Wade Thomson ’98

A partner in the law firm Jenner & Block, Wade was selected by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company to “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty,” an annual list that honors 40 of the most talented young attorneys working in Illinois. The profile cites Wade’s involvement in a large and complicated aerospace dispute (in which even his opponent praised him for his fierce but fair advocacy for his client) and his active pro bono practice, including his service for clients of the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. Wade has represented more than 20 immigrants and their families from 16 countries to secure asylum or other legal protections.

Nathan White ’06

Nathan is the senior legislative manager for Access Now, a New York City-headquartered advocacy organization that defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. A former communications director in the U.S. Congress, Nathan has shaped political and social issue campaigns across the United States and the Internet. He earned his bachelor’s degree from K in political science, and he studied abroad in Hong Kong. He earned a master’s degree in global marketing, communications and advertising from Emerson College in Boston.

Allen M. Omoto ’82, Ph.D.

Allen was awarded an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation for his passionate dedication to social justice and to bringing psychological science to bear on social policy. Throughout his career, Allen has demonstrated a strong and lasting commitment to social justice and inclusion through his research, publications, teaching, mentorship and leadership. He was APA’s inaugural William A. Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow. He served on the Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns, chaired the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, has served on the APA Council of Representatives and has been elected president of Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues). Allen has received awards for distinction in education and training (Div. 44) and service (Div. 9), as well as the Western Psychological Association’s Social Responsibility Award. Through his passion, dedication, sense of humor, and the example he sets for integrating his values into his personal and professional life, Allen inspires and leads his students and his colleagues to affect social justice through the science of psychology. He is currently a professor in the Claremont Colleges in California.

Laura Newland ’03

Laura is the executive director of the District of Columbia Office on Aging (DCOA). She leads an agency that develops and carries out a comprehensive and coordinated system of health, education, employment and social services for the District’s older adults, persons living with disabilities and their caregivers. Prior to her appointment by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Laura served as DCOA’s interim general counsel. She was appointed interim executive director in early November and named executive director in December. She has deep professional roots in advocacy. Prior to joining District government, Laura worked at AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly directing the Real Property Tax Project. She spearheaded the community advocacy and litigation strategy that led to significant legislative reform in 2014 and the creation of the Real Property Tax Lien Ombudsman. Before receiving her law degree (Georgetown University), she worked in a variety of nonprofit settings, spanning numerous issues that included domestic violence, jail-based voting and registration, and consumer protection. At K she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and studied abroad in Thailand.

Ruth Moerdyk ’83

Ruth was awarded the Faith Award this year for recognition of her leadership and work in creating safe and affirming spaces through a faith lens. Ruth advocates for the LGBTQ community from the pulpit (she serves as the pastor of Christian Church-Disciples of Christ in Kalamazoo), in everyday life, and as chair of the Faith Alliance. During her time at Kalamazoo College, Moerdyk helped found the first LGB student organization at K and went on to provide leadership for the LGBTQ student organization at Chicago Theological Seminary. She earned her bachelor’s degree in religion and studied abroad in Sierra Leone.

Max Cherem ’04, the Marlene Crandell Francis Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Max  is one of four persons in the country honored with the prestigious Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellowship for the 2015-16 academic year. He is spending this year as a research resident at Duke University and working in the Kenan Institute for Ethics. His work focuses on human rights, specifically the ethical challenges created by “externalized” state border controls: policies that try to prevent migrant arrival by projecting or outsourcing a nation’s authority over migration beyond its regular territorial borders. He gave an interview at the Kenan Institute explaining his research. Max earned his bachelor’s degree at K in philosophy and studied abroad in Nepal.

Sarah Ovink ’00

Sarah has won a 2015 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Award to study how race/ethnicity, gender, and family income are linked to career success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The CAREER Award provides multi-year support for especially promising junior faculty members. Sarah is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg). A key component of her research will be interviews with more than 100 undergraduate students in STEM and non-STEM majors at Virginia Tech and focus groups with peer interviewers. Over the next five years, Sarah and a team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants will follow up with these students as they complete their degrees and begin their careers. The grant is expected to total $453,359 over the five years. Sarah’s scholarly interests have primarily focused on educational inequality by race and gender using qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. Other research interests include immigration, Latino/Latina populations, and undocumented students.

She recently published an article in the journal Gender & Society that examines trends in Latinos’/Latinas’ postsecondary pathways and life course decisions over a two-year period. She is completing work on a book titled Race, Class, and Choice in Latino/a Higher Education: Pathways in the College-for-All Era under contract with Palgrave Macmillan.