The 2020 Forever Duke award winners

The year 2020 changed the world as we know it. These Duke alumni showed us that in the midst of unspeakable difficulty, we can lift up each other, come together, make change that has the power to change us all. The Duke Alumni Changemaker Award is a one-time award honoring individuals across schools who made a difference for their communities and the world in pandemic year 2020. 

Shana S. Abraham ’12 The daughter of Indian immigrants to the U.S., Abraham wrote Rise: How Empowering Women Elevates Us All after experiencing societal norms she describes as discriminating against her gender. She wrote the book to create accessible strategies to help everyone promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. Her mantra: “Anyone can be a changemaker: You just need the right tools.”

Todra L. Anderson ’87 As the CMO of Memorial Hospital Miramar, Florida, Anderson led more than 1,500 physicians and allied health professionals in the fight against COVID-19, including special teams that worked to ensure safety and excellence were upheld. Most notably, Anderson worked with her city’s African American community to build trust, talk about the vaccine, and empower informed decisionmaking.

Darin Buxbaum B.S.E. ’03 As stay-at-home orders were enacted across the U.S., Buxbaum got to work. He set up phone trees to connect isolated seniors served by Wider Circle, a community health organization he cofounded in Redwood City, California; established a free COVID-19 hotline for seniors to ask questions about the virus; and partnered with Uber, food banks, and chefs to provide weekly food, hygiene supply, and medication deliveries. The result was more than 1,500 vulnerable seniors receiving 82 tons of food and supplies and 180,000 meals.

Kathryn S. Crutcher ’00 As a Duke history major and former teacher, Crutcher set out to share a more representative history of the U.S. than she could find in current textbooks and children’s books. She founded Shout Mouse Press (SMP), a nonprofit writing and publishing program committed to amplifying unheard voices. In 2020, Crutcher developed a mentoring program for Black teenage writers, who wrote children’s books about 2020’s dual pandemics—COVID-19 and racial injustice.

Bianca M. Forde ’05 In 2020, Forde leveraged her position as a federal prosecutor to become an activist challenging judicial-system policies that disproportionately affect communities of color. She organized a national movement to stand against inequitable policies, conducted trainings on how prosecutorial discretion can and must be used to rebalance the scales of justice, and wrote a memoir about her experience: Prosecuted Prosecutor: A Memoir & Blueprint for Prosecutor-led Criminal Justice Reform.

Magan Thigpen Gonzales-Smith M.P.P. ’14 As the first executive director of the nonprofit Durham Public Schools Foundation, Gonzales-Smith mobilized more than 1,000 community members and partnered with more than twenty-five restaurants to provide more than 700,000 meals to children and families. In Durham public schools, more than half of school-aged children typically receive meal assistance.

Matthew Hepburn B.S.E. ’92, M.D. ’96 Hepburn, a former Army physician, has spent much of his career preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic, working in policy and clinical trial roles. As the vaccine development lead for Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s effort to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market quickly, Hepburn worked closely with Dr. Anthony Fauci and led a vaccine-management team of more than 100 in six separate vaccine-development efforts valued at $6 billion.

Shandiin H. Herrera ’19 A 2019 Terry Sanford Leadership awardee, Herrera has paved a path of public service. In 2020, she joined Lead For America to work as a policy analyst with 110 Navajo tribal governments aspart of the Navajo Nation. When the pandemic shut down offices, the chapters were unable to allocate funds for relief despite having a budget; many community members were left without access to basic necessities. With the women of her community, Herrera raised more than $17 million through crowdfunding to benefit the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has provided weekly distribution of food, personal protection equipment, and cleaning supplies, and will help establish a nonprofit for sustained community assistance such as ensuring the Navajo Nation has access to clean water, Internet access, and affordable housing.

Michael Johnson ’04 As an assistant immunobiology professor at the University of Arizona, Johnson spearheaded efforts to create the National Summer Undergraduate Research Project during a COVID-19 summer when many internships were canceled. The initiative created rewarding remote summer research opportunities for 250 BIPOC undergraduate students in the microbial sciences, including the opportunity for students to be mentored by experts, attend professional-development seminars, and present their summer research via a virtual platform.

Grace C. Kohn B.S.E. ’14 In early 2020, Kohn cofounded SheSyndicate, a nonprofit organization in partnership with the UN Capital Development Fund and Artesian Capital to educate, mentor, and advocate for the next generation of female entrepreneurs, investors, directors, and senior leaders, especially in STEM. In addition, Kohn launched TechSavvy, a program that pairs unemployed women with mentor partners to provide skill-building and networking opportunities for the virtual workforce.

Rani E. Kumar M.E.M. ’21 In 2020, following the death of George Floyd, Kumar, a former action-minded Peace Corps volunteer, created a petition to press for racial-justice action at her alma mater, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She launched a collaborative drafting process, soliciting student and alumni input, and provided detailed recommendations that drew upon research from Duke and similar peer institutions. Recommendations covered BIPOC representation at Nicholas; a curriculum audit creating a process for reporting and addressing issues of discrimination and racism; anti-racism training; and others—many of which have been implemented. 

BEYOND DUKE AWARDEES recognizing alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to their community, their country, or to society at large. Carla McGuire Davis M.D. ’96 | Patricia Deza ’16 | Amy E. Hepburn ’97, M.P.P. ’01 | Lucas T. Metropulos ’15 | Michael P. Scharf ’85, J.D. ’88 | Howard John Wesley B.S.E. ’94

CHARLES A. DUKES AWARDEES recognizing alumni volunteers who serve in Duke leadership roles and have devoted themselves to extraordinary, long-term efforts that help Duke further its mission: R. Derek Bandeen ’84, M.B.A. ’85 | D. Michael Bennett ’77 | Valerie Thompson Broadie J.D. ’79 | Janice A. Gault ’87, M.D. ’91 | Thomas A. Natelli B.S.E. ’82

FOREVER DUKE AWARDEES recognizing alumni for excellent recent volunteer service to Duke, Duke Alumni, and other alumni groups. Individual Awardees: Caitlin N. Alcala M.B.A. ’17, M.P.P. ‘17 | Danal A. Blessis B.S.E. ’82 | Lorne V. Bycoff ’06 | Rosalinda C. Canizares ’04, D.P.T. ’07 | Hosea Chang ’03 | Megan R. Cheney ’10 | Jennifer Wong Christensen ’96 | Megan Tooley Director B.S.E. ’08 | Heath B. Freeman ’02 | Stephanie L. Gloster B.S.E. ’96 | John Hillen ’88 | Robyn M. Levy ’84 | Gregory D. Marzullo M.B.A. ’90 | Nelson E. Matthews B.S.E. ’85 | Paige Stribling Morrison ’92 | Teresa D. Rosenberger ’15 | Lauren Garson Sanders ’07 | Marian Brown Sprague ’84 | Michele Matteo Strauss ’01 | Clifford J. Zatz J.D. ’79 Group Awardees: Group 1: Class of 2015 5th Year Reunion Class Chair Edgar E. Baldridge IV ’15 | Nicholas G. Balkissoon ’15 | Charlie C. Nucci ’15 | Alexandra E. Cox ’15 | John M. Dickinson B.S.E. ’15 | Jordan Dyslin ’15 | James A. Ferguson ’15 | Christopher G. Geary ’15 | Natalie M. Geisler ’15 | Audrey L. Gibson ’15 | Arthur R. Gosnell ’15 | Jacqueline J. Hong ’15 | Christopher M. Kenny ’15 | Fred M. Kirby ’15 | Nicole E. Krantz ’15 | Gregory Lahood ’15 | Mollie McVay Laverack ’15 | Bret S. Lesavoy ’15 |Ray M. Li ’15 | William U. McClendon ’15 | Madison W. Moyle ’15 | Michael D. Mussafer ’15 | Max Orenstein B.S.E. ’15 | Tre’Ellis T. Scott ’15 | Hannah G. Stephanz ’15 | Kahsa Teum ’15 | Graham G. Vehovec ’15 | Samuel S. Waters ’15 | Caroline Conklin Zafirovski ’15 | Andrew M. Pearson ’15 (posthumously given) Group 2: Forever Duke Trivia Chairs Stewart Day ’11, J.D. ’16 | Abigail Labella Ph.D. ’17 | Amy Frees Martinez M.S. ’15, Ph.D. ’16 | Matthew D. Tiberii B.S.E. ’15 | Group 3: Nicholas School of the Environment Nic@Nite Event Planners James L. Fuechsel ’76 | Dorothy D. Kee ’74 Group 4: Duke School of Nursing School Volunteers Brett T. Williams ’81 | Marianne Tango Williams B.S.N. ’81 

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