2016 Alumni Awards

Alumni award honorees recognized at Reunion Dinner

(From left to right) John Noor, Dee James, Katie Rozycki (Chair, National Alumni Council), Jennifer Forsyth,  LaKesha McDay, Jacquelyn Hallum Jennifer Forsyth, deputy editor, investigations, The Wall Street Journal—Forsyth ’90 received the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna Award, UNC Asheville’s highest alumni award, which is named for the founder of its first alumni association and a distinguished member of the U.S. Congress. Forsyth had served as U.S. editor for The Wall Street Journal for three years prior to being promoted to her current position in 2014.

Jacquelyn Hallum, director of health careers and diversity education, Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC)—Hallum received the Francine Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community, named for UNC Asheville’s first African-American graduate who gave a lifetime of service to the Asheville area in support of education. Hallum, a former chair of the Asheville City Schools Board of Education, is a leader in the effort to support workforce diversity in health care and educate area youth about health care careers. After studying at UNC Asheville for some of her undergraduate years, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A&T State University, and earned a dual master’s degree at Pfeiffer University.

John Noor, attorney, Roberts & Stevens, P.A.—Noor ’07 received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University, named for the son of the university’s founder, a graduate of the class of 1937, and one of the university’s most active volunteers and supporters for over sixty years. Noor, a litigation attorney focusing on environmental law, complex business litigation, governmental affairs, and public policy, serves on UNC Asheville’s National Alumni council and serves students as an adjunct instructor, teaching a course in environmental law.

Dee James, professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program, UNC Asheville—James was named the winner of the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, recognizing a faculty member who goes beyond the call of duty in the classroom and as a mentor and advisor to students. James, a 1973 graduate of UNC Asheville and member of the faculty since 1987, has co-led international travel experiences to Ghana, taught in the Africana Studies, Arts and Ideas, and Humanities programs, and played an essential role in helping students master effective and expressive writing.

Cristina Alonso, attorney—Alonso ’97 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. Alonso, experienced in appellate litigation in state and federal courts, is former president of Florida Legal Services Inc., a non-profit providing legal assistance to those unable to afford representation. She was counsel of record on an amicus brief filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Equality Federation that called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to act quickly to ensure the freedom to marry for LGBT people across the nation.

Lakesha McDay, director of diversity and inclusion, Mission Health—McDay ’09 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. McDay has held a variety of positions at Mission Health over two decades. She also serves as a consultant for Mission’s Center for Leadership and Professional Development, and has served the community as a loaned executive for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.