2022 Alumni Fellow
Jennifer McDonald is founder, CEO and head winemaker at Jenny Dawn Cellars. She founded the company in 2016, launched her first wine in 2017 and opened the Wichita urban winery in Union Station in November 2019 with plans to expand.
Jennifer started her career in winemaking at home and won a gold, three silvers and two bronze medals from the Kansas Winemakers and Grape Growers Association. As part of her master’s degree, she developed research data on consumer wine preferences and developed a business plan for an urban winery.
Jennifer won the 2017 and 2019 Chardonnay Best of Class in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a bronze for her pinot noir in 2019. Her 2016 chardonnay and pinot noir won a silver and bronze medal in the New World International Wine Competition.
She is active in Urban Professionals, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Leadership Kansas and Pipeline Entrepreneurs.
Jennifer has received the Wichita Innovations in Business Award presented by Young Professionals of Wichita. She was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal in 2017 as one of Wichita’s top 40 people in business under age 40 and received the publication’s 2018 Innovation and Enterprise award, and the 2020 Women in Business award. In 2019, she received the Distinguished 400 Award by the African American History Commission and in 2021 received the Black Women Owned Business of Distinction from the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce.
Jennifer completed the online Master of Agribusiness program from Kansas State University in 2016. She has an undergraduate degree in public administration from Doane College. She also completed Wichita State University e2e’s collaborative start-up accelerator program, LaunchPrep, and has taken winemaking classes from UC Davis.
Prior to starting the winery, Jennifer worked as a human resource and recruiting professional for over 10 years for Wichita businesses, including Wolters Kluwer, Redguard, Cargill, Zerochoas and Koch.
Jennifer and her husband, Matthew, have two children, Desmond and Emma.
2019 Alumni Fellow
Food Science '08
As Innovation Manager for Hormel Foods, Nathan Smit is responsible for the development of consumer-centric innovation for several of the company’s key brands, including SKIPPY® peanut butter, Justin’s® almond butter, and the Muscle Milk® family of products.
Nathan joined Hormel Foods in 2001 as a chemistry lab technician. In 2009, he advanced to an associate scientist in R&D working on Always Tender® products and fresh pork and in 2011, to scientist working on brands such as Lloyds® barbeque and foodservice bacon. In 2012, Nathan took a position in the grocery products division as an associate brand manager of innovation. While in the Grocery Products division, Nathan aided in the successful development of several new product platforms, including the launch of SKIPPY® P.B. bites. Prior to joining Hormel Foods, Nathan spent three years as a laboratory technician at Tyson Foods.
Nathan is a 2000 graduate of Riverland Community College. He also holds an undergraduate degree from Kansas State University with a bachelor's in food science and industry. He is also certified in Design Thinking from Stanford University.
Nathan holds two U.S. patents, has authored two books and recently received the National NUTN Distinguished Learner Award for his use of distance education to advance his career. He lives on a hobby farm in Austin, Minnesota, with his wife, Becky.
2018 Alumni Fellow
San Antonio, Texas
Julio Manso is managing director of human resources for JPMorgan Chase & Co. In this role, he is head of human resources for consumer and community banking technology, operations and digital. Manso joined JPMorgan Chase & Co. from iHeartMedia Inc., where he was the head of human resources for Clear Channel Outdoor, North America, and prior to that the head of talent management. Prior to iHeartMedia Inc., he spent seven years at Bank of America in human resources in both the consumer and technology divisions. Before his time at Bank of America, Manso spent 12 years in commercial aviation in a variety of line and corporate roles.
Throughout his career, Julio has served in various aspects of human resources. He found the K-State online degree in psychology with an emphasis in organizational psychology valuable because of its focus on putting into practice the tools being taught.
Outside of his career, Julio has focused his extra time on youth involvement. He just completed a three-year term as board chair of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of South Texas, during which he also directed a $4 million capital campaign to acquire a new facility and quadruple the organization's impact in the area.
He and his wife, Kim, have two children: Julia and Alejandro. Julio’s daughter, Julia, 17, is involved in speech, debate and Latin competitions at the local, state and national level. His son, Alex, age 8, is a sports enthusiast and a diehard K-State Wildcat fan. Julio said they make an annual trip to watch the K-State Wildcats play either the Texas Longhorns or Baylor Bears each fall.
2017 Alumni Fellow
Amy Martens, P.E.
Engineering Management ‘01
Amy Martens, P.E. is the manager of engineering services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. She has more than 20 years of project leadership experience and manages a team of engineers on process improvement and quality projects. She is an emeritus member of the K-State Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Advisory Council, launched the department’s mentoring program for the IMSE Professional Academy, and is the past chair of the Healthcare Operations Resource Center.
Martens is a senior adviser for the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers KC chapter and serves on the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers (KSPE) board of directors. She is an executive committee member and founder of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Toastmasters Club, earning Leader/Communication awards. She was named one of Topeka’s 20 under 40 and was nominated as an honoree for the YWCA Women in Excellence.
2016 Alumni Fellow
Joel DiGirolamo is the director of coaching science for the International Coach Federation, where he leads the organization’s efforts to develop, curate and disseminate information around the science of coaching. He completed his master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in industrial and organizational psychology (MIOP) through K-State.
Prior to his current position, DiGirolamo formed a consulting firm, Turbocharged Leadership, which helped companies and other organizations with leadership training and employee selection. He has more than 30 years of staff and management experience in Fortune 500 companies and is the author of two books.
2015 Alumni Fellow
Carole Schwartz recently joined Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) as a research public health analyst. Her projects include the education and implementation of requirements of the IMPACT Act (Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014).
With more than 16 years of occupational therapy clinical experience, Schwartz has served as senior policy advisor for the Illinois Department on Aging, project manager at the Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research (CROR) at the Rehab Institute of Chicago, adjunct professor for a gerontology graduate course, and coordinator of program development for a rehabilitation agency. Schwartz also completed a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago in occupational therapy prior to her master's degree through K-State.
2014 Alumni Fellow
Cristina Mansfield completed K-State's Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program in 2004. Among her many global experiences, she completed her degree while working on democracy and governance issues in Cambodia, and she became interested in where the country should be investing their money, particularly in agriculture.
Prior to her education at K-State, Mansfield completed a bachelor's degree in politics from NYU and a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is pursuing a juris-doctorate from Vermont Law School.
2013 Alumni Fellow
Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer
Adult and Continuing Education ‘99
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Major General Mark R. Stammer was among the first cohort of students to complete K-State's Adult and Continuing Education master's degree program based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1999. Prior to K-State, he received a bachelor‘s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston and a master's degree in national strategy and security policy from the College of Naval Warfare.
While serving as the Commanding General of the Joint Task Force North in Fort Bliss, Texas, Maj. Gen. Stammer provided military support to U.S. drug law enforcement agencies. He is currently the acting senior commander of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
2012 Alumni Fellow
San Diego, California
Kristine Smith completed her online bachelor's degree in dietetics in 2004 while on duty overseas with the U.S. Navy. She serves as director of nutrition services at San Diego's Neighborhood House Association, where she revamped the daily menu for the association's Head Start program, which provides approximately 6,500 meals each day to children from low-income families.
Now focusing on a Farm to Pre-School program, Smith is working to replace much of the factory-distributed food in her kitchen with healthy, locally grown foods. She continues to utilize her K-State dietetics degree to reform child nutrition in her region.
2011 Alumni Fellow
Engineering Management ‘03
To transition from military to civilian life and prepare for the corporate world, Allan Sicat completed an online master's degree in engineering management, working in various finance and operational roles with General Electric and Booz Allen Hamilton after graduation. Currently, he is president of Carousel Designs, a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of distinctive baby bedding.
Sicat is a former U.S. Army officer and a graduate of the Military Academy at West Point. He established the Allan D. Sicat Scholarship for military students through Kansas State University Global Campus in 2013.