Daemen Announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

By | August 30, 2019

Daemen College will honor five accomplished graduates at its 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner to be held on Oct. 25 in the college’s Wick Campus Center Social Room.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize the achievements, growth, and societal contributions of the college’s outstanding alumni. Award recipients exhibit the ideals expressed by the college’s founders when they established Rosary Hill College and that remain strong at the institution known today as Daemen College.

This year’s recipient of the highest honor presented to a graduate, the Distinguished Alumni Award, is Dr. Robert Huddler, Jr. ’92, ’04. The award, which is presented by Daemen President Gary Olson, recognizes a graduate who has achieved distinction in his or her career and in the community and has shown outstanding dedication to the college.

Other 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Dr. Michael Geraci, Jr. ’79, Advancement in Career; Sandra Armstrong Thomson ’66, Dedication to the College; Nekia Kemp ’05, Service to the Community; and Beatrice Laurey (’05) ’09, Graduate of the Last Decade.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration will begin with cocktails at 6 p.m. that will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The annual dinner is hosted by the Daemen Office of Alumni Relations and the National Alumni Board of Governors, which selects the award recipients.

Tickets may be purchased at www.daemen.edu/alumni/events/distinguishedalumniawards or by contacting the alumni relations office at alumni@daemen.edu or at 839- 8212.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Robert Huddler, Jr. ’92, 04 

Huddler is president of Advantage Prosthetics & Orthotics in Pikesville, Md., where he developed the Comprehensive Amputee Management Program (CAMP) to help facilitate an individual’s transition from surgery to daily living. An experienced physical therapist and prosthetist, he has more than 25 years of experience as a practitioner and a health care owner and manager.

Huddler received a doctor of physical therapy from Daemen and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in business with a specialty in healthcare administration from North Central University. He also holds certification as a prosthetist and orthotist.

A member of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetics, Huddler serves as committee chair of the research division and is a peer reviewer for published journal articles. He is also a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and speaks nationally on topics related to orthotics and prosthetics.

In addition, Huddler is a research fellow in prosthetics and orthotics with research interests in neuropathy and phantom leg pain and its impact on amputees.

A Maryland native, he resides in Westminster, Md.

Advancement in Career

Dr. Michael Geraci, Jr. ’79

Geraci, who has devoted more than 30 years to the study and treatment of spine and joint problems, is owner of Geraci Spine and Sports Medicine in Williamsville. He is also a clinical associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University at Buffalo and Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Geraci earned a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Daemen and went on to receive a medical degree from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. He is also a board certified fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, with a subspecialty board certification in sports medicine.

Outside of his practice, Geraci has devoted much of his time to education, including training a number of fellows in spine care, sports medicine, and related areas. He has also authored more than 20 articles and book chapters, and is involved in research and teaching in the area of function exercise and regenerative medicine.

He resides in Buffalo.

Dedication to the College

Sandra Armstrong Thomson ‘66

A native of Kenmore, Thomson earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Daemen (then Rosary Hill College) and began her teaching career at Lindbergh Elementary School. She later moved with her husband to Phoenix, where they currently reside.

Thomson continued her teaching career at a parochial school while earning a master’s degree in education from Arizona State University. After raising her family, she returned to school to earn a law degree from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Her law career included positions with the Arizona State Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the largest circuit in the country.

Since retiring, Thomson is active in the community serving on the Arizona Foster Care Review Board and the St. Thomas More Society Board of Directors. She also co-founded and volunteers at Maggie’s Place Legal Clinic, which serves homeless pregnant women.

In addition, Thomson has traveled frequently to Nepal to assist with efforts for the American-Nepal Medical Foundation, a program her husband founded to improve medical education standards in the country.

A longtime supporter of Daemen, Thomson has remained active with the college over the years.

Service to the Community

Nekia Kemp ‘05

Kemp serves as executive director of the Buffalo Police Athletic League, which offers Western New York youth educational, recreational, and cultural programming in collaboration with law enforcement.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in health and human services from the University at Buffalo, Kemp went on to earn a master’s degree in executive leadership and change with a concentration in nonprofit leadership from Daemen. She also earned a certificate in not-for-profit management from the Harvard Business School Club of Buffalo.

Active in the community, Kemp serves on the board of the New York State Network for Youth Success and the Johnny B. Wiley Sports Complex. She is also co-chair of the After School Network of Western New York and is a member of the youth sports task force for the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, among other community committees.

Kemp was recently recognized with a Women Touching the World honor from Unlimited Possibilities Overcoming Poverty Ministry and the Buffalo Builders of Peace Award from United for Human Rights, as well as several other previous accolades.

She resides in Buffalo.

Graduate of the Last Decade

Beatrice Laurey (’05) ‘09

Laurey serves as creative and digital director of the award-winning mental health publications bp Magazine and esperanza, where she has been working for more than a decade to bring information and inspiration to the underserved mental health community while reducing the stigma associated with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Laurey received a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and illustration with a minor in art history from Daemen. She moved to Albany and began her career as a production designer for Price Chopper Grocery Stores and then went on to serve as art director at Berkshire Marketing Group.

Returning to Western New York, Laurey started as a graphic designer at bp Magazine and was later named to her director role. She has been a part of the team that has made the magazine and bphope.com, which has been named among Healthline’s Best of the Web annually from 2012-19, one of the most valuable and respected resources available to those living with bipolar disorder and their families.  She also helped launch esperanza magazine.

A native of Ansonia, Conn., Laurey, who also creates custom-made wedding invitations, resides in Akron.