Webster University 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients: Cano, Demings, Horn, Lange, Merschen

Mar. 22, 2018

2018 Webster University's Alumni Association Award winners, left to right: Tom Lange, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Matthew Horn, Val Demings, and Al Merschen
2018 Webster University's Alumni Association Award winners, left to right: Tom Lange, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Matthew Horn, Val Demings, and Al Merschen

The Webster University Alumni Association is proud to announce Jennifer Johnson Cano, Congresswoman Val Demings, Matthew Horn, Tom Lange and Al Merschen as recipients of its 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Recipients will be honored during each of their respective school or college recognition ceremonies at Webster University’s Commencement on Saturday, May 12 at the Muny Theatre in Forest Park.

College of Arts & Sciences: Al Merschen, MA ‘82

With college degrees from Maryville and Webster, Al Merschen's professional career in academia began when he joined the administration at Fontbonne and then the business faculty at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. During his tenure of teaching, Merschen began working to build Myriad, a bespoke marketing consulting agency, advising a variety of business concerns. Captivated by the travel industry, Merschen blended his experience, expertise and personal aspirations to focus Myriad on the world of international tourism. Through his rapidly growing business, his portfolio of clients and countries soon spanned the world. Today, Myriad has become the industry leader in marketing for international destination, now working with over 20 governments on five continents.

Still passionate about teaching, Merschen continues to lead Myriad while also bringing his years of industry insight to the stage through his delivery of speeches and guest lectures around the world. He also serves as a member of the Webster University College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board.

George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology: Congresswoman Val Demings, MA ‘96

After receiving a bachelor’s in criminology from Florida State University, Val Demings began her career in Jacksonville as a social worker, working with foster children. Despite seeing few women in the ranks of law enforcement in the early 1980’s, she was inspired to move to Orlando to join the police force. Demings graduated from the police academy as class president, receiving the Board of Trustees’ Award for Overall Excellence.

In 2007, Demings made history when she was appointed to serve as Orlando’s first female chief of police, where she was widely praised for her dynamic leadership and a significant drop in crime. Chief Demings founded innovative programs like Operation Positive Direction, a mentoring program that empowers at-risk students through tutoring, community service, and positive incentives. She also launched Operation Free Palms, a project focusing on rejuvenating the Palms Apartments, Orlando's most crime-ridden housing complex.

Demings currently serves as Congresswoman to the 10th District of Florida. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Webster University’s Orlando Campus in 1996 and is an active member of St. Mark A.M.E., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc , National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Congress of Black Women, and numerous other affiliations.

Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts: Jennifer Johnson Cano, BM ‘06

Jennifer Johnson Cano is a naturally gifted singer noted for her commanding stage presence and profound artistry. Cano joined The Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2008, and made her Met debut during the 2009-2010 season. Among her honors are a First Prize winner of the 2009 Young Concert Artist International Auditions, 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, 2012 Richard Tucker Career Grant and 2014 George London Award.

Cano has given over 100 performances at The Metropolitan Opera and frequently appears with New York Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra. A dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, she performs with pianist Christopher Cano at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the Tucson Desert Song Festival. At the invitation of Mrs. Carol Armstrong, Cano was particularly honored to sing at the private funeral for American icon and astronaut Neil Armstrong. In 2014, she released her debut recital recording, Unaffected: Live from the Savannah Voice Festival, recorded completely live and unedited. Her most recent recording of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Naxos received high critical-acclaim.

A national and international performer, Cano is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and made her professional operatic debut with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Webster University and a Master of Music from Rice University.

School of Communications: Tom Lange, BA ‘07

Tom Lange is the assistant vice president - Corporate Communications for Union Pacific, a Fortune 150 company, the world's largest publicly traded freight railroad, and eight times named Fortune's Most Admired in the industry. In his current position, Lange leads the team that develops communications strategies to enhance Union Pacific’s brand, protect and promote its reputation, and support business initiatives. Lange joined Union Pacific, based in Omaha, Neb., in September 2008 as director - Corporate Communications. His previous positions include director - Public Affairs and Communications at Smurfit-Stone,director of Communications for the U.S. Soccer Federation in Chicago and Account Supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations.

Lange is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Society of America, the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Association of National Advertisers, the Forbes Communications Council, and the Webster University School of Communications Advisory Board. He earned his bachelor’s in public relations from Webster University in 2007.

School of Education: Matthew Horn, MA ‘16

Matthew Horn holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary social studies education from Indiana University and a master’s in reading from Webster University. With a focus on historical literacy and student engagement, he exposes students to real life learning experiences in his classroom. Horn has taught U.S. History and African American Experience courses at University City High School for the past six years, while also serving as assistant varsity football coach for the U. City Lions. He is the co-sponsor of the Gateway2Change race initiative, which brings together University City student leaders with those from St. Charles West High School to discuss and tackle important racial issues in St. Louis. Horn is also involved with the social justice club We Schools, which pushes kids to think outside themselves and come together to solve complex societal issues.

Horn was named a regional teacher of the year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for the 2017-2018 school year and was selected as a top six state finalist for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year award.

About the Outstanding Alumni Award

Each year the Alumni Association joins with Webster's five schools and colleges to highlight the diverse disciplines of the University and present an Outstanding Alumni Award to an alumna or alumnus from each school or college who has achieved outstanding success and recognition in their profession and/or through voluntary service. Each dean makes the final selection of the recipient for his or her respective school.

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