School of Business alumni honored as Prominent Patriots each year epitomize The Mason Graduate as engaged citizens and well-rounded scholars who are prepared to act. Peer-nominated and peer-selected, the Prominent Patriots represent School of Business alumni as the very best in demonstrating citizenship, scholarship, and leadership in their daily lives.
2017 Prominent Patriots
Karen L. Cohen, MS Real Estate Development '12
Shareholder, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian
Karen Cohen currently serves as a director-at-large on the School of Business Alumni Chapter Board. Cohen was instrumental in the creation of Mason’s Real Estate Development Industry Group, and served as its first director. She also serves on the strategic plan committee for Mason’s Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship (CREE) and the fundraising committee for the Annual Business Celebration. Cohen is a partner with the law firm of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C. (VF&N). Her practice focuses on land use and zoning, commercial real estate, and business transactions. Prior to joining VF&N, Karen was of counsel at The Coverage Law Firm and counsel at WilmerHale. She began her legal career as clerk to the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, after graduating magna cum laude from Georgetown Law. She holds a B.S. in architecture from the University of Virginia.
John G. Cotton, EMBA '15
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy Retired and School of Business Executive MBA Adjunct Faculty
John G. Cotton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering, and then earned his Naval Aviator wings to become a third-generation pilot. His father was also a Naval aviator and his grandfather flew with the Lafayette Flying Corps in World War I. He accumulated more than 15,000 flight hours as a Navy and commercial airline pilot, including command of an FA-18 strike fighter squadron. He last served in the Pentagon as chief of Navy reserve and then transitioned to the defense industry as a corporate senior vice president with DRS Technologies. Cotton serves as a defense and security consultant, a senior fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College, and as an emeritus volunteer trustee at the Vinson Hall Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation.
Judy L. Curry, BS Business Administration '90
Chief Creation Officer/Owner, Craftsman Auto Care
Judy Curry has more than 30 years experience as a creative leader in the auto repair industry. She and her husband Matt founded Curry’s Auto Service, named Top Shop in North America by Motor Age magazine, and Northern Virginia Magazine’s Best Auto Repair Shop in Northern Virginia. Curry's was recognized by The Washington Business Journal as one of the Fastest 50 Growing Businesses in the Washington, D.C., area for two consecutive years. After successfully growing the company to 10 locations with more than 150 employees, Curry’s was sold in 2013 to a publicly traded, billion dollar corporation. With the 2017 opening of Craftsman Auto Care in Alexandria, Virginia, Curry continues to set the trends for effective marketing and customer retention strategies in the auto care industry. Judy and Matt participate in global community service projects with Virgin United and Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurism through unique, need-based programs that she helped create.
David M. Gagliano, MS Technology Management '02
Chief Technology Officer, Global Solutions Division, General Dynamics Information Technology
David Gagliano serves as chief technology officer (CTO) for the Global Solutions Division of General Dynamics Information Technology. He oversees development of innovative solutions and technology strategy that accelerate business growth by solving customer’s most demanding challenges. He brings more than 30 years of experience leveraging cutting-edge and disruptive technologies to effect transformational business change. As CTO, he oversees strategies, architectures, and development of solutions that support operations and business development, serving as a central resource on the most technologically complex pursuits. Gagliano also leads GDIT’s Advanced Software Solutions and Big Data Analytics Centers for Excellence, providing thought-leadership in emerging technologies that include Internet of things, big data management/governance, analytics and visualization, container orchestration, micro-services, and cloud-native software modernization. Gagliano holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Ohio University, master’s degree in technology management from George Mason University, and a CIO university certificate from the General Services Administration.
Jonathan W. Grisham, BS Accounting '87
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Acadia Realty Trust
Jonathan W. Grisham served as the CFO of Acadia Realty Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust with a total market capitalization of more than $3B and a national commercial real estate portfolio of approximately 10 million square feet. During his tenure as CFO, Acadia issued more than $1B in common stock and secured more than $1B in corporate financings. Prior to his private accounting career which spanned 22 years, Grisham was in public accounting for six years with the Washington, D.C., firm of Aronson LLC, providing assurance, tax, and consulting services to a client base of real estate developers and construction contractors. Grisham also served in the United States Navy as a helicopter flight paramedic flying with Navy Search and Rescue. He is a CPA and in addition to his accounting degree, holds an MS in finance from King’s College.
Sirena G. Johnson, BS Accounting '99
Partner and Co-practice Leader, Government Contracting, Citrin Cooperman
Sirena Johnson is a partner and co-practice leader of Citrin Cooperman's Government Contracting Practice and is currently based in the firm’s Bethesda, Maryland office. She specializes in providing audit, consulting, and accounting services to government contractors, technology companies, and employee benefit plans. She possesses a strong working knowledge of federal regulations, including small business administration (SBA), 8(a) and federal acquisition regulations (FAR), cost principles, and accounting policies for federal government contractors. Johnson provides various management consulting services, including assisting client management in the implementation of cost accounting systems and overhead allocation methods, preparing overhead incurred cost submissions for the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and assisting with their accounting system reviews. She also has experience with employee benefit plan financial statement audits and the Internal Revenue Code and Department of Labor regulations declared for employee benefit plans. Johnson has also provided consultation with calculations and other matters relating to self-correction submissions with the Internal Revenue Service.
David V. Joubran, BS Finance '92
Co-founder, President, and CEO, Acumen Solutions
David V. Joubran is co-founder, president, and CEO of Acumen Solutions, a privately held leading business and technology consulting firm dedicated to providing innovative solutions to Global 1000 companies and government clients. Acumen Solutions is a trusted leader in enterprise cloud transformation, working with customers to develop strategies to migrate their business processes and systems into cloud-based architecture. Select clients include AAA, Carefirst, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Comcast, General Services Administration (GSA), cKesson, Sprint, Time Warner Cable, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), and Wells Fargo. Joubran began his career at Andersen Consulting, now Accenture. He then built and managed the eBusiness practice of NDC Group, subsequently Xpedior. He is an active distance runner and triathlete completing six Ironman distance triathlons and multiple ultra distance marathons. Joubran lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Michelle, and his two children.
Charles E. LaRock II, BS Finance '07
Vice President, Brokerage Division, Jones Lang LaSalle
Charles LaRock II is a vice president for the brokerage division of Jones Lang LaSalle in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. LaRock specializes in tenant representation in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and represents many international, national, and local companies on their real estate matters, including site selection, leasing structure, financial analysis, and strategic planning. In 2012, he was honored as the recipient of the Mason School of Business Young Alumni of the Year. LaRock grew up in Loudoun County, Virginia, and still resides there with his wife Nikki, daughter Lexi, and son Eric. He is very active in his community, both socially and charitably. His hobbies include real estate investing, travel, sporting events, and golf.
Elaine D. Marion, BS Accounting '95
CFO, ePlus inc.
Elaine Marion was appointed chief financial officer (CFO) of ePlus inc., a publicly traded technology solutions provider with more than one billion in market capitalization, in 2008. As CFO, Marion works closely with the CEO in establishing strategic objectives, and oversees all financial functions and the IT organization. Since 2004 she had served as vice president of accounting for ePlus, after having joined the company in 1998 as the controller of ePlus technology. Prior to joining ePlus, Marion was general manager of Bristow Development Corporation. She is a member of the George Mason University School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council, and a board member of the Executive Advisory Board of the College of Business at the University of Mary Washington. Virginia Lawyers Weekly named her one of the Influential Women of Virginia, Class of 2012.
John R. Muha II, BS Business Administration '81
Executive Vice President, Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
John Muha is executive vice president Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. He leads the mid-Atlantic corporate & commercial risk division, directing teams advising organizations with both national and international presence. Muha began his insurance career in 1983 with carrier Chubb & Son, Inc. He went on to found east coast brokerage firm Franey, Parr & Muha, Inc. in the early 1990s, and became a defining member of the Alliant team after the organizations merged in 2003. During that time he established the Conserve-A-Nation® insurance program to address the unique needs of land trusts and other conservation nonprofits. He is a longtime fan of Mason basketball and a current member of the Patriot Club Advisory Board. He and his wife, Cathy, live in Oakton, Virginia, with their dog, Ernie, and enjoy spending time with their four adult sons.
Edward J. Newberry, BS Business Administration '84
Global Managing Partner, Squire Patton Boggs
Ed Newberry is global managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs, ranked number nine among the Global 20 law firms that “have the biggest global presence and handled the largest, most groundbreaking international and cross border matters.” Described by The New York Times as a “King of K Street,” Newberry has been ranked a "Top Lobbyist" by The Hill since 2009, and a top municipal lobbyist by Politico. He also maintains a diverse public policy practice representing national and multinational corporations, sovereign nations, and others on high profile and complex policy matters. Since graduation, Newberry has continued his support of Mason in a variety of ways, serving as member, Board of Visitors; co-chair, Annual Fund Committee; chair, President's Circle; chair, Alumni Leadership Campaign Steering Committee; and advisory board member, National Center for Technology and Law.
David E. Ramos, BS Finance '05
David Ramos joined BB&T Bank in 2007. His experience consists of mortgage credit underwriting, retail branch management, small commercial lending, and public relations. He is responsible for the bank’s multicultural banking operations for five of the corporation’s mid-Atlantic regions. In 2016, Ramos was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve on the Board of Commissioners of the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) to help Virginians attain quality, affordable housing. Additionally, he serves on the Chief’s Council on Diversity Recruitment for Fairfax County Police Department and on the Board of Directors of Ayuda, offering legal and social services to low-income immigrants in the Washington, D.C., community. Ramos is a 2017 Alexandria Chamber of Commerce “40 Under 40” Honoree, which recognizes emerging leaders in the region.
Lara Sweet, BS Accounting '97
Vice President Corporate Controller, Snap Inc.
As vice president corporate controller at Snap Inc., Lara Sweet is responsible for leading the global accounting, financial reporting, payroll, and financial operations processes. She joined Snap Inc. in 2016 to build out their accounting function and prepare for the IPO. Prior to becoming controller at Snap Inc., Sweet separately served as director of external financial reporting, assistant controller, chief audit executive, and chief accounting officer at AOL. She joined AOL during the spin-off from Time Warner, and helped reestablish the SEC reporting process. Prior to her time at AOL, Sweet led internal audit, accounting, and external reporting functions in the financial services (Freddie Mac), travel (Independence Air), and hospitality (Marriott) industries. She started her career in public accounting at Beers & Cutler, PLLC in 1997, performing both tax and audit services. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Coco Tan, MBA '95
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty and Immediate Past President, Chinese American Real Estate Association
Coco Tan is a realtor with Keller Williams Realty. She has more than 12 years of experience in business development, program management, and financial consulting and planning. Tan obtained her real estate license in 2003, and quickly became a rising star, reaching the top producer status within a few months. She has listed and sold luxury homes in the San Francisco Bay area. Tan is the immediate past president of the Chinese American Real Estate Association, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America. Tan was named a Top 200 realtor by the Wall Street Journal.
Thomas J. Webb, BS Business Administration '74 and MBA '77
Vice Chairman, CMS Energy and Consumers Energy
Thomas J. Webb is vice chairman of CMS Energy Corporation and Consumers Energy. Webb is also chairman of the board of EnerBank USA, one of America’s fastest growing consumer loan banks. He previously served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of CMS Energy and Consumers Energy for more than 15 years. Before joining CMS Energy, Webb served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Kellogg Company. From 1996 to 1999, he was senior vice president and chief financial officer of Visteon, an $18 billion automotive components business with major production facilities in 30 countries. Webb began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1977, holding various positions for more than 22 years. He received the National Distinguished Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
Sonja A. Wilder, BS Finance '91
Assistant Vice President, AT&T Federal Government Sales
Sonja Wilder attended George Mason University full-time while working at AT&T part-time. Thirty-one years later, she remains with the company and has held numerous positions covering a wide breadth of functional areas and increasing levels of responsibility. She is now an assistant vice president working in AT&T’s Federal Government Sales organization. Her team currently focuses on price and service modifications to several large federal government telecommunications contracts. In preparation for a newly awarded contract, she has been leading the sales and contract system requirements and overseeing the overall development of a new secure business support system. The problem-solving skills she learned while studying finance at Mason have served her well as she has continually been tapped to take on new challenges ranging from forming new teams, leading large projects, driving financial and functional improvements, and establishing processes with their government customers.
Debora J. Wilson, BS Business Administration '79
Former President and CEO, The Weather Channel
Debora J. Wilson is the former president and CEO of The Weather Channel, a leading multi-platform media organization. Under her leadership, The Weather Channel became one of the most trusted and respected media brands, a leader in the Internet and mobile platforms, and one of the most broadly distributed and widely viewed cable networks in the United States. Before joining The Weather Channel, she spent 15 years in the telecommunications industry at Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) in the Washington, D.C., area. Wilson currently serves as a board member of three publicly held companies, ARRIS, Internap, and Markel. During her tenure at The Weather Channel, she was consistently identified as one of the top 50 women and one of the top 100 executives in the cable industry. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Larry.
Stephanie G. Zimmermann, BS Decision Science and Management Information Systems '93
Co-founder, Co-owner, and Vice President, Lend A Box LLC
Stephanie Zimmermann is co-founder, co-owner, and vice president of Lend A Box LLC, which was formed in 2011. Prior to Lend A Box, Zimmermann worked 18 years in the financial services industry. She was the president of a boutique financial planning firm based in Fairfax, Virginia, and later a business consultant working with financial advisors and banks. Lend A Box rents plastic boxes as an alternative to cardboard. They aim to make moving less stressful, offering delivery and pickup of rental boxes and concierge based micro-storage options. Zimmermann has led her team in building a solid logistics company with plans for expansion. She continues to be involved with Mason through the Patriot Club, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Small Business Development Center, and alumni group events. Zimmermann sits on several local advisory boards and volunteers with the Girl Scouts.