serves on Mu Rho Chapter’s (Christopher Newport) alumni advisory board as education advisor. He was also a founding member of Mu Rho’s alumni association and currently serves as alumni association director. He is the vice president of communications and the secretary for the National Capital Area Alumni Association (NCAAA).
Professionally, Ronk works as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Mike Rogers, a senior Republican member serving on the House Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculture Committees.
Jonathan A. Saperstein
(University of Texas, Beta Mu ’07)
Saperstein is the CEO and owner of Tree Town USA, the country's largest tree producer and one of its biggest nurseries. The company employs over 1,500 people and grows 4 million trees and 18 million shrubs and perennials in 16 growing facilities between California, Texas, and Florida with clients including landscapers and retailers like Home Depot.
During college, he spent summers and other breaks working at the company. He started working at Tree Town USA full time after graduating in 2010, and by 27, he engineered a buyout from his father. Once in control, he immediately started executing his strategic plan which called for $10 million in improvements. He also hired a new chief financial officer and human resources director and implemented a system of merit-based bonuses for his employees. Acquisitions and improving the company’s manufacturing process were next on his list. In addition, he leads the company’s philanthropic efforts, continuously promoting community outreach and offering support during disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
In 2017, Saperstein was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for manufacturing and industry. He also received Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Gulf Coast Area Award this June.
David D. Soetekouw
(University of Alabama-Huntsville, Theta Pi ’06)
Category: PIKE Involvement
As vice president of the Huntsville Area Alumni Association, Soetekouw played a critical role in ensuring the success of the association’s Sesquicentennial Founders Day celebration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. He built the event website, developed the logos and other promotional materials, managed registrations, arranged the Founders Day luncheon, ordered and distributed commemorative items, and developed the banquet slide show. He also solicited applications and convened a scholarship selection board. Soetekouw’s preparations culminated in a banquet with 300 guests in attendance.
In addition to his contributions to the Huntsville Area Alumni Association, he serves as Theta Alpha Chapter’s (North Alabama) advisor and attended a PIKE University Leadership Summit with the undergraduate members. He is also an active member of Theta Pi’s alumni advisory board who assists with chapter operations, goal-setting, and strategic planning.
Andrew J. Sturmfels
(Roanoke College, Phi ’02)
Sturmfels currently serves as deputy director for administration at the California Department of General Services. He is responsible for managing an annual budget of over $1.2 billion, along with managing the department’s human resource functions for over 3,500 employees at over 50 statewide locations, serving as the department’s Procurement and Contracting Officer, overseeing technology deployment and infrastructure, and several statewide functions including the state insurance program and natural gas program. He also serves as a partner on the FI$Cal project and serves as chair of several state building authorities.
Prior to entering his current role, he was a three-time appointee of California Governor Jerry Brown and previously served as legislative affairs director for DGS, legislative and intergovernmental affairs deputy director for the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), and senior permit assistance specialist at GO-Biz. He also served in several capacities at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Prior to entering public service, Sturmfels worked in several leadership positions in the hospitality industry for both Marriott International and Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants.
In addition to his public-sector roles, he currently teaches for the California State University’s Master’s in Public Policy and Administration program. Sturmfels also serves as chair of the planning commission for the city of West Sacramento. In 2017, he launched Assemble Sacramento, a non-profit startup place-making firm. Assemble's first project, The Nest, is a bike and pedestrian rest station along the Clarksburg Branch Line Trail and is set to be constructed in late 2018.
Matthew R. Whitehead
(Winthrop University, Theta Sigma '06)
Whitehead is senior vice president for Agape Hospice in Columbia, South Carolina, where he serves 400 patients in 18 offices across 25 countries. He joined Agape Hospice in 2012 after graduating from Winthrop University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. In his first position, he was responsible for the acquisition and integration of new business which included direct line responsibility for all aspects of the operation, such as patient care and financial and governmental compliance. His next role resulted in the highest census growth in that facility’s history. He later accepted a position with another company as the CEO of a startup facility before returning to Agape and continuing to progress to more senior roles with increasing levels of business management and operational responsibilities. Whitehead demonstrates ownership and accountability as he leads the organization to achieve required certifications, education and training for staffing, and all aspects of daily operations.
He challenges himself to continue to grow and develop both professionally and as a leader. Whitehead’s impact goes well beyond his individual career advancement, and that success is not based on leadership skills alone. He cares about the people on his team who are providing the care for patients. Whitehead is actively engaged with community service organizations such as Rotary International and is currently pursuing his master’s degree.