2022 Alumni Award Honorees

Alumni Achievement Award: Keith LaShomb ’73, Hiwassee, Virginia and Richard Russell ’78, Holt Florida

Keith LaShomb, of Hiwassee, Virginia, is retired from the U.S. Army, where he served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, with the highest grade of captain. LaShomb attributes his education as being “paramount in being promoted to Master Sergeant (MSG), U.S. Army.” Following his retirement, LaShomb held positions with the Department of Defense, Santa Rosa County Civil Service, and various high-level human resources roles. LaShomb is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

LaShomb has been a long-standing Red Cross donor. He has served in leadership roles at Leadership Santa Rosa and the Society for Human Resource Management. LaShomb serves as an active board member for the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce, Tri-County Community Council Inc., Children Services Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In 1999, LaShomb was chosen as Community Leader of the Year by the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce. He has participated in a range of leadership programs and serves as an adjunct lecturer at the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), New River Community College (NRCC), and the National College of Business & Technology.

In addition to earning an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Regents College in 1973, LaShomb holds a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration and Master of Arts from The University of Oklahoma.

Richard E. “Dick” Russell, of Holt, Florida, earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Regents College and holds nine additional college degrees, including a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and an MBAA and Master of Science in Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He has been honored with many aviation awards, including the FAA Master Pilot award, Air Transport Pilot certificate with airplane and helicopter ratings, and FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate.

Russell’s military career spans 41 years, including active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service. He retired after serving as the command chief master sergeant for the Air Force Reserve, the Pentagon, and was a member of the Department of Defense Senior Enlisted Advisors. He previously served as the command chief/senior enlisted advisor for 4th Air Force Headquarters and has received more than 45 military awards, commendations, and accolades from several state governors and senior leaders of various military service components.

Russell is a member of the Okaloosa County Aviation Board, commissioner of Holt Fire District, and board member of Shriners Children’s Hospitals–Florida He has been recognized with a Certificate of Merit from the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. He has been a flight and ground school instructor since 1960, including more than 50 years with the Civil Air Patrol, and at various flight schools throughout the United States.

Alumni Service Award: Dwayn M. Hanford ’05, Springfield, Virginia

Dwayn M. Hanford, of Springfield, Virginia, has devoted many years to Excelsior University, including as a member of the Alumni Leadership Council and then president of the council and Alumni Association. He has been a dedicated alumni ambassador and presenter of webinars for alumni, drawing record participation for his presentations on organizational leadership. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member and has been a generous donor to many scholarship funds.

A veteran now working in a civilian role for the U.S. Department of Defense, Hanford serves as the senior intelligence officer for the command Intelligence Support to Information Operations mission. He previously served in 1st IO Command as the analytical control element chief, the U.S. Africa Command team chief, senior Iraq analyst, and Afghanistan analyst.

Hanford has served in a variety of intelligence positions spanning more than 30 years. His career began as an Army all-source intelligence analyst in an armored cavalry battalion in Desert Storm, an electronic warfare analyst at the National Training Center, and an air and missile analyst in the 8th U.S. Army, Korea. As a warrant officer all-source technician, he served as a U.S. Central Command analyst during the initial Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom ground operations, an all-source production chief covering the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility, and a counterinsurgency instructor in Afghanistan, culminating his military career as the deputy director and senior analyst for the North Korea and South China Sea HUMINT (Human Intelligence) Enterprise at the Defense Intelligence Agency. His civilian career began at 1st IO Command in August 2012.

Hanford’s military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Award), Joint Service Commendation Medal (2nd Award), Army Commendation Medal (5th Award), Joint Service Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), and Civilian Service Commendation Medal.

Hanford earned an Associate of General Studies from Anne Arundel Community College, a bachelor’s degree in strategic intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior University, a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland University College, a master’s degree in strategic intelligence from the National Defense Intelligence College, a master’s degree in management with a specialization in intelligence management from the University of Maryland University College, and a master’s degree in distance education from the University of Maryland University College. He has also completed his doctorate in organizational leadership from Regent University.

Carrie B. Lenburg Award: Graig Straus ’08, Pomona, New York

Graig Straus, of Pomona, New York, serves as a nurse practitioner and CEO of Rockland Urgent Care Family Health. He attributes his life and accomplishments to the instructors and faculty who taught him along the way. Straus was able to achieve his career goals with the help of friends and family and strives to serve as a beacon to others who wish to succeed in their nursing craft.

Straus began his climb up the “clinical ladder” as a lifeguard. After earning an Associate in Science in Nursing from Excelsior in 2008, Straus graduated from Ramapo College with a BS in Nursing in 2009. He later graduated from the inaugural emergency nurse practitioner program at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)—now Rutgers—where he received the MSN Award for Student Excellence. Straus initiated the Master’s Degree Mentoring Society at UMDNJ (Rutgers) to help junior-level students learn from those who have come before. In fall 2021, Straus earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Dominican College of Blauvelt. Straus established his own urgent care center, Rockland Urgent Care, in 2015. Since opening his own practice, Straus has taught more than 115 nurse practitioner students in the art of urgent care and family practice.

Straus is active in his local community, serving as both an engineer/firefighter and medical officer for the Brewer Fire Engine Company, field training officer of the Spring Hill Community Ambulance Corps, and medical director for the North Rockland Central School District. Straus recently initiated a town-wide initiative for pedestrian safety by donating 2,500 reflector belts to community members to wear while walking in the evenings.

Straus has been featured as the “Face of Emergency Nursing,” for Monster.com, and was interviewed by Business Insider for International Nurses Day in 2020.

C. Wayne Williams Award: Jason Faulk ’15, Goose Creek, South Carolina

Jason Faulk, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, is the recruiting officer for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 772 in support of Charleston Southern University, headquartered at Air Education and Training Command, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He is responsible for the training and mentoring of 47 officer candidates to graduate and enter the Air or Space Force as second lieutenants.

Faulk earned his commission through the Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base. He has held positions in Air Logistic Complex, various aircraft program offices, and joint agency during his last assignment before assuming his current faculty position with Charleston Southern University.

Faulk is an exceptional community collaborator who routinely serves as a liaison for veteran students to access community resources. He co-championed an international humanitarian mission that resulted in 1,750 boxes of toys and aid being prepared, packaged, collected, and distributed to vulnerable children in developing countries. Faulk actively supports men who recently transitioned from the prison system to halfway homes.

He served as assistant ministry lead at Impact One Church for weekly food drives during the COVID pandemic and as a victim advocate in civilian/military communities before joining the Air Force. He has assisted clients in crisis intervention, safety planning, medical and legal appointments, referrals, and non-clinical support. Faulk actively leverages and partners with the Metanoia Development Center to bridge socioeconomic and education gaps for underrepresented communities in the urban Charleston areas. He also has been recognized by the F-35 Joint Program Public Affairs Office and a local newspaper for diversity and inclusion contributions.

Faulk earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College and a Master of Education from Mercer University.