April 11, 2019

Announcing the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2019 recipients of CGU's Distinguished Alumni Awards
ALUMNI POWER: This year's award recipients are (from top, left) Mustafa Mirza, Barbara Usher, Bree Hemingway, Shawn Luo; (from bottom left) Jonathan Reed, Frances Gipson, Deborah Castleman, and Charles Morrissey

List Expanded to Honor Alumni of Each School

Alumni representing each of Claremont Graduate University’s seven schools have been chosen to receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, which honor members of the alumni community for their professional excellence and positive impact on society.

The university will celebrate this year’s recipients at an award ceremony May 10 at the Jonathan Club in Downtown Los Angeles. Featuring CGU President Len Jessup and emceed by Associate Provost and Transdisciplinary Studies Program Director Andrew Vosko, the ceremony will include special video tributes of this year’s honorees. The community is invited to attend; register for tickets here by April 26.

2019 Award Recipients

2019 Distinguished Alumni Service Award:
Mustafa Mirza (MA, Government, ’79; MBA, ’80)

Mustafa Mirza
Distinguished service honoree Mustafa Mirza

Mustafa Mirza is the president of the founding board of the CGU Alumni Association. He has worked tirelessly and traveled extensively over the past two years to create the alumni board, to grow the number of board volunteers, and to create a coherent voice for the alumni community—all of this while residing on the opposite coast in Westport, Connecticut. Mirza is also profoundly involved in veteran’s affairs at CGU and CMC. He has two degrees from CGU: an MA, Government, ’78; and an MBA, ’80; in addition to a BA from Claremont McKenna College.

His connection to CGU and the Claremont Colleges runs deep: He met his wife Liz (MA, International Relations, ’79) at CGU, and collectively, Mirza and his family have earned ten degrees from the Claremont Colleges, five of which are from CGU. The university benefits in countless ways from his 35 years of experience in international corporate finance with Citicorp and GE Capital. He is a leader; he is a friend; he is an indefatigable advocate for the alumni community.


2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients (organized by school):

School of Educational Studies:
Frances Gipson (PhD, Education, ’12)

Frances Gipson
SES alumna Frances Gipson

Frances Gipson believes that the ideals of “living in the system” and “disrupting the system” are critical to advocacy for youth and ensure that our communities stay at the center of all important decisions. Gipson is the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As a leader of leaders, she oversees the instructional plan and capacity building for over 600,000 students, preschool through adult. Prior to her role as CAO, she was the LAUSD Local District East Superintendent. Gipson has also served learners as the administrator of instruction in LAUSD Local District 5 and as the director of professional development & partnerships at UCLA’s Center X.

With a passion for active learning, Gipson has taught educational leadership at Cal State LA, in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, and at the Principals Leadership Institute. Her leadership has been formally recognized with several awards, including the regional Administrator of the Year Award from the Association of California School Administrators, the Tae Han Kim Award for Humanitarian and Cultural Accomplishments, Cal State LA’s Day of the Educator Award for Excellence in Fieldwork Supervision, and the Excellence in Urban Leadership Award from Claremont Graduate University. Most recently, Gipson was named a national leader in education technology by the Center for Digital Education.

School of Social Science, Policy, & Evaluation:
Deborah Castleman (MA, Politics and Policy, ’90)

Deborah Castleman
SSSPE alumna Deborah Castleman

Deborah R. Castleman served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, and Communications in the first Clinton Administration. Previously she served as a member of the issues staff for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and focused on space, science and technology, and national security issues. Her other professional roles include serving as a space and defense policy analyst at RAND, a satellite systems engineer at the Hughes Space and Communications Group, and the vice president of a startup developing a hybrid-electric powertrain for automobiles. From 1974 to 1977, she also served in the U.S. Air Force as an avionics technician for the F-111 aircraft.

Castleman holds a BS in electrical and electronic engineering from Cal Poly Pomona, an MA in electrical engineering from Caltech, and an MA in Politics and Policy from Claremont Graduate University. She currently sits on the board of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association and is a member of Caltech’s PMA (Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy), GPS (Geological and Planetary Sciences), and BBE (Biology and Biological Engineering) Chair’s Councils. In 2017, she was inducted into the Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering Hall of Fame.

School of Community & Global Health:
Bree Hemingway (MPH, ’11)

Bree Hemingway
SCGH alumna Bree Hemingway

Trained in public health at Claremont Graduate University’s School of Community and Global Health, Bree Hemingway has more than eight years of experience working in evaluation and research with nonprofit health organizations. Her education in public health and her work history have demonstrated a passion and commitment to health promotion and improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations.

Throughout her career, Hemingway has employed a collaborative evaluation approach that incorporates key stakeholders in meaningful ways to leverage data and deliver actionable insights to address complex social issues. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the university’s Master of Public Health Program with an interest in empowerment and training of future public health practitioners.

In addition, Hemingway is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in the Evaluation and Applied Research Methods program at CGU. She is also a member of the university’s Founding Executive Alumni Board of Advisors.

Institute of Mathematical Sciences:
Shawn Luo (PhD, Mathematics, ’95)

Shawn Luo
IMS alumnus Shawn Luo

Haisheng (Shawn) Luo left China in 1990 to study mathematics at Claremont Graduate University, where he received his PhD under the supervision of Professor John Angus.

Luo joined Pharmvite Corporation in Northridge, California, as a statistical analyst in demand planning in 1996, beginning a career in supply chain management. Two years later, he became manager of production planning, responsible for the planning and master scheduling of all the company’s products. In 2001, Luo joined Circuit City as director of supply chain and inventory productivity—with a responsibility to manage supply chain performance including the processes and systems used to manage the company’s inventory—and later joined Golfsmith International as director of inventory management and supply chain optimization and later Stravina as vice president of operations.

Since 2008, Luo has served in a number of roles with Microsoft, including director of consumer channel operations and then director of global business intelligence, responsible for managing the development of BI solutions for the global supply chain and manufacturing of Microsoft devices. In recent years, he has switched his focus to the application of advanced analytics and management of strategic programs to optimize and scale cloud infrastructure deployment to support the rapid growth of Microsoft cloud services.

Center for Information Systems & Technology:
Barbara Usher (PhD, Information Science, ’10)

Barbara Usher
CISAT alumna Barbara Usher

Barbara Usher is a technology leader in the Enterprise Engineering organization at Facebook. Before joining Facebook, she served as an engineering program manager at Google, where she led several large, cross-functional technology programs. She also served as an internal mentor and coach in the company’s “Career Guru” program.

Usher has had an extensive career in both defining and managing the implementation of products and applications in global technology organizations in Silicon Valley. As a management consultant at PWC, she held key roles leading complex business transformations and enterprise software programs for global high-tech clients.

Her work takes place at the intersection of technology, change management, and coaching. Usher is passionate about inspiring growth and possibilities in others and mentoring women in tech. She received her MA and PhD (both in Information Science) from CGU’s Center for Information Systems & Technology and serves as a member of the Drucker School Board of Industry Advisors.

Drucker School of Management:
Charles Morrissey (PhD, Executive Management, ’97)

Charles Morrissey
Drucker alumnus Charles Morrissey

U.S. Air Force veteran Charles A. Morrissey attended Harvard Business School (’62) from where he was initially hired by Eastman Kodak Company to manage new product test sites in the Pentagon.

Early in his career, he learned about Dartmouth BASIC, a pioneering time-sharing project designed to provide a personal computing environment to students. From this, he and his business partner formed TimeShare, a company which was eventually acquired by Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company. He became a founder of the Orange County Harvard Business Club, whose initiatives led to the formation of Tech Coast Angels.

In 1989, Morrissey became an associate professor of information systems at Pepperdine University and was supported by a grant from the Beckman Foundation to develop a technology curriculum. He received Pepperdine’s outstanding teacher award in 2008. He received a PhD in Drucker’s Executive Management program in 1997 and applied what he learned to focusing on the impact of the Internet on management education. He has delivered a series of presentations to national meetings of management educators as well as written articles on the impact of digital transformation on business-school strategy.

Morrissey was a contributor and supporter of the Paul Gray Personal Computing Museum in 2005. He has served as a member of the Drucker School Board of Industry Advisors since 2014.

School of Arts & Humanities:
Jonathan Reed (PhD, Religion, ’94)

Jonathan Reed
SAH alumnus Jonathan Reed

Jonathan L. Reed is the Provost and Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs at the University of La Verne. As provost, Reed has led and overseen the implementation of the “La Verne Experience,” a curricular and co-curricular transformation integrating learning communities with institutional values.

Reed joined the University of La Verne in 1992 as an assistant professor of religion. He has also served as dean of the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, overseeing the development of Baccalaureate Goals, a new GE, and expanded faculty-development opportunities.

As a scholar, Reed has written extensively on Christian origins and their relationship with early Judaism and the Roman Imperial religion. He has worked as a field archaeologist in Israel, including a stint as director of the excavations at Sepphoris, and has authored numerous books, articles, and reviews including (with John Dominic Crossan) the books Excavating Jesus and In Search of Paul. Reed received a PhD in Religion from CGU in 1994.

Viewers can find Reed on television frequently at the Christmas and Easter seasons as he is the senior historical consultant for the National Geographic Channel’s Science of the Bible series on Jesus and archaeology.


Expanding the list; many nominations

This year the university received some 50 nominations, which were winnowed down by a Selection Committee, which included the deans of the seven schools and members of the Offices of Alumni Engagement and Advancement.

“For nearly 100 years CGU has produced exceptional graduates with a real passion for helping society,” Jessup said. “This year’s alumni recipients are the perfect examples of our mission to go out into the world and change it for the better.”

In years past, a single award has been given out to an individual for excellence in his or her profession and a single award has been given to an individual for his or her volunteer service to the university. A decision was made to increase the number of recipients this year.

“We decided to expand the list and include all of our schools. There are so many alumni in our community doing amazing things worth honoring,” said Rachel Jimenez, the university’s Associate Director of Alumni Engagement. “We decided it would be better to grow the number of awards and honor more alumni at the same time.”

Do you have someone in mind for an award? Nominate him or her for next year!

Learn more about the CGU Distinguished Alumni Awards