Alumni Association Announces Alumni and Faculty Awards

Seaver Alumni House

Each year, the Alumni Association bestows awards on alumni and faculty for their unique and remarkable achievements. This year the recipients of the Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award are Anson “Tuck” Hines ’69, Evelyn Nussenbaum ’84 and Mary Walshok ’64. The recipients of the Alumni Distinguished Service Award are Tom Doe ’71, Verne Naito ’77, Julie Siebel ’84 and Jon Siegel ’84. The Inspirational Young Alumni Award recipient is Kelebogile “Kelly” Zvobgo ’14, and the Faculty Alumni Service Award recipient is Donna Di Grazia, David J. Baldwin Professor of Music.

Blaisdell, Distinguished Service and Faculty Alumni Service Award recipients are selected by a council of past presidents of the Alumni Association Board. Inspirational Young Alumni Award recipients are selected by a committee of current Alumni Association Board members.

Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award

The Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni for high achievement in their professions or community service. These alumni have carried the spirit of the College into the world and lived up to the quotation inscribed on the Gates of the College: “They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.”

Anson “Tuck” Hines ’69

As executive director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) for nearly 20 years, Hines has worked to build one of the world’s leading ecological research centers focused on environmental issues in coastal zones, where close to 70 percent of the world’s population lives. His team of 200 ecologists and support staff tackles climate change, invasive species, pollution and conservation—providing critical data to inform environmental policies and laws at all levels of government.

Focused on advancing SERC’s land conservation program, Hines has led efforts to save 2,654 acres of the Rhode River watershed and 15 miles of shoreline for environmental research and public education—the largest contiguous block of land devoted to science and education on the Chesapeake Bay.

Hines received his B.A. in zoology at Pomona College and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. Since joining SERC in 1979 as a marine ecologist and principal investigator, his research has led him to study coastal ecosystems in Chesapeake Bay, Florida, California, Alaska, Belize, Japan and New Zealand. An expert on blue crabs, he has studied the biology of crabs around the world and published more than 160 reviewed articles. Hines is also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Evelyn Nussenbaum ’84

At Pomona, Nussenbaum built for herself a special concentration in English literature and film. After graduating, she worked in the film industry for eight years before moving on to a career in journalism. She worked at CNN as a producer before writing and editing at The New York Times, Fortune, Wired and New York Post.

She continued to work as a journalist until she had twins and her son Sam became ill with epilepsy. For more than a decade, Nussenbaum and her husband struggled to find a therapy or medication that could treat Sam’s condition.

In 2012, medical journals pointed Nussenbaum to a medicine in development at a U.K. pharmaceutical company. She pursued executives at that company until they agreed to meet. GW Pharma subsequently offered Sam a one-patient trial in London. Because the medicine was derived from cannabis, it was illegal in the U.S. Nussenbaum persevered, and in 2013, Sam was able to receive the medication under the FDA’s compassionate use program. She continued her advocacy until the medicine Epidiolex received FDA approval in 2018. The medicine is now available in nearly 40 states and 36 countries.

Mary Walshok ’64

At Pomona, Walshok thrived as a musician, performer and scholar. After graduation, she embarked on a long and successful academic career. Walshok recently retired as associate vice chancellor for public programs after nearly 50 years at the University of California, San Diego.

Walshok has authored six books focused on regional economic and workforce development and the role of universities in sustaining competitive economies. She has also published numerous academic articles and received various grants and professional awards.

Walshok currently serves on the Conrad Prebys Foundation and the Girard Foundation boards. As a past performer and current arts enthusiast, she also serves on the boards of San Diego Jazz Ventures, La Jolla Playhouse and the San Diego Opera.

Alumni Distinguished Service Award

The Alumni Distinguished Service Award is bestowed annually to an alumnus, alumna or alumni in recognition of that person’s selfless commitment and ongoing volunteer service to Pomona College.

Tom Doe ’71

When the COVID-19 pandemic nixed the Class of 1971’s in-person 50th Reunion, Doe created three class newsletters, promoted the virtual event, worked on reunion giving and programming, and created an “In Memoriam” video celebrating every member of the class that had passed away.

Over several decades, Doe has maintained a strong relationship with Pomona’s Geology Department through student mentoring and internships he personally funded early in the pandemic. 

He and Paula Nold Doe ’71 married the summer following their graduation and went to graduate school together at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Doe completed his Ph.D. in geology and mineral engineering, and Paula completed her Ph.D. in Japanese literature. Doe’s professional focus has been fluid flow through rock fractures working at national laboratories and in consulting. His applications include groundwater protection, oil development, hydroelectric power and geothermal energy. He has taught at the University of Washington, Pomona College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now mostly retired, he serves on an advisory group for the Department of Energy’s geothermal research.

Verne Naito ’77

After graduating from Pomona, Naito received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Two decades later, he joined the family business after first working in management consulting, start-up businesses and high-tech finance. In its 103-year history, Naito Corporation has been an importer, distributor, retailer and real estate developer. Since 2020, Naito’s role has focused on overseeing the company’s retail business Made In Oregon, where he currently serves as corporate vice president and general manager.

While at Pomona, Naito served as treasurer of the Asian Student Association and managing editor of The Student Life newspaper.

Naito has maintained close ties with Pomona. He acted for three years as chair of the Portland Regional Alumni Chapter, served on his reunion class committee for nearly every cycle since 1987, volunteered with the Career Development Office and Admissions Office and served on the Alumni Council (1990-1994) and as Alumni Association Board president (1994-1995).

Julie Siebel ’84

As an undergraduate at Pomona, Siebel majored in American Studies and was also fascinated by the study of human psychology. She received her Ph.D. from USC in U.S. history and gender studies and has worked in non-profit management most of her career, currently as senior vice president and engagement manager with CCS Fundraising.

At Pomona, Siebel served as a sponsor in Norton-Clark, orientation co-chair, officer and member of the Glee Club and student representative to the Alumni Council during her junior and senior years. Soon after graduating, Siebel volunteered to chair the Orange County Regional Chapter and served on the College’s Centennial Celebration Planning Committee. She has served on nearly every reunion class committee since graduation. She currently serves on the Alumni Association Board, chairing the Regional Chapters committee in her first three years as a member.

Jon Siegel ’84

At Pomona, Siegel played soccer for four years, served on the inaugural Dorm President’s Council, was a member of the Phi Delta Fraternity and covered women’s basketball for The Student Life.

After graduating from Pomona, Siegel received his MBA from UCLA and went on to work in the entertainment industry at Paramount, Disney and PBS. He then transitioned from entertainment to technology, returning to his hometown of Chicago. Siegel is currently the COO of a Chicago-based wholesale food distribution company.

Siegel served on numerous class reunion committees, the Alumni Council (1997-2000) and the Alumni Association Board (2015-2020), including a stint as president. He continues to serve on the Past President’s Council, as an alumni admission volunteer, and as leader of the Chicago Regional Chapter.

The Inspirational Young Alumni Award

The Inspirational Young Alumni Award honors a young alumnus or alumna (a graduate within the last decade) in recognition of their dedication, perseverance and consistency in following the inscription on the College Gates.

Kelebogile “Kelly” Zvobgo ’14

In the decade since her graduation, Zvobgo has proven herself an accomplished scholar, teacher, mentor and changemaker. She has received international recognition for her research on human rights, law and justice. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals and mainstream outlets such as CNN, NPR, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post and been featured in reports by the UN and NATO. She is currently an assistant professor of government at the College of William & Mary, and starting this fall, she will be a tenured associate professor. She is also the founder and director of the International Justice Lab.

After graduating from Pomona with majors in international relations and French, Zvobgo spent a year volunteering with an international nonprofit in London before returning to the U.S. to pursue her Ph.D. in political science and international relations at USC. There, Zvobgo was awarded the Provost Fellowship in the Social Sciences, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and the 2021 USC Ph.D. Achievement Award. The American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association also awarded her Best Paper in Human Rights in 2019 and Best Dissertation in Human Rights in 2022.

Faculty Alumni Service Award

Started in 2012, the Faculty Alumni Service Award honors faculty in recognition of exemplary service to the Alumni Association over a period of years.

Donna M. Di Grazia

Di Grazia has been at Pomona since 1998 and is a two-time recipient of the Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor bestowed on Pomona faculty.

Di Grazia teaches courses for majors and non-majors alike, and she leads the choral program as the conductor of the Pomona College Choir and the Pomona College Glee Club. In addition, she is an active musicologist and published scholar, and her research in the areas of 19th-century music and early 17th-century English sacred music has received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This award recognizes Di Grazia’s relationships with alumni and her partnership across events and traditions, such as Commencement, Alumni Weekend and annual Winter Choral Teas.