2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The following were the 2014 Montclair State University Alumae/Alumnus Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients:

Mary Ellen Waggoner '83College of the Arts - Mary Ellen Waggoner '83

Mary Ellen Waggoner enjoyed a 20-year career at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Paper Mill Playhouse, where she was a member of the administrative and development teams. Concurrently, she managed a professional career as a classical musician, performing with many orchestras and at theaters in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area. She was principal oboist of the Paper Mill Playhouse Orchestra for five years, and a freelance musician performing with musicians from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

Waggoner earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Montclair State and was an oboe student of Joseph Robinson, principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. She took graduate courses at Seton Hall University and was a private instrumental music teacher for college-bound New Jersey students. Many of her former students successfully pursued degree programs at colleges and universities, including The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University.

Committed to the arts and to arts education, Waggoner is a member of the advisory boards of both the College of the Arts and the John J. Cali School of Music, and also serves on fundraising committees for the Paper Mill Playhouse, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. She was chosen for Leadership New Jersey’s 1999 Fellowship Program, which honors 50 men and women who combine a successful career with leadership in serving their communities.

Kathleen M. Zelman '75College of Education and Human Services - Kathleen M. Zelman '75

Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, is the director of nutrition for WebMD, the leading health and wellness website, where she oversees diet, nutrition and food information. During her 11-year tenure, she has helped build a state-of-the-art food, diet and nutrition portal. She also writes food and nutrition features and expert diet book reviews, develops recipes and provides expert editorial review and nutrition expertise.

Zelman serves as the nutrition expert for United Healthcare’s Source 4 Women and United Healthcare Television contributing monthly webinars, articles, recipes and video responses to member questions. She is also a member of the Jamba Juice Healthy Living Council and a Health Professional Advisor to the Egg Nutrition Center providing guidance and expertise on issues of health and wellness.

In 2007, Zelman was awarded the prestigious Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Media Excellence Award for her contribution and commitment to educating consumers about food and nutrition. She received The American Society for Nutrition’s 2011 Nutrition Science Media Award for outstanding science and nutrition journalism and the 2012 Media Award for Excellence in Consumer Journalism from the Institute of Food Technologists.

Zelman has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News and shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama as a nutrition expert in February 2012 to celebrate the second anniversary of the Let’s Move campaign.

She has contributed to books including Chef Paul Prudhomme’s A Fork in the Road andHealthy Eating for Babies and Toddlers. A nationally respected nutritionist and journalist, Zelman has served as a judge for the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards since 2009.

Patricia Nachtigal, Esq. '68College of Humanities and Social Sciences -
Patricia Nachtigal, Esq. '68

Patricia Nachtigal is a member of the Governor’s Higher Education Council (New Jersey). She is also a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, an urban research and advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of New Jersey’s urban areas and residents. She was formerly a member of the Board of Directors and senior vice president and general counsel of Ingersoll-Rand, PLC, a global equipment manufacturer. She also served on the Ingersoll-Rand Executive Committee. 

Nachtigal is a past vice chair and member of the Board of Governors of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She also is a former chair and member of the Rutgers University Board of Trustees and a former Overseer of the University. She is currently a Rutgers Trustee Emerita.   

Among other organizations, she is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Nachtigal is a 1968 graduate of Montclair State University with a degree in French and holds a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law and a Master of Laws degree from New York University.

Barbara Brummer '68College of Science and Mathematics -
Barbara Brummer '68

Barbara Brummer, PhD, is the New Jersey state director of The Nature Conservancy, a science-based conservation organization working locally and globally to protect the ecologically important natural areas that sustain both people and nature. In this role, she manages a staff working statewide in conservation science, natural lands stewardship, fundraising and government relations.

Brummer creates and maintains relationships with state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, individuals and other Conservancy chapters and programs to further efforts to conserve the lands and waters through acquisition and management of ecologically important areas, scientific research, outreach to educate and engage local communities and advocacy.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy in 2004, Brummer held the position of worldwide vice president of Women’s Health & Wellness for the Consumer Group at Johnson & Johnson. She served as president and managing director of Johnson & Johnson Inc., Canada, director of product development for the Advanced Care Products Company and vice president of research and development as well as general manager of Advanced Care Products.

Brummer is a member of the Montclair State University College of Science and Mathematics Advisory Council and the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and represents the Conservancy as chair of the New Jersey Endangered Species Council. She is the current chair of the Pocono Environmental Education Center Board and served for 17 years on the board of the New Jersey Audubon Society. She has also taught as an adjunct at Montclair State and New York University.

Richard A. Volkert '84The Graduate School - Richard A. Volkert ’84

Richard A. Volkert, a leading expert in the geology of New Jersey, is a research scientist at the New Jersey Geological and Water Survey. His accomplishments include developing a new theory for the origin of the Franklin zinc deposits using stable isotopes; identifying the oldest rocks in New Jersey dated at 1.37 billion years; unraveling the billion-year geologic history of the Highlands region; discovering the oldest fossils in the state dated at 1.29 billion years; and being part of a team that mapped the geology of the state and co-authored the 1996 geologic map of New Jersey, which replaced the outdated 1910 geologic map.

Volkert’s work involves the collection and interpretation of geologic data for applied purposes such as engineering projects and the mitigation of geologic hazards from faults, abandoned mines, slope instability, radon, asbestos and geochemical contaminants. During his 30-year career he has provided technical assistance to various federal, state and municipal agencies, private engineering and geologic consulting firms and the general public.

The author of more than 125 scientific publications including peer-reviewed journal papers and geologic maps, Volkert speaks regularly and has delivered keynote addresses to the Philadelphia Geological Society, Association of Engineering Geologists and New Jersey Earth Science Teachers Association. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1999, and is also a member of the Society of Economic Geologists and Geological Association of New Jersey.

Ajit (AJ) KhubaniSchool of Business - Ajit (AJ) Khubani '84

Ajit (AJ) Khubani is founder, president and CEO of TeleBrands Corporation, the international marketing giant well-known for its famous red “As Seen on TV” logo and such hit products as the PedEgg, OrGreenic, Pocket Hose, Aero Knife, Rabbit TV, Insta Bulb and Trusty Cane. Founded in 1983 with Khubani’s life-savings of $20,000, TeleBrands is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in business and is thriving as a nearly $1 billion a year enterprise.

In its early years, TeleBrands used direct response television advertising to build its brand, but Khubani realized the true potential of bringing products to storefronts so in 1987 he brought the first “infomercial” product to retail. The now iconic AmberVision Sunglasses were first sold at New Jersey-based Herman’s Sporting Goods and were a retail success, selling out within days. Today, TeleBrands products are placed in every major retail chain including WalMart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Walgreens as well as Petco, AutoZone and 7-Eleven.

Khubani has become a media regular with multiple appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, The Today Show, The Wendy Williams Show, 20/20 and The View.

TeleBrands has received numerous awards including two coveted Vendor of the Year Awards in 2009, from both Target Stores and CVS Pharmacy, and its product, Bake Pop, received the 2012 Electronic Retailing Association’s Moxie Award.

Khubani is a member of the Montclair State University School of Business Advisory Council and is active in raising money for Children’s Hope India. He also chairs the Entrepreneurial Engineering program at Princeton University.