FAU Honors 2023 Talon Leadership Award Recipients


Florida Atlantic University hosted its annual Talon Leadership Awards ceremony as part of Homecoming 2023, honoring outstanding faculty, student, alumni and community leadership. Co-sponsored by Florida Atlantic Alumni and Community Engagement and Student Government, the Talon Awards have been presented during Homecoming week since 1997.

“The Talon Awards are one of the most prestigious honors bestowed on members of the Florida Atlantic community,” said FAU President Stacy Volnick. “In their unique way, each honoree has helped lead the University into a new era of excellence and achievement.”

The President’s Talon Award was awarded to philanthropists John and Ann Wood. The Woods have made monumental impacts to health care through their generous giving to FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. In 2022, John and Ann Wood donated $28 million to support scholarships for students enrolled in the College of Medicine. This was the largest scholarship gift in FAU’s history and the largest known scholarship gift to a Florida public university’s medical school. In July, the Woods donated $11.5 million to the College of Medicine in support of amyloidosis research. John Wood passed away in August, leaving behind a legacy of extraordinary generosity and service. Ann Wood accepted the President’s Talon Award on their behalf.

Debbie Levine, CFRE, ’93, received the Richard L. Schmidt Alumni Talon Award. Levine serves as executive director of the Boca Raton Police Foundation, an organization that supports the Boca Raton Police Services Department by ensuring officers have the resources they need to perform at their highest level to keep Boca Raton safe. Since graduating, Levine has consistently supported FAU Police on trainings and a variety of other activities.

The Faculty Talon Award was presented to Dr. Jennifer Caceres, FACP, senior associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of medicine in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Since 2014, Caceres has developed career advising programs to support medical students in successful match outcomes and longitudinal mentoring and coaching programs for professional and personal development for future physicians.

The Student Talon Award was awarded to Kaylia Cooper, an undergraduate researcher in the College of Science Honors in Biological Sciences program. Cooper is the founding director of the Medi-Futures FAU Virtual Shadowing Program, which helps students connect with various health professionals, allowing them to learn from seasoned experts in the health field.

“Our Talon Award honorees are truly stellar representatives of this university and have consistently gone above and beyond in their leadership and service to Florida Atlantic,” said Katie Burke, Ph.D., assistant vice president of alumni and community engagement. “We’re immensely proud to showcase such outstanding members of our community.”

Florida Atlantic Alumni and Community Engagement also recognized outstanding student leadership in a separate Parliament of OWLs ceremony, honoring 29 recent alumni and graduating seniors for their leadership at Florida Atlantic.

For more information on the Talon Awards or Florida Atlantic Alumni and Community Engagement, visit faualumni.org.