CF Foundation

Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to an alumnus/a, who exemplifies the College of Central Florida’s tradition of excellence through their personal accomplishments, professional achievements, or humanitarian service. One recipient is selected each year.

CF Distinguished Alumni 2023

Melissa Tony Stires

Melissa Stires

This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is Melissa Tony Stires. Stires graduated in 2002 from what was then Central Florida Community College and began a career that has taken her around the world and home again.

Stires continued her education at the University of Florida, where she won a competitive internship in Washington, D.C., and moved there upon graduation in 2005. She worked in marketing and communications for the Business Software Alliance. In 2007, she was recruited to work for The George Washington University where she held roles including director of development events, traveling chief of staff for the university president and relationship management with the school of public health. She helped bring in the largest gift ever to the university and led more than 60 delegations to over 30 countries.

In 2019 Stires returned to Florida to spearhead development at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She started her company, Stires Consulting, in 2020 for speaking and training on remote work and transitioned to full time in 2022. Currently, Stires is the development director – new partner engagement at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando.

Stires is among a family of CF alumni. Her brother Jonathan Tony graduated in 2006 and her mother, Kathy Tony, graduated in 2007. She has worked with the CF Foundation to honor her mother with the Kathleen Evearitt Saunders Endowed Scholarship to help other students reach their educational dreams.

Previous CF Distinguished Alumni

  • May 1996: The Honorable Craig Curry
  • Aug. 1997: Richard Knight
  • May 2001: Morrey Deen
  • Aug. 2001: The Honorable Mary Sue Rich
  • Dec. 2001: Lewis Dinkins
  • May 2002: Jim Williams
  • Aug. 2002: Mary Steddom
  • Dec. 2002: Jim Huber
  • May 2003: Roy Abshier
  • Dec. 2003: Kay Johnson Boyer
  • Aug. 2004: Bobby James
  • 2005: Lori Hornby
  • Aug. 2005: Michael Mangan
  • May 2006: The Honorable Gerald Ergle
  • Dec. 2006: Judge Hale R. Stancil
  • Fall 2007: Van McKenzie
  • Spring 2008: Dean Blinkhorn
  • Fall 2008: Sandra Himmel
  • Spring 2009: Clinton Hart
  • Spring 2010: Dr. Stacey Dickson
  • Spring 2011: The Honorable Charles Dean
  • Spring 2012: Gloria James
  • Spring 2013: George Tomyn
  • May 2014: Sindy Schneider
  • May 2015: Sheriff Chris Blair
  • May 2016: Capt. Shane Ferguson
  • Dec. 2016: Mike Joyner
  • May 2017: Judge Carlos E. Mendoza
  • May 2018: Luther Drummond
  • May 2019: John and Shirley Rudnianyn
  • May 2020: Benjamin Marciano
  • May 2021: Ire Bethea
  • May 2022: Dr. Jennifer Sumner