Notable Alumni

What's one way to see the legacy of a great university? Watch what its alumni do. Here are just a few of the Duke alumni who are making a difference in the world today.


Tim Cook

Melissa Bernstein ’87: Cofounder, Melissa & Doug toys

Lisa Borders '79: President, WNBA

Martin Dempsey AM’84: Former chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chad Dickerson 93: CEO, Etsy

Amy Hood 94: CFO, Microsoft

Lesa Kennedy ’83: CEO, International Speedway Corporation

Sean McManus '77: President, CBS Sports

Adam Silver 84: Commissioner, NBA


Melinda French Gates

Elizabeth Dole ’58: Former U.S. senator, cabinet member and president of the American Red Cross

Sylvia Earle AM56, PhD66: Former chief scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Time magazine’s first Hero for the Planet

Paul Farmer 82: Physician and cofounder of the global-health organization Partners in Health

Neal Keny-Guyer ’76: CEO, Mercy Corps

Shannon Huffman Polson ’93: Former U.S. Army Apache Helicopter Pilot and Founder of the Grit Institute

David M. Rubenstein ’70: Philanthropist and cofounder of The Carlyle Group

Mayassa al-Thani ’05: Chairperson, Qatar Museums Authority, daughter of the Emir of Qatar


Ibtihaj Muhammad

Alana Beard ’04: Four-time WNBA All-Star

Grant Hill '94: Seven-time NBA All-Star. Turner Sports and NBA-TV broadcaster

Nancy Hogshead-Makar ’86: Won three gold medals in swimming, 1984 Olympics

Abby Johnston ’13: Silver medalist in diving, 2012 Olympics

Nick McCrory 14: Bronze medalist in diving at 2012 Olympics

Becca Ward 12: Won two medals in fencing at 2008 Olympics


Ge Wang

Kimberly Blackwell 89: Duke professor and oncologist, pioneer in breast-cancer research

Dr. William Kaelin Jr. '79, M.D.'83: Winner of the 2016 Lasker Prize for cancer research; 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Josh Kun '93: Cultural historian and winner of 2016 MacArthur genius grant

Kathryn Minshew ’08: Founder of The Muse

Dylan Smith 08: Cofounder and CFO,

Luis von Ahn 00: Inventor of CAPTCHA Internet security system; MacArthur genius grant winner

Blake Wilson BSE74: Duke professor who co-developed the cochlear implant; won 2013 Lasker Award for clinical research


Retta Sirleaf

Amy Gravitt'95: Executive vice president of comedy, HBO

Ken Jeong 90: Comedian, TV and film actor (The Ken Jeong Show, The Hangover, Knocked Up)

Martin Kratt ’89: Co-host of PBS children’s show Wild Kratts

Mike Posner 09: Singer/songwriter

Charles Randolph-Wright 78: Director of Broadway musicals (Motown: The Musical)

Ryan White ’04: Documentary filmmaker (Good Ol’ Freda, The Case Against 8)

Robert Yeoman 73: Cinematographer (Drugstore Cowboy, The Royal Tenenbaums, Bridesmaids, The Grand Budapest Hotel)


Judy Woodruff

Dan Abrams 88: ABC News chief legal analyst and co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline

Jay Bilas ’86, JD’92: ESPN sports analyst

John Harwood 78: Chief Washington correspondent for CNBC, political writer for The New York Times

Nia-Malika Henderson 96: Senior political correspondent, CNN

JJ Ramberg '92: MSNBC host and anchor (Your Business)


Other Notables

Current Members of U.S. Congress

Mo Brooks ’75: U.S. House of Representatives (Alabama)

Shelley Moore Capito ’75: U.S. Senate (West Virginia)

Rand Paul MD’88: U.S. Senate (Kentucky)

Scott Peters '80: U.S. House of Representatives (California)

Mike Levin JD'05 U.S. House of Representatives (California)


Heads of state

Richard Nixon JD’37: 37th president of the United States

Ricardo Lagos AM’63, PhD’66: President of Chile, 2000-2006


Nobel Prize winners

Hans Dehmelt Postdoc 1955: 1989 Nobel Prize winner in physics

Dr. William Kaelin Jr. '79, M.D.'83: 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Brian Kobilka Postdoc 1987: Co-winner (with Duke professor Robert Lefkowitz) of 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Robert Richardson PhD66: 1996 Nobel Prize winner in physics

Charles Townes AM37: 1964 Nobel Prize winner in physics; winner of 2005 Templeton Prize


Names from history

Ian Barbour ’47: Won 1999 Templeton Prize for study of science and religion

Les Brown ’36: Musician, inducted into Big Band & Jazz Hall of Fame

David Hartman ’56: First host of Good Morning America

Sonny Jurgensen ’57: Hall of Fame NFL quarterback

Juanita Kreps AM'44, PhD'48: U.S. Secretary of Commerce, 1977-79

Clarence “Ace” Parker ’37: Played professional baseball and football (1937-1941), inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972

Reynolds Price ’55: Poet, novelist and former Duke professor of English

William Styron ’47: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and essayist