University's John Jay Award Dinner Honors Five Alumni
On March 2, the 2011 John Jay Awards, presented annually by Columbia College, honored five accomplished alumni for distinguished professional achievement. Andrew F. Barth (CC’83), Alexander Navab (CC’87), Kenneth Ofori-Atta (CC’84), Michael Oren (CC’77) and Elizabeth D. Rubin (CC’87) received their awards at a dinner ceremony at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York.
|Video of the 2011 John Jay Awards Dinner (55:27)|
Barth, Navab and Ofori-Atta are leaders in finance. Rubin is an award-winning journalist and a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and other publications. Oren has been the Ambassador of Israel to the United States since 2009.
The diverse accomplishments of this year’s award-winners speak to the varied backgrounds and interests of Columbia College students and alumni. Barth is the chairman of Capital Guardian Trust Company and Capital International Limited. Ofori-Atta, who is from Ghana, is the executive chairman and co-founder of Databank Financial Services, based in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Ofori-Atta is the first African-born recipient of the John Jay Award. Navab, who is a partner and co-head of North American Private Equity for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., was born in Iran and fled the country with his family at the start of the Islamic revolution.
Oren worked on a kibbutz in Israel as a teenager, served in the Israel Defense Forces in the 1982 war with Lebanon and now represents Israel in the United States. As a war correspondent, Rubin has reported from the front lines of conflicts in the Balkans, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.
During remarks delivered at the dinner, President Lee C. Bollinger read a letter from Columbia Trustee Robert K. Kraft (CC’63) recognizing Oren, who was appointed to the position of ambassador by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “There’s something very fitting about Michael receiving the John Jay Award. Both Michael Oren and John Jay served their country in critical diplomatic roles representing their country in sensitive foreign capitals at a time of crisis,” the letter said. “It is a privilege to know Michael, to call him a friend, and to see him honored by my alma mater.”
The John Jay Award Dinner is held annually and benefits the John Jay Scholars Program, which aims to extend and enhance the academic and extracurricular experiences for outstanding first-year students at Columbia College. Leeza Mangaldas (CC’11), who spoke on behalf of the John Jay Scholars, many of whom attended the dinner, was born in a small fishing village in the state of Goa, India.
“On the 16-hour plane ride to New York and Columbia, I could see my life was going to change,” she said. “Though the rural, sea-salt air made for an idyllic childhood, Columbia University in the City of New York seemed like the glorious antithesis to everything I’d known.” An English major with a concentration in visual arts who has held summer internships in Hong Kong and Mumbai, Mangaldas plans to return to India after graduation and work in the film industry.
The John Jay Awards, named for founding father and first secretary of the treasury, alumnus John Jay, have been presented annually since 1979.
Four Columbia faculty were awarded Sloan Research Fellowships by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are Mark Churchland, assistant professor of neuroscience; Wei Min, assistant professor of chemistry; Simha Sethumadhavan, associate professor of computer science; and Wei Zhang, assistant professor of mathematics.
Alondra Nelson, associate professor of sociology, won the 2012 book award from the Association for Humanist Sociology for Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.