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Alumni Association

2023 Alumni Recognition Award Winners

Each year during Homecoming the Alumni Association honors alumni doing great things for our community and for UNF. Our alumni are not only impacting Northeast Florida, but they are strengthening UNF's reputation around the country … and even around the globe.
  • 2023 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award - Hugh Tappan

    Hugh TappanThe Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the highest award given to a University of North Florida graduate by the UNF Alumni Association. To be nominated for this prestigious award, an individual must have made significant contributions to his or her profession, community and/or society, and have consistently maintained the pursuit of excellence as a representative and graduate of this University. 

    The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is being presented to Hugh Tappan (’93). Tappan is president of HCA Healthcare’s South Atlantic Division headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Tappan joined HCA Healthcare in 1994 and has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership experience. He has held CEO roles at Hughston Sports Medicine Hospital in Georgia and Wesley Medical Center in Kansas, where he led the acquisition of Galichia Heart Hospital. Additionally, he served as COO for Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.

    In 2015, he was promoted to lead HCA Healthcare’s South Atlantic Division, which includes 12 hospitals and more than 200 sites of care in six markets across South Carolina, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. In 2018, the South Atlantic Division’s 20,000 healthcare professionals treated more than 1.8 million patients, provided care in more than 900,000 emergencies, performed more than 110,000 surgeries and delivered nearly 14,000 babies. HCA South Atlantic also contributed more than $110 million in state and local taxes and provided more than $300 million in care to the uninsured or underinsured.

    In 2017, Tappan helped initiate an organizing committee to support the new health administration committee. For his service to UNF and the health administration department, he was selected as the health administration distinguished alumnus award winner for 2018. He was also a founding member of the health administration alumni board and was appointed as the national chair in 2019. In 2020, Tappan led a panel of healthcare leaders for UNF’s first annual Fellowship & Residency Forum. Tappan was also instrumental in the 2022 partnership between HCA and UNF for the Simulation Center at the FSCJ Deerwood Campus.

     Tappan earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University and earned both his MBA and Master of Health Administration degrees from the University of North Florida.

  • 2023 Alumni Service Award - Damon Olinto

    Damon OlintoThe Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated continuous outstanding volunteer service to the University and meritorious public service on a local, state, national or international level.

    The Alumni Service Award is being presented to Damon Olinto (’83). Olinto serves as the market president for Northeast Florida at Synovus Financial Corp.

    A native of Jacksonville, Olinto was a high school math teacher for many years before moving to the world of finance. Possessing a degree in banking and finance from the University of North Florida, he first worked at three other Jacksonville-area banks as a specialist in industrial and commercial real estate lending.

    He initially joined Synovus in 2003 as president of Synovus Bank of Jacksonville. In 2009, he was appointed CEO of Synovus’ Northeast Florida division, which includes both Synovus Bank of Jacksonville and First Coast Community Bank. Olinto is responsible for client services and financial operations with a focus on business banking and wealth management.

    In the local community, Olinto is known for his role as Red Coat (chairman) of the 2018 PLAYERS Championship, leading over 2,000 volunteers and partnering with over 300 nonprofit organizations in the five-county area. He had previously served as Blue Coat (vice-chair) since 2012, and will also become the chairman-elect for the 2023 Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS Champions Tournament. Additionally, he serves as treasurer of the Rotary Club of Deerwood, a member of UNF’s AD Council, a board member for the UNF Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville, and served as past board chair of the University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services and past board member of the Clara White Mission, the Northeast Florida Builders Association, the Otis Smith Foundation and the St. Augustine Diocesan Advisory Board of Education. He also volunteers with the American Heart Association and serves as a youth sports coach.

  • 2023 Young Alumni Achievement Award - Travis Williams

    Travis WilliamsThe Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes current and future leaders among University of North Florida graduates. It is presented to alumni in recognition of their outstanding professional accomplishments and contributions to the community in the early stages of their careers.

    The Young Alumni Achievement Award is being presented to Travis Williams (’12). Williams is vice president of operations and impact for LIFT JAX, an initiative of business and community leaders working to eradicate generational poverty in Jacksonville. LIFT JAX is a nonprofit organization that drives the community revitalization initiative in Jacksonville’s Eastside, where he was born and raised as a fourth-generation resident.

    Prior to joining LIFT JAX, Travis served as the senior director of communications for Kids Hope Alliance, a fiscal agency of the City of Jacksonville. Williams also cultivated a relationship between the Coggin College of Business and Kids Hope Alliance. In 2021, this relationship led to Kids Hope Alliance funding the Diversity in Business program with a catalytic $50,000 grant to help launch the initiative. Williams was vital to the development and growth of the Diversity in Business program and continues to serve as an advisor to the director. Williams was also influential in launching UNF’s Community Alliance for Student Success, serving as a representative community professional. 

    As a student, Williams was a founding member and president of the Psi Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity. He was one of the first students to join the pilot Financial Services BA program in the Coggin College of Business and pursued a career in financial planning. He was nationally recognized as a top 15 intern in Northwestern Mutual’s prestigious internship program and was ranked top intern in the region. Afterward, he started his own financial planning practice serving over 200 clients across the country and earned many accolades including top new financial advisor and top 10 advisor in the region. While in practice, Williams was able to help provide internship and employment opportunities to dozens of UNF students and mentor many of them with aspirations in business and financial services.

    Williams is a true community servant of Jacksonville through local board work and volunteerism, primarily in areas focused on economic development, urban revitalization and services benefiting the less privileged. His commitment to excellence and service leadership presents him with many opportunities to advise on initiatives and projects throughout the city. Williams currently serves as the co-chair of the Jax Chamber Lewis and White Advisory Board. He also serves as a board member for local nonprofits Rethreaded, the Clara White Mission, and The Potter’s House International Ministries. His service has also extended nationally, as he’s been called upon to help lead initiatives around diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry.

    Of all these accomplishments, Williams is most proud of being married to his best friend and college sweetheart, Kristin, and the amazing family they’ve built together.

Previous Winners