Class of 2022 Distinguished Alumni and Speaker Honorees

Congratulations to our newest class of distinguished alumni and friends for 2022. Join us as we celebrate these distinguished honorees who have been selected based on personal accomplishments, professional achievements, community service involvement and support of the mission of Montclair State University.

collage of speakers from top left: Joetta Di Bella Sautter, Frank Alvarez, Tracy Doyle, Erika Hamden, Helane Backer, Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez

We invite you to learn more about our honorees:

College of the Arts

Joetta Di Bella Sautter ’69

Joetta Di Bella Sautter holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Montclair State. Deviating from her initial plans to become an English teacher, Joetta instead launched a successful career in television and broadcast media production that took her from Manhattan to Hollywood. An Emmy Award-winning producer, she received several Los Angeles area Emmys for her work with KTLA Channel 5 and has served on the Television Academy’s Diversity Committee and its Foundation’s Education Committee.
During her career, she also produced the station’s Family Film Festival along with producing and writing a number of Hollywood Christmas and Rose Parades. Before retiring, she put her love of history to use as an archivist for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Most recently, after visiting the campus for her 50th reunion together with her husband, Chris, they were struck, in particular, by the direction of the School of Communication and Media and its state-of-the-art building. Together they decided to lend their generous support to the School and its students by naming the Center for Strategic Communication. The new Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication is a state-of-the-art communication hub in the School of Communication and Media that brings industry-leading tools to a dynamic teaching and learning space. The Center will help to prepare the next generation of strategic communication professionals through hands-on instruction on social listening platforms, consumer insights analytics, content creation applications, and nimble media production tools.

College of Education and Human Services

Frank Alvarez ’76

Dr. Frank Alvarez is an educational consultant assisting districts to improve educational practices with a focus on minority student achievement, special education, and principal effectiveness. During his career, he has served as superintendent of schools in four districts—North Caldwell (NJ), River Vale (NJ), Montclair (NJ) and Rye (NY).

Earlier in his career, he taught and held a number of administrative positions at the local level and worked for the New Jersey State Department of Education on several special initiatives. More recently, he served as adjunct instructor for the M.A. program in Educational Leadership at Montclair State University.

Dr. Alvarez has received appointments to several regional and national boards including the Middle States Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education (finance committee co-chair); Tri State Consortium (chair); the Victoria Foundation (president); Panasonic’s NJ Superintendents’ Network (founding member); and Pearson Education’s Hispanic Advisory Board (member).

Dr. Alvarez received a BA from Montclair State University in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and an MA and EdD in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. He was on the MSU Alumni Association board from 1997-2008, serving as president from 2006-2008. In 2008, Montclair State University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate for his contributions to the field of education.
Dr. Alvarez and his wife, Nancy ’76, ’02 MA, live in River Vale, NJ.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Tracy Doyle ’87

Tracy Doyle is a managing partner at eNOVA, a medical communications software and services company serving the Life Sciences Industry. Finding creative solutions that solve industry challenges and designing innovative engagement offerings that help healthcare providers connect and learn about the advances in science and medicine are Ms Doyle’s passions.

A results-driven leader with more than 30 years of combined clinical, pharmaceutical, and medical communications experience, Ms Doyle founded Phoenix Marketing Solutions, LLC, in 2002, where she addressed the market need for an integrated Medical Communications and Speakers Bureau Services Partner.

Recognizing the combined power of science and technology, she led the Phoenix team in the development of technologically advanced solutions that addressed unmet industry regulatory and compliance needs. Her efforts have led to industry-wide recognition, including the prestigious Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Healthcare Solutions and Services category. Phoenix is the proud winner of numerous growth and excellence awards in New Jersey and the business community.

In 2019, Phoenix merged with Telesto Digital to form eNOVA – a pioneer transforming stakeholder engagement for Life Sciences. eNOVA is addressing the industry need for unified engagement strategy and cohesive planning and execution across live, virtual, and digital channels with the first and only medical communications unified communications and collaboration (UCC) platform, Radius Direct®.

College of Science and Mathematics

Erika Hamden

Dr. Erika Hamden is an astrophysicist and role model for STEM professionals. Being the daughter of Professor Dean Hamden, a long serving Physics and Astronomy faculty member at Montclair State, it was no wonder that she developed a love of the sciences. She received a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard College in 2006 and then a doctorate in Astrophysics from Columbia University in 2014.

Her research focuses on measuring and mapping diffuse hydrogen around other galaxies and within star forming regions in our own galaxy. To do that, she builds ultraviolet telescopes that go to the stratosphere of space and develops sensor technology to make these telescopes more efficient.

Dr. Hamden’s professional journey highlights the importance of determination and she uses her experiences to inspire the next generation of STEM innovators. Before attending Harvard, she dropped out of MIT in her first semester, and has learned the importance of keeping going through difficult times. During the time between MIT and Harvard, she attended Montclair State and participated in a study-abroad program. In 2019, she was selected as an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador to share the story of her STEM journey and the many ways in which she uses these skills to solve problems and create new possibilities for the future. She was also selected to be a 2019 TED Fellow, and spoke on the topic of “What it takes to launch a telescope.” Dr. Hamden is a frequent speaker at Montclair State and looks back fondly on her experience as a Weston Science Scholars Program Mentor from 2006 to 2012.

Dr. Hamden is currently an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. Before that, she was an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow and the R.A. and G.B. Millikan Prize Postdoctoral Fellow in Experimental Physics at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Hamden was awarded a Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship for her detector work in 2016. She also was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2019 for her work on FIREBall, a UV telescope. This is the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on an early career scientist. Her broad interests have also provided her some unique experiences. Dr. Hamden worked as a chef for a year and received a Pâtisserie Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu before beginning graduate school. She also has a serious yoga practice and is learning to be a pilot.

Feliciano School of Business

Helane Becker ’79

Helane Becker is a managing director and senior research analyst at Cowen who covers airlines, air freight, and aircraft leasing. She has more than 35 years of experience on Wall Street, holding positions within the research, trading, and investment banking departments of several broker/dealers including Citi, Lehman Brothers, and Smith Barney.

She has been frequently ranked as the #1, 2, or 3 analyst by Institutional Investor magazine, as well as in the top 5 analysts by The Wall Street Journal. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University and a master’s of business administration from New York University. She is a member of the international honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, and is on the Advisory Board of the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State. Ms. Becker served three terms on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

School of Nursing

Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez ’18 ’21 MSN

Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez was part of the inaugural RN to BSN class at Montclair State University having earned her associates in Applied Science, Nursing from Essex County College eight years prior. As a registered nurse caring for adults in long term care facilities and in the community, she also served as a peer development coach during her studies at Montclair.

She managed staff development activities, served as the lead preceptor orienting new staff nurses, and spearheaded new training programs that improved quality and care outcomes.

She also worked as a learning associate in the Essex County College Learning Center, where she taught remedial English courses, ran student success workshops and monitored student progress in writing and test preparation.

Ms. Alabi-Gonzalez was employed full-time while attending the RN-BSN program. Working on the cardiac-telemetry unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, she continued precepting new orientees and facilitated inter-professional teamwork to improve staff communication. Ms. Alabi-Gonzalez received her BSN degree in 2018. She enrolled in the MSN degree program with a specialty concentration in the educator role. Ms. Alabi-Gonzalez joined the Montclair faculty in Fall 2021currently serves as clinical specialist at Montclair in Fall 2021.

She created the Student Nurses Association with 151 nursing students enrolled under her leadership. She was appointed and trained as an RWJBH Emerging Leader at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in 2021.