ATLANTA– Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business honored five alumni and an honorary alumnus at its 2022 Alumni Awards celebration on March 31.
Their graduation years span five decades, and their industries range from technology to commercial real estate, commercial aviation to construction, and finance to healthcare. All share a common bond of service to the Robinson College and its students.
“This impressive and inspiring group inspires us through their impact in business and in the community, and through their commitment to the next generation of business leaders who are students at Robinson and Georgia State,” said Richard Phillips, dean of the Robinson College.
Distinguished Alumna Award – Neda Barqawi (EMBA ’10, DBA ’14)
Neda Barqawi is founder and CEO of KnovaTech Launch, providing mentorship and training programs for aspiring women entrepreneurs working on technology-related business ideas. Barqawi supports Robinson College students through the Dr. Neda A. Barqawi and Dr. Khalid Hamied Scholarship, the Women’s Philanthropy Network, and WomenLead. She has served on the Robinson College Board of Advisors since 2014, providing counsel on subjects including predictive analytics, business intelligence, and process optimization.
Distinguished Alumnus Award – Dexter Warrior (B.B.A. ’85, M.S.R.E. ’90)
Dexter Warrior is chief operating officer of T. Dallas Smith & Company. A business and civic leader, Warrior is a director of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS, serves on the board of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the advisory board of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, among other organizations. He supports Robinson students through the Dexter and Karen Warrior Scholarship in Real Estate and as a mentor.
Alumna Award for Service – Beth Johnston (MBA ’85)
Accomplished businesswoman Beth Johnston spent nearly four decades in senior human resources roles at Delta Air Lines and Qatar Airways prior to retiring in 2014. She has given back generously to Robinson as a volunteer, donor, and mentor. In 2016, Johnston established the Cassi Makani Wimmingham Memorial Scholarship for WomenLead students. She served on the Robinson College Board of Advisors from 2008 to 2019.
Young Alumnus Award – Paul Salamanca (B.B.A. ’13)
Paul Salamanca and his wife Daniela (B.A. ’13) established themselves as successful business owners when they graduated from Georgia State University and founded Preferred Roofing Supply. In 2019, Paul and Daniela established the Salamanca Scholarship for students studying entrepreneurship at Georgia State. The Salamancas continue to pave the way for young business leaders through their support of entrepreneurship at Robinson and as active role models for students and young alumni.
Honorary Alumnus Award – Rick Tigner
Rick Tigner is a retired financial planner and U.S. Air Force officer. He began mentoring Robinson College students in 2013. An avid world traveler, Tigner helps Robinson students see the world by giving to the Institute of International Business scholarship fund. A longtime supporter of the Panthers on Wall Street program, Tigner provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in business.
Special Presentation to Kevin Lofton (MHA ’79)
Kevin E. Lofton is among 27 champions of diversity and inclusion named to AACSB’s Influential Leaders Class of 2022. Lofton, who retired in 2020 as CEO of CommonSpirith Health, has helped decrease care disparities and increase the number of healthcare executives and physicians from underrepresented populations. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Georgia State University Foundation and funds participation by Master of Health Administration students in the Everett Fox Student Case Competition at the National Association of Health Services Executives conference.