CNBC anchor and author Bill Griffith ’80 (Journalism) served as commentator and master of ceremonies at the California State University, Northridge Alumni Association’s 14th Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards gala on April 21, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The Distinguished Alumni Awards, the highest honor given by the Alumni Association, were awarded to Joan Chen ’92 (RTVF), internationally acclaimed actress, director, screenwriter, producer and recipient of five Golden Horse Awards (the equivalent of the Oscars in China); John J. Harris ’72 (Political Science), chairman and chief executive officer of Nestlé Waters since 2007 and executive vice president of Nestlé S.A., headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland; and Richard Kaufman ’77 (Music), Grammy award-winning conductor, principal pops conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and composer of CSUN’s fight song. Griffith was honored as a distinguished alumnus in 2000. Photo by Lee Choo.
More than 420 guests, a record number, attended the Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration. Attendees included campus leaders, alumni, and family and friends of the honorees. Cal State Northridge Alumni Association President Dennis DeYoung ’84 (Business) welcomed guests; Incoming President Dianne F. Harrison offered congratulations in a taped greeting; and Interim President Harry Hellenbrand greeted attendees. Photo by Lee Choo.
The Cal State Northridge Distinguished Alumni Awards event began with a cocktail reception during which Matadors mixed and mingled in celebration of friends, family and fellow alumni. Photo by Lee Choo.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient John J. Harris walks to the stage to accept his award. Harris has been listed as one of the world’s “Twenty Rising Stars” of black leadership in Ebony magazine and included in Black Enterprise magazine’s list of “100 Most Powerful in Corporate America.” Additionally, in 2010, Black Health Magazine named Harris one of the “Top 25 Most Influential African Americans” in the nutritional food industries. Photo by Lee Choo.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Richard Kaufman shares a laugh with Bill Griffith as he accepts his award. Kaufman’s list of noted musical accomplishments includes having conducted numerous musicals both on tour and in Los Angeles, such as “Company,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The Sound of Music.” He regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras around the world. In 2008, Kaufman and the Alumni Association collaborated with the Department of Music to score, produce and digitally record both the spirit and alma mater versions of “Hail to the Matadors.” Photo by Lee Choo.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Joan Chen thanks the Alumni Association for the honor. Chen arrived at CSUN as a young adult with movie star status in her home country of China but had to adapt to the role of “unknown” actress in Tinsel Town. Having to audition for roles was a foreign and uncomfortable process that found her leaving one audition without even trying out. In a twist of fate, she met famed movie producer Dino DeLaurentiis while walking to her car. He later cast her as the lead in his film “Tai Pan,” which helped launch her career in the United States. Throughout her career, she has gained recognition as an actor, director, screenwriter and producer. Photo by Lee Choo.
The 2012 Cal State Northridge Distinguished Alumni Award recipients pose with their medals (from left to right): John J. Harris, Joan Chen and Richard Kaufman. Photo by Lee Choo.
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