Celebrating Service and Spirit, These Are Alumni of Distinction

A former Mason soccer star who has become one of the leading entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. An alumnus who is known for his tireless work on every Mason committee and cause that needs him. A biology major who has been researching dendrite morphology since her freshman year. And a professor of music who also directs one of the nation’s most popular college pep bands.

Those were the leading honorees at the 2016 Celebration of Distinction, the annual gathering hosted by the George Mason University Alumni Association to honor the best and brightest among Mason alumni around the world. More than 200 alumni and supporters attended the awards dinner, held April 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Fairfax. Martin A. Dunphy, BS Marketing ’90, MBA ’91, a former captain of the Mason soccer team, received the Alumnus of the Year Award. Dunphy, who in 2012 established an endowed scholarship with the Patriot Club to support the soccer program, is a well-known Irish entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of London-based Marlin Financial Group.

Scott E. Hine, BS Decision Science ’85, received the Alumni Service Award. Hine is a member of the leadership and management team at the Department of Energy, where he focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy. He has served on the Alumni Association Board and the Scholarship Committee, and played a key role in developing the Alumni Association’s new strategic plan.

Caroline Thomas, who is completing her BS in Biology this spring, was honored as the Senior of the Year. Caroline has received multiple grants from Mason’s student research office to pursue her lab research in the morphology of dendrons (the branching projections at the end of neurons within the cell), and was one of six students nationwide selected to receive the Alpha Lambda Delta Trow Scholarship. She will begin her studies at the George Washington University School of Medicine this fall.

The Faculty Member of the Year Award was presented to Michael W. Nickens, an associate professor of music since 2006. Nickens teaches a number of well-regarded courses in the School of Music, from applied tuba to the history of popular music in America. He is also widely known as Doc Nix, director of the school’s unstoppable pep band, the Green Machine, which is an icon of Mason school spirit and has been acclaimed as the best pep band in the NCAA.

Celebration of Distinction, 4-13-16

Other Distinguished Alumni awards were presented to:

  • Distinguished Black Alumni Award: Janice Chambers, DA Community College Education ’02 / founder and CEO, Calvary Counseling Center and the E. Carrington Family Enrichment Center
  • Distinguished Lambda Alumni Award: J. Bradley Blankenship, BA Psychology ’00 / author and advocate for LBGTQ inclusiveness
  • Distinguished Latino Alumni Award: Adriana M. Bonilla, BA Government and International Politics ’11 / site supervisor, Latin American Youth Center
  • Antonin Scalia School of Law: David W. Jolly, JD ’01 / member, U.S. House of Representatives (R-Fla.)
  • College of Education and Human Development: Sharon LePage Plante, MEd Special Education ’96 / special education teacher, Eagle Hill Southport School
  • College of Health and Human Services: Mary Ann Friesen, PhD Nursing ’08 / nursing research and evidence-based practice coordinator, Inova Health System
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Stephen D. Gladis, MA English ’84, PhD Education ’95 / speaker, author, executive coach, and adjunct professor at George Mason University
  • College of Science: Matthew D. Greer, BS Biology ’94 / founder of Evolve Communications, Soapbox SBX, and Caboose Brewing Company
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts, Thomas W. Iszard III Distinguished Alumni Award: Durell Comedy, BFA Dance ’08 / professional dancer and apprentice, Mark Morris Dance Group
  • New Century College: Mandi J. Fisher, BA Integrative Studies ’08 / project manager, Northern Virginia Family Service
  • School of Business: Sumeet Shrivastava, MBA ’94 / president, ARRAY
  • School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Maya A. Kapsokavadis, BS Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’09 / flagship 4 coordinator, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs: Denise Turner Roth, BA Government and Politics ’99 / administrator, U.S. General Services Administration
  • Volgenau School of Engineering: Mahfuz Ahmed, BS Electrical Engineering ’93 / founder and CEO, DISYS

The evening also included the induction and graduation ceremonies for the Golden Quill Society, a program focused on facilitating a lifelong connection between young alumni and their alma mater. We congratulate all of this year’s honorees, and thank them as well for their support of and advocacy for Mason.

April 21, 2016 / RR