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Annual President’s Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner Recognizes Five Atlantic Cape Alumni

03/24/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
2023 President's Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner

MAYS LANDING — The Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation recognized five members of the college’s alumni during the Annual President’s Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on Thursday, March 23 at Careme’s, the student-run gourmet restaurant.

Honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award were Dr. Ananda Davis-Wright ‘06, Chef Georgeann Leaming ‘99 and Daniel L. Money ‘71. Honored with the Young Alumni Achievement Award were Nicholas LaRotonda ‘14 and Zachary Pashley ‘10.

“We are honored to have so many wonderfully talented and successful distinguished alumni, many of whom are here tonight. We work very diligently to increase our membership of the Alumni Association,” said Jean McAlister, Atlantic Cape Chief of Staff/Chief Advancement and Atlantic Cape Foundation Executive Director. “We want graduates to connect with each other and with current students. Additionally, we want our community to learn all the good things we do here at Atlantic Cape Community College, and our alumni tell a great story of success and resilience."

The President’s Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2010 to recognize Atlantic Cape graduates that have differentiated themselves through a combination of professional, academic and community-based accomplishments, and have also remained committed to supporting the college, its mission and students. The Distinguished Alumni Award Selection Committee reviews all candidates and selects the award recipients.

“The Alumni base constitutes one of the most important stakeholder groups within the college and is an asset that has a unique role in all that we do to fulfill our mission,” Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba. “Our diverse and impressive alumni represent one of the college’s many strengths and in our everyday lives we showcase the positive effects of an Atlantic Cape education. Once again this year we are delighted to see a wide range of nominees representing a wide variety of academic and professional fields.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to Atlantic Cape graduates who have made significant contributions in their professional field, community and/or through humanitarian service. The Young Alumni Achievement Award is bestowed upon a graduate who is 40 years or younger and has excelled in his/her profession, made positive contributions to his/her community and remained connected to the college while supporting its mission and values.

Dr. Ananda Davis-Wright receives her Distinguished Alumni AwardDr. Davis-Wright, an Atlantic City native, earned her Liberal Arts Associate’s Degree with a Business Administration option in 2006. She is currently the principal at Atlantic City’s Uptown School Complex. Dr. Davis-Wright has more than 12 years of teaching and administrative experience in education and loves to mentor the city’s youth along with promoting Atlantic Cape’s benefits to the community.

“My experience at Atlantic Cape built the confidence that allowed me to continue my educational journey all the way through my Ph.D. program,” Davis-Wright said. “It was the grass root for my leadership skills that carried me to my current role as a school principal in Atlantic City. I see my time at Atlantic Cape as the solid foundation that I was able to build on.”

Chef Georgeann Leaming receives her Distinguished Alumni AwardChef Leaming graduated from the Academy of Culinary Arts in 1999, has served as an executive chef at various fine dining establishments, casinos and upscale casual restaurants across Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Chef Leaming was crowned the 2014 Food Network “Chopped” champion, was a 2018 Atlantic Cape Restaurant Gala honoree, is currently part of a three-woman restaurant consulting team, AMG Collective, and is co-owner/chef of Zang Croissants, a bakery pop-up shop located on Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing campus that she runs with her daughter.

“The Academy of Culinary Arts gave me the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling career in the restaurant industry and it has continued to be a part of my life through the years with my daughter being a graduate of the program and myself being an adjunct instructor,” Leaming said.

Mr. Daniel L. Money receives his Distinguished Alumni AwardMr. Money earned his Pre-Law Associate in Science Degree in 1971 and has dedicated his life to serving the community as a police officer in his hometown of Ocean City, a detective for the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and through his lifelong career in education as a principal between 1977-2015 at the Cape May County Vocational Technical Center, Burlington County Institute of Technology and Oakcrest High School. Mr. Money has also served as an adjunct professor at Atlantic Cape and Rowan University, and is currently vice president on Atlantic Cape’s Board of Trustees.

“The quality of education at Atlantic Cape Community College set the foundation for my professional career as a police officer, county prosecutor’s office, investigator, educator and educational leader,” Money said. “The academic rigor in all courses reset my commitment to preparation and performance in courses as I progressed the next six years of my post high school education.”

Mr. Nicholas LaRotonda receives his Young Alumni AwardMr. LaRotonda earned his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Hospitality Management in 2014. He has held several managerial positions at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City Hotel, Casino & Marina before becoming a current career Firefighter/EMT at Atlantic City International Airport. In 2022, LaRotonda was elected to the Absecon City Council and was recently voted council president.

“I chose Atlantic Cape Community College because I wanted to remain close to home and continue serving my hometown as a volunteer fireman while also continuing to pursue a career in the casino hotel industry,” LaRotonda said. “Atlantic Cape afforded me the opportunity to continue to work in the industry and gain real life experience while also keeping a balance of education to obtain my hospitality and tourism management associate’s degree. My experience at Atlantic Cape was amazing!”

Mr. Zachary Pashley receives his Young Alumni AwardMr. Pashley earned his Liberal Arts Associate’s Degree with an Education option in 2010 and, along with his wife, Adriana, opened Gusto Brewing Company in 2018. Mr. Pashley previously served in the United States Coast Guard from 2010 to 2016. His Love Your Neighbor philanthropic endeavor has raised more than $65,000 to help support various local charities.

“Atlantic Cape was where I learned to love learning. It really was revelatory to realize I had access to professors with true passion for their subject matter and the skills to express that passion to their students, it truly changed the way I saw the world,” Pashley said. “I had a newly-inspired thirst for knowledge and I was experiencing the fruits of actually prioritizing my education; and became hooked on that feeling.”

Visit for full Distinguished Alumni Award recipient bios and a list of previous awardees, as well.



About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.


About Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation

Atlantic Cape established the Foundation in 1978 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity to build a broad base of financial support for its programs and services. Foundation members are drawn from local industry and small businesses and represent a broad cross-section of active leaders in the community. The Foundation has raised more than $5 million for scholarships, Foundation operations and to enhance academic programs and the campus environment. Annually, the Foundation provides nearly $600,000 for institutional scholarships, grants and emergency help.