The Lehigh University Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize outstanding achievement among Lehigh University alumni, honoring those who have succeeded in and impacted their respective industries and communities. We honor their accomplishments and their contributions to elevating the reputation of Lehigh University.


Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award is presented to an individual who has graduated within the past 15 years and has achieved extraordinary success or recognition by colleagues and peers for outstanding leadership and professional accomplishments.

2021: Christian J. “CJ” McCollum ’13

Christian J. “CJ” McCollum ’13 is a standout NBA player and leader in youth development and education. As the founder of CJ’s Press Pass Program and the CJ McCollum Dream Center, he shares his passion for journalism by inspiring underserved youth, offering them educational and developmental opportunities.

2019: Jennifer S. Gonzalez ’08 ’09G

Jennifer S. Gonzalez ’08 ’09G is a leader in municipal sustainability. As director of environmental services and chief sustainability officer for the City of Hoboken, New Jersey, she advances sustainability and resiliency initiatives in priority areas including rainfall flooding, energy, drinking water infrastructure, natural resources, and waste management.


Dr. Costel Denson ’56 Award

The Dr. Costel Denson '56 Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in increasing diversity in the American workplace and educational institutions.

2021: Dr. Sherrie B. Green ’84

Dr. Sherrie B. Green ’84 is a history-making pioneer in the advancement of diversity in the science field. As a program manager with the National Science Foundation (NSF), Green influenced the education and careers of hundreds of individuals. Her work helped increase the number of women and people of color receiving awards within NSF’s programs.

2019: Dr. Frank L. Douglas ’66

Dr. Frank L. Douglas ’66 is an award-winning, longtime veteran in the fields of healthcare, pharmaceutical research, and entrepreneurial endeavors. During his career, he led the discovery, development, and market launch of more than 20 pharmaceuticals. He is the former CEO and a current board member of TheVax Genetics Vaccines and a co-founder of Douglas Ahmed Consulting.


Public Service Award

The Public Service Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated either outstanding success in a career in the public sector or extraordinary contributions in the charitable, nonprofit, or civic arena.

2021: Hetal K. Jani ’05

Hetal Jani ’05 saw a disconnect between students and teachers and decided to do something. As the founder of Studor LLC and SPEAKHIRE, she empowers and enables immigrant youth to follow in her footsteps. Her mission to close educational gaps provides students with a head start and connects them with mentors and better opportunities.

2019: Ben Gucciardi ’05 ’06G

Soccer is more vocation than game for Ben Gucciardi ’05 ’06G. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in international relations from Lehigh in 2005 and was pursuing a master’s degree in global educational leadership when he founded Soccer Without Borders (SWB), a nonprofit organization that aims to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change. SWB provides underserved youth a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success.


Outstanding Entrepreneur Award Recipient

The Outstanding Entrepreneur Award is presented to an individual or team who have demonstrated professional achievement of the highest caliber in the management of an enterprise.

2021: Sanjay D. Shah ’89G

Sanjay D. Shah ’89G noticed a void in the ERP software market, so he decided to find the solution himself. Motivated to push the success of others, Shah founded Vistex, a technology company aimed at helping businesses take control of their mission. The charitable initiatives of Vistex include programs for inner-city children, the construction of a Sierra Leone birth center, and plans for the largest hospital in rural India.

2019: Patrice Banks ’02

Patrice Banks ’02 couldn’t find a female mechanic, so she decided to become one — and empower other women along the way. After working for 12 years as an engineer, she opened her own auto shop, Girls Auto Clinic, Inc., that is tailored for women with a staff of female mechanics. Aware of the way that women are taken advantage of too often by the automotive industry, she wanted to be part of the change in giving women the knowledge and tools to stand up for themselves.


Excellence in Industry Award Recipient

The Excellence in Industry Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated professional achievement of the highest caliber in the management of a for-profit organization.

2021: Marty Baron ’76 ’76G

With a hand in 17 Pulitzer Prizes, Marty Baron ’76 ’76G left his mark on the journalism industry as the top editor for three newsrooms. Under his leadership, The Boston Globe’s investigation into abuse in the Catholic church blew the lid off an institutional scandal and later became an Academy Award-winning movie, Spotlight. Baron began his career in The Brown and White newsroom as editor in chief and recently retired as the executive editor of The Washington Post.

2019: Ann Lewnes ’83 ’22P

Under the leadership of Ann Lewnes ’83 ’22P, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Adobe Inc., Adobe’s marketing organization has pioneered the shift to a completely digital platform. She has managed the expansion of Adobe’s brand and marketing initiatives as the company has become a leader in cloud-based solutions. As champion of Adobe’s brand, Lewnes also oversees the company’s corporate responsibility efforts, which fund philanthropic initiatives around the world.


Lifetime Commitment to Lehigh Award Recipient

The Lifetime Commitment to Lehigh Award is presented to an individual whose integrity, dedication, and engagement demonstrates lifelong leadership and service to Lehigh University.

2021: Joe Sterrett ’76 ’78G ’03P ’05P ’07P ’09P

Joe Sterrett ’76 ’78G ’03P ’05P ’07P ’09P has served his alma mater for 46 years in a variety of capacities. For the past 33 years, he’s been director of athletics, 16 years of which are as the first Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics. Sterrett has championed student athletes and facilitated the success of Lehigh athletics, establishing the Lehigh Student-Athlete Council and Faculty Athletics Council.

2019: James B. Swenson ’59 ’15GP ’17GP

As an alumnus, James B. Swenson ’59 ’15GP ’17GP served in many volunteer roles, including as a Lehigh University Board of Trustees member. He was an alumni trustee from 1986 to 1989, was an appointed trustee from 1989 to 1994, and is currently an emeritus trustee. He also served the Lehigh University Alumni Association (LUAA) as board president and vice president; as class president, vice president, and treasurer; and as a member of LUAA’s Awards Committee and Alumni Admissions Outreach programs.