School of Business Organizes 3rd Annual Alumni Reunion

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, the School of Business hosted its 3rd Annual Alumni Reunion. The School of Business Dean’s Office organized the reunion, which was held on the Library Plaza. The event included a sit-down dinner catered by Bon Appetit, an alumni keynote speech, alumni awards, silent auction, and raffle. 

One of the rewarding aspects of this well-attended event was the participation of Woodbury‘s newest alumni class of 2024 having the opportunity to meet and network with fellows from classes of 1950 and beyond. These professional connections have proven valuable for the younger and more seasoned members of the growing alumni group from Woodbury’s oldest School. 

As with each of the past year’s reunions, the School of Business had the honor of bestowing alumni awards in the areas of Distinguished Alum, Devoted Alum, and Flamekeeper.  

The Distinguished Alum Award

The Distinguished Alum Award was granted this year to Mr. Emil Davtyan (Class of 2008) and Mr. Jeff Neumeister (MBA Class of 2011).  

  • Mr. Davtyan is the founder and managing attorney at D. Law, an employment law firm focused on defending the rights of workers under California employment law. Mr. Davtyan had a lifelong passion for employee rights and fulfilled his dream of founding his own practice after graduating at the top of his class in 2008. Mr. Davtyan graduated from Woodbury with his BS in Business Finance, served as an honorable member of national and international honor societies and went on to pursue his Juris Doctor degree at Southwestern Law School. There, he was honored with prestigious academic-based scholarships and graduated cum laude and in the top 10% of his class.   
  • Mr. Neumeister is an experienced forensic expert and consultant in accounting and financial advisory services. He holds 5 master’s degrees, including his MBA from Woodbury. Mr. Neumeister has been designated as an expert in multiple cases, has provided valuable deposition testimonies for his clients, litigation advisory services to clients spanning a breadth of industries, and business valuations for litigation and non-litigation purposes. He has found effective solutions for a range of clients’ problems including those related to tax strategies, operational efficiencies, and internal controls. Outside of his time servicing clients, Mr. Neumeister facilitates the professional development of future and current accountants as an adjunct professor and co-chair of the accounting department at Woodbury University. He currently serves as the Managing Partner at Kelly+Partners Burbank, LLP. 

The Devoted Alum Award

Ms. Sofia Toro (Class of 1998) and Mr. Charbel Ghaby (Class of 2014) were granted The Devoted Alum Award.  

            • Ms. Toro, who also served as the evening’s keynote speaker, holds more than 25 years of experience in higher education enrollment, recruitment, financial aid, international student services, student affairs areas and non-profit work. Her passion is helping students, families, and organizations explore education and career pathways that align with their future goals, while identifying efficiencies in processes that streamline the enrollment experience for everyone. Ms. Toro is the inaugural Chair of the School of Business’ Alumni Advisory Council, and professionally serves as the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. 
  • Mr. Ghaby’s professional journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence and adaptability. After graduating with honors from the University of California, San Diego, he embarked on a career in finance, joining Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles in 2000. In 2004, Mr. Ghaby made a pivotal decision to redirect his career. He joined the family business in the restaurant industry, opening an establishment in Glendora. Over the next 12 years, he expanded this entrepreneurial vision to include two distinct restaurant concepts with seven locations. His insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to pursue an MBA at Woodbury. This educational foundation and the global pandemic of 2020 ignited a renewed passion for financial planning in his life, leading him to embark on a series of interviews with firms across the state. Over the last 3 years, he became a well-respected and high-profile Wealth Management Advisor at Westpac Wealth Partners. Mr. Ghaby is also a member of the Woodbury University School of Business (WUSB) Alumni Advisory Council.  

The Flamekeeper Award

The Flamekeeper Award was granted to Mr. Samuel Armstrong (Class of 1973). Born in Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Armstrong was raised by his grandfather, older brothers, and a sisterHe did not consider going to college until a friend asked him to accompany him to Kentucky State for a football scholarship. He attended for 1 year but realized that doing this with room and board, but no money or support was not viable. Following three years in the army, the GI Bill allowed Mr. Armstrong the opportunity to move to California and enroll in a Junior College.

With a taste for business, he bought a dry-cleaning business, but still wanted to pursue a college degree. The laundromat next door was owned by a Woodbury alumni who encouraged him to applyMr. Armstrong was accepted, and two years later graduated with a degree in Management. From there, he married, and received a great job with the LA County Probation Department which allowed him the opportunity to support his wife though Optometry College and build a residential rental business that comfortably supports the couple till today. At least once a month, he tells his wife Barbara how he could not have done all of this without his degree from Woodbury.  Before Woodbury, he had goals and a work ethic but Woodbury allowed him to put it all together and change the trajectory of his and his wife’s life. 

In Closing

The evening was concluded with a raffle, led by professors Wendy Bendoni and Kevin Sanford. Several visitors were pleasantly surprised by the prizes varying from Amazon and Nutri shop gift baskets to colorful centerpieces.
In her final words, Dr. Marques expressed gratitude to all constituents that helped make this event successful, from the School’s Advisory Board and the Alumni Advisory Council to the IT and Advancement departments, and from Maintenance to Bon Appetit for the classy catering. She also expressed her appreciation for the expanding networks amongst alumni from multiple eras and hoped to see this event continued for many years to come. 
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