2008-2009 Featured Alumni

2008 Alumni Recognition Award - Emerging Professional Graduate Degree: Jesse Ellis - MS - Leisure Studies

Jesse is a 2001 graduate of Penn State with a Masters of Science degree in Leisure Services. While at PSU, he was recognized as a University Graduate Fellow and earned the prestigious Academy of Leisure Sciences Future Scholar recognition. His graduate research focused on youth development and preventative recreation programming. Since earning his advanced degree, Jesse has represented both Penn State and the Recreation Park and Tourism Management department with excellence.

Through his professional commitment to community recreation and public services administration, Jesse has used his graduate degrees to further the focus on at-risk children and adolescents. As an administrator with the Fairfax County (VA) Dept. of Community and Recreation Services, Jesse provides direct supervision of programs designed to meet the needs of his community. While accepting positions with increasing supervisory and administrative responsibilities, Jesse has used his experience in direct service provision to developed programs.

Jesse Ellis has been committed to serving children and adolescents with recreation services since college. As an undergraduate student, Jesse co-coordinated an after school music program for low-income students designed to improve academic and social functioning. As a graduate student, Jesse worked under the supervision of Dr. Linda Caldwell on the Time Wise drug abuse prevention program as a teacher for the school based prevention program. Jesse has continued his focus on children and adolescents as a Teen Center director, Summer Camp director, Recreation Specialist and Manager with Fairfax County. He has served as agency liaison to the Fairfax Partnership for Youth, a multi-agency cooperative designed to address the needs of local youth. He served as co-advisor for the Fairfax County’s Executive Youth Advisory Committee and Montgomery County Student against drunk driving. He has also served as a member of the county-wide Substance Abuse prevention team and “Drawing the Line on Under 21” alcohol use community coalition. Throughout his professional career, Jesse has contributed to the profession through numerous publications, research projects, conference presentations and grant solicitation. Additionally, Jesse completed a second graduate degree at George Mason University, earning a Masters in Public Administration in 2007.

2008 Alumni Recognition Award - Emerging Professional Undergraduate Degree: Mark Lammi RPTM- PGM 1999

Mark is a 1999 graduate of the RPM (now RPTM) program in the Professional Golf Management option. Mark has demonstrated a professional and personal commitment to the field of RPTM that makes him an excellent candidate for this award. Since graduating from Penn State, Mark has accepted positions within the field of Professional Golf Management that have lead to increasing responsibility, accountability and supervisory requirements. Mark is currently serving as PGA Director of Golf at the Reynolds Plantation/Reynolds landing, ranked #5 in the “Top 100 Golf Resorts” by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. Mark’s personal accomplishments parallel his stellar career path.

Mark is ranked as a PGA Master Professional, a ranking given to less than 1% of all PGA professionals and is the first PSU RPTM-PGM graduate to achieve this honor. He serves as a Faculty member for the PGA Master’s Professional Education Board as well as on the Advisory Board for Taylor Made-Adidas Golf National Advisory Staff. While overseeing one of the top golf operations in the United States – including training, merchandising, employee supervision, member and guest relations – Mark gives back to the community. He has supported community organizations in Ohio, Virginia and Georgia as his career path has led him to greater professional opportunities. He has supported Habitat for Humanity and other community service organizations with golf tournaments and fundraising.

2008 Alumni Recognition Award - Eileen Soisson RPTM 1994

Eileen has been an active and supportive alumna since graduating from PSU in 1994. Her initial support of the university and of the RPTM program came first as a mentor and internship supervisor with the American Hospitality Academy. Since then, her contributions to both the RPTM department at PSU as well as Penn State at large have extended well beyond a supervisory/mentor role with individual students. Eileen personifies what the Penn State community hopes all of our graduates will role model – excitement about our university beyond commencement and continued professional collaboration and contribution with faculty, students and alumni.

Eileen’s professional successes are many. She demonstrated increasing commitment to the provision of commercial recreation services in her diverse roles at the American Hospitality Academy – training and supervising others in the provision of recreation services within resorts. With increased responsibility and accountability, Eileen experienced success at every level including AHA National Director of Education in which she was responsible for overseeing the training programs of international resort employees and students. From that, she was able to further her skills and education as she developed her own training program. The Meeting Institute is a well reputed, nationally recognized program that provides management, motivation and supervisory training to a variety of professional entities. Those who have seen Eileen in “action” will attest to her inspirational presentation, enthusiasm and excitement. She develops programs based on the assessed needs of her clients and then delivers a quality presentation. Her programs are in demand and frequently “standing room only” at conferences. In terms of professional contributions to the university, Eileen likely ranks among the most active in our program, if not the College of Health and Human Development. She is past president of the RPTM – AGP and currently serves on the board in ex-officio status. She is a member of the CHHD Alumni Society board; All APG committee and serves as mentor for the CHHD Women’s Leadership Initiative. Eileen has also served as a professional mentor and member of numerous alumni panels for the RPTM program in which she meets and talks with our current students about professional options. She serves with enthusiasm, dedication and passion.

Eileen also serves the RPTM profession as a member of the National Recreation and Park Association program committee and Commercial Recreation and Tourism Sector Branch board member. Eileen donates her time and energies to helping to develop conference and training schedules for the RPTM community on a national level. She is a frequent presenter at both regional and national conferences. In recognition of her efforts, Eileen has been awarded the 2004-2005 Board member of the Year (CHHD); NRPA Commercial Recreation and Tourism Sector Appreciation Award and numerous professional recognition awards through the American Hospitality Academy.