Congratulations to all of our past award recipients.
State Representative Travis Cummings represents Florida
House District 18, which includes most of the residents of
Clay County. He serves on the Clay County Legislative Delegation and is a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, the Appropriations Committee and the Rules and Policy Committee. Previously, he served as a commissioner and commission chairman for Clay County, as well as mayor and councilman for the town of Orange Park. Travis is a small business owner who consults with individuals and businesses in regard to insurance and employee benefit plans, as well as ensuring that employers are compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In addition to his work commitments, Travis has served numerous civic and charitable organizations in leadership roles including chairman of both the Clay County Charter Review Commission and the Clay County YMCAs, and president of both the Jacksonville KA Alumni Chapter and the Jacksonville Bulldog Club. Travis has served on numerous boards including the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, the Jacksonville Association of Health Underwriters, the Borland-Groover Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of North Florida and Orange Park Medical Center. He is a graduate of Leadership Florida and worked as a corporate controller for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast for several years, overseeing and creating a responsible budget.
Travis holds an accounting degree from Valdosta State University and an MBA from UNF. He and his wife, Jessica, are Clay County natives and both graduated from Orange Park High School. They reside in Fleming Island with their two sons and daughter.
Andrew Rush is president and CEO of Made In SpaceInc., a company founded in 2010 with the goal of enablinghumanity’s future in space. Made In Space Inc. has developed the first 3-D printers designed and built for use on the International Space Station, allowing needed materials to be built in space rather than launched from Earth. Andrew is also a registered patent attorney and member of The Florida Bar. He worked as a partner at PCT Law Group for three years, where he helped clients determine the appropriate steps to take to secure protection for their innovations.During his undergraduate work at UNF, Andrew was actively engaged in the Physics Department, working closely with his faculty mentor, Dr. Lev Gasparov, UNF Presidential Professor of Physics. Andrew spent nearly three years conducting research in Dr.Gasparov’s lab, which led to three highly cited peer-reviewed articles published in leading physics journals. UNF recognized his research accomplishments with the 2009 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award.Andrew’s impact is still being felt at UNF. He volunteers in the College of Arts and Sciences where he often speaks with students regarding professional development, communicating clearly and professionally in the workplace and developing a portfolio for a job interview. Andrew also offers advice on a variety of topics including the importance of protecting intellectual property through patents and how to start a business with classmates.
Shannon Italia’s successful business career in industry included 15 years in sales and management roles at Fortune 500 companies. She has been equally committed to serving the community and has volunteered in various roles that positively impact women. Since 2014, Shannon has served onthe advisory board of Rethreaded, a company that employs survivors of human trafficking, and is the current board chair. From 2011-16, she served on the advisory board of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, which provides women with mentoring and business education. Shannon is also the founder and advisor to the UNF Women in Business Society, an organization that was created to develop female leaders. As a result of her commitment, Shannon was recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal with the 2013 Woman of Influence award.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from the University of North Florida. Shannon has worked at UNF since 2005 and is the founding director of the Career Management Center in the Coggin College of Business, an adjunct instructor, and member of Coggin’s Executive Committee, as well as the point person for marketing and external relations. She has received numerous honors for her tireless efforts on campus, including the 2015 Susan B. Anthony Award from the UNF Women’s Center, the 2010 Gabor Award Runner Up, a UNF Foundation award for employee excellence, and the 2009 Soaring to Excellence Award, a recognition from UNF’s President.
She and her husband, Mike Italia, recently established the William Michael Italia and Shannon Italia Community Service Endowed Scholarship.
Dwight Cooper is the founder of one of our city’s great entrepreneurial success stories, PPR Talent Management Group. During his 20-year tenure as CEO, the company was named three times as one of “America’s 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies” by Inc. Magazine and for 13 consecutive years among the “Top 25 Best Small Companies to Work
For” in America according to the Great Place to Work
Institute. In 2013, that organization announced in Fortune
Magazine that PPR Talent Management Group was the “No.
1 Small Business in America to Work For.”
An avid student of business best practices and a frequent
lecturer, Dwight regularly consults with organizations that
wish to engage their employees at the highest levels. He
has a unique ability to assess culture and develop simple
processes and systems that have a powerful impact on
Dwight has a longtime connection with UNF. In 1989, he became UNF’s first-ever assistant basketball coach, serving for five seasons, and was an integral part of building the foundation of our newly chartered basketball team. He also is a UNF basketball season ticketholder and an avid supporter of UNF Athletics. Dwight has served on the Brooks College of Health Dean’s Council for many years and as chair in 2015 and 2016. His company generously endowed a nursing scholarship in honor of Ruth Stiehl, a nurse and long-time employee of PPR, and has supported other nonendowed nursing scholarships since 2001.
Dwight graduated from Florida State University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and was selected twice as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2001 and 2002. He is a community leader and former chairman of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Away from work, Dwight enjoys spending time with his wife, Christine, daughters Payton and Jordan, and son, Logan. He and his family reside in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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