Carnegie Mellon University to Honor 11 Luminary Alumni
2023 Alumni Awards ceremony will be held Nov. 10 on CMU’s campus
Today, Carnegie Mellon University announced the 2023 Alumni Award honorees. From uncovering mysteries within the smallest part of the human genome to delighting audiences on the biggest screens, these 11 alumni are blazing trails and achieving personal and professional successes — all while giving back to those who follow in their footsteps.
“The desire to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world is at the center of the CMU experience,” said Brit McCandless Farmer, CMU trustee, CMU alumni Association Board president and a Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences alumna. “This year’s Alumni Award honorees are doing just that through their professions and vocations and in their service to others. These Tartans make us all proud, and I am thrilled to share their accomplishments with the CMU community.”
This year’s honorees reflect the breadth and depth of the Carnegie Mellon experience. They represent six of the university’s seven colleges and schools and one interdisciplinary program. Their graduation years span 54 years. They work in finance, the arts, research, development, education and technology with the cross disciplinary approach for which Tartans are known. They never forget where their journey started, giving back to students and their fellow alumni through their enthusiastic volunteering, mentorship and philanthropy.
On Nov. 10, the professional achievements and personal contributions of the 2023 honorees will be celebrated at the 73rd annual CMU Alumni Awards ceremony during the university’s Homecoming Weekend.
2023 Founders Medal
This year’s Founders Medal for Outstanding Service and Exceptional Achievement recipient is familiar to many at Carnegie Mellon, having been a member of the community since 1960: Emeritus Professor of Design Joseph Ballay.
“Throughout his career at Carnegie Mellon University, Joe pioneered design thinking and, along the way, managed to revolutionize how the world collaborates and deliberates,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “His novel approach to problem-solving — which embraces the Tartan ethos of leveraging both the arts and technology to maximize progress — has shaped everything from how we explore complex societal challenges to how we interpret everyday life. For this work and his lifelong contributions to our university community and to society at large, Carnegie Mellon is thrilled to honor Joe with the CMU Founders Medal.”
As an international advocate for the importance of design in everyday life, Ballay has spent more than six decades developing his interdisciplinary vision of design as a fundamental human activity.
A 1960 Carnegie Tech bachelor of science graduate, Ballay assumed the helm of the Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts' newly created Department of Design in 1970, developing and elevating it to the status of a school within the college that it enjoys today.
Recognizing the need for practical applications of design, Ballay joined with two CMU colleagues in 1989 to form MAYA Design, an interdisciplinary design consultancy that applies theory and practice to complex contemporary problems. MAYA became the focus of his professional practice, transforming into a “technology design lab,” cultivating four additional companies and growing to employ more than 50 people.
In 2022, Ballay and his wife, Sue, established the Ballay Center for Design Fusion through a generous $10 million gift. The center, a culmination of his life’s work, establishes a formal presence of design expertise and outreach at CMU.
2023 Alumni Awards Honorees
Along with Joseph Ballay, 10 alumni will be honored in four categories at the CMU Alumni Awards ceremony. Honorees are nominated by CMU community members and selected by members of the CMU Alumni Association Board Awards Committee based on the impact of nominees’ professional work and/or service to CMU.
2023 Alumni Achievement Awards: These awards are presented to alumni for exceptional accomplishment and leadership in their fields or vocations. This year’s four honorees include:
- Lori Miller Heinel, a 1992 graduate of the Tepper School of Business, is one of Carnegie Mellon's most visible alumni in the finance and investment industry. Heinel serves as executive vice president and global chief investment officer at the world's fourth largest asset management firm, State Street Global Advisors, where she leads more than 600 professionals who oversee a diverse portfolio of industry-leading investments. She holds a chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Boston. She served as a two-term member of the Tepper School Alumni Board and is active in a number of other nonprofit volunteer roles. Heinel received her MBA from CMU’s Tepper School of Business.
- KristieAnne Reed, a 1995 graduate of the College of Fine Arts, is a highly regarded and admired television executive and producer and currently serves as CEO of Jerry Bruckheimer Television. In her position, she oversees the development and production of all network, cable and streaming series such as the “CSI” franchise, “Cold Case,” fan-favorite “Lucifer,” “Fire Country” and Emmy Award-winning “The Amazing Race.” While serving as senior vice president of feature films for Jerry Bruckheimer, she spearheaded production of blockbusters such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “National Treasure” and “Remember the Titans.” Reed completed CMU’s John Wells Directing Program, earning her BFA in drama in 1995 from the School of Drama. A post-graduation internship at Disney led her to realize that producing was her forte. Reed has served on the Advisory Board for CMU’s Master of Entertainment Industry Management program since its founding.
- Michael Schatz, a 2000 graduate of the School of Computer Science, and his research lab have developed pioneering algorithms and computational systems for comparative genomics, human genetics and personalized medicine. Schatz earned a bachelor of science from Carnegie Mellon, where he became interested in data structures, algorithmics and artificial intelligence. He later earned a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Maryland. Schatz is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Biology and co-leader of the Epigenome Sciences cluster at Johns Hopkins University and program director for the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Analysis, Visualization and Informatics Lab-space (AnVIL). In his work, Schatz uses cutting-edge computational and experimental tools as well as advanced machine learning and data science to understand the foundation of genome and epigenome biology. Along with his colleagues, Schatz was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022 by Time magazine.
- Ming-Na Wen, a 1986 graduate of the School of Drama, has had an illustrious acting career for decades. She was a trumpeter on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” She broke barriers as the first Asian American contract actor in a daytime drama on “As the World Turns." Her diverse roles include Dr. Chen on “ER," June in "The Joy Luck Club" and Mimi in "One Night Stand." Among her credits are "Street Fighter," "Two and a Half Men" and "Hacks." Wen was named a Disney Legend for originating the role of warrior princess Mulan and Agent May on Marvel's “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." She achieved the Disney trifecta with mercenary Fennec Shand in the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.” This year, Wen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Photo of Ming-Na Wen by Dennis Kwan
2023 Recent Alumni Achievement Award: This award is presented to alumni who graduated in the last decade for exceptional professional or vocational accomplishment. This year’s honoree is:
- Entrepreneur Eric Wise’s — a 2014 graduate of the College of Engineering — journey to success began when he received a Small Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) as a student to develop a digitized oxygen regulator for home medical use. In 2015, Wise launched Wise Telemetry, whose products evolved to monitor and remotely transmit the amount of industrial gas in tanks. This information then alerts suppliers when refills are needed. In 2021, Otodata Technologies, the world’s largest tank monitoring company, acquired Wise Telemetry, and Wise serves as its vice president of industrial solutions, overseeing the industrial gas division. Wise earned a double-major bachelor’s degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering as well as a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from CMU.
2023 Alumni Service Awards: These awards recognize alumni for their dedicated and impactful service to the university and its students and alumni. This year’s four honorees include:
- Henry (Chuen) Ha, a 2006 graduate of the Tepper School of Business, approaches his volunteer service at Carnegie Mellon with a trademark blend of kindness, creativity and determination. As president of CMU’s Beijing Regional Network, Ha helps to expand the university’s presence and brand in mainland China. He also impacts the university by encouraging the CMU community to support the Immersive Cultural Innovation Fund, which nurtures storytelling activities through interactive media elements such as virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive installations in the Askwith Kenner Global Languages & Cultures Room. Ha is the founder and CEO of Metcold Group Limited, a leading cold-chain infrastructure service provider. He began his career at Deutsche Bank's Asset Management division before joining China Investment Corporation, where he was responsible for asset allocation and strategic research.
- David Hilliard, a 1973 graduate of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, serves on the Andrew Carnegie Society Board and Dietrich College Dean’s Board of Advisors and is a former member of the CMU Alumni Association Board, where he uses his leadership experience to guide programs and initiatives for both students and alumni. Hilliard can often be found attending and hosting Los Angeles alumni events, offering career advice to students and cheering on Buggy every Spring Carnival. He also helped to organize one of the most successful 50th reunion celebrations ever for the Class of 1973. Hilliard is president and co-founder of Symphony Development, which develops and manages premium off-campus student housing, mixed-use and retail properties. Hilliard holds a B.A. in economics from CMU and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
- Alumni support played a major role in how Audrey G.S. Sykes, a 1981 graduate of the Mellon College of Science, was able to fund her education and, with that same spirit, she continues to pay it forward. She is a current director and past president of the Carnegie Mellon Black Alumni Association, leading the charge to increase giving to CMBAA’s Endowment Fund. She has served on the Department of Biological Sciences Advisory Board and the Andrew Carnegie Society Board, and established two ACS Legacy scholarships. Sykes holds a bachelor of science in biology from CMU and a master of science in business from Johns Hopkins University. Now the senior director, business development, for biopharmaceutical company Altimmune, Sykes’ career in the biotechnology industry has included positions in sales, marketing, operations and business development.
- Along with a busy creative career as an educator, composer, performer and author, Professor Emerita of Music Marilyn Taft Thomas, a 1964 and 1965 graduate of the College of Fine Arts, has contributed many years as a volunteer for the CMU community. She has served on several giving committees: the Class of 1964 Reunion Giving Committee, the Faculty & Staff Annual Fund Committee and the Andrew Carnegie Society Executive Board, including two years as president during which she raised membership to 2,300. Taft Thomas was a Centennial Campaign major gift volunteer and led two major fundraising campaigns for the School of Music. She joined the CMU faculty in 1981 and is a former member of the CMU Board of Trustees.
2023 Recent Alumni Service Award: This award is presented to alumni who graduated in the last decade for volunteer service to the university or any of its alumni organizations. This year’s honoree is:
- Devika Yeragudipati Devarakond, a 2012 graduate of CMU’s Information Networking Institute (INI), has had a profound impact as a leader and passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity initiatives, working to further women’s advancement in the tech industry with the intent of making it more welcoming to historically marginalized communities. Devarakond remains a deeply connected and highly engaged alumna, volunteering as current chair of INI’s Alumni Leadership Council. Since graduating from INI with her master of science in information security technology and management, Devarakond has built a career as a senior security professional, and currently serves as a security engineer in the Apple Media Services group. She has previously worked for Bloomberg and Adobe Systems.
About the Alumni Awards
Since 1950, Carnegie Mellon University has paid tribute to individual alumni distinguished by their service to the university and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and business through its annual Alumni Awards program. Each class of honorees is honored at the annual Alumni Awards ceremony. This year, the 2023 celebration will be held on Friday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kresge Theatre, College of Fine Arts Building, on CMU’s campus as part of Homecoming Weekend.
Opportunities to sponsor the 2023 Alumni Awards or purchase a tribute ad to honor one or more of the honorees are available.
Nominate a Tartan for 2024
Nominations for the 2024 Alumni Awards class are open through Nov. 26, 2023.