Distinguished Alumni 2002

Past award recipient bios as they appeared in that year's event program (*deceased)

EMERGING LEADERSHIP: Vicki Eaton Johnson, ‘92 MPA

Vicki Eaton Johnson graduated from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs in 1992 with a master’s degree in public administration. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Baldwin-Wallace College.

She is recognized as one of Cleveland’s most impressive young leaders in the areas of housing and community development.

She began her career in 1991 as director of housing at Hough Area Partners in Progress, Inc. From 1995-97, she was manager of single family housing for the city of Cleveland’s Department of Community Development, Housing Construction Office.

Since 1997, she has been the executive director of the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC), located in the city’s federally funded Empowerment Zone.

Fairfax is one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods. Through implementation of a master plan for the neighborhood, Ms. Eaton Johnson has promoted both housing and commercial redevelopment. Two of her most notable projects are Beach Place at Church Square and Bicentennial Village.

Currently, she is involved in three major projects in Fairfax – a new office building which will house FRDC; a new housing project next to Beacon Place; and a planned Cuyahoga County youth detention center on the site of the former Schmidt Brewery.

In 2000, Cleveland Magazine selected her as one of Cleveland’s “40 Under 40” emerging leaders. Her board affiliations include Karamu House and Senior Outreach Services, Inc. She lives in Cleveland

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: Dr. Deforia S. Lane, ‘81 Master of Music

Aspiring to be a professional singer, Deforia Lane received a master’s degree in music from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1981. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in music education from Case Western Reserve University.

Dr. Lane is the director of music therapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland Ireland Cancer Center and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. A cancer survivor, she is equally at ease in the pediatrics ward or on the geriatrics floor, using the power of music to help chronically ill patients.

She holds board certification as a music therapist. Since 1995, she has been an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

Dr. Lane is a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, for which she composed and recorded the song We Can Cope. Her autobiography, Music as Medicine, was published in 1995.

Dr. Lane received the first American Cancer Society grant to investigate the therapeutic effects of music on oncology patients. Her many awards include the Cleveland Negro Business & Professional Women Award, the Sesame Street Workshop’s Sunny Day Award, and honorary membership in the Oncology Nursing Society, its highest honor.

Dr. Lane speaks throughout the United States and has used music therapy with hospitalized adults and children in Hong Kong, China and Kenya.

Last year, Rainbow Hospital dedicated the Deforia Lane Chronic Care Ambulatory Center. She lives in Cleveland.

CIVIC ACHIEVEMENT: Dennis J. Roche, ‘70 BA/’74 MSUS/’85 MAFIS

Dennis J. Roche is a three-time graduate of Cleveland State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1970, a master’s degree in urban studies in 1974 from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and a master of accountancy and financial information systems in 1985 from the College of Business Administration.

A respected community leader and financial expert for the past 25 years, he has worked tirelessly for the betterment of Greater Cleveland.

Since 1996, Mr. Roche has been the chief operating officer of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. He is responsible for day-to-day operations, oversees the budget, and is the corporate director of Group Services, Inc., a subsidiary that manages a variety of group purchasing products, including health insurance, workers’ compensation and telecommunications. These products collectively save member companies in excess of $100 million each year.

Mr. Roche also has served as assistant general manager for finance and administration at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, where he implemented the first computerized budget system and published the first comprehensive annual financial report for a transit authority in Ohio.

As director of the Office of Budget and Management for Cuyahoga County, he designed and implemented the current county budget process. His county budget plans have won three national awards of excellence.

He is a member of the Visiting Committees of both the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and the College of Education. He also serves on the boards of Lakewood Hospital, the Citizens League, St. Edward High School, the Old Stone Foundation, Park Works and several other community boards. He lives in Lakewood.

LIFETIME LEADERSHIP: Dr. Margaret R. Taber, ‘58 BEE

In the 1950s, there weren’t many educational choices for women who wanted to pursue a degree in engineering. But Fenn College offered Margaret Taber a scholarship, which she accepted and it also offered a Cooperative Education program that gave her practical experience in her chosen field.

She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1958, followed by a master’s degree in engineering from The University of Akron and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Taber has accomplished much in her professional life. She developed an electrical-electronic engineering technology program for Cuyahoga Community College, where she was a professor and chair of the engineering technology department. She was affiliated with Purdue University for 21 years, where she was the first woman professor in the School of Technology. When she retired, Purdue named a lab in her honor the Margaret R. Taber Microcomputer Laboratory.

The author of two textbooks and several journal articles, she has mentored students and advised student organizations. Last year, she established the Margaret R. Taber Endowed Scholarship to support students at the Fenn College of Engineering at CSU.

A cancer survivor who lives in Indiana, she has devoted her retirement years to volunteering with the American Cancer Society and an Arizona organization that works with mentally disabled adults.

Her achievements have been recognized with many honors, including the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award from the Society of Women Engineers, the Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award from Purdue, and an Outstanding Alumni Award from The University of Akron.

GEORGE B. DAVIS AWARD: Donald E. Washkewicz, ‘72 BME/’04 D.Sc.

Donald Washkewicz earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1972, followed by a master’s of business administration from Case Western Reserve University.

After graduating from CSU, he joined the Parker Hannifin Corporation as a researcher, where his first assignment was to invent a new hose. Thirty years later, he’s still at the company, as president and chief executive officer

His rise through Parker Hannifin has been marked by steady accomplishments. As a researcher, he earned three patents for the hoses he designed and for a process to recycle scrap material. As general manager of the Parflex Division, a small unit grew to a work force of 400 people with more than $100 million in annual sales. He went on to serve as vice president of the Fluid Connectors Group and president of the Hydraulics Group, and was named to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer in 2000. Seventeen months later, he was named president and CEO.

A resident of Solon, he sits on the boards of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association and Cleveland Tomorrow.

Over the past two years, Mr. Washkewicz has been instrumental in the Fenn College of Engineering receiving $110,000 from Parker Hannifin to develop a motion and control laboratory. He has pledged that the firm will regularly maintain and upgrade lab equipment so students can learn by using the most advanced technology.

Parker Hannifin also supports student scholarships through the Mechanical Engineering Department and the LINK Program in Career Services.

Last year, Mr. Washkewicz hosted a highly successful alumni breakfast at Parker Hannifin and personally led a tour of the company’s facilities.