2020 Alumni Award Recipients
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College whose exemplary leadership and notable actions have contributed to the betterment of the entire Lawrence University community.
Jeffrey Riester ’70
Jeff Riester is deeply connected to the Appleton and Lawrence communities. Riester grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but moved to Appleton a few weeks before his senior year to graduate from Appleton High School, later attending Lawrence as a member of the Class of 1970. His study of history led to the pursuit of his Juris Doctor through the University of Wisconsin Law School and subsequent career as an attorney and manager of Godfrey & Kahn’s Business Practice Group located in Appleton. He has extensive experience representing family-owned companies and providing counsel for higher education institutions, private and community foundations, and Wisconsin’s healthcare system.
In the Fox Valley, Riester has been actively engaged with the Fox Valley Estate Planning Council, the Appleton Medical Center Foundation, Inc., the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, the First Congregation Church Endowment Trust, and as a founding member of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc.
In addition to representing his alma mater admirably through his work in the Appleton community, Riester has provided exemplary leadership to Lawrence, including service on his 40th and 50th Reunion committees, the LUAA Board of Directors, the Björklunden Advisory Committee, and the Lawrence University Board of Trustees. In particular, he has brought insightful leadership to the Board of Trustees as chair from 2002-2004, chair of the More Light! campaign working group, and to the Björklunden Advisory Committee as co-chair alongside his wife, Jone ’72.Young alumni and current students have been fortunate to learn from Riester through mentoring opportunities offered through Lawrence Scholars in Business and Lawrence Scholars in Law.
The Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College after his or her 20th cluster reunion, for outstanding contributions and achievements in a career field. The award is named after Lucia R. Briggs, president of Milwaukee-Downer College and one of the most beloved and influential figures in the college’s history.
Lee Dodds Chemel ’65
Lee Dodds Chemel’s professional career spans over forty years in theatre, film and television. Chemel’s journey began at Milwaukee-Downer College. She transferred to Lawrence College during the merger where she studied English and ultimately graduated magna cum laude in 1965. Lee later earned an M.A. in Education and another M.A. in Asian theatre, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Later she earned an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Washington.
A four-time Emmy nominee, her television directing credits (among over 500 episodes) include “The Middle,” “Arrested Development,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The George Lopez Show,” “Judging Amy,” “Spin City,” “Becker,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Mad About You,” “Murphy Brown,” Northern Exposure,” “The Nanny,” and her first TV show, “Family Ties.” Chemel is especially well known for her role as co-executive producer and director of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the recipient of three BET awards for outstanding direction in comedy and two Humanitas awards.
Before fully diving into directing, Lee was an East Asian Languages Fellow at the University of Michigan and a teacher in public schools in Norwalk, Connecticut, Racine, Wisconsin, and Seattle, Washington. Her theatre directing credits include productions at Seattle Repertory, ACT Seattle, Empty Space Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Trinity Repertory (Providence), Alley Theatre (Houston), the Grove Shakespeare Festival, Matrix Theatre in L.A., and as resident director and conservatory director at South Coast Repertory.
Throughout her busy career, Chemel has stayed connected to her alma mater. She has returned to campus to speak as part of the Entertainment Industry Summit, has volunteered for the Lawrene Scholars in Arts and Education program, actively engaged in organizing and facilitating Milwaukee-Downer reunions, and most recently, served on her 50th reunion committee.
In June 2019, Chemel received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Lawrence University, where she was the keynote speaker at the Class of 2019’s Commencement ceremony.
The Nathan M. Pusey Young Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University celebrating his or her 20th cluster Reunion or younger for significant contributions and achievements in a career field. The award is named after Nathan M. Pusey, the 10th and one of the youngest presidents of Lawrence College, an exemplary figure in higher education in the 20th century.
Zoie Reams ’14
Since graduating from Lawrence in 2014 with her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and obtaining her Master of Music from Louisiana State University, Zoie Reams has led an exemplary opera career. A Mezzo-soprano lauded by Opera News for her “velvety mezzo” and for how she “phrase[s] with elegance and articulate[s] coloratura nimbly,” Reams has appeared across the country at Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Lousiane, Opera Columbus, and Des Moines Metro Opera. Of particular note and achievement for a young musician was her 2018-19 season debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago singing Flora in La Traviata.
On the concert stage, Reams has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Staatstheater Cottbus Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall, and the combined choirs of Auburn Univesrity and New Choral Society of Scarsdale, New York.
Reams’ awards include second place at Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition in 2016, first place winner of the Emerging Artist division of the 2015 Classical Singer Competition, and second place winner of the 2016 Gulf Coast Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
The George B. Walter ’36 Service to Society Award
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College who best exemplifies the ideals of a liberal education through its application to socially useful ends in the community, the nation or the world. This award honors George B. Walter ’36, faculty member, coach and dean of men, whose work at the college and beyond was guided by his conviction that every individual can and should make a positive difference in the world.
Brienne Colston ’15
Brienne Colston is a Black queer feminist youth worker, facilitator, and community organizer hailing from the South Bronx. Colston is the founder and executive director of Brown Girl Recovery, a non-profit collective dedicated to prioritizing healing justice and providing community spaces to womxn of color in the Bronx and other uptown areas through social justice programming and events. The group has toured number colleges, universities, and nonprofits throughout the country; presented at conferences, including the 2018 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference at Hampshire College; and hosted both a healing summit and numerous healing circles addressing childhood trauma, desirability politics, and toxic workplaces.
Brown Girl Recovery specifically began as a student group, LU Sister Circles, stemming from Colston’s personal experiences in Appleton and an understanding of the challenges students of color face. The growth of this program speaks to her ongoing role as someone who creates spaces for students of color to feel loved and supported. As a student, she was also instrumental in bringing the first Black sorority to campus and in revitalizing the Black Student Union.
In addition to working with Brown Girl Recovery, Colston serves as a racial justice & political education facilitator for an array of small community-based organizations including the Audre Lorde Project, where she also directs their first-ever queer/trans/non-binary POC choir. She has facilitated healing justice-based workshops and community gatherings at institutions such as the United Nations, the Posse Foundation, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Black Women's Blueprint, and Spelman College.
A 2015 graduate of Lawrence University with degrees in gender studies and history, Colston found her passion in small town grassroots organizing and resistance work. Her tireless work for her community and devotion to liberation has given many woman of color a vital space for encouragement, support, and healing.
The Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp M-D’18 Outstanding Service Award
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College after his or her 20th Cluster Reunion who has provided outstanding service to Lawrence University. This award honors Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp, voted Milwaukee-Downer alumna of the year in 1964 for her long-standing service to the college as president of the alumnae association board, class secretary and public-relations officer.
Nancy Perkins Hanley M-D’54
Nancy Perkins Hanley graduated from Milwaukee-Downer College in 1954 with a degree in occupational therapy. On her graduation day, she was sworn into the U.S. Army, Women’s Medical Specialist Corps and assigned to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver. From there, her impressive 31-year career as an occupational therapist in rehabilitation, psychiatry, and pediatrics led her to building a life around the country—including Colorado, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California.
Perkins Hanley has, with equal strength and care, brought her appreciation of Milwaukee-Downer College to everything she has done for Lawrence University. Since 1991, she has held the position of class secretary. For four years, from 1996-2000, she served on the LUAA Board of Directors as a member of the alumni programs committee and alumni development committee. In 2004, she was a member of her 50th Reunion steering committee. In 2008, she helped to organize the Milwaukee-Downer Legacy Circle reception for M-D alumane in southern California. She is also a former class agent, admissions volunteer, and organizer of regional alumni programming.
Perkins Hanley credits Milwaukee-Downer College and the mentorship of Henrietta McNary for helping prepare her for the various modalities and ever-changing nature of occupational therapy. It wasn’t just her classes, but the other crafts and skills that she learned throughout her liberal arts experience that helped her to enrich the instruction she gave to her patients—which she has continued to share with family, friends, and fellow volunteers.
Ted Katzoff ’65
After a brief career as a child actor and an early beginning in fencing, Ted Katzoff pursued a theatre major at Lawrence University. In 1962, during his sophomore year, Katzoff started the fencing program while working for the physical education department. He graduated from Lawrence in 1965 and went on to attend the University of Connecticut for his master’s in theatre arts. An actor, manager, director, and sword master, Katzoff has taught theatre and fencing at Bennet College, University of California Los Angeles, Loyola Mary Mount University, Occidental College, “The Living History Center,” Ren-Faire, and several private schools in Los Angeles.
In addition to sharing his passion for theatre and fencing through his teaching, Katzoff produced the “Ring of Steel” production for the L.A. Fringe Festival of Arts, produced and choreographed the Battle Sequence for Wellington’s Victory at Hollywood Bowl, and conducted sword fight training and choreography for Spielberg’s Hook.
It is no secret that Lawrence is very important to Katzoff. He comes back to campus often to mentor the fencing team, lead master classes for the theatre program, interview prospective students and represent Lawrence at college fairs. He has served on multiple Reunion committees, as a campaign volunteer for both the More Light! and Be the Light! capital fundraising campaigns, served on the Alumni Board of Directors from 2009-2012, and volunteered every year for the 50-year Connection program that honors the merging of Milwaukee-Downer College and Lawrence College.
The Marshall B. Hulbert ’26 Young Alumni Outstanding Service Award
Presented to an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University celebrating his or her 20th cluster reunion or younger, who has provided significant service to the college. This award honors Marshall Brandt Hulbert ’26, known as “Mr. Lawrence,” who made contributions to thousands of Lawrentian lives and served the University in many significant capacities for 54 years.
Chiao-Yu Tuan ’14
Chiao-Yu Tuan, an international student and member of the Class of 2014, found a second home in the friendly and close-knit community at Lawrence. While on campus, Tuan worked as a Student Admissions Ambassador and gained valuable experience as a web developer and producer of the documentary, “5000 Miles From Home.” Through this documentary, she captured the perspective of first-year, international Lawrence students. This project is just one example of the many ways Tuan excelled at Lawrence. Tuan graduated Phi Beta Kappa, majoring in psychology and math-computer science.
Since graduation, Tuan has maintained close ties to her alma mater by creating platforms to help effectively communicate with international students and aiding in the establishment of the university’s brand in China. Tuan currently works for Airbnb as a software engineer in the Silicon Valley. Prior to her role with Airbnb, Tuan interned for Amazon and worked for LinkedIn. She has never hesitated to share her experience with Lawrence students, whether that means coming back to campus to speak to computer science classes or mentoring international students on life after Lawrence.
Tuan is a long-time host for the annual Silicon Valley Trek taken by Lawrence Scholars in Business. For this annual trip, she plans company visits and organizes alumni networking events. Staying true to her dedication to building connections, Tuan is working on building up a regional alumni club in the San Francisco Bay area. She hopes to vitalize a local social circle for alumni to reconnect, support each other, and give back to their alma mater.