The College of Arts + Architecture (CoA+A) will honor six Distinguished Alumni on Thursday, March 30, in the ninth annual celebration of alumni achievement. The award ceremony will take place at 11:30 am in the Anne R. Belk Theater in Robinson Hall for the Performing Arts and will be open to the public.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards were created by the College of Arts + Architecture in 2015 to recognize the accomplishments of alumni who demonstrate in their work the core themes of the College's vision: professionalism, global perspective, environmental engagement, connectivity with community, collaboration, and the emergence of new ideas, skills, and practices. Each department designates one Distinguished Alum annually, chosen by departmental faculty and administration. See past honored alumni here.
The 2023 CoA+A Distinguished Alumni are:
Architecture David R. Ravin
Art & Art History Banks Wilson
Dance Rodrigo and Wendy Jiménez
Music Troy Conn
Theatre Jack Taggart
As President & CEO of Northwood Ravin LLC, David Ravin (Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, 1994) manages the day-to-day operations of the company and works with the senior management teams in establishing and implementing strategic goals and initiatives. Northwood Ravin employs over 400 associates in seven states and 12 cities and concentrates on developing, constructing, and managing luxury for-rent and mixed-use housing.
After earning a Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan in 1996 and a Master of Science in Real Estate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1998, Ravin moved back to Charlotte and worked at Crosland Real Estate Investment Company for 14 years. He was eventually promoted to President of Crosland Residential, which operated a multi-family portfolio of over 6,000 apartment units. In 2011, David started his own real estate development company, Northwood Ravin. Northwood Ravin was ranked the 17th largest developer and 16th largest contractor in the United States in 2022.
Ravin has developed more than 75 multi-family communities with a market value exceeding $8 billion, and which have received national and regional recognition from the National Association of Homebuilders, Urban Land Institute, ICSC, CEL National Customer Service Company, and National Multi-Family Housing News. In 2022, UNC Charlotte named its architecture program the David R. Ravin School of Architecture.
Banks Wilson (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, 2001) is a designer, marketer, and entrepreneur who has leveraged his unique mix of analytical and creative thinking, strong visual aesthetics, and leadership skills to build one of the Southeast’s largest, and most respected, marketing and advertising agencies.
After graduating from UNC Charlotte, Wilson quickly went on to found Union (formerly Studiobanks) in 2002. Over 20 years, he grew a small team focused on website design into a large, fully-integrated agency that creates omni-channel campaigns for global brands. Through the agency’s growth, Wilson has transitioned from a designer, to a creative director, to a creatively-minded business owner.
In addition to growing the business, Wilson led his team at Union to more than 100 advertising awards, culminating in his receiving the Charlotte chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Silver Award in 2021, a prestigious lifetime achievement award in advertising. These honors were not limited to the work but also to the culture that Wilson helped create at Union, being recognized as one of the Charlotte Observer’s Top Workplaces four years in a row as well as the only SoDA (Society of Digital Agencies) member headquartered in the Carolinas.
In the Fall of 2022, Wilson led his agency through its acquisition by Valtech, a global digital agency, and currently serves as the company’s Senior Vice President of North America.
Outside of the agency, Wilson has been a member of local chapters of industry associations such as AAF and the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA), where he’s served on the board of directors. Committed to his local community, he is currently the chairman of the Olympic High School Foundation and has previously served on the board of directors for both Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and the McColl Center.
Husband and wife duo Rodrigo and Wendy Jiménez (Bachelor of Arts in Dance, 2019) are internationally known professional dancers and instructors based in Charlotte. Owners and directors of RW Latin Dance Company for more than 15 years, they travel nationally and internationally teaching master workshops, performing, and competing at some of the top Latin Dance events in the world.
Rodrigo studied Latin American Folklore and Flamenco, which he began performing at an early age in his native Chile. In the United States, he continued his dance studies in International Latin Ballroom (Silver Medalist), Latin American Folklore, Flamenco, Argentine Tango, Capoeira and popular Latin Dances. Since 2003, he has performed across Charlotte with Opera Carolina and Charlotte Symphony, as well as creating events devoted to promoting Latin culture with Wendy Serrano, who comes from El Salvador. Together, they teach and perform Salsa, Bachata, Tango, Flamenco, Kizomba, and fusion Latin dance forms.
Rodrigo and Wendy have performed and taught in Spain, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and China and across the United States and Canada. The duo has won numerous prizes, including first place in the World Salsa Summit and being named finalists in the World Latin Dance Cup, and has been featured in several public broadcast television shows.
Rodrigo and Wendy are both adjunct faculty dance instructors at UNC Charlotte, where they have taught the dance department’s Latin dance course since 2008.
Troy Conn (Bachelor of Music in Performance, 2002) is a professional jazz, classical, and rock guitarist who has been performing and instructing jazz for over two decades. His Charlotte-based jazz bands include the Conn/Davis Duo, Ron Brendle Quartet, Al Sergel IVtet, and Jazz Is Led. He also plays with numerous touring artists, and most recently played with The Platters. Conn is a frequent performer at Middle C Jazz in Charlotte, where he has featured the music of George Benson and Jeff Beck. He also works with Jazz Arts Charlotte as an instructor and a performer.
At UNC Charlotte, Conn studied classical guitar with Michael Mosley. After graduating, he was invited to study at the Berklee Guitar Sessions under a full scholarship. Since then, he has led workshops, sessions, and numerous camps and courses. He currently teaches Applied Jazz Guitar and Jazz Combo at UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte.
In 2012, Conn played the Eclats d’Email Jazz Festival in Limoges, France. He later toured through the UK with Fat Face Band in 2014. He has been a repeat performer at the Kinser Jazz Festival, performing with the Metroplexity Big Band, backing Randy Brecker and Eric Marienthal. He has also performed in various venues in New Orleans, including Snug Harbor with the Ocie Davis Quartet.
Pulling from his classical guitar training, Conn often guest performs with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and numerous pit orchestras. His versatility extends to rock as well, with the prog-rock trio, Bunky Moon and the Mike Stauss Band, to name a few. Conn has played on numerous recordings, including Ron Brendle’s A Tribute to the Bassists In Jazz Vol. 1, Alfred Sergel IVtet EP, and Escalating Blues by Mike Strauss. In 2018, he released his album of original compositions, Old and New.
Jack Taggart (Bachelor of Creative Arts, 1988) is a feature film head textile artist and an ager/dyer. Taggart began his career as a performer, studying acting, dance, and music, and making the choice to major in performing arts at UNC Charlotte. Part of that curriculum included Intro to Set and Costume Design classes. After he demonstrated a series of exceptional projects, his professor and mentor, Bob Croghan, suggested that Taggart consider switching emphasis from performance to design. It was a perfect fit, matching his life-long loves of drawing and painting with theatre and film. It changed his life.
Taggart earned his master’s degree at the University of California San Diego, which propelled him to design for The Old Globe Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, The Magic Theatre in San Francisco, Soho Rep in New York, and various regional theaters. Life in Southern California also placed him in proximity to the Hollywood film industry, where his graduate classes in textile art and dyeing and his problem-solving abilities became the ideal skill set for a career in feature film as a key breakdown artist and dyer in the costume department.
Since transitioning to film 30 years ago, Taggart has become the go-to ager/dyer on major films in the US and abroad in over 20 countries. He has worked on intimate dramas and massive tentpole franchises with directors Clint Eastwood (14 films), James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, Michael Mann, Michael Bay, Tim Burton, Denis Villeneuve, and Christopher Nolan. Film credits include the Avatar franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, Django Unchained, Top Gun: Maverick, Inception, Black Panther, Flags of our Fathers, Dunkirk, Dune, Planet of the Apes, American Sniper, and additional Marvel Studios’ superhero films. He is currently working on the new Francis Ford Coppola project Megalopolis, in production now, with four-time Oscar-winning designer Milena Canonero.