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Slideshow | Photography by Tommy Leonardi C’89

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Merit Awards

Creative Spirit Award | Stephen Goff Ar’62 PAR’91 PAR’94

In the performing arts, it is often said that “all the world’s a stage.” As a vocation and life pursuit, you have had tremendous success bringing the stage to the world. From your student days to your 22 years as Managing Director of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts to your ongoing contributions to arts and culture in Philadelphia, your talents and energy have enriched Penn and all people who delight in live performances.

While pursuing a B.A. in architecture at Penn Arts & Sciences, you immersed yourself in undergraduate life. You joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. You also played in the Penn Band. With the iconic Mask and Wig comedy troupe, you and your fellow funnymen would represent the Red and Blue on the road while touring an original show every year. The club would become an enduring passion. As Mask and Wig’s Undergraduate Chair, you provided leadership, which you continue to provide as its highly regarded historian.

After a brief stint with an architecture firm, you returned to Penn, serving in positions including Executive Producer of Penn Players and Assistant to the Dean of Students. The Friars Senior Society named you an Honorary Member in 1974 in recognition of your leadership in strengthening Penn’s performing arts programs. In 1978, the Penn Glee Club followed suit, an homage to your “extraordinary devotion” and “exceptional deeds.”

The same year, you became Managing Director of the Annenberg Center. Your dedication to the arts at your alma mater would result in significant growth and forward momentum for the still-young venue. In shaping the Annenberg Center’s programming, you booked performances that were new and risk-taking, a legacy that lives on today at this vibrant regional institution.

Under your leadership, the Center launched its acclaimed dance program; partnered with professional groups such as the Philadelphia Drama Guild and the American Music Theater Festival; and presented companies including Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival at Lincoln Center and the New Vic Theatre of London, England. In 1985, you and Catherine “Kaki” Marshall CW’45 founded the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival, which earns continual acclaim for providing memorable experiences for children and families.

Beyond Penn, your prominence in the cultural landscape includes serving as a Board Member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Performing Arts League of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Theatre Caravan. We are proud that one of our own is called to important roles including serving on panels for Pennsylvania’s and New Jersey’s Councils on the Arts and for the Pew Charitable Trusts’ 1993 Philadelphia Repertory Development Initiative, which awarded grants to dancers and dance companies in the Philadelphia region.

Ever loyal to Penn, you remain supportive of today’s student’s experiences, including steadfast support for the Penn Band, the Mask and Wig Club Scholarship, and the Penn Museum. You stay connected in many ways, including returning to campus for Homecoming, tuning in to online events, and, of course, your incredible streak of 63 straight years attending opening night of the Mask and Wig spring show. You have been described as the “heart and soul of the club.” There is even a tradition called “Goff Night,” where you and fellow Mask and Wig alumni buy out the house for one of the group’s annual performances.

There is a well-known Mask and Wig song titled “There’s Only Room For One.” Yet, you have dedicated yourself to creating memorable, mirthful, experiences for all. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Annenberg Center, we also honor your vision and leadership, which laid a foundation for a bright future.

For every way that you help bring the stage to the world, we are proud to present you with the Penn Alumni Creative Spirit Award for 2021.

Faculty Award of Merit | Al Filreis

For more than 35 years, many have tried to articulate what makes you such a special professor, mentor, colleague, and friend. Your classes are described as “life-changing experiences.” Fellow faculty members marvel that you are “a genius of institutional imagination” who “built a writing and literary community from the ground up.” The term “force of nature” comes up often. We think of it a little differently: Al Filreis is a force of humanity.

Certainly, you are a force in the humanities. From your arrival at Penn in 1985, you dedicated yourself to creating a home for writers, beginning in the classroom and expanding to the community. You earned a named professorship, becoming the Kelly Family Professor of English. As Director for the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, you brought Penn’s writing programs together under one academic umbrella.

You took the lead in acquiring the archives of the pioneering online poetry publication Jacket, which lives on today as Jacket2 and helps students gain experience analyzing, editing, and publishing content. With Charles Bernstein, you initiated PennSound, a visionary undertaking to create and collect recordings of poets reading their work. The project has been acclaimed as an essential contribution to global arts and a point of pride for Penn alumni and scholars.

A true innovator in education, you continually take on new ventures that challenge traditional pedagogy and make alumni proud to be connected to an institution with such a forward-thinking force on the faculty. When SAS introduced the 60-Second Lectures, you, naturally, said yes to an opportunity to take learning out of the classroom and into the community. Numerous well-deserved accolades have come your way: the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award and the Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching at Penn, the inaugural Coursera Outstanding Educator Award, and the 2000 Carnegie Foundation Pennsylvania Professor of the Year award. You were also named one of the Top Ten Tech Innovators in Higher Education by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2013.

Of course, when thinking of your contributions to campus and Penn’s alumni community, Kelly Writers House (KWH) rises to the top. As Faculty Director, you envisioned KWH as a space where “ideas were taken seriously for their aesthetics and intellectual power” no matter one’s background or academic standing. This egalitarian idea has led to more than 25 years of enlightening events, family-style dinners, and diverse discussions between prominent artists and the Penn community. There is sure to be at least one person at the annual Capstone who recounts how you and Kelly Writers House have changed their life. At the center of it all is your energy and encouragement, yielding generations of fiercely faithful alumni.

Those alumni, and alumni around the world, remain connected to KWH, thanks to your personal touch. You built a network of more than 25,000 loyal friends, while inviting all to join readings, panels, and discussions that reveal what makes KWH so unique to Penn. A night with Al Filreis is always a hot ticket, including poetry jams in New York and vibrant conversations at regional Penn Clubs. An early foray into internet reading groups called “Alumverse” became the KWH Alumni Book Clubs, which have seen participation from far and wide. And your acclaimed Coursera course, Modern and Contemporary Poetry, has expanded and enriched the Penn community around the globe, especially for alumni engaged in lifelong learning.

Your influence has impacted countless lives. Your vision and drive have transformed the arts of writing and expression at Penn. Your engaging style and down-to-earth personality have breathed life into old texts and new teaching platforms. And by encouraging people to be passionately engaged in learning while being their best, most authentic selves, you have built a community that is inclusive, invigorating, and integral to Penn.

Al, you are truly a force of humanity—and a force in the humanities—and that is why Penn Alumni is proud to present you with the Faculty Award of Merit for 2021.

Young Alumni Award | Ashley Zampini Ritter Nu’07 GNu’08 Gr’18

From the moment you set foot on Penn’s campus, you had a special kind of focus. Of course, you were concerned with getting the most out of your education as possible, but that was not all. Even when Penn was still brand new to you, you found ways to help the students who followed in your footsteps—those generations of nurses to come. Your dedication continued long after you graduated. As a student and now as an alumna, your commitment to advancing the profession of nursing, your insightful contributions to public health, and your steadfast engagement have helped create new opportunities for countless graduates.

When you started at Penn Nursing as part of the Estelle M. Sands and George H. Sands Nursing Scholars program, you worked with staff and shared your insights as a student to help revitalize and grow the program, bringing your fresh perspective and energy to the effort. Since then, you remained a Penn nurse through and through. You completed your bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree at Penn Nursing, and now you show your compassion and care for your patients every day in your research and practice as a nurse practitioner focused on the delivery of health care to older adults and as a postdoctoral fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program.

Proof of your commitment to the next generation of Penn nurses was your decision to join the Penn Nursing Alumni Board even before you finished your own studies. Beginning your service as a student representative to the board in 2009, you brought important insights, and you found an effective way to make an impact. You became an alumni member in 2011 and showed your skills as both a visionary and practical leader, serving as Vice President from 2013 to 2015 and as President from 2015 to 2018. You brought alumni together by working with regional clubs to promote them as a point of contact with Penn Nursing alumni, and you helped bring your undergraduate class back for their 10th reunion.

To ensure prospective nursing students would be interviewed by people who would know their path, you spearheaded alumni support of the Virtual Interview Program, increasing the number of Penn Nursing alumni interviewing prospective students. This new option for alumni interviews made sure that prospective students would benefit from the insights of a nurse who understood their career path and served as a valuable model for the future when COVID-19 prevented in-person interviewing.

You brought that same desire to make a difference into your professional work as well. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, you put your clinical skills, your research expertise, and your passion for helping others to good use, joining an effort started by Penn nurses and others on social media to provide accessible, evidence-based information about the virus on social media. Garnering more than 40,000 followers, the project let you and others educate the public—while embracing a sense of humor—at a time when trusted information was vital.

Your vision has always been informed by what was possible, and what you and others—together—could make possible. A member of the Penn Nursing staff once asked you how you managed to get so much done. At the time, you were a doctoral student, the President of the Alumni Board, conducting your own research and clinical work, and a mom to young children. “I just take it one day at a time,” you said. “I see what I have to get done, then I do it.” Your many accomplishments as a nurse and a volunteer leader reflect that focus and drive.

For your engagement with Penn, as a student and an alumna; for your dedication to strengthening the academic experiences of future Nursing students; and for your efforts to inform and instruct during a global health emergency, in the best tradition of Penn nurses, we are honored to present you with the Young Alumni Award for 2021.

Alumni Award of Merit | Judith L. Bollinger WG’81 GL’24 PAR’14

Your climb in the investment world has taken you from New York to London to Singapore, and to the pinnacle of international finance. But no matter how far from Locust Walk you travel, you have remained, proudly and steadfastly, a citizen of Penn. A true ambassador for the Red and Blue, you have generously shared your time, expertise, and support with places at Penn that speak to your heart—most notably the Wharton School and the Penn Libraries.

After graduating from Kalamazoo College, you decided that business was the path for you. Happily, you chose Wharton, where you earned your MBA in 1981. From there, you began a distinguished career that took you to Janus and Credit Suisse First Boston, and then to Goldman Sachs, first in New York and later in London. In 1999, you joined ABG Securities, where you rose to the position of CEO. In that role, you executed the firm’s merger with Sundal Collier and went on to serve as Chair of ABG Sundal Collier Holding ASA. Today, you continue to lead as the CEO of Judico Capital, Pte. Ltd.

Even as you rose through the ranks in a demanding field, you always had time for Penn. Grateful for the Wharton education that set your career in motion, you generously shared your time and talents with the school. After your move to London, you joined Wharton’s Executive Board for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Not surprisingly, you were invited to be one of the first members of Penn’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Leadership Committee. You continued to serve Wharton as a member of its Board of Advisors and later, the Executive Board for Asia.

Your outstanding leadership made you a natural candidate for the University’s Board of Trustees, where you lent your experience to various committees, including Budget and Finance; Student Life; Investment; Local, National and Global Engagement; and Honorary Degrees and Awards.

But business was not your only interest. Indeed, as someone who began her education studying literature, you retained a passion for the arts and sciences and developed a great curiosity about digital knowledge preservation. That made you a perfect fit for the Penn Libraries. You joined the Penn Libraries’ Board in 2010 and rose to the position of Chair three years later, where you drove fundraising to new heights and helped the Libraries achieve ambitious strategic goals focused on elevating the critical role of libraries in a research university.

Your philanthropy in support of Penn has been as deep and wide-ranging as your engagement. Eager to share the gift of a Wharton education, you and your husband established a scholarship for undergraduates and a fellowship for MBA candidates, both with a preference for international students. Your commitment to Penn students took many forms: You provided financial aid for doctoral candidates at both Wharton and the University, established a COVID-19 fellowship for MBA students, and shared generous funding for innovative student projects through the President’s Engagement Prize. Your philanthropic commitments also extended to the Penn Libraries, where you established the Bollinger Fellowship in Library Innovation and provided leadership support for the renovation of the Biotech Commons. You also rallied your fellow members of the Libraries board and the Orrery Society Council to create and endow the H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries position.

Your proven talent for promoting alumni engagement made you a valued member of volunteer groups all over campus, including the Penn Alumni Council, the Penn Alumni Board, and the Wharton Development Committee.

You have also taken on the role—unofficial but priceless—of representing Penn abroad, welcoming visitors from campus, hosting events, and engaging members of the Quaker community in any city you call home.

We could not hope for a better ambassador for the Red and Blue. With gratitude for your inspired philanthropy, your commitment to promoting access and innovation, and your dedication to bringing Quakers together, we are delighted to present you with the Alumni Award of Merit for 2021.

Alumni Award of Merit | Ghislain Gouraige Jr. C’80 PAR’08 PAR’22

You once said, “It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can always be connected to Penn.” As one of our most vibrant volunteers in the Sunshine State, you not only embody this sentiment—you cultivate the idea among friends and fellow alumni. Whether hosting events, bringing Penn knowledge to new audiences, or providing wise counsel, you are widely praised for your ability to communicate, to create connections, and to celebrate the power of education as a path to greater opportunities for all.

You thrived at Penn, earning a degree in political science, with honors, and gaining induction into the Onyx Senior Honor Society. The diverse, eye-opening experiences you had at Penn helped you set your path, while fueling your passion for advancing formative educational and experiential opportunities for young people. After earning your law degree, you embarked on a successful career, including positions at Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup before launching your own wealth management fund at UBS. You engaged vigorously in civic life in Miami, earning accolades and high-profile appointments as you addressed causes as varied as housing equity and Haitian affairs. Over the years, you always remembered that Penn was integral to your future, so you chose to become integral to ours.

A conversation at the Miami Scholarship Gala in 2003 sparked nearly two decades of involvement. First, you joined the Florida Regional Advisory Board—where you would serve a year as President—and the Penn Alumni Interview Program. From the start, your ability to connect people to Penn—whether prospective students or alumni rekindling their pride—has been undeniable.

Your engagement skyrocketed. You joined the Parent Leadership Committee in 2006 when your daughter Gaelle C’08 was a student, and again in 2018 as your son Gilles C’22 started his Penn journey. Also in 2006, you joined the Penn Libraries Board, helping to identify and expand opportunities for new audiences to experience Penn’s tremendous trove of learning materials and special collections.

Another key to your alumni leadership is helping Penn uphold and enhance our commitment to inclusion. Recognizing a growing opportunity to engage more people of color in the life of the University, you joined the James Brister Society (JBS) in 2013, becoming vital to its revitalization. Your enthusiastic and thoughtful involvement helped JBS reaffirm its priorities, energize and expand its membership base, and encourage alumni of color to find leadership roles across the University.

Feeling the strength of Penn’s community, you wanted to do more. In 2018, you became a member of the Penn Museum Board. With characteristic verve and vision, you advocated for spreading Penn knowledge, linking the Museum’s Learning Programs with distance learning capabilities developed at Florida schools—including the Ransom Everglades School, where you served as Trustee. Here in Philadelphia, your leadership support for “Unpacking the Past” helps the Museum continue to invite more than 6,000 schoolchildren each year.

Penn’s global community grows not just by numbers, but by nurturing paths that create opportunities for all. You have led both by example and by encouraging young people, fellow alumni, and newfound friends to follow their passions, use their time wisely, and share their talents for something bigger than themselves. That is the essence of building a community, and you are essential to ours.

As your legacy as a Penn parent, alumni leader, and a masterful connector continues to grow, Penn Alumni is honored to award you the Alumni Award of Merit for 2021.

Alumni Award of Merit | Michael J. Kowalski W’74 PAR’04 PAR’10

You have always been someone who embraces the concept of stewardship. Whether it relates to learning, to our environment, or to touchstones of our culture, you have worked diligently to preserve and protect our most valuable resources for the future so that the next generation—and the next, and the next—can learn from and appreciate them. Your lifelong commitment to stewardship has always been reflected in your service to Penn.

You graduated from the Wharton School in 1974, earned an M.B.A. from Harvard, and joined Tiffany & Co. in 1983, beginning your long career with the legendary jewelry company. You rose to the position of C.E.O. and Chairman of the Board before retiring in 2015.

Penn has been the fortunate beneficiary of your philanthropy and business expertise for more than 30 years. You participated in the development of M.B.A. courses that bridged the Wharton programs in marketing and legal studies, and you were a highly anticipated guest lecturer in Wharton’s marketing courses. Fittingly for someone who led a company responsible for creating some of the most beautiful treasures on earth, your volunteer service to the University brought you to the Penn Museum, home of some of the world’s most notable cultural treasures.

Needless to say, you understood the gravity of being custodians of such important artifacts and of sharing that knowledge with others—perhaps even more than most. Over the course of 15 years as a member of the Penn Museum’s Board of Advisors—many of which you served as Chair—you offered thoughtful advice and wise counsel to multiple Museum directors. In reflecting on your service, they remembered your approach as direct and pragmatic: find out what most urgently needed to be done and then ensure that it was achieved.

Your accomplishments as Board Chair were impressive, to say the least. You were instrumental in engineering the “digital spine” of the Museum that made its renowned collections accessible to scholars and antiquity enthusiasts around the globe. You also facilitated the creation of the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials, which teaches students the scientific techniques and digital methods that form the backbone of modern archaeology.

In addition to helping advance the Museum’s academic and research capacity, you also helped transform the very building itself. During your service as Chair, you provided leadership and counsel throughout the renovation of three wings of the building, the opening of new galleries across the Museum’s entire Main Level, and the reimagining of the Museum’s public spaces to become more welcoming and accessible. And as the structure that houses the Penn Museum has grown and changed, its stature as a global center for the study of archaeology has increased in kind.

While your impact on the Penn Museum was incalculable, your volunteer leadership was not confined to that corner of campus alone. As a member of the Board of Trustees, you served with distinction from 2009 to 2018, and you continue that connection to the University as an Emeritus Trustee. You are loyal to the Red and Blue and shared that passion with your family, including your children, Amanda C’04 and Adam C’10, who both graduated from Penn.

For being a steward during a time of remarkable change; for your wisdom, generosity, and leadership in helping the University envision the future of the Penn Museum; and for the good humor that endeared you to everyone you worked with, we are proud to present you with the Alumni Award of Merit for 2021.

Alumni Award of Merit | Clemson Smith Muñiz C’79

Committed and charismatic, you used your voice to leave a lasting impression at Penn from the moment you arrived. With wisdom and time, you evolved into a judicious, engaged alumnus. Your dedication to amplifying the voices of the Latino community and making a Penn education possible for students who might not have imagined such a reality is truly commendable.

As you earned a bachelor of arts in history, you began making history before you left campus. You have said that joining The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP) was a transcendental period in your life—the moment when you decided to become a journalist. Eventually, you became the first Latino Sports Co-Editor of the DP. You even found time to play wide receiver on the sprint football team and broadcast at WXPN-AM. Sports fans everywhere are better for that life-changing decision.

A pioneer in sports radio broadcasting, you have had the distinct honor of calling two Super Bowls and countless Monday Night Football and Major League Baseball games. As the Executive Editor of La Vida Baseball, you created a digital home for Latino baseball fans to unite around their passion for the sport. Beyond that, your company, Smith Muñiz Productions, helps bring Spanish-language sports broadcasts to audiences around the world on major networks like HBO and MLB. As the longest-tenured New York Jets radio commentator and the voice of the New York Knicks, Army Football, and the Major League Baseball Network “en español,” you give Spanish-speaking sports fans something to cheer about.

Your professional success is only matched by your passion for the Red and Blue. As former committee chair and a longtime member of the James Brister Society, you used your voice in support of Penn’s efforts to create a diverse community that enriches the entire University. By creating an endowed scholarship in 2004, you admirably committed ongoing financial support to female undergraduates who would otherwise be unable to meet the cost of a Penn education. Your generosity has changed lives and inspired countless others.

As a founding member and former President of the Association of Latino Alumni, your unwavering support for the Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina is another way you have made an indelible impact at Penn. The countless hours you have spent advising and encouraging current students is unmatched, and your presence at La Casa Latina is always highly anticipated, whether for informal conversation or special events. Your counsel and expertise are cherished among students and staff alike, and your advocacy for the importance of Penn’s unique cultural centers is clearly a point of pride.

Relationships and camaraderie at Penn are something you cherish, having served on the Penn Alumni Council and attended nearly every Alumni Weekend for the past 20 years. Recently, your engagement grew even deeper through your membership on the Class of 1979 Gift Committee. There are many things that bring you back to Dear Old Penn, but chief among them is a desire to use your voice as a catalyst for good. You once said: “We need to continue documenting the Latino legacy at Penn. Because to celebrate diversity is to value the complex richness underlying the American mosaic.” This shines through in every facet of your involvement with the University.

One of your nominators noted that, no matter the context, your commitment to Penn is “undeniable and unrelenting.” There is no denying that the Penn community is stronger as a result.

For the many ways in which you support a culturally diverse student body, for setting a positive example in the fields of sports radio broadcasting and journalism, and for your abiding commitment to ensuring that deserving students have access to a Penn education, the University is delighted to present you with the 2021 Alumni Award of Merit.

Alumni Award of Merit | John J. Vosmek Jr. C’61

“Look for the small Penn flag.” That line is well known to the guests at one of your signature events—the Penn Club of Portland’s monthly happy hours, which famously ran from “5 p.m. until the last one leaves!”

Waving the Penn flag in your home city is what you have done for many years. Through your leadership of the Penn Club of Portland and your uncanny talent for bringing the local Red and Blue community together, you have deepened connections and lessened the distance from our Philadelphia campus.

Being a champion for Penn comes naturally to you—after all, you honed those skills as Head Cheerleader for the University in your senior year. A student leader, you were also a member of the Sphinx Senior Society, the Houston Hall Board, Mask and Wig, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE).

After graduating with your degree in history, you headed north to Yale, where you earned a second bachelor’s and a master’s degree in architecture. From there, you returned to your roots in the Pacific Northwest, with your wife, Lucy CW ’63 GEd’64, to practice architecture and bring the wit and wisdom of Ben Franklin to Oregon.

Together with Edward D. Blum W’74 PAR’04, you founded the Penn Club of Portland and went on to serve as its President for 17 years. Far from Locust Walk, Portland was not one of the regular stops for campus visitors or large alumni events. No matter—you were undeterred. Year in and year out, you created varied and imaginative programming to keep the local Penn community vibrant and engaged—from a holiday wine tasting to viewing parties for Penn athletics events to the annual Ben’s Birthday Bash.

Most famously, the Club hosts an annual Summer Lawn Party to welcome newly admitted students and their families to the Penn community. In the words of Benjamin Wire ENG’99 W’99, “This warm and welcoming event is the perfect example of the Penn community John fosters.” It is no wonder that you have been called the “heart and soul” of Penn’s alumni community in Portland.

But the Penn Club of Portland was not the only place you made an impact. You gravitated to roles that took advantage of your natural talent for promoting all things Red and Blue. While running the Club, you also served as an interviewer for the local Penn Alumni Interview Program. You took delight in meeting with high school students during the admissions process—and then welcoming them as members of the Penn family at your Summer Lawn Party before they set off for Philadelphia.

You generously shared your expertise in bringing Penn people together as a member of the Regional Clubs Advisory Board and the Penn Alumni Council. Even decades after your graduation, your connections to your beloved Class of 1961 have remained strong, as shown by your service as a class gift and reunion volunteer. You have also been a valued member of the Mask and Wig Alumni Board and the SAE Alumni Group.

Neither time nor distance has diluted your love for the Red and Blue. We now cheer for you, Mr. Penn in Portland, and for all you have done to keep the local Quaker community connected to their alma mater and to each other. With gratitude for your inspired leadership of the Penn Club of Portland, your tireless service as an ambassador for the University in the Northwest, and your commitment to waving the Penn flag in the Rose City, we are delighted to present you with the Alumni Award of Merit for 2021.

Alumni Club Award of Merit | Penn Club of Los Angeles

If a single phrase summarized your approach to this past year, it would be “the show must go on.” And go on it did. Even during a global pandemic, you exhibited the perseverance of the most celebrated show biz town in the world. Your leadership and enthusiasm created an exciting year, even without the possibility of in-person gatherings. You did not let that stop you, pivoting quickly to a virtual event format.

As one of the largest Penn alumni clubs worldwide, you made it a point to build on a history of excellence, turning 2020–21 into a memorable year!

It began with governance, including a restructured leadership model that emphasized collaboration and mentorship, and the creation of bylaws. Under the incredibly capable leadership of President Omid Shokoufandeh W’09, and Vice President Michal Clements W’84 WG’89 along with the 15 energized members of your executive committee, you have never been better positioned.

You found new ways to connect Penn alumni as the main hub of activity on the west coast, thanks to the knowledge and expertise of your committee members. With a team well-versed in technology, production, and event planning, you pulled off an incredible slate of events! A few of the most successful dates featured dynamic Penn alumni speakers like Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith C’97; Snap, Inc. Senior Advisor to the CEO Jared Grusd C’96; and celebrity brand-building strategist Farhana Pargac C’03.

An upbeat, collaborative culture attracted a wide range of members. The yPenn programming helped new LA residents feel at home with a “Welcome to LA” event, while the “Vaccines in the Age of Misinformation” event partnered with Penn Libraries and Penn Medicine for an informed and thoughtful conversation around timely topics. You brought together an intergenerational group of people from different places, with varying opinions and experiences, all united by the Red and Blue. Over 800 registered attendees enjoyed your informative and entertaining events in 2020-21.

Engagement takes effort, and you put in countless hours to make the club a success. Each event and outreach opportunity was a piece of a larger strategic marketing campaign. Your polished video teasers reminded members of how much they enjoyed past events and encouraged asynchronous opportunities to view past speakers. The overall effect was a high-functioning and creative group that produced exemplary events.

When it came to your drive for all things Penn, absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder. The distance between LA and your beloved University has seemingly deepened your devotion to creating a west coast outpost that we can all be proud of. Bravo!

For your complete and utter commitment to Penn, your not-to-be-missed virtual events, your effort and success in attracting alumni of all backgrounds, and your openness to new ideas, Penn Alumni is delighted to present the Penn Club of Los Angeles with the Alumni Club Award of Merit for 2021.

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