Distinguished Alumni Award
The highest honor given exclusively to alumni, the Distinguished Alumni Award is given to alumni who have made outstanding contributions through their field of work, in service to Duke and toward the betterment of humanity.
Kimberly Jenkins ’76, ME’77, PhD ’80
Over the course of her career Kimberly Jenkins has perfected the practice of listening. In her experience, when you listen first and listen well, you gain the trust and attention of your stakeholders. Whether in a boardroom or classroom, in conferences or political arenas, Jenkins’ willingness to listen and to share her ideas inspires those around her.
It was as an undergraduate at Duke that Jenkins discovered the power of diverse perspectives coming together to create new ideas and build new communities. “I had the opportunity to hear world-renowned speakers, see famous musical acts, and experience artistic expression that shaped my appreciation for diversity,” Jenkins says. It also ignited a passion in Jenkins for collaborative learning and the sharing of ideas.
Her first job out of college was as a programmer for Microsoft, then a fledgling company in Silicon Valley. After a tug-of-war with bosses Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates—which included threatening to quit— Jenkins convinced her bosses to let her launch the education division of Microsoft. Today that division is a billion dollar market for the company.
“It was because of my experiences at Duke that I had the confidence to tell someone like Bill Gates that I would quit if he didn’t let me pursue my idea,” Jenkins says.
From Microsoft Jenkins went on to work for Steve Jobs at Apple and did a stint in D.C. schooling politicos on Internet policy. Once she’d mastered both the private and the public sectors, Jenkins brought all her hard-earned expertise back to Duke as the provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Today Jenkins is a paragon for why more women are needed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) industries She wants to help instill that same confidence in women and people of color.
“There are 600,000 jobs that go unfilled in the tech field each year,” Jenkins say. “Only 20 percent of computer science graduates are women. We need to intervene at the university level and figure out how to support and encourage women to stay the course.”
To that end, Jenkins is currently heading up the Duke Technology Program initiative to help engage more women in the field of technology and to support them through mentorship and community. “I understand because that was something I experienced first-hand at Duke when I spent a semester at the Marine Lab,” Jenkins says. “It was a small community and we supported and encouraged each other. We researched, shared and applied what we learned together, which enhanced my comprehension and my level of success."
Beyond Duke Service and Leadership Awards
These awards were inaugurated in 2014 to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to their community, their country or to society at large. Awards are given in three categories: Young Alumni, Local Community and Global Community.
The Rev. William Barber M.Div. '89: Service to a Local Community
Three years ago, on the last Monday in April, Rev. William Barber II M.Div.’89 stood in front of the North Carolina Senate chambers and refused to move.
Barber and other civil rights activists, who later were arrested, were there to peacefully protest the N.C. Legislature’s recent amendments to voting laws that could disenfranchise the poor and people of color—including requiring identification at polling places and eliminating same-day registrations.
“That’s when a group of us said, ‘Wait a minute, this has just gone too far,’” Barber told Mother Jones a year after that first protest.
Those gatherings became known as “Moral Mondays,” with nearly 1,000 people soon filling the halls of the N.C. Legislature every week to protest injustices such as cuts in higher education, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid.
Historian and Duke professor Timothy Tyson has called the gatherings a "statewide interracial fusion political coalition that has not been seriously attempted since 1900” and its leader "the most important progressive political leader in this state in generations.”
Bringing together a diverse group of activists from across religions and Christian denominations, ethnicities and gender orientations, the “Moral Mondays” gatherings have become a modern civil rights movement. And they’re not going away.
Today, Barber continues to lead the gatherings and to challenge local and state governments to prioritize educational opportunities and health care for low-income areas throughout the state.
Born in Indianapolis two days after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, Barber caught the vision of standing for the oppressed from his parents. They moved to North Carolina to be on the front lines of activism and change during the Civil Rights Movement. There they enrolled Barber in a segregated school and became some of the first African Americans on staff—his father the first African American to work in the department of general science and physics and his mother the school’s first black office manager.
In high school, Barber was elected president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth council and in adulthood was elected the president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, where he has served for eight years. Following his studies at Duke Divinity School, where he earned a Master of Divinity, Barber became a pastor and further committed his life to advocating for the marginalized in his community. For the past 20 years Barber has served as the head pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ church in Goldsboro, N.C. Under his leadership, the church has invested $1.5 million in their community to build affordable housing, a preschool, a senior citizen’s home, and a community center that includes an HIV/AIDS testing center.
In July, Barber gave a powerful speech before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, turning his podium into a pulpit and inviting all Americans to join him in defeating oppression and injustice wherever it exists. "We are being called, like our mothers and fathers, to be the moral defibrillators of our time,” Barber told the crowd amid roaring applause. "We will shock this nation and fight for justice for all.”
Tom Catena M.D.’92: Service to the Global Community
Tom Catena believes that he has been given more than most — the riches of a loving family, an Ivy-league education, and the opportunity to discover and hone his talents and abilities. These are trademarks of a fulfilling life, he says.
Remarkably, that is also how Catena describes his life today as the lone doctor stationed in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where the hospital he runs is under daily threat of bombing by the Sudanese government because of active civil war.
“I was given everything, and that produces a desire in me to give what I can to those in need,” Catena says. “I see it as an obligation.”
Decades ago as a college student at Brown University pursuing his mechanical engineering degree, Catena felt himself being called to do mission work. Inspired by people like St. Francis of Assisi, who committed his life to caring for the sick and the poor, Catena went on to pursue medical school at Duke University on a Navy scholarship. “Thanks to my scholarship, I was debt-free when I finished my term of service and was free to pursue the medical career I envisioned for myself. I wanted to put my faith into action,” Catena says.
This path eventually took him to Kenya where he served in several mission hospitals, learning the challenges of healthcare in a developing country. Yet none of the difficulties he faced could have prepared him for his role as the medical director and sole physician at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan, where he began working for $350 a month in 2008.
On his first day, Catena treated more than 200 patients—and that, he would come to learn, was a light day. The hospital averages around 400 inpatients daily. Eight years later, Catena fills his day seeingpatients, performing surgeries, and when the sun goes down, maintaining the hospital compound, which runs off solar power.
The sheer volume of patients for the lone doctor in the remote Nuba mountains is challenging by itself. Add to that the threat of bombing— 11 times since Catena arrived at the hospital—and the need to triage the wounded almost daily. Life is filled with the reality of terror and death—but it also is filled with a purpose that Catena, who has committed to living the rest of his life in Sudan, isn’t willing to give up.
“I can’t imagine a more rewarding life than the one I live now,” he says.
Zachary Graumann '10 and Casey Miller ’10: Service by a Young Alumna/Alumnus
For Zach Graumann and Casey Miller, both class of 2010, impacting the future of today’s students is all in a day’s work. Since its inception in 2011, their nonprofit SuitUp has given 6,000 low-income middle and high-school students in New York City a real-world business experience from inside the classroom.
SuitUp places students in one-day competitions solving a real problem for companies like Nike and VitaminWater. Volunteers from those companies guide the students in corporate challenges all the while teaching the students about entrepreneurship, team work, and the inner workings of the business world.
“We are looking for ways to bring Suitup to cities across the country,” Graumann says. “And we really have our Duke network to thank for making this dream a reality.”
Graumann and Miller became friends while studying at Duke, but found themselves going in different career directions after graduation. Graumann took a job in corporate finance and eventually became an analyst for UBS on Wall Street. Miller, his partner, pursued a Master in Education at Hunter College and joined Teach for America, where she began teaching seventh graders in Harlem and began to see the impact socioeconomics had on education.
“Not only did they not know what they wanted to be, they didn’t even know what they could be,” Miller says.
Graumann had considered Teach for America but also was interested in “how the public and private sectors interface and work together,” he says. He wanted to create a more symbiotic relationship in which economic interests can serve the greater good and vice versa.
Recognizing the gaps in both of their experiences, Graumann and Miller organized a career day at Miller’s school and invited UBS employees to talk about their jobs. “Everyone had a fantastic time and shared their enthusiasm with others in their peer group,” Graumann says. Then a funny thing happened: “As I like to say, Duke happened,” he says. The Duke alumni community in New York City began rallying behind Graumann and Miller — and SuitUp was born.
Together, Graumann and Miller were able to help shrink the gaps they had seen in their respective jobs—bringing more career awareness to New York City children and creating more substantive volunteer experiences for a wide range of employees. But SuitUp won’t stop there, Miller says. The pair are currently trying to expand SuitUp competitions to schools in other U.S. cities and to incorporate the SuitUp model into the formal classroom.
“We have a vision for Suitup…a curriculum that could be implemented by teachers who want to tie Suitup into their classroom work,” Miller says.
Charles A. Dukes Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service
These awards recognize alumni volunteers who serve in Duke leadership roles and have devoted themselves to extraordinary, long-term efforts that help Duke further its mission.
Christopher Burns ’79
Christopher Burns has been described as a “dream volunteer.” As a co-chair for his 35th reunion, Chris was successful in closing gifts right up until the end of the reunion campaign. His ability to inspire generosity comes from his personal reputation of generous giving, including ongoing financial support of the Trinity Annual Fund, the Catholic Center for Athletics and the Patricia and Christopher Burns Scholarship. In addition to his six reunion leadership roles, Chris served on the Annual Fund Executive Committee and participated in Duke Forward in Boston. All four of his children are either alumni of or are attending Duke. He and his wife Patricia became so accustomed to hosting Send-Off parties for their children that it became a tradition. Now they continue to host fantastic parties for incoming freshman in their Duke-decorated barn.
Kareem Cook ’94, M.B.A.’00
During his tenure as vice president of Los Angeles regional board, Kareem Cook led with enthusiasm. From clothing drives to career day panels at schools to successful summer parties, Kareem raised engagement to an unprecedented level. In 2013, Kareem co-chaired the Los Angeles event for the year-long university commemoration of “50 Years of Black Student Integration.” The event was one of the highest attended events in Los Angeles — with more than 500 alumni participating. In 2014, he recruited several influential alumni living in China to join him at the opening of Duke Kunshan. Back in Durham, Kareem teamed up with fellow alumnus Grant Hill ‘94 to host a Homecoming Weekend party with the sole purpose of getting alumni to return to Duke. Believing in the mission of Duke, Kareem has hired alumni to fill many positions in his company Naturade and offers summer internships to students every year.
Michael Fields ’79
Duke alum. Committed volunteer. Cancer survivor. All of these phrases describe Michael Fields — and yet only begin to paint the picture of the man known and respected by those at the Duke Cancer Institute. Michael has been a member of the Duke Cancer Institute Board of Overseers since 1994 and was inducted in 2011 as the current chair. Having experienced the pain of losing loved ones to cancer, Michael’s family has worked tirelessly to establish the Kislak-Fields Family Fund to support leukemia research, providing critical equipment, and enabling transplantation and stem cell research that may otherwise have gone unfunded. Michael was instrumental in developing the Strike Out Cancer Program. This partnership with the Durham Bulls generates awareness in the Triangle community and unrestricted revenue for the Duke Cancer Fund.
David and Lori Haley
Together, David and Lori Haley have propelled the Duke Parents Committee to record-breaking heights with their enthusiasm, dedication and generosity. Currently the committee includes 515 members — the most that have ever been active at one time. They also hit a new dollar record of more than $5.5M in FY15. David and Lori get involved in every aspect of the program from solicitation letters and phone calls to developing Family Weekend. This year Lori orchestrated the first spring Parents Committee weekend, giving members another chance to connect, collaborate and develop deeper relationships. David’s talent for fundraising strategy has greatly benefited the efforts of the program. “We volunteer for Duke University because we want to support excellence. We are inspired by the energy and dynamism at Duke,” they say. “In the process, we have made wonderful friends, developed an even greater appreciation for this special university and shared in the wonderful experience of our two daughters at Duke.”
Ron Nicol M.B.A.’86
Ron Nicol exemplifies the spirit of the Charles A. Dukes award through his volunteerism, philanthropic support and commitment to building Duke’s reputation in the business world. Ron’s service to Duke and the Fuqua School of Business has been a hallmark of his life since graduating 30 years ago and has grown in his leadership of Fuqua’s Board of Visitors. As senior partner and managing director of global practices at the Boston Consulting Group, Ron mobilized his firm to hire Fuqua graduates and galvanized the relationship between Fuqua and one of the world’s top consulting firms. Despite his demanding professional schedule and busy family life, Ron always makes himself available for an event or a conversation.
Forever Duke Awards
Presented for the first time in 2009, these awards recognize alumni for excellent recent volunteer service to Duke, the DAA and other alumni groups.
Kwadwo Acheampong ’06
Anne Berry ’06
Lori Cashman ’94
Andrew Dillon '96
Caroline Gottschalk J.D.’90, P’19
Matthew Hepburn '92, M.D.’96
Lisa Hough ’87
Harry Jones ’08, A.M.’10
Jamie Khanna M.B.A.’06
Sergey Khusnetdinov M.B.A.’13
Sally Lehman ’84
Robert Nichol A.B.’69
Kyle Ott A.B.’10
Erica Peppers B.S.’03
Sandeep Sharma M.B.A.’01
Katherine Shea J.D.’10
Pam Stone ’73
Gene Stroup M.E.M.’99
Gabriel Tsuboyama ’00
Allison Wheeler ’80