Presented at the Annual Assembly on Saturday, May 25, recognizing the following alumni for achievements in their professions.


Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented to alumni in recognition of achievement in their professions. Awards are traditionally presented at the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting during Reunion & Commencement to alumni who are celebrating their class Reunion.
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    Ilene Rosenthal ’74, P’17

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    Ilene Rosenthal is a seasoned educator and executive who uses her expertise in education, curriculum development, and public policy to help all children succeed academically. Through her work with schools, education associations, and government agencies, she develops partnerships that help to disseminate best practices for improving education.  Rosenthal has co-founded several companies that have used technology to accelerate learning. She currently is the CEO and founder of Footsteps2Brilliance, a comprehensive birth through elementary school program designed to expand traditional strategies for parental involvement and help all students realize their full potential. The curriculum emphasizes reasoning as well as math, literacy, language, and music. Recently Footsteps2Brilliance partnered with PBS and SBCSS to create the first transmedia early learning program that transforms television from a passive to an active experience. Prior to this, Rosenthal served as president of Strategic Initiatives for Achieve3000, a company that became a leader in differentiated instruction by delivering current events news articles tailored to each student’s individual reading level. She also co-founded Lightspan, an educational software company that successfully bridged the gap between school and home using videogame technology.  

    Rosenthal began her career as a music teacher, during which time she designed curriculum and authored textbooks. In her capacity as a lawyer, she has served as general counsel to the Software Publishers Association (today called SIIA) and special assistant to the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). She also served as the general counsel to the Government Operations Committee of the US House of Representatives. Her Wesleyan BA degree is in music with a minor in psychology. She received her JD degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

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    Pamela Dorman ’79

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    Pamela Dorman is senior vice president and publisher of Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, which she founded in 2008. In her more than 30 years at Viking Penguin, Dorman has published multimillion-copy, #1 New York Times best sellers The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard, which was the first selection of the Oprah Book Club, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, Me Before You and The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (the first Reese’s Book Club Pick ), The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman, and First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston (also a Reese’s Book Club Pick). Other New York Times best-selling authors include Ashley Audrain (The Push) , Jenny Jackson (Pineapple Street), Shari Lapena (The Couple Next Door), J. Ryan Stradal (Kitchens of the Great Midwest), and Rosie Walsh (The Love of My Life). In addition, Natalie Baszile’s debut, Queen Sugar, was made into a television series on the OWN Network, produced by Oprah Winfrey.

    Dorman has also published a wide range of non-fiction, including books by Bill Gates, Marcia Clark, Andrea Mitchell, Steven Levy, Peter Kramer, Peggy Noonan, and more recently, best-selling memoirs and inspirational titles, including Martha Beck’s New York Times best seller, The Way of Integrity, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and #1 New York Times best-selling author, Maria Shriver. She began her publishing career at St. Martin’s Press, and was the founding editorial director of Voice/Hyperion, a boutique list focused on women’s interests. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Wesleyan University. She lives in New Rochelle, N.Y., with her husband, literary agent, Stuart Krichevsky and Tibetan Terrier, Benson. They have adult twins, Nicholas Krichevsky, a software engineer, and Sophie Krichevsky, a local newspaper reporter.

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    Shawn Dove ’84

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    Shawn Dove’s leadership mission mantra is “there is no cavalry coming to save the day. We are the iconic leaders that we have been waiting for; curators of the change we are seeking to see.” His career has intersected youth development, philanthropy, publishing, and social entrepreneurship, having served in leadership capacities at The DOME Project, Harlem Children’s Zone, National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, National Mentoring Partnership, and First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

    Co-author of I Too Am America: On Loving and Leading Black Men & Boys, Dove is the founder of the Corporation for Black Male Achievement, a coaching and publishing firm that amplifies stories of loving, learning, and leading by and for Black men and boys.

    Dove currently serves as managing partner for New Profit, a venture philanthropy firm that invests in breakthrough social entrepreneurs advancing strategies that address systemic injustice.
    He served as manager, then CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), which launched in 2008 at Open Society Foundations (OSF), investing close to $250 million to support leaders and organizations working on behalf of the field of Black male achievement. While at CBMA he helped President Obama launch My Brother’s Keeper initiative; brokered a pioneering partnership between OSF, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the City of New York to launch the NYC Young Men’s Initiative; and provided seed investments to many organizations, including Cities United, Echoing Green, and the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.

    His awards include the key to the city of Louisville, Ky., Black Enterprise’s inaugural “BE Modern Man of the Year,” and Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. Dove is a graduate of Columbia University Business School's Institute for Not-for-Profit Management. The proud father of four adult children, Dove lives in New Jersey with his wonderful wife, Desere.

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    Rishad Premji ’99

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    Rishad Premji is executive chairman of Wipro Limited, a $11.3 billion global information technology, consulting, and business process services company, with over 245,000 employees in six continents.

    Premji joined Wipro in 2007 and worked in several roles before becoming executive chairman in 2019. He started as a general manager in Wipro’s banking and financial services business, went on to head investor relations, and then led Wipro’s strategy and M&A function. As Wipro’s chief strategy officer, Premji conceptualized Wipro Ventures, a $300 million fund to invest in start-ups developing technologies and solutions that complement Wipro’s businesses with next-generation services and products. He was also responsible for investor and government relations for the company.

    In his role as executive chairman, Premji works closely with Wipro’s leadership team in providing direction and strategic insight to the business. He believes that the culture of an organization is its strongest asset, and has worked tirelessly to ensure that every Wiproite understands and upholds the values of Wipro, articulated as the Spirit of Wipro. 

    Premji is on the boards of Wipro Enterprises Limited (a leading player in FMCG and infrastructure engineering), Wipro-GE (a joint health care venture between Wipro and General Electric) and the Azim Premji Foundation (one of the largest not-for-profit initiatives in India). The foundation, which is focused on improving public school education, works with more than 350,000 government schools across seven states in India. 

    For financial year 2018–19, Premji was chairman of NASSCOM, the trade body representing India’s $245 billion software industry.

    Prior to joining Wipro, Premji was with Bain & Company in London, and also worked with GE Capital in the US in the insurance and consumer lending spaces. He is a graduate of GE’s Financial Management Program (FMP).

    Premji has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in economics from Wesleyan University in the US. 

    He lives in Bangalore, India, with his wife and two children.

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    Shivani Siroya ’04

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    Shivani Siroya is the founder and CEO of Tala, the first financial platform for the global majority, the over four billion people excluded by legacy finance. Through Tala’s pioneering money app, customers worldwide gain instant access to credit, deposit, and payment services, empowering them to build small businesses, manage day-to-day needs, and pursue their financial goals with confidence. With nine million customers across Kenya, the Philippines, Mexico, and India, Tala is reshaping financial inclusion on a global scale.

    Under Siroya’s leadership, Tala has raised nearly half a billion dollars in investments and debt, backed by visionary investors, including IVP, Revolution Growth, Lowercase Capital, and PayPal Ventures. The company's groundbreaking impact has been widely recognized, landing it on prestigious lists such as the Fortune Impact 20, CNBC's Disruptor 50, and Forbes' Fintech 50 for eight years running.

    Before founding Tala, Siroya honed her expertise as an analyst with the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), holding thousands of interviews to understand the financial capacity of microcredit users in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her diverse professional background includes pivotal roles in global health and investment banking, with stints at esteemed organizations like Health Net, Citigroup, and UBS.

    Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors, Siroya is committed to driving social impact and serves on the boards of Echoing Green and CardWorks Inc. She is recognized as an Aspen Institute Finance Leader Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a Senior TED Fellow, and an Ashoka Fellow, embodying her dedication to shaping a more inclusive and equitable global economy. At Wesleyan, Siroya majored in economics and international relations.

    Siroya and her husband, Chet Devaskar ’04, live in Santa Monica, California, with their twins.


The Outstanding Service Award is presented to alumni, parents or other members of the Wesleyan community in recognition of outstanding volunteer service to the University, their community or the nation. Awards are traditionally presented at the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.
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    Sharon Purdie ’74, P'10

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    Sharon Purdie worked at AT&T where she managed many varied assignments of increasing managerial responsibility, mainly in the marketing department. In 1998, she accepted a bonus to retire early.

    Retirement has allowed her time to pursue volunteer and philanthropic endeavors, including: Impact 100 (women’s philanthropic group that awards grants to nonprofits), Save the Bay - Narragansett Bay (RI) (environmental organization), and Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation (sailing and marine education). 

    Purdie graduated with high honors in psychology, was awarded the Walkley Award for excellence in psychology, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was an RA and worked summers in the Admission office and the Alumni office. She received a fellowship to earn her PhD in psychology at University of Minnesota.  

    Since graduation, Purdie has stayed closely connected with Wesleyan. She has been class secretary for the past 25 years, chair or co-chair of four reunions, member of the WESeminar committee, participant on several alumni panels, alumni Admission interviewer, summer send-off host, and recipient of a Wesleyan University Service Award. Actively contributing to her 50th Reunion committee, Purdie participated on Zoom, fundraising, and class book committees. As a member of the first freshmen class of the “second phase” of co-education, Purdie has focused on celebrating co-education at Wesleyan. Prior to Reunion, she hosted a Zoom program on co-education and planned the “Women’s Gathering” for the women of her class, held every reunion since her 25th. During reunion, she facilitated a WESeminar on Co-education.

    In addition, Purdie makes time to pursue her outdoor passions: sailing, skiing, bicycling, swimming, and running, including competing in half marathons and triathlons. She and her husband, Ted Sybertz P’10, cruise in their 42-foot sailboat.  

    They have two children, Sherry Sybertz ’10 and Jeff Sybertz, and two grandchildren. 

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    Harold Sogard ’74, P’17

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    Harold arrived at Wesleyan planning to major in physics, changed to economics, and ended up graduating with honors in theater. As a student, he wrote for the Argus, managed the basketball team, was president of WESU-FM, and was the Class of 1974’s Treasurer.

    After Wes, he received his MBA (in nonprofit management) from the University of Chicago and spent eight years managing regional, off-Broadway, and Broadway theater companies. Eventually he decided it was time to get a steadier job and changed careers into advertising. Starting as the oldest assistant account executive at Ogilvy in New York, he quickly became the youngest senior vice president there. Moving to San Francisco, he became vice chairman at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and then chairman at Publicis & Hal Riney. During his advertising career, Sogard directed award-winning campaigns for multiple Fortune 500 companies. 

    Since retiring in 2015, Sogard has been trying to atone for the sins of advertising (persuading people to buy things they didn’t need!) by serving on nonprofit boards, including stints as an alumni-elected trustee at Wesleyan, chairman of the San Francisco Food Bank, and his current positions at Playing on Air (founded by Claudia Catania ’74) and the Gabby Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Drawing on his Wesleyan theater training, he has also recently begun a voice acting career. 

    Sogard is certainly the only person to have won this award after having led a multi-media campaign (including an airplane towing a banner over commencement) calling for the firing of a Wesleyan president (Doug Bennet, over his firing of Cheryl Cutler). Ever grateful to Wesleyan nonetheless, he has worked steadily as a class agent, reunion planning committee member, and advisor to the annual fund.  

    Also, he is extremely proud that his daughter Lucy graduated from Wes in 2017! 

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    Elizabeth “Betsey” Schmidt ’89

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    Betsey Schmidt has worked as an educator and learning designer for nearly 30 years. In 2019, she founded MeshEd, a public benefit corporation, to increase access to the best progressive learning experiences for all adolescents, especially those living in educationally underserved communities. Since 2010, she has led large-scale educational R&D initiatives, in both the public and private sector, to close the K12 opportunity gap. She has served on several K12 school boards including The Brooklyn Music School and Muse Academy.

    At Wesleyan, Schmidt majored in English and received an Olin Fellowship for a close-reading study comparing themes in Elizabeth Bishop’s adolescent writing with her mature, published poetry and fiction. This project ignited her abiding interest in adolescent creativity, which she again explored in her doctoral dissertation on Emily Dicksinon’s early religious rebellion. Schmidt holds a PhD in American literature from New York University and has taught American literature at Barnard College, The New School, and Sarah Lawrence College. 

    More recently at Wesleyan, Schmidt led the Binswanger Prize Committee and served as an alumni-elected trustee from 2016–2019. In the last 15 years she has arranged and supervised more than 60 paid summer internships for Wesleyan students in innovative curriculum design, apprentice teaching, and ed-tech product design. 

    A lifelong student of 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century American literature, Schmidt has edited and written poetry and literary criticism for a number of publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and Vogue. She currently teaches graduate students in ed-tech entrepreneurship at NYU and innovative learning design at Wesleyan. She is married to the architect Eric Liftin. They live in Brooklyn with their dog, Luna, and are the parents of Asher Liftin, a painter, and Silver Liftin, a psychoanalyst-in-training.

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    Sid Espinosa ’94 (Keynote Speaker)

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    Sid Espinosa stands at the helm of social impact as the head of Social Impact at GitHub. He oversees GitHub’s product, brand, and workforce to empower nonprofits and the broader social sector in making significant and enduring contributions to our world. Prior to joining GitHub, Espinosa held pivotal roles in leading philanthropic efforts at Microsoft as senior director of Philanthropy and at Hewlett-Packard as director of Global Philanthropy; Government and Public Affairs. At HP, he oversaw philanthropic investments spanning environmental organizations, economic development, nonprofits, and educational institutions worldwide.

    Previously, Espinosa made his mark in the public sector, serving under Attorney General Janet Reno at the US Department of Justice and contributing to initiatives in the Clinton White House. He became the first Latino ever, and one of the youngest, to be elected as mayor of Palo Alto, Calif. He holds a public policy degree from Harvard. Espinosa’s commitment to service extends beyond his professional realm. He serves on various community and business boards, lending his expertise to charitable and educational endeavors, and has spearheaded fundraising campaigns for nonprofit and educational organizations. He has also been actively involved in Wesleyan alumni activities, including serving as a trustee, admissions interviews, phone-a-thons, and local alumni regional and affinity events. While at Wesleyan, he served as a resident advisor, Ebony singer, MeChA co-chair, and senior interviewer.


Established in 1959 by the class of 1936 in memory of James L. McConaughy Jr. '36, the award recognizes a member of the Wesleyan family (including students, faculty, alumni, parents and members of their respective families) whose writing or other creative achievement conveys unusual insight and understanding of current and past events.
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    David Kendall ’79, P’24

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    David Kendall is writer/producer/director who has worked in both television and film for decades. His credits include series for broadcast networks, cable outlets, and streaming services. He has created shows, run shows, and directed pilots. He’s been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 1985 and a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1990. 

    He has produced and written for iconic situation comedies like ABC’s Growing Pains and Boy Meets World and has directed classic children’s programs like Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Disney’s Hannah Montana. For five years, he was executive producer/co-creator/showrunner of a series for ABC Family/Freeform entitled Melissa & Joey, a romantic comedy which concluded its run in 2015 after 104 episodes. 

    In 2020 he was an executive producer on Ashley Garcia, a coming-of-age comedy series still streaming on Netflix. More recent TV directing credits include episodes of The Really Loud House for Nickelodeon and Katharine McPhee’s Netflix series Country Comfort. His feature credits include both movies for television and theatrical release. In 2022, he directed Steppin’ Into the Holiday, starring Mario Lopez, Lifetime Television’s highest rated Christmas movie of that year. 

    Having worked extensively on family shows, Kendall has directed scores of talented young actors, from A (Ariana Grande) to Z (Zendaya). He has credits on over 40 different television series. All told, that’s over 600 episodes—and counting! 

    While at Wesleyan, Kendall majored in both film and government. He has recently returned to campus to teach workshops in film/TV directing. A Philadelphia native, he and his wife, Wendy, reside in Los Angeles and have three adult children, one of whom is a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2024! 


For more information on annual awards and to see past recipients, visit Alumni Association Awards.


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