Each year, Pomona College selects alumni to receive the Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni for high achievement in professions or community service. These are alumni who have carried the spirit of the College into the rest of the world and lived up to the famous quotation from James A. Blaisdell which is inscribed into the gates of the College: "They only are loyal to the college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind."
Esther Brimmer ’83
Esther Brimmer is the executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. From 2013 to 2017, she served as the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She has also served in the Department of State three times, including as assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs.
Earlier in her career, Brimmer held the roles of deputy director and director of research at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where she was also a member of the faculty. She consulted at McLarty Associates and at McKinsey & Company, and served as adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she is a life member.
Brimmer has published numerous articles and edited eight books on transatlantic relations. Her work has been translated into five languages. She is a member of the Department of Defense National Security Education Board and the Executive Board of the Atlantic Council.
She received her doctorate and master’s degrees in international relations from Oxford University and her bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, where she majored in international relations.
Bernard Chan ’88
Bernard Charnwut Chan is a deputy to the National People’s Congress of China, a non-official member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council (from 2004-09 and again starting in 2012), and in 2017 was appointed the convenor of the Non-Official Members of the Executive Council. He is also a former member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (1998-2008).
An art major while at Pomona, Chan is the president of Asia Financial Holdings and Asia Insurance. He is chairman of the Hong Kong–Thailand Business Council and an advisor to Bangkok Bank (China) Co. Ltd. He sits on the boards of several local and overseas companies in the financial services and manufacturing sectors. He also joined the governing board of the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund in Hong Kong.
Among his public service activities, he is chairman of the Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food, chairman of the Steering Committee on Restored Landfill Revitalisation Funding Scheme, chairman of The Jockey Club CPS Ltd. Advisory Committee, chairperson of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and a board member of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. Past positions include chairman of the Council for Sustainable Development, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings, chairman of the Standing Committee on Judicial Salaries and Condition of Service, as well as council chair of Lingnan University.
He was appointed a justice of the peace in 2002, and a commander (third class) of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand in 2004. In 2006, he was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government. He has been conferred honorary degrees from Lingnan University, City University of Hong Kong and the Open University of Hong Kong. He is married and has two children.
Cruz Reynoso ’53
Justice Cruz Reynoso is the Boochever and Bird professor of law emeritus at the University of California, Davis School of Law, where he holds the chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality. His academic interests are in the areas of professional responsibility, remedies, appellate advocacy and civil rights.
He began his career in private law practice in El Centro, California, and subsequently accepted positions in public service – first as assistant director of the California Fair Employment Practice Commission and secretary to Governor Pat Brown, and later as associate general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. He returned to California one year later to head California Rural Legal Assistance. In 1972, he joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
In 1976, Reynoso was appointed associate justice for the California Court of Appeals; in 1982 he was elevated to the California Supreme Court, where he served until 1987. He joined the UCLA law faculty in 1991, and in 2001 UC Davis School of Law welcomed him as the inaugural holder of the Boochever and Bird chair.
Reynoso’s commitment is to public service. He has served as the vice chair for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Select Commission on Immigration and Human Rights, and the
California Post-Secondary Education Commission. In recognition for his service, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 2000, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Education the same year.
He holds a number of honorary degrees, and serves on the board of several civil rights, environmental and educational organizations. In 2002, Reynoso was the recipient of the UC Davis Distinguished Public Service Award and the UC Davis Medal, their highest award.