The Nebraska Alumni Association has announced its 2023 class of Alumni Masters and alumni award winners.
The Alumni Masters and award winners will be recognized on campus March 22-24, ending with the Nebraska Medallion Dinner on March 24.
Since 1964, more than 400 alumni have participated in Alumni Masters. Its primary goal is to link the university’s outstanding alumni with students who can benefit from their experiences and knowledge, as well as honor alumni for their success and leadership. All students are encouraged to take part in lectures, presentations and events with the Alumni Masters, who will speak about ways to apply formal education to working situations and career goals.
2023 Alumni Masters
- Clayton K. Nielsen, Ph.D. (’94), College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
Nielsen is Professor of wildlife ecology and conservation in the Forestry Program and Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He has devoted much of his career to research and teaching in the area of wildlife conservation, having conducted studies on dozens of species on four continents. In 2014, he was presented the Outstanding Scholar Award in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois.
After earning his undergraduate degree from Nebraska, Nielsen earned a master’s degree from the State University of New York and his doctorate in Zoology from SIU in 2001. He has published more than 250 scholarly works, given nearly 700 lectures and presentations and had his research showcased by Time magazine, the BBC and National Geographic magazine, among others.
- Kelly Dubisar (’02), College of Architecture
Dubisar is an award-winning design principal for Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm. She has used her creative energy to provide tailored design solutions for iconic clients such as Instagram, Google and LinkedIn.
Dubisar has applied her unique design approach to workplace projects for other nationally-recognized brands, including the headquarters for Hyatt Hotels in Chicago and E&J Gallo Wines in Modesto, California. As one of Gensler’s design leaders, Dubisar serves as the Regional Design Experience Leader for the Northwest Region. She currently lives in San Francisco.
- Dr. Stuart P. Embury (’66, ‘69), College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Embury worked for more than 35 years as a family practice physician in Holdrege, Nebraska, most recently serving as the Chief Medical Officer of Phelps Memorial Health Center. For more than 40 years, he and his wife Lynn have led teams of medical volunteers to Haiti through their nonprofit organization Christian Sojourn Haiti. In 2004, he received the Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Embury also is a prolific historian and collector of art, compiling one of the top private book collections on American art in the world, which he donated to the university. The Stuart P. Embury MD Library of American Art is a special collection at Love Library, containing more than 11,000 books and catalogs. He is planning to donate another collection of letters of artists, medical professionals and political leaders to the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.
- Secretary Chad Mariska (’98), College of Business
Sec. Mariska is Oklahoma’s 12th Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development, where he responsible for growing Oklahoma’s economy and workforce, providing oversight for 30 agencies, and serving on the Governor’s Cabinet. Sec. Mariska also is President of Mariska Family Holdings, a diversified investment company, and Trustee of the Mariska Family Foundation, a private charitable trust.
Prior to entering public service, Sec. Mariska was Chairman and CEO of APS FireCo, a leading fire protection provider in the south central United States. He is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at the College of Business, a trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation and Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. He and his wife Amy live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Kaleb L. Briscoe (’20), College of Education and Human Sciences
Briscoe is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Mississippi State University where she conducts research into oppressed and marginalized populations within higher education. Through her scholarship on campus racial climate, Briscoe seeks to disrupt whiteness and white supremacy on predominantly white campuses, and her research shapes administrators, specifically university presidents’ responses to race and racism.
Briscoe is a recent Spencer Foundation grant recipient, and her work has been published in the Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Higher Education Research and Development, Journal of International Students and Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. She earned her doctorate in Educational Studies from Nebraska.
- Stan C. Feuerberg (’74, ’78), College of Engineering
Feuerberg is recently retired after serving 30 years as president and CEO of Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative in Manassas, Virginia, which supplies power to 180,000 customers in the Washington, D.C., metro area and was ranked first nationally in 2018 for Power Quality and Reliability by JD Power and Associates.
Previously, Feuerberg was the vice president and COO of the Vermont Electric Power Company and the General Counsel for the Western Area Power Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy. A member of the Nebraska State Bar since 1979, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Nebraska in 1974 and his Juris Doctor in 1978 from the University of Nebraska College of Law. He and his wife Robyn live in Centreville, Virginia.
- Mari Weiss (’88), Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts
Weiss has built a diverse and expansive career in theater and television, having performed, written and directed works from New York to Los Angeles. A native of Chicago, Weiss has performed with such theatre companies as Steppenwolf, Court Theatre and Annoyance Theatre. Her television credits include roles on “Shameless,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Mad Men” and “Seinfeld,” as well as more than 100 commercials.
Weiss earned her master of fine arts degree from Nebraska in 1984 and is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts in Chicago. She also has taught voiceover classes in Los Angeles, served on the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Conservatory and volunteers with several other service organizations.
- Jane Tenhulzen Olson (’64), College of Journalism and Mass Communications
Tenhulzen Olson has spent a long and distinguished career promoting international peace and justice and performing humanitarian work. From 2004 to 2011, she chaired the international board of trustees of Human Rights Watch, the largest U.S.-based international human rights organization. She also was board chair of Survivor Corps, which was part of a coalition that received a Nobel Peace Prize for working to develop the International Landmine Ban Treaty.
After earning a bachelor’s from Nebraska in 1964, Olson traveled extensively with humanitarian organizations to areas on international conflict, including Central America, South America, eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She and her husband, attorney Ronald L. Olson, live in Pasadena, California.
- Adam Hornung (’04), College of Law
Hornung is the co-chief operating officer and general counsel of Hillhouse Capital, one of the largest asset management firms in Asia. Living in Hong Kong, he manages Hillhouse’s operational and global strategic initiatives while overseeing a team of more than 25 legal, compliance and tax attorneys around the globe.
Hornung, originally from Arnold, Nebraska, earned his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2004 and previously served on the Lincoln City Council before joining Hillhouse as the firm’s first general counsel in 2012. He and his wife Nicole have two daughters, Ada and Mae.
2023 Alumni Award Winners
- Debra Kleve White (’80), Distinguished Service Award
Kleve White is retired from a 38-year career as a real estate broker in Austin, Texas, including 20 years owning her own brokerage firm. She simultaneously worked for 12 years at the University of Texas Institute for Public School Initiatives, partnering with under-performing school districts around the state to improve reading, math and science skills.
Now living in Lincoln, Kleve White’s second career is as an author and speaker. In 2019, she published “The Spirit of Nebraska,” a book documenting the history behind Husker school spirit and game day traditions. She also is a speaker for the Nebraska Humanities Speakers Bureau.
- The Uryasz Family, Family Tree Award
The Uryasz family has lived in or near Kansas City for more than 30 years, but home will always be Nebraska. The first known member of the family to attend the University of Nebraska was Pauline Coad Jeffrey, a member of the Class of 1925.
Over the next century, members of three more generations of the Uryasz family would become Nebraska alumni including C. Robert Jeffrey (’48), Paul Jeffrey (’78), Ann and Frank Uryasz (’83), Julie Uryasz (’80, ’86) and Steve Uryasz (’85, ’87). Ann and Frank’s children, Justine Uryasz Richard (‘10), Tim Uryasz (’11) and Claire Uryasz (’15), plus Claire’s husband, James Harris (’18), each are proud Nebraska alumni as well.
Family members hold undergraduate degrees from Nebraska in architecture, journalism, business, education, nursing, engineering, criminal justice, and life sciences (biology), as well as graduate degrees from the College of Business and the College of Education and Human Sciences.
- State Sen. Tom Brandt, Public Service Award
Sen. Brandt has served in the Nebraska Legislature since 2018 representing District 32 in southeast Nebraska, including southwest Lancaster County. He currently serves on the Legislature’s Natural Resources and Transportation and Telecommunications Committees.
A native of Beatrice, Nebraska, Sen. Brandt graduated from Tri County High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and mechanized agriculture from Nebraska in 1982. A former industrial engineer for Oscar Mayer/Louis Rich and project engineer with IBP, he also is president of the Southeast Nebraska Corn Growers Association. He and his wife Sandra have two children, Mariah and Evan.