Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Biographies for the recipients of the awards listed below have been updated when possible. Otherwise, they represent the information available as of the dates of induction. Send updates or corrections.

  • Livingston College Distinguished Alumni Award: Established in September 2000 to recognize Livingston College alumni who have distinguished themselves by contributions they have made in their chosen fields of endeavor, by the leadership they have exhibited, and by the general benefits to the larger society resulting from their activities.
  • Seth Dvorin Distinguished Young Alumni Award: Established in November 2004 in memory of Army First Lt. Seth Jeremy Dvorin '02 (Administration of Justice), who was tragically killed in Iraq on February 3, 2004. The Seth Dvorin Award is presented to Livingston College young alumni 30 years old and under who have distinguished themselves by contributions they have made in their chosen fields of endeavor, by the leadership they have exhibited, and by the general benefits to the larger society resulting from their activities.

2015 Inductees

The 2015 Livingston College Distinguished Alumni and Livingston Legacy Awards were presented Tuesday, November 10, at the Rutgers Club in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LAA honored three distinguished alumni: 

Robert Bertrand Kenneth Cop Deborah Stokes
Radio Engineer
Bio and video
Rutgers University Executive Director of Police Services / Chief of Police
Bio and video
Museum Curator and Arts Educator
Bio and video

The Livingston Legacy Award went to Wilson Carey McWilliams, a distinguished political science professor from Livingston College who died in 2005.

2013 Inductees

The 2013 LAA Distinguished Alumni and Livingston Legacy Awards were presented Wednesday, October 9, at the Rutgers Club. LAA honored three distinguished alumni:  

Ndidi Amutah Nicholas Ferroni Jessie J. Hanna
Assistant Professor
Researcher on Health and Nutrition
Bio and video
Educator and Historian
Bio and videos
Researcher on Pediatric Cancer
Bio and video

The Livingston Legacy Award went to Roger Cohen, a professor emeritus of Livingston's and Rutgers' journalism program. 

2011 Inductees

On Saturday, May 14, 2011, the Livingston Alumni Association honored Edward M. (Eddie) Jordan and Gregory Q. Brown as Distinguished Alumni, at a ceremony at the Livingston Student Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Brown received the LAA Distinguished Alumni Award in a presentation held on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at Winants Hall, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.) 

Gregory Q. Brown Eddie Jordan
Rutgers Board of Governors Chair;
Business Leader
Bio and video
 Rutgers Men's Basketball Head Coach (2013-2016) and Player (1973-1977)
Bio and video

2009 Inductees

On Saturday, May 16, 2009, the Livingston Alumni Association presented Distinguished Alumni Awards to the following outstanding Livingston College graduates: 

Marla Diamond Francoise Jacobsohn
Radio Journalist
 Advocate for Women's Rights
Martha Nell Smith Kevin Apuzzio
Professor of English
Emily Dickinson Scholar
Seth Dvorin Distinguished Young Alumni Award
Emergency Medical Technician
(Posthumous, died in 2006)

MARLA DIAMOND (LC'92) has been a mainstay on the WCBS Newsradio 880 staff since 1997. She joined WCBS as its New Jersey correspondent and currently covers New York City for the station. Her radio career started at New Brunswick's WCTC-AM and she also served as a public relations director for a New Jersey hospital. Diamond has won numerous awards in her career at WCBS, including the Art Athens Award for General Excellence in radio reporting.

FRANCOISE JACOBSOHN (LC'78) is the Project Manager for Equality Works, Legal Momentum's Economic Justice Program focusing on expanding women's participation in high-paying non-traditional employment. She was named Project Manager for Women Rebuild in 2004. A former president of NOW-NYC, she most recently worked on an institutional and community-building project for public education in Upper Manhattan. Françoise has been working in women's rights and community building for more than twenty years both in Europe and in the United States. She is a member of the New York City Mayor's Commission on Construction Opportunity, established in March 2005, to ensure that women and minorities gain access to work in the construction trades. Françoise has taught a class on "Women, the Law and Public Opinion" for France's Political Science Institute, worked for a European nonprofit focused on violence against women at the workplace, and helped set up one of the early battered women's shelters in New Jersey in the late 1970s. 

MARTHA NELL SMITH (LC'85) is Professor of English and Founding Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland. Her numerous print publications include three award-winning books— Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson's Intimate Letters to Susan Dickinson, coauthored with Ellen Louise Hart (1998), Comic Power in Emily Dickinson , coauthored with Cristanne Miller and Suzanne Juhasz (1993), Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson (1992)—and more than 40 articles and essays in American Literature, Studies in the Literary Imagination, South Atlantic Quarterly , Women's Studies Quarterly, Profils AmericainsSan Jose Studies, The Emily Dickinson Journal, and A Companion to Digital Humanities. With Mary Loeffelholz, she edited a Companion to Emily Dickinson (December 2007), and she has also written Dickinson, A User's Guide (July 2009) for Wiley-Blackwell. 

2009 Seth Dvorin Young Alumni Award

KEVIN APUZZIO (LC'06) had worked as an emergency medical technician in Rutgers Department of Emergency Services for more than three years before his death in April 2006, when he died trying to save someone in a house fire. One year to the day after Kevin's passing, members of the Rutgers community and the Apuzzio family gathered in the university's Public Safety Building to honor him by renaming the training facility the Kevin Apuzzio Training Center. Kevin was presented posthumously with the Rutgers University Alumni Association Meritorious Service Award for Community Service in 2006.

2006 Inductees

On Saturday, October 14, 2006, the following alumni were presented with Livingston College Distinguished Alumni Awards (view a photo gallery from the event; photos by Steve Goodman): 

Avery Brooks Colleen Fraser Mark Helias
Actor; Professor, Mason Gross
School of the Arts
Advocate for People with Disabilities;
Hero of United Airlines Flight 93
(Posthumous, died in 2001)
Bio and video
Jazz Musician and Composer
Liza Kirschenbaum Andrea D. Lyon Gregg Spiridellis
Advocate for Children in the Courts
Law School Dean;
Expert in Death-Penalty Defense
Bio and video
Seth Dvorin Distinguished
Young Alumni Award

Co-owner, JibJab Media

AVERY BROOKS (LC'73), actor and tenured professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, is best known to American TV audiences for his roles as Commodore/Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and Hawk on "Spenser: For Hire." Known for his dedication to African-American issues, Brooks serves as artistic director for the National Black Arts Festival, in association with Rutgers University. He spent 10 years performing the acclaimed role of Phillip Hayes Dean in the play "Paul Robeson," including performances at the Westwood Playhouse and the Kennedy Center. Brooks has hosted several documentaries and served as narrator in such features as the IMAX film "Africa's Elephant Kingdom." 

COLLEEN FRASER (LC'74), Advocate for People with Disabilities. Hero of United Airlines Flight 93. Complete bio.

MARK HELIAS (LC'74), a world-renowned bassist and composer, has been making innovative music since the mid­seventies and epitomizes Livingston’s early reputation as a jazz music school hotbed. He has released eight albums since 1984 and has worked with numerous bands. Helias has also composed music for short film and two feature films by director Jay Anania. In addition to his many performances on records and CDs, Helias has produced recordings for other artists. Helias is currently leading and collaborating on various projects, and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School and The School for Improvised Music.

LIZA KIRSCHENBAUM (LC'87), the founding state director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Jersey. Liza currently serves as CASA’s director of public affairs. She earned her Juris Doctorate from New York University School of Law after graduating summa cum laude from Livingston. In addition to fulfilling her duties as CASA of New Jersey’s Director of Public Affairs, Liza serves on the Advisory Board of Foster and Adoptive Family Services of New Jersey, the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Task Force Protection Sub-Committee. 

ANDREA D. LYON (LC'73): Law School Dean, Expert in Death-Penalty Defense. Complete bio.

2006 Seth Dvorin Distinguished Young Alumni Award

GREGG SPIRIDELLIS (LC'93), the co-owner of JibJab Media. Greg and his brother Evan started their company in 1999 from a garage in Brooklyn, NY. In 2004, Gregg’s lyrics and Evan’s art helped spark an international sensation with the release of JibJab’s election parody “This Land.” The two minute short and its follow-up “Good To Be in DC!” were seen over 80 million times online and on every continent. The media frenzy that followed put the brothers in front of millions of people watching The Tonight Show, CNN, FOX, CNBC and the Today Show. ABC World News Tonight even named the brothers "Persons of the Year."

2004 Inductees

On Saturday, November 6, 2004, the following alumni were presented with Livingston College Distinguished Alumni Awards:

Frank T. Carvill Gina Collins Cummings Edward E. Johnson, Jr.
New Jersey National Guardsman
Killed in Iraq
(Posthumous, died in 2004)
Environmental, Health
and Social Justice Activist
Wall Street Executive
Michael C. Laracy Harry V. Swayme III Karen Rogers
Advocate for Children and Families Football Executive and Player Seth Dvorin Distinguished
Young Alumni Award

Television Journalist

FRANK CARVILL (LC'75): New Jersey National Guardsman Killed in Iraq. Complete bio.

GINA COLLINS CUMMINGS (LC'84), was active during college with the New Jersey Public Interest Group (NJPIRG) and continued her work with PIRG after graduation. Her activities in organizing students led her to be the founder of an organization called Green Corps. This programs goal was to train aspiring young activists to become grassroots environmental organizers. While organizing Green Corps, she was also the USPIRG Field Director and ran environmental campaigns in all 50 states. After ten years with Green Corps, she became director of Constituency Outreach for Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). In that capacity, she has developed and implemented the strategic plans for a number of PHR campaigns, including Health Action AIDS, the US Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds and the Campaign for Womens Health in Afghanistan. Most recently, her activities focus on an international effort to fight AIDS and an effort to abolish the death penalty for juveniles in the United States.

EDWARD E. JOHNSON, JR. (LC'79), received his BA degree in Psychology from Livingston College in 1979 and subsequently attended New York University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1983. Edward took an unusual route to Wall Street. Specifically, he went via Fifth Avenue, as in Saks Fifth Avenue, where he was one of its youngest managers. During a summer internship at Salomon Brothers, he was captivated by sales and trading. His skills landed him a full-time job at Salomon and, in 1989, at Merrill Lynch & Co. He was a first vice president of Merrill Lynch's Managed Solutions Group. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Advent Capital Management, LLC. Black Enterprise Magazine named him to its list of The Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street in 2002. He assists his alma mater by serving on the Livingston College Dean's Advisory Council.

MICHAEL C. LARACY (LC'74), successfully transferred his bachelor's degree in urban planning and policy analysis into a 25-year career of leadership in human services reform in state government and in national philanthropy. His work focuses on income security for low-income children and families. As of 2016, he is the Director of Policy Reform and Advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland. Laracy has led multi-foundation efforts and has a record of successfully overseeing and directing complex system and policy innovations. For example, Laracy's efforts resulted in the crafting of new income security and support systems for low-income working families, including income tax reform most notably the $80 billion expansion of the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit in 2001. Prior to joining the Foundation in 1994, Laracy was Assistant Commissioner for Policy, Planning and Program Evaluation in the New Jersey Department of Human Services, where he served for 17 years.

HARRY V. SWAYNE III (LC'90), enjoyed a brilliant career as a defensive tackle for the Scarlet Knights from 1983-1986. His best season came as a senior in 1986, when he registered 51 tackles, five sacks, nine tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him in the seventh round of the NFL draft in 1987. In 1991, he signed with the San Diego Chargers, with whom he started as left tackle in Super Bowl XXIX. Swayne then signed with the Denver Broncos in 1997, where he won two Super Bowls. He subsequently went on to play for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999-2000 and won another Super Bowl. He most recently played for the Miami Dolphins. Last year, Swayne was inducted into the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame. He is currently the Team Chaplain for the Chicago Bears. He is also a missionary for Athletics in Action, which is affiliated with Campus Crusades for Christ. The LAA also presented a special Alumni Achievement Award to Swayne on November 2, 2002, at Rutgers Stadium, during halftime of the Rutgers vs. Miami football game.

2004 Seth Dvorin Distinguished Young Alumni Award

KAREN ROGERS (LC'92), an honors graduate of Livingston College's Class of 1992. In addition to being valedictorian of her communication class, she was the class speaker at her commencement convocation and is listed in "Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities." Rogers was a 1992-93 Rotary International Scholar and studied at the Graduate Centre for Journalism Studies at the University of Wales. She is currently the weekday weather and traffic anchor for the morning newscast on WPVI-TV (6ABC) Action News in Philadelphia, one of the most widely viewed programs in the country. Rogers joined 6ABC in 1996 as a reporter and producer for AM/Philadelphia. She had previously worked at 6ABC from WHSP-TV in Vineland, NJ, where she was a host and producer of a weekly public affairs program and the monthly show "Congressional Reports." Rogers also anchored daily news cut-ins and filed feature reports for WHSP-TV. Prior to WHSP-TV, she was a features reporter for several cable stations in southern New Jersey. She co-hosts "Philly on Wheels," and reports for the 6ABC/Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 4th of July Parade and First Union Bike Race. In addition to her work at 6ABC, Rogers is active in supporting young people. A first runner-up to Miss New Jersey in 1994, she often hosts or judges local pageants. Rogers has also been active in the fight against child abuse, and has taught elementary school students empowerment skills for reporting and preventing abuse.

2002 Inductees

On Saturday, October 12, 2002, LAA honored the following Distinguished Alumni:

Thomas F. Daley Susan Kille
District Attorney; Judge;
Adjunct Professor of Law
(died in 2015)
Newspaper Journalist
David A. Laskow Steven D. Plofker
Surgeon; Associate Professor of Surgery Real Estate Developer; Attorney

THOMAS F. DALEY (LC'75): District Attorney; Judge; Adjunct Professor of Law (died in 2015). Complete bio.

SUSAN KILLE (LC'74), editor of the in-house wire service connecting 14 regional newspapers of The New York Times Company. Kille graduated from Livingston College with a major in Human Communications. She was drawn to Livingston because it promised a diverse student body and a social vision that didn't exist at the South Jersey shore. While in college, she was an intern at the Rutgers News Service and also worked at the Targum. She began working for newspapers when she landed a summer job in 1970 at her hometown newspaper, the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger. She has also worked for The Press in Atlantic City and The Morning Star in Wilmington, N.C. Kille had been away from the campus for more than 25 years when Dean Arnold G. Hyndman invited her to join his alumni advisory committee. "I like to arrive early for meetings and walk through Tillett Hall, which was one of the first buildings on campus and where just about everything happened during my college days," she says. "I see pieces of the past, but also the activity of the present. Then I walk into Quad 1 and look up at my old window and think -- in words that resonated around those walls in the 70s -- 'what a long, strange trip it's been'." Kille is married to Tom Sawyer (yes, that's his real name) and they live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. They have two daughters, Lucy and Eva.

DAVID A. LASKOW, M.D. (LC'77), Chief of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Service at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at Rutgers (formerly UMDNJ) Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Prior to joining RWJUH, he was the Director of the Division of Transplantation at Allegheny University Hospital--Hahnemann Division. His experience also includes appointments at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Laskow is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Physicians, and the Association for Academic Surgery. He has conducted fourteen innovative clinical trials advancing the art and science of kidney transplantation, and has been published in over 40 peer-reviewed journals and books. He resides with his wife and two children in Skillman, NJ.

STEVEN D. PLOFKER (LC'78), real estate developer and attorney. Plofker earned an MA in Urban Planning/Policy Analysis at Harvard and a JD from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark. Among his many community activities, he has served as a member of the Livingston College Dean's Advisory Board, Co-Chair of the Mountainside Hospital Campaign in Montclair, is currently Chair of the Finance Committee for the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, is active in the Montclair Economic Development Corporation, and is a Board Member of the Overseers Committee on University Resources at Harvard. Plofker is a real estate developer who specializes in historic renovations, adaptive re-use of older structures and sensitive solutions to community projects. He is also a practicing attorney in Montclair and is a member of the bar in New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and the US District Court. In 1991, Plofker was a co-founder and Senior Director of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, a company that grew from a collection of ten lipsticks into full-line global competitor with products distributed in over 300 stores. Plofker later negotiated the sale of the company to Estee Lauder, Inc.

2000 Inductees

At a brunch on Saturday, September 9, 2000, LAA honored four Distinguished Alumni:

Riki Jacobs Clifton R. Lacy
Director of AIDS Support Organization;
Health Educator (died in 2009)
Medical Leader;
New Jersey State Health Commissioner
John S. Lipori Alfred E. Ramey, Jr.
Banking Executive
University Counsel;
New Jersey Assistant Attorney General

Revised April 27, 2016