Barry University Will Honor Alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards Luncheon

Meet the Honorees

Dr. Jennie Weiss Block

Barry University will honor thirteen alumni for their outstanding achievements and contributions to society at its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards, taking place at Hilton Downtown Miami on February 4 at 11 a.m.

Following in the university’s 75 years of dedication to both education and community, the Distinguished Alumni Awards honor members of the Barry community who exemplify the university’s core commitments: knowledge and truth; inclusive community; social justice; and collaborative service.

This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award are:

Dr. Marvin Diaz Lacayo

Dr. Jennie Weiss Block, class of 1988, 1998 & 2007: theologian and author as well as chief advisor to Dr. Paul Farmer, United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti under President Bill Clinton; founding director of the Center for Dominican Studies at Barry University; and co-founder ZanmiBeni, a center for abandoned children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Dr. Marvin Diaz Lacayo, class of 1991: physician and hematologist / oncologist, renowned for his study of how best to treat cancer patients and emphasis on treating the ‘whole person.’

Joseph Fernandez, class of 1994: President of the Florida Region of BNY Mellon Wealth Management as well as a board member of the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation; Board of Governors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; and trustee of the Miami Foundation

Joseph Fernandez

Rai Johnson, class of 1996 & 2013: social worker and Health and Wellness Director, board member and alumnae at Lotus House Women’s Shelter

Eileen Maloney-Simon, class of 1975: CEO of YWCA of Greater Miami Dade and the recipient of the 2015 Most Powerful Influential Women Award from Florida Diversity Council

Roymi V. Membiela, class of 1986: Corporate Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Baptist Health South Florida, as well as the recipient of the South Florida Business Journal 2015 Influential Business Women Award; and a board member at Goodwill Industries South Florida and The Children’s Trust

Rai Johnson

Laurie Weiss Nuell, class of 1983: Board of Directors of The Children’s Trust and Network of Sacred Heart Schools as well as the founder of Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Jorge Plasencia, class of 2001: Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO of República, as well as co-founder of Amigos for Kids and Vice Chairman of the Miami Dade College Foundation

Jean-Paul Dardenne, class of 2003: Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans.

And the following alumni are being honored as Rising Stars:

Eileen Maloney-Simon

Natalie Bieule, class of 2011: United States Paralympic Athlete

Elizandra Pierre, class of 2009: Volunteer with Doctors Without Borders

Matthew Sherman, class of 2011: Founder and CEO of JugoFresh

The university has added a new category to the awards this year. A member of the university’s faculty or staff, who is also a Barry alumnus, will be honored for their extraordinary achievement. In its inaugural year, the award is being given to Andrew Havens, Intramural Coordinator and BUCKids Camp Coordinator at Barry University, and a Barry graduate himself, class of 2007.

Natalie Bieule

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact or call 1-877-899-ALUM or visit

About Barry University

Barry University in Miami, Florida strives to provide a higher education experience that applies what is learned in the classroom to a constantly changing world, while promoting civic engagement for the betterment of humanity. Founded in 1940 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Barry University offers more than 100 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. The university is composed of two colleges and seven schools in the areas of arts and sciences, business, education, human performance and leisure sciences, law, nursing and health sciences, podiatric medicine, professional and career education, and social work.

Elizandra Pierre
The university includes approximately 9,000 students from nearly all 50 states and 80 countries; 52,000 alumni worldwide; and 1,700 faculty and staff members. Barry University has a 122-acre main campus in Miami; the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law campus in Orlando; and satellite sites in 10 Florida counties, The Bahamas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit

Roymi V. Membiela
Laurie Weiss Nuell
Jorge Plasencia







Matthew Sherman
Andrew Havens
Jean-Paul Dardenne

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