Notable Alumni

Nick Ornitz ’16
Cofounder & CEO, Topline Pro
Nick was previously CEO at Dwelling. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and is an active supporter of Mu Chapter, Sigma Pi as a director of the Mu Chapter Educational Foundation. After dropping out of Harvard Business School, Nick and Shannon Kay worked on a business idea in the home-service industry (connecting homeowners and apartment tenants who need home maintenance support with professionals) and realized that AI could make lead generation platforms faster and cheaper. With that idea, they built Brooklyn-based Topline Pro and have raised $17 million from investors like Forerunner Ventures and BBG. The company, with its generative AI product, has served thousands of businesses in nearly all 50 states, most of them small blue-collar business owners. Nick was recently recognized by Forbes magazine in their 2023 “30 under 30” list. Nick Ornitz links: LinkedIn; Forbes.

Josh Benamram ’14
Cofounder, Databand.Ai is a data observability platform that lets engineers check if data is available, accurate and usable. The business, which employs 35 people, has $15 million in funding from Accel Partners, Blumberg Capital and Bessemer Venture Capital. CEO and founder Josh Benamram is a second-generation immigrant whose first job was stacking shelves in a grocery store.

Aaron Klein ’12
Athletic Manager
Aaron Klein is a sales development officer for the Chicago Cubs. He holds a BA in industrial labor relations and an MBA from Cornell, and he is the current treasurer of the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation.

Trevor White ’07
Director, Producer, and Writer
Trevor White is a director and writer, known for Jamesy Boy (2014), Knockout (2007), A Detective Story (2008), Ingrid Goes West (2017), King Richard (2021) and Wind River (2017). He is also a former member of the Mu Chapter alumni board. Read more about what Trevor has been working on recently in this interview from October 2018 and in our chapter news on this site. Trevor’s most recent film, King Richard, was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and lead actor Will Smith took home an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his work in the film.

Craig Dewey ’06
Writer and Editor
Craig Dewey moved to Los Angeles a week after graduation and started as a post-production assistant for the film Miami Vice. The following year, he went on to work for Warner Bros. Television and Lakeshore Entertainment before becoming an assistant editor. In the past five years, Craig has contributed to The Darkest Hour, Guilt Trip, World War Z and Delivery Man, as well as to several independent films. He recently relocated to Berkeley, California, while his girlfriend attends University of California, Berkeley, for her masters in journalism. In the meantime, he is writing screenplays and working on his first novel. Craig has served as a Cornell Alumni Association Ambassador in both Los Angeles and Alameda County since 2006.

Hugh Hayden ’06
Hugh Hayden lives and works in New York City. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University. Raised in Texas and trained as an architect, his work arises from a deep connection to nature and its organic materials. He has had solo exhibitions at The Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey and at White Columns in New York. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Sculpture Center, New York City; Hayward Gallery, London; The Shed, NYC; Pilot Projects, Philadelphia; Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; MoMA PS1, Rockaway Beach, NYC; Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC; and Abrons Art Center, NYC, among others. He is the recipient of residencies at Glenfiddich in Dufftown, Scotland; Abrons Art Center and Socrates Sculpture Park, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

John Zimmer ’06
John Zimmer is the co-founder and president of Lyft, Inc. Lyft operates in more than 60 cities in the U.S., with more than 10 million shared rides taken to date. Read an article about Zimmer and Lyft in Cornell Magazine.

Quin Garcia ’05
Managing Director
Quin is a managing director of Autotech Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in startups that enable connected, autonomous, energy efficient ground transportation. He was part of the founding team at electric-vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place, responsible for partnerships with automakers and auto-parts suppliers while living in Israel, Japan, and China. Prior to that, he was a management consultant at Strategic Management Solutions, serving automaker and consumer electronics clients. While earning his MS degree in management science and automotive engineering from Stanford, he worked at Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab, developing autonomous vehicles. While earning his BS degree in applied economics and management from Cornell, he was a leader of the Cornell Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team. Quin speaks Spanish and Chinese and enjoys tennis, basketball, and driving racecars.

Andrew Ross Sorkin ’99
Author and Television Host
Andrew Ross Sorkin is a columnist for The New York Times and the founder and editor-at-large of DealBook, an online daily financial report published by The Times that he started in 2001. He is also an assistant editor of business and finance news, helping guide and shape the paper’s coverage. Andrew is a co-anchor of Squawk Box, CNBC’s signature morning program, the author of Too Big to Fail: How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves (Viking, 2009), a co-producer of the film adaptation of this book, which was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards, and a co-creator of the drama series Billions on Showtime. Mr. Sorkin has broken news of many major mergers and acquisitions in the pages of The Times and has been at the forefront of Wall Street news. He reported extensively on the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. He is a frequent guest on national television and radio programs, as well as a lecturer at universities across the country. He received a Gerald Loeb Award in 2004 and a Society of American Business Editors and Writers award for breaking news in 2005 and again in 2006. In 2007, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader. Mr. Sorkin lives in Manhattan. His personal website is

Dan Smalls ’92
Music Promoter
Founder of Dan Smalls Presents
Dan Smalls is a music promoter who has booked acts, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pearl Jam, Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, and Joan Baez, among many others.

Alan Rosen ’91
Alan Rosen is a third generation owner of Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake & Desserts, founded by his grandfather, Harry, in 1950. He grew up watching his father, Walter, run the original Junior’s restaurant. While in high school and college, Rosen spent his summers learning the business while also acting as a manager at the original Brooklyn location. After graduating from Cornell, Rosen spent three years working at other industry restaurants before returning to Junior’s. He started off at Junior’s as the director of marketing, with a goal of growing and expanding the business beyond the original Brooklyn location. Alan is currently on the dean’s advisory board of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Read his bio from the School of Hotel Administration.

Daniel Gerson ’88 (deceased)
Screen Writer
Daniel Gerson is known for his work on Big Hero 6 (2014), Monsters University (2013), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Cars (2006), as well as many other well-loved films. Dan passed away in 2016 and is survived by his wife and two children.

Paul Wagner ’86
Adjunct Professor, Partner, Attorney
Paul Wagner is a partner at StokesWager and has been a trial attorney for over 20 years. He has successfully litigated hundreds of cases, including class actions, throughout the US and Mexico. He routinely defends claims involving every type of employment discrimination, wage and hour violations, ERISA, labor issues, non-competition agreements, civil-rights violations, and executive compensation. Paul has a national reputation for representing employers in collective bargaining negotiations and union campaigns. In addition, he teaches courses on employment relations, human resources and law at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

Kevin Morris ’85
Founding Partner, Attorney
Kevin is the founder and managing partner of the entertainment law firm Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman in Century City, California. He specializes in representing prominent actors, writers, and directors in the motion-picture and television industries and also advises and consults for a number of companies focused on the distribution of entertainment content over emerging digital platforms. Kevin has served as managing partner of the firm since its inception. He is also a very successful producer of the Tony Award-winning musical, Book of Mormon. He writes frequently about media and entertainment matters, and his articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. His first book, White Man’s Problems, was released by Grove Atlantic's Black Cat imprint in January 2015.Morris received his BA in government from Cornell University in 1985 and spent a semester at the London School of Economics.He attended law school at New York University, where he received a JD in 1988.

David L. Picket ’84
Real Estate Developer
David Picket is the president of Gotham Organization, Inc., a fourth-generation, family-owned, real-estate firm that has developed and/or constructed more than 35,000 apartment units. Since joining the family business in 1991, Mr. Picket has overseen the company’s new project-development business through a period of unprecedented growth in the firm’s 80-year history. David has a BA from Cornell University and a JD from Columbia Law School. In 2015, David and his wife made gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Department of English and its creative writing program to fund summer writing fellowships for MFA students and other initiatives in the department.

Barry Weiss ’81
CEO & Music Executive
Barry Weiss is a Partner and Co-Founder of RECORDS, a Sony Music label venture. He has an extensive career of over 40 years in the music industry. Barry served as chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group and Universal Republic Records from 2011 to 2014 and RCA/Jive Label Group from 2008 to 2011. He was also the CEO of its constituent Jive Records from 1991 to 2011. Barry is best known as an important force in the careers of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Backstreet Boys, and ’N Sync, A Tribe Called Quest, among numerous others.

Joseph P. Dervay ’80
Flight Surgeon
Joe is currently a flight surgeon at the NASA Johnson Space Center, having served there over 25 years. He completed undergraduate studies at Cornell University and received his Doctor of Medicine from Syracuse – Upstate Medical Center. He completed a general-surgery internship at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. After training to become a Navy flight surgeon, he served aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. Joe is trained and board certified in emergency, aerospace, and undersea/hyperbaric medicine. He has served as crew surgeon for numerous space shuttle and long-duration International Space Station missions. His roles have included work in Russia at Star City, a cosmonaut training center, and support of US astronauts during Soyuz launch and landing activities in Kazakhstan. He also served as a crew surgeon for the historic NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 mission. He co-chairs the Multilateral Medical Operations Panel, comprised of medical representatives from the Canadian, European, Japanese, and Russian space agencies. Achieving the Navy rank of captain, he completed 35 years of active/reserve service with numerous Navy and Marine Corps units worldwide.

Neal Douglas ’80
Venture Capital and Tech Investor
Neal has had an extensive and distinguished career in technology and venture investing over a span of 30 plus years. Neal was the managing general partner of Spectrum Equity Investors LP, co-founder of AT&T Ventures, a partner of New Enterprise Associates, investment professional with Crosspoint Venture Partners, and was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories. Neal has been involved in financing many communications companies, including Juniper Networks, VeriSign, Covad Communications, Ascend Communications,, TUT Systems, and Netro. Neal holds a BS in electrical engineering from Cornell University, an MS in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Randy Ottinger ’80
Randy Ottinger is a technology entrepreneur, author, and thought leader in the areas of business leadership and innovation. He has worked for top technology companies, including IBM and McCaw Cellular, as well as venture-backed technology companies. In addition, Ottinger cofounded Kotter International with Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter, a management consulting firm specializing in leadership, innovation, and organizational change. His latest venture is the iInnovate Leadership Network, a peer-to-peer CEO network for innovators and entrepreneurs. Ottinger is the author of Beyond Success: Building a Personal, Financial, and Philanthropic Legacy. His blog posts and articles have appeared in Forbes, Chief Executive Magazine, and the Financial Times, among other top media. In addition, with the support of the University of Washington, he has published studies that deepen our understanding of business innovation networks and community ecosystems. Ottinger is passionate about improving lives through innovation and entrepreneurship. He has a BA from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard’s Graduate School of Business. He is happily married with three grown children and lives in Seattle.

Kurt Rasmussen ’80
Chief Scientific Officer
Kurt Rasmussen, Ph.D., is the Chief Scientific Officer at Delix Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on developing neuroplasticity-promoting therapeutics for neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and substance use disorders. Dr. Rasmussen’s career spans 30 years of highly innovative scientific research in neuroscience pharmaceutical discovery, from hypothesis generation to clinical candidate evaluation. Prior to Delix, Dr. Rasmussen was at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he was the Director of NIDA's (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Division of Therapeutics & Medical Consequences. In this role, he directed the Medications Development Program, and played an integral role in evaluating the safety and efficacy of pharmacotherapies, behavioral therapies, and devices to treat substance use disorders. Prior to the NIH, Dr. Rasmussen served as a Senior Research Scientist and Head in Neuroscience Research at Eli Lilly where he led multiple R&D teams and projects, resulting in multiple neuropsychiatric therapeutics. A Fellow in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Dr. Rasmussen has amassed over 100 publications and patents. He received his B.A. with honors and distinction from Cornell University, his Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology from Princeton University, and was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Kent Sheng ’78
Investment Officer
Kent Sheng is president and chief investment officer for Tandem Capital Management and has more than 25 years of experience in the investment management field. Before founding Tandem Capital Management, Kent was at Dean Witter (now Morgan Stanley), where he made investment recommendations to high-net-worth investors, pension plans, and corporate executives. Kent graduated from from Cornell with a BA in government and has a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Kent is a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society New York. Kent formerly served on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York, where he was also treasurer and chair of the finance committee. He is a lifetime university council member at Cornell University where he has served on several advisory boards and as president of his class.

Stephen M. Ryan ’77
Stephen Ryan is an ILR graduate who practices law in Washington, D.C., at the international law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery. As a partner of the firm, he heads the firm’s lobbying, congressional investigations, crisis management, and government contracts lawyers. Recently, he was hired to represent Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump, when Cohen testifies in front of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in September 2017. Steve served as a federal organized-crime prosecutor and as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affair, which was chaired by Senator John Glenn. Before that, he served as deputy counsel for President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime in the 1980s. He has been named to The Best Lawyers in America every year from 2005 to 2017. Before entering the industry, Stephen went to the University of Notre Dame Law School, served as a law clerk for a federal judge, and taught for about 10 years as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law School. During his time as an attorney, Ryan has tried to remain active in the community. He is a senior fellow on The International Strategic Studies Association’s College of Fellows and once served as the president of Gonzaga College High School’s Father’s Club. Since 2011, Stephen has served as a global board member for Operation HOPE, a nonprofit organization that aims to make free enterprise work for everyone. It accomplishes that mission by being a nonprofit private banker for the working poor. He’s also a board member of the Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. and puts on the group’s annual “Will on the Hill” fundraiser. Steve married Lisa Ryan, and two of his three sons, John Lincoln ’10 and William ’14, also attended Cornell, while son Matthew played soccer for nearby Binghamton.

K. T. Mao ’63
Business Executive
K.T. Mao is the founder and president of Hysen International, Inc. Prior to Hysen, K. T. was chairman and CEO of Chartwell & Co., a boutique investment-banking firm. Before Chartwell, K. T. was co-founder of the environmental practice and the officer-in-charge at Woodward-Clyde (now URS Corporation) for their geotechnical engineering and environmental services to electric utilities in the United States.

H. Laurance Fuller ’60 (deceased)
Former CEO
H. Laurance Fuller, also known as Larry, has served as chairman and chief executive officer/principal executive officer of Amoco Corporation since 1991 and has also been its president since 1983. he served as co-chairman of BP Amoco PLC from January 1999 to March 2000. Mr. Fuller received his BS in chemical engineering from Cornell University.

James Keene III ’57 (deceased)
Civic Leader, Business Executive
For over 60 years, Jim Keene lived the Sigma Pi creed both as a stellar supporter of Mu Chapter and as a civic leader in his community. After pledging in the fall of 1953, Jim served with dedication, devotion, and passion in order not only to establish Mu Chapter as a strong organization but to complement its stability in both housing and scholarship funding. Jim served as president of Mu Chapter’s alumni board over 21 years and was honored for his service at a special dinner in 2012. In 2014, he was presented with the Founders’ Award, one of our fraternity’s highest honors. Jim served for 32 years with Peter Kiewit Sons Inc., a global construction company. Jim also managed Humboldt Specialty Manufacturing Company, an active design and manufacturing company for diverse industries. He was a director of Mu Chapter’s alumni board and the Mu Chapter Educational Foundation.

J. Perry Barger ’50 (deceased)
Founder of Dynatech Corporation, Perry Barger was an inventor who patented such items as the model railroad coupler. He was also the founder of Dynatech, a company that makes electronic products used in communications and medicine.

Lou Conti ’41 (deceased)
Member of the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame, Induction Class of 1983—Football, Lou Conti was an outstanding guard on Cornell’s great football teams of 1939 and 1940, with the ’39 squad going 8-0. In 1940, he received Associated Press All-America honorable mention and played in the ’41 East-West Shrine game. From 1949 to 1955, he was an assistant football coach for the Big Red, with the exception of 1951, when he was recalled to active duty in Korea. From 1941 to 1948, he was a Marine pilot, taking part in some of the Pacific campaigns and coaching service teams in 1944 and 1948. He was chairman of Cornell’s Athletic Advisory Committee.



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