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Texas State University

Distinguished Alumni

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Distinguished Alumni

Texas State honored five new Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming Week. With these newest honorees, the Alumni Association and the university have now presented the most prestigious award to 213 graduates since the first was given to then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1959. 

The Young Alumni Rising Star Award was created in 2015 and presented the following year to recognize young alumni under age 40 for their exceptional achievements and outstanding accomplishment in their profession, affiliations, and service. The four recipients of this award for 2019 have demonstrated a level of excellence that positively represents the university and serves to inspire current students and other recent graduates to excel in their work and recognize the important impact of their experience as a student at Texas State.

Distinguished Alumni

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Federico Gorbea - Class of 1985

Federico Gorbea is president and general director of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. Consistently reaching record sales, he has positioned ADM as a market leader in the importation, storage, distribution, and sale of grains, rice, and beans. An inspiring leader, he is committed to team building, integrity, and success. 

Previously, he represented the Continental Grain Company in the 1980s, which transformed the grain trading business in Mexico by being the first company to import agricultural products directly into the country and distribute to the end user. Gorbea serves on the board of several companies and associations including Terminales de Cargas Especializadas, Vimifos, and TERPAC-Guatemala. 

A member of the Texas State Development Foundation, Gorbea established an endowed scholarship to benefit international students in the McCoy College of Business. He also serves his local community through donations to organizations that benefit women and children in poverty, as well as children with terminal illnesses. 

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Carrie Angell Hurt - Class of 1987

For more than 14 years, Carrie Hurt has served as president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc. of Austin (BBB). Under her leadership, the organization serving the heart of Texas now supports over 17,000 accredited businesses in 105 counties across Texas. It has won multiple awards and has been recognized as a national leader in the BBB community. It has been named a top workplace by the Austin American-Statesman, as well as one of the Top 50 Best Nonprofits to work for. 

BBB Cares is a program developed under Hurt’s leadership that issues staff paid time off annually to give back to their communities. Known for her honesty, integrity and work ethic, Hurt was appointed to the council of the BBB Board of Directors in 2018. 

She is a Texas State Alumni Association Life Member and a member of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Advisory Council and has been a presenter for the Texas State Leadership Capstone Program. Hurt is a Rotarian and a member of the American Society of Association Executives. She also supports Chi Omega, the Strutters, and Stelos Alliance.

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Adam E. Laubach - Class of 1993

Adam E. Laubach is the technology advisor for Exothermix, a Texas-based company focusing on the transformation of materials and products through self-heating technology. He was CEO of Exothermix from 2014 to 2018. 

Today, Laubach is the executive director of Amani Baby Cottage in Jinja, Uganda. Last December, Laubach and his family made the move from Texas to Uganda. 

Following his graduation from Texas State, Laubach received an M.B.A. from The University of Texas. Over the years, he continued to support Texas State both academically, as a guest lecturer, and commercially, by facilitating partnerships with technology companies. 

Prior to joining Exothermix in 2011, he served as the chief technology officer for multiple technology companies including ReVolt Technologies, GSI Technologies, and Aveso Displays. Laubach also spent 13 years with Dow Chemical. 

His contributions in worldwide missions work include helping to develop a desalination system for a community in Haiti, wells and filter systems that provide clean water in Honduras, and cleanburning stoves and ovens in Uganda.

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Jeff Novak - Class of 2015

Jeff Novak is the founding partner and chief architect of business direction and development for Novak Brothers, a residential and commercial real estate development company in Georgetown. He was an offensive tackle for the Bobcat football team for three years before entering the NFL draft in 1990. In 2014, Novak returned to attend classes at Texas State and graduated in 2015 with a degree in applied arts and sciences. 

Following an NFL football career that spanned seven years and included the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars, Novak co-founded and was CEO of Intra Focus Marketing. He was also a popular keynote speaker for conferences and conventions. In 2010, he teamed up with his brother, Jack, to launch Novak Brothers. The firm is responsible for the Sheraton Austin Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center, the Summit at Rivery Park, the Brownstone, and other custom home building in the Texas Hill Country. 

Novak is a member of the Texas State University Development Foundation and was named in 2015 to the Texas State Athletics Hall of Honor. In 2016, he established the Novak Family Endowed Scholarship.

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Joel Stone - Class of 1988

Joel Stone is the chairman and CEO of SpawGlass, a Texas-based commercial and civil contractor. He joined the company the same year that he graduated from Texas State. He has been directly involved with the construction of 13 buildings on the San Marcos Campus, including the new home of the Ingram School of Engineering. 

Stone has remained engaged with the construction science and management (CSM) program as he continued to further his education, including completing the advanced management programs at Harvard University, the Columbia Business School and Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. He is a member of the CSM Industrial Advisory Board, the Austin Chamber Education and Talent Development Council, city of Austin’s Small and Minority Business Council, the Texas State Technical College Foundation, the Construction Owners Association of America, and the Urban Land Institute. 

Stone has been a guest speaker for university classes and is a charter member of the SpawGlass endowed scholarship at Texas State. In 2014, Stone and his family traveled to Haiti on a mission trip to rebuild houses. During this trip, he also used his skills to teach parts of the construction trade to young Haitians.

Young Alumni Rising Stars

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Bharati G. Naik - Class of 2005

As a graduate student in 2005, Bharati Naik managed the Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Bobcat Update newscast. Today, she serves as planning producer, newsgathering at CNN London. 

In her 14 years at CNN, Naik has helped produce news packages on international events including the Syrian refugee crisis, the earthquake in Nepal, and elections in India and Russia. She has worked with top professionals in the field, such as Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, Aaron Brown, and Hala Gorani. 

Naik has given back to the journalism program by providing career advice and allowing Study Abroad students the opportunity to tour CNN’s studio facilities in London. She serves as a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom and as a mentor for the Media Trust, which works to give marginalized groups a stronger voice in the media and creative industry. 

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Jon David "J.D." Perez - Class of 2005

Jon David “J.D.” Perez is currently head of retail for Hugo Boss – Mexico, managing a team of 150 employees, buying products for stores, forecasting sales goals, and overseeing visual merchandising standards. 

He began his career as a Texas State student by working part time as an assistant manager at the Hugo Boss outlet in San Marcos. A first-generation college student, he majored in computer information systems and management, as well and completed Texas State’s Latin American Business Certificate Program and the Export Fellows Program, offered by the Institute for Global Business in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

As a member of the McCoy College of Business’ Institute for Global Business Advisory Board, Perez provides feedback on academic programs and works to create internships in Mexico. He also gives back to his local community, coordinating a school supply drive and adopting an orphanage foundation, Fundación Familiar Orphanage.

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Katherine E. "Katie" Forrest and James "Taylor" Collins - Class of 2007 and 2008

Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest are co-founders of Epic Provisions, a company that set out to create “the world’s first 100% grass-fed meat, fruit and nut bar.” It was a success. In 2016, Epic was purchased by General Mills for an estimated $100 million. 

Retained to lead the brand in a three-year deal, the married couple focuses on regenerative grazing practices to provide healthy food options for future generations. Regenerative agriculture aims to develop healthy, biologically diverse soils that grow healthy, mineral-rich food while also improving soil, crops, and the livelihoods of farmers. 

The co-founders are also triathletes and bicycle racers. While Texas State students, they started a commercial recycling business, thrived academically learning about wildlife, exercise and the outdoors. It was the foundation for their business.