TAMPA, FL – The University of South Florida Alumni Association has announced the 2021 recipients of the university’s highest alumni honors, the USF Alumni Awards, celebrating USF graduates for outstanding professional achievements and for service to USF and its students. One award also recognizes non-USF alumni for dedicated service to USF and the Tampa Bay community.
This year’s honorees include
• The first African-American nurse to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserves
• A longtime USF donor and leader, former vice chair of the USF Board of Trustees and former chair of the St. Petersburg Campus Board
• The owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, developer of Water Street Tampa, and generous supporter of USF and the Tampa Bay community
Awards will be presented Nov. 4 at the USF Alumni Awards Dinner in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom, USF Tampa campus. USF’s 2020 Alumni Awards, postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, will also be celebrated at that time.
The 2021 USF Alumni Award recipients are listed below; only USF degrees are included:
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Carrie Williams Nero, Sociology ’75, MA Guidance and Counseling Education ’79, MS Nursing ’88
Distinguished Alumni Award
Recognizing USF alumni who have reached the pinnacle of success in their careers
In 2002, while serving as chief nurse of the “Desert Medics” 3rd Medical Command, Carrie Nero became the first African-American nurse to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserves. During her nearly 30 years in the reserves, Nero served in the 1990-91 Gulf War, caring for wounded soldiers stateside. Meanwhile, she pursued a tandem civilian career, earning a doctorate in higher education and co-founding a nonprofit with her late husband, Joe; The Florida Parent-Child Center provides educational and other services to children and their families. The first director of minority health at the Pinellas County Health Department, she oversaw research into health disparities and sickle cell disease among Black residents. After retirement, she remained an active volunteer, especially on behalf of veterans. Nero’s numerous honors include the President’s Volunteer Service Award; the 2018 Glass Ceiling Award from Business and Professional Women-Florida; and the Honored Veteran Award from St. Petersburg.
Stephanie Goforth, Business Management ’82 – Donald A. Gifford Service Award
Recognizing a USF graduate who has provided countless hours of service to USF
The global head of sales and marketing wealth management for Northern Trust, Stephanie Goforth has given generously of her considerable financial acumen and leadership skills to her alma mater and community. She is the former vice chair of the USF Board of Trustees, where she was a member for 10 years, and former chair of the USF St. Petersburg Campus Board, where she served from 2007-20. Her committee assignments included some of USF’s most complex and high-stakes issues, including consolidation, Preeminence, and the search for a new president in 2018-19. Goforth has two endowed USF scholarship funds and has given generously in an array of areas to all three campuses. A member of USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy and recipient of its 2020 Community Leadership Award, she is also a dedicated community leader, serving as a trustee for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; vice chair of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida; and on the board of Naples Botanical Gardens.
Jeff Vinik – Class of ’56 Award
Recognizing a non-USF graduate who has provided outstanding service to USF and the Tampa Bay community
Jeff Vinik is the owner of the Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning hockey franchise and partner in Strategic Property Partners, the development company spearheading Water Street Tampa. Vinik and his family moved to Tampa after purchasing the hockey team in 2010; by 2016, ESPN ranked the Lightning the No. 1 franchise for customer experience of all four major U.S. sports leagues. Vinik’s investment in the publicly-owned Amalie Arena led to his vision for redeveloping about 50 acres of the surrounding urban core, starting with donating one acre of prime real estate for the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. Moreover, his contributions at the Muma College of Business led to creation of the dual degree Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program. Vinik’s numerous gifts to USF also include a generous endowed Women in Leadership & Philanthropy scholarship fund. Vinik and his wife, Penny, have donated more than $100 million to nonprofit causes, including more than $30 million in the Tampa Bay area.
About the USF Alumni Association
The USF Alumni Association is a nonprofit organization composed of former students and friends of the University of South Florida. Our mission is to provide meaningful ways for USF Bulls to support, protect and promote their university. There are more than 365,000 USF graduates worldwide. For more information, log on to www.usfalumni.org, like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USFalumni, follow us on Twitter @USFAlumniAssn and Instagram @usf__alumni.