Director, Advancement Communications
ATLANTA—The Georgia State University Alumni Association will present five outstanding graduates with the organization’s top honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, at a ceremony on Friday, Oct. 28 at The Stave Room, 199 Armour Dr. NE.
“This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award honorees have achieved the kinds of success in their respective fields that would inspire any Panther, but it’s their character and commitment to their communities and to Georgia State that truly sets them apart as role models and very deserving recipients of our most prestigious alumni award,” said Christina Million, associate vice president and executive director of the Georgia State Alumni Association.
The 2022 Georgia State Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are:
Neda Barqawi (EMBA ’10, DBA ’14) – A technology and operations leader with years of software and systems engineering experience, Barqawi currently serves as the founder of Knovatech Launch, an accelerator for tech-related women-owned business, and a founding member of Knovatech Angels, a female angel investment group. Throughout her career, Barqawi has a proven record of leading startups, revenue generation and mergers and acquisitions. A proud dual alumna of Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business, she serves on several boards at her alma mater, including the Georgia State Foundation Board of Trustees, Robinson College Dean’s Board of Advisors, Women’s Philanthropy Network and is an inaugural member of the WomenLead Advisory Board. In 2019 Barqawi and her husband, Khalid Hamied, endowed the Dr. Neda A. Barqawi and Dr. Khalid Hamied Scholarship at Georgia State to provide support for outstanding business majors with unmet financial need.
Franklin Evans (B.A. ’84, M.Ed. ’87, Ed.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’94) – The 37th President of West Liberty University in West Liberty, W.V., Evans is respected as a highly skilled administrator, professor and K-12 practitioner with more than 25 years experience in the field. Prior to his 2021 appointment at West Liberty, Evans served as the 9th President of Voorhees College in Denmark, SC. Under his leadership, the institution achieved notable milestones including establishing an Honors College, opening the Voorhees College Historical Museum, creating the Veterans Resource Center and increasing alumni engagement and grant funding. He previously served as interim president, provost and chief academic officer of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C., and fulfilled various roles as an administrator and educator at institutions including Virginia Union University, Elizabeth City State and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Evans serves on the United Negro College Fund Board of Directors and is active in numerous organizations like the NAACP and Toastmasters International.
Deepak Raghavan (MBA ’98, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’09) – Raghavan co-founded Manhattan Associates, Inc. in 1990 and conceptualized, designed and developed the first distribution management software in the supply chain and omnichannel commerce industry. After impressive and sustained growth that led to a successful 1998 IPO, he left full-time employment at Manhattan Associates in 2002 to pursue his passion for astronomy. He earned his Ph.D. in the field from Georgia State, where he now serves as a lecturer. Raghavan is also president of his family’s foundation and guides its philanthropic initiatives focusing on education, animal conservation and children’s healthcare. A past chair of the Georgia State Foundation Board of Trustees, he currently serves on the boards of Manhattan Associates, Woodward Academy, Zoo Atlanta and Atlanta Police Foundation and on the advisory board of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Ray Uttenhove (M.A. ’72, M.Ed. ’75) – Over the past 40 years, Ray Uttenhove has been a recognized leader in the commercial real estate industry with a focus on bringing great retail to Atlanta. She provides strategic market direction to national retailers like Williams Sonoma, the TJX Companies, Old Navy and Raising Cane’s. During her leadership tenure with SRS Real Estate Partners, she has built dynamic multi-faceted southeastern offices and provided strategic leadership as a member of its Board of Directors. A passionate advocate for women and greater diversity in the real estate industry, Uttenhove established the DE&I programs at SRS, served as President of CREW Atlanta, and chaired the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. At Georgia State, she has held important leadership roles including serving as a trustee on the Foundation Board for nine years, founder and chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Network and member of the WomenLead Advisory Board.
Christopher Volk (MBA ’87) – A commercial banker, entrepreneur, executive, published author and university lecturer, Volk is recognized nationally as a leader in real estate investment trusts and net lease businesses. Over his more than three-decade career, Volk led the successful IPO and became president of a real estate trust that grew to be a national leader in providing lease and mortgage financing solutions for restaurant and other chain store operators, as well as founded and publicly listed two other market-leading net lease businesses. Altogether, Volk oversaw the successful deployment of more than $20 billion in net lease and mortgage capital to thousands of U.S. businesses. Throughout his career, Volk published articles about various issues in real estate finance, and in 2022 published the book “The Value Equation, A Business Guide to Wealth Creation for Entrepreneurs, Leaders and Investors.” The 2019 regional winner of EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year® award, Volk serves on multiple charity boards, was a visiting professor to Cornell University and is a frequent university lecturer.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner and ceremony will be held from 6-9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28 at The Stave Room. Get information about the event and sponsorship opportunities and purchase tickets at alumni.gsu.edu/daa.