American University presented its 2022 Alumni Association Awards to five changemakers who are leaders in their communities and their fields. Their work in public health, public service, journalism, and activism earned them the highest honors presented by the university’s alumni association. These five distinguished alumni bring positive change to their communities and make great impact in our changing world. The awards were presented during a special in-person ceremony on the AU campus.
“Our Alumni Award winners represent AU changemakers taking on the most pressing challenges of our times and driving progress in their communities and beyond,” said AU President Sylvia M. Burwell. “These alumni inspire all Eagles who share the AU experience, which is all a community of passion and purpose. Honoring their accomplishments and sharing their AU stories is a great privilege.”
This year’s recipients are:
Mark Bucher, SPA/BA ’90, received the Alumni Recognition Award for his work to reduce food insecurity in the district and across the nation during the pandemic through Feed the Fridge, a non-profit that combats hunger while helping restaurants stay in business. The organization has provided more than 100,000 free meals in DC since 2020. Bucher is co-owner of Medium Rare restaurants, founder of Feed the Fridge, and an active member of the American University alumni community, having served as a member of the Kogod School of Business Advisory Council and the Entrepreneurship Advisory Council.
Alisyn Camerota, SOC/BA ’88, anchor of CNN Newsroom, received the Neil Kerwin Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional accomplishments. Camerota has been nominated for two Emmy awards and received an Edward R. Murrow Award for her continuing coverage of Hurricane Maria in 2018. In 2017, she published her debut novel, Amanda Wakes Up, inspired by her own career. The novel was named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR and deemed a “must read” by Oprah Magazine. Camerota serves on the Dean’s Council of the American University School of Communication.
Sam Cho, SIS/BA ’13, Commissioner of the Port of Seattle, received the Rising Star Award, which recognizes alumni who received their degrees within the last 10 years and have made significant contributions to greater society through their professional or philanthropic work. An Obama administration veteran, Cho became Seattle’s youngest port commissioner in the position’s 110-year history. In 2021, when the withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan triggered an influx of refugees, Cho established the first welcome center for refugees at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Loren Danielson, Kogod/BSBA ’80, Managing Director, RBC Wealth Management, received the Alumni Eagle Award in recognition of his service to the university. Danielson, who was captain of the wrestling team at AU, was the first to represent the school at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Loren serves as the inaugural chair of the Eagles Leadership Council, a group of AU alumni and friends that provides philanthropic and personal support to the Athletics department.
Valerie Guarnieri, SIS/MA ’96, Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, received the inaugural Global Alumni Leader Award. Guarnieri has been Assistant Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning agency since 2018. At WFP, Valerie leads policy development to ensure hunger reduction, empowerment of women, creation of resilient food systems, and support of social protection. She also works to reduce the impact of the pandemic and climate change on world hunger.
“It is always a pleasure to gather with and commend fellow American University alumni,” said Jonathan Mathis, PhD, Kogod/BSBA ’04, President of the AU Alumni Association. “These five honorees highlight the value of an AU education and showcase the local and global impact of our alumni. For current students, these stories are great reminders that they are equipped and empowered as the next generation of changemakers.”