2012 Alumni Award Winners
Gerald Smith ('85)
Alumnus of the Year
As founder and CEO of Premier Studios, Inc., Gerald is best known for fostering a culture of innovation that blends strategy, creativity and technology for organizations that are making a positive difference in the world. Gerald is a musician, blogger, golfer and avid photographer. As a classic renaissance man, his entrepreneurial tendencies emerge in a wide variety of ways, including riding a Harley Davidson from the tip of South America back to the US with Miles With a Mission and publishing SUSIE Magazine. He is a lifetime member of the Media Communications Association International and currently sits on the Board of Governors for the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Gerald and his wife, Dianna, currently reside in Olathe, KS, with their children, Gentry, Avery, Grayson and Gerald.
Jill (Bachman) Kenney ('98)
Alumna of the Year
Jill Kenney was born and raised on her family’s farm in southeastern Nebraska. While at MNU, Jill participated in cheerleading, softball, student government and many other activities. Jill graduated magna cum laude from MidAmerica Nazarene University with B.A. in history and English in 1998. She was selected to receive the American Heritage Award, the highest non-academic award presented to a graduating student. Since graduation Jill has served on MNU's Board of Trustees and Alumni Council. She graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2001. In 2011, Jill founded the Kenney Law Firm. Jill and her husband, Corey, are actively involved at Christ Community Church of the Nazarene, where they attend with their children, Asher and Amelia.
Zach Phillips ('10)
Young Alumni Award
Zach somehow found himself as a registered nurse in the University of Kansas Emergency Department right after graduation. He has discovered it’s exactly like the TV shows– drama, gunshots, flawless makeup, and starring Erik as George Clooney. When he’s not saving lives, you might find him painting his new (old) house, auditioning for KC theater, attempting to start up a publishing company and practicing his future imperfect Spanish verbs. He hopes his future will contain work with organizations that bring healthcare to underprivileged people groups, such as Partners in Health or Doctors Without Borders. His favorite things are peaches. He hopes that, alongside his Savior, family and community of friends, he’s able to continue to write and live a story worth hearing about.
Erik Unruh ('10)
Young Alumni Award
Erik currently practices nursing for the University of Kansas Hospital amid the inglorious trenches of the Emergency Department. His involvement there covers a variety of responsibilities from participating in research, leading the ED Emergency Preparedness Committee, to good ole' bedside nursing. In his days away from the hospital, Erik digs his hands into the dirt of Blue Door Farms, an organic farm in Kansas City that sells produce at the Brookside Farmer's Market. His true passion lays in the union of increasing access of healthy food to at-risk populations and plans to further explore that union while getting his Master's in Public Health from KU starting in August. Erik thrives only because of the rich community of friends that he lives and journeys with and a faithful God.
Carry the Torch Award
Paul, a 52-year-old known for his love of helping others, was hurt in a roofing/construction accident while serving on a Work & Witness team in Haiti and was not able to recover from his injuries. Paul served with at least 10 different Work & Witness teams visiting 15 countries over the years. He recently served the Prairie Lakes District as Nazarene Missions International president and deputation coordinator. He was Minnesota's NMI district president for a year before the Dakota and Minnesota districts became the Prairie Lakes District. He also served on the board of trustees for MidAmerica Nazarene University. Paul is survived by his wife, Lori, and children, Jeremy Dennis (’08) and Meghan Matt (’09) who will receive this award on his behalf.