Alumni Hall of Fame Dinner
Alumni Hall of Fame Dinner
A new RCDS tradition began in October 2005 when the first Alumni Hall of Fame dinner was held on campus to honor five inductees. The Alumni Hall of Fame was created by the Alumni Executive Board to recognize alumni for their port-RCDS accomplishments. This year's Alumni Hall of Fame Dinner was held On October 19, 2012.
At the Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction, Headmaster Scott Nelson welcomed alumni, faculty, and friends, and honored the following individuals as the newest members of the Rye Country Day School Alumni Hall of Fame.
David Boxenbaum '87: Distinguished Alumni Prize
View his acceptance speech
Joshua L. Carter '98: Athletics
View his acceptance speech
Frank C. Effinger: Special
View his acceptance speech
Edward D. Kleinbard '69: Academic/Professional
View his acceptance speech
Jessica Greer Morris '86: The Arts
View her acceptance speech
Blythe K. Robinson: Service
View her acceptance speech
W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award
Created in May 23, 1993 in honor of W. Lee Pierson, who served as Headmaster of Rye Country Day School from 1979 to 1993, the distinguished alumni award was established to recognize annually an individual whose generosity and service have significantly benefited and strengthened our society.
* Click for headmaster's remarks
*2012: David Boxenbaum ’87
At the Blue & Gold Dinner in May, Headmaster Scott Nelson presented the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award to RCDS alumnus David Boxenbaum ’87 in recognition of David’s career in the music industry. David is a co-founder and General Manager of A&M/Octone Records.
Following are Mr. Nelson’s remarks:
This year’s recipient is David Boxenbaum, a member of the Class of 1987, who played the baritone sax in our band and also was a member of the ice hockey and lacrosse teams. While at Rye Country Day School he met his wife, Melinda Wasserman, a member of the Class of 1988. The Boxenbaums have two daughters and live in New York City where David is the co-founder and general manager of A & M/Octone Records, a rapidly rising and leading label in the music recording industry.
David is a great example of a student who experienced the classroom as the foundation of his education, all the while exploring other fields and setting goals for his future.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in political science and a minor in film studies. During his days at Johns Hopkins he also worked as a lobbyist for United Way in the Maryland state legislature, was a marketing intern with the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, and interned with ESPN. Somehow, he also found time to play on the Johns Hopkins ice hockey team and coach a middle school lacrosse team.
David returned to New York where he earned an MBA at Columbia University, worked two years at an advertising agency and then moved to Price Waterhouse as a management consultant for another two years. His clients included entertainment and media companies such as Universal Music, Disney and EMI. His growing business experience, plus his lifelong passion for music led to the founding of A&M/Octone Records with a partner 12 years ago.
A&M/Octone’s first major record, sold by the millions around the world, was “Songs About Jane,” performed by Maroon 5, a Grammy Award-winning band that since has seen several albums go platinum.
Today, Octone, regarded in the industry as a “hot” label, has a diverse stable of artists that includes Maroon 5, modern-rock Flyleaf, rap-rockers Hollywood Undead, pop hip-hop artist K’Naan and country artist Miss Willie Brown. The company also is working on other activities in the industry, perhaps most notably the development of a reality music-based TV show.
One result of Octone’s success is David’s on-going lecturing on two case histories about the company at Harvard Business School. It is my great pleasure to introduce our new recipient of the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award, David Boxenbaum ’87.
*2011: Dr. Andrew Farnsworth '91
Please don’t take this the wrong way - - but tonight’s presentation is “for the birds.” That, as you will see, is not a complaint; it’s a high compliment to Andrew Farnsworth, a member of the class of 1991, who is an internationally acclaimed ornithologist.
Dr. Farnsworth, a “lifer” at Rye Country Day School, developed an interest in birds and in identifying different species before he started attending school - - and eventually turned his hobby into an exciting career. Today, he’s a noted researcher, teacher, writer, and bird guide. He’s published in both scientific journals and popular media, travels extensively, and makes presentations throughout the U.S., as well as overseas.
Dr. Farnsworth has been a long-time bird guide at local, national and international levels, starting when he was 13 years old. He since has led tours in North and South America and the Caribbean, including two lengthy trips on the Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo Rivers. This April he and five colleagues traveled to Texas, where they identified and recorded a national record of 264 species of birds in a 24-hour period.
He is a Research Associate in the Conservation Science Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He received a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, a M.S. in Zoology from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell. He uses modern technology to study bird migration and turn his research into cutting edge conservation policies, and plans to focus more specifically on how birds communicate with each other during their massive migrations.
You will be interested to know that Dr. Farnsworth also is a performing musician. He was a member of the concert choir at RCDS, later took up the guitar, and in 1997 formed Mectapus, a seven-piece band that has performed throughout the eastern U.S. and as far as Texas. The band performs at music festivals and clubs, and has been the opening act for many big-name groups, such as the Dave Mathews Band, and Rusted Root.
He also admits to being an avid fan of the New York Yankees and World Cup soccer. In fact, he met his wife Patricia at a Yankees game. Patricia, also a Ph.D., is a microbiologist and professor at Hunter College and a researcher at Rockefeller University.
Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Dr. Andrew Farnsworth as the new recipient of the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award.
*2010: Jonathan Banner '85
Tonight is a night of mixed emotions for those of us who have worked with you over the last several years at Rye Country Day School. It’s our first formal step in saying goodbye to you as students - - and, it’s also our first step in welcoming you to lifetime membership in the RCDS Alumni Association.
Traditionally, the new graduates also become the first to greet the latest recipient of the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award, presented every year since 1993 to a member of the Association who has demonstrated exemplary service to RCDS and the community at large.
I’m sure you are aware that numerous men and women who have preceded you here have later achieved great success and recognition in a wide variety of careers, including education, medicine, business, science, entertainment and the military.
The 2010 recipient of the Pierson Award is a journalist. He’s Jon Banner, a member of the Class of 1985, who went on to graduate Boston University with a degree in journalism, and since has risen to stardom in his field at ABC, the American Broadcasting Company. We know it in New York as Channel 7.
Mr. Banner is executive producer of “World News Tonight,” a premier newscast, anchored by Diane Sawyer and viewed throughout the country every weekday night at 6:30 pm. His position as executive producer is more or less the same as being the editor and publisher of a newspaper.
He grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, entered Rye Country Day in the ninth grade, and developed an early interest in the news when his father regularly forced him to read the editorial page of The New York Times at breakfast. His career started with a two-week internship at ABC News during his junior year at RCDS and continued after commencement when he served as a vacation relief desk assistant at the network.
After college he worked with David Brinkley in Washington, then moved to the Atlanta bureau and shortly thereafter to the Dallas bureau from which he covered the Oklahoma City bombing and the investigation and trials that followed.
He has been a producer of “Good Morning America” and “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” and in 2003 was named executive producer of “World News Tonight,” first with Peter Jennings and later with Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas as co-anchors, then with Charles Gibson and currently with Diane Sawyer
Pierson Award - - 2010 - - Jon Banner
Mr. Banner has received 15 national Emmy Awards for his work at ABC News. The news teams he has headed frequently have been recognized for outstanding performance. The honors include two Edward R. Murrow Awards for best newscast, a DuPont Award, and a Peabody Award for the network’s coverage of the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center.
Needless to say, we’re quite proud of Mr. Banner’s many accomplishments, and it’s my great privilege to present him with our W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award.
*2009: David D. Doniger '69
Tonight’s Blue and Gold Dinner is an annual highlight at Rye Country Day School in that it marks our farewell to you as students and our welcome to lifetime membership in the RCDS Alumni Association.
Significantly, the dinner also serves to introduce the 2009 recipient of the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award, presented since 1993 to a member of the Association who has demonstrated exemplary service to RCDS and the community at large.
Numerous Rye Country Day students who have preceded you have risen as leaders in various walks of life, including science, medicine, education, business and education.
This year’s Pierson Award recipient is David D. Doniger, who grew up in Rye, was a “lifer” at RCDS, and is a member of the class of 1969. He was a member of our soccer team, and to this day continues to play pick-up soccer on weekends in Washington. He holds a bachelors degree in history from Yale University and both a law degree and a masters degree in city and regional planning from the University of California at Berkeley.
It’s been said that Mr. Doniger’s life is all about hot air. But make no mistake about it - - his work vitally affects everyone on earth. His career has been dedicated to helping to stop the planet from dangerously overheating, and he is nationally and internationally recognized for his spearheading efforts to pass effective global warming legislation at the federal level and to get the United States into a strong international global warming treaty.
He is policy director of the Climate Center and also is a senior attorney at NRDC - - the National Resources Defense Council - - which is a not-for-profit environmental advocacy organization. He joined NRDC in 1978 and worked on clean-air issues for 14 years, helping to win the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a global treaty, before serving for eight years in the Clinton administration where he was counsel to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air program and later the agency’s director of climate change policy. He also spent a year at the Council on Environmental Quality.
Mr. Doniger returned to NRDC in 2001 where he focuses on policies to cut global warming pollution from power plants, motor vehicles and other major industries, and leads work to complete the phase-out of aerosols and other chemicals that deplete the earth’s protective ozone layer.
Two years ago Stanford University Law School presented him with its National Public Service Award for his work representing the public interest on global warming and ozone depletion issues. He was honored for his work that led to a landmark Supreme Court decision that found carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
Mr. Doniger frequently testifies on these issues before Congress, has worked in the White House, and during the Clinton administration worked with Vice President Gore on the issues of global warming.
It’s no surprise that his work also has brought him into conflict with individuals and groups not in agreement with his goals. He claims that he probably is the only RCDS alum to be featured in a You Tube video in which his head is pasted on a dancing chicken in a takeoff on Chicken Little warning that “the sky is falling.” Maybe he’ll explain that to us this evening.
All of us owe a debt of gratitude to David Doniger for the work he’s doing in our behalf, and it’s my great privilege to present him with our W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award.
*2008: Martin E. Franklin '82
Tonight's Blue and Gold Dinner is an annual event that not only honors the conclusion of your careers at Rye Country Day School, but also honors one of the many outstanding people who have preceded you in the same classrooms you will be leaving at the end of next week.
You are about to meet Martin E. Franklin, a member of the class of 1982, who will receive the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award. The award was established in 1993 in the name of Dr. Pierson, a former headmaster - - and it has been given annually to alums from various walks of life, including education, science, and entertainment, and last year to a military hero, Colonel Kevin Farrell, a professor at West Point, who was a classmate of Martin’s in 1982.
Martin Franklin is an eminently successful businessman, a principal and executive officer of a number of private investment entities, an accomplished triathlete and avid outdoorsman, and a man whose volunteer efforts have benefited many, both here and abroad.
It’s a safe guess that all of us here tonight have used the products of Jarden Corporation, a “Fortune 500” company that Martin heads as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Jarden is a world-class consumer products company with over 25,000 employees, manufacturing facilities in 12 countries and operations in over 20 countries. Jarden’s annual revenues are $5.5 billion.
You’ll recognize K2 skis; Rawlings sporting goods; Coleman camping products; Sunbeam, Oster, Mr. Coffee and Crock-Pot appliances; Marmot outdoor clothing and equipment; Shakespeare, Abu-Garcia, Penn, Mitchell and Johnson rods, reels and other fishing equipment; Diamond Match Company; U.S. Playing Card Company and Ball home-canning products as just some of the many Jarden products, virtually all of which are leaders in the markets they serve. And, I should note that Jarden is an owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team.
Last year Martin and his partner established GLG Partners, the largest hedge fund in Europe. He is a director of GLG as well as chairman of Liberty Acquisition Holding Corporation and Liberty Acquisition International, both of which are special-purpose acquisition companies. He also is on the board of Kenneth Cole Productions and is chairman of Zoot Sports, the number one supplier of triathlon equipment.
When he’s not in the office you’ll most likely find Martin training for triathlons or ultra marathons, or skiing in Aspen, Colorado where he lives with his wife and four children. He also has a home in Rye and maintains Jarden’s corporate headquarters here as well. He’s here a few days a month when he’s not in the air flying to his many operations around the world.
The highlight of Martin’s recreational pursuits no doubt is his 38th place finish in “Badwater 2007,” a 135-mile run in 125-degree heat through Death Valley last July. The course features 16,000 feet of climb from Badwater, which is below sea level, to the top of Mount Whitney. He completed the run in 41 hours, 29 minutes and 24 seconds - - with the help of 150 bottles of Gatorade, 50 bottles of water, 150 salt pills and 60 Advil tablets.
He runs in the Westchester Triathlon, sponsored by Jarden, in September, twice has completed the Ironman Hawaii World Championships, annually competes in the New York City Marathon, and has run in many other similar events in various parts of the country.
He was born in London and moved with his family to Harrison in 1979, entering Rye Country Day School as a sophomore. He was captain and high scorer on the soccer team, and returned last year when he was named the outstanding player in last fall’s alumni weekend soccer game. He was inducted into the Rye Country Day School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2006.
Martin graduated the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in political science and then worked with New York investment firms before returning to England to run a diversified corporation. He returned to the U.S. in 1992 and ran several companies before joining Alltrista Corporation, which eventually became Jarden Corporation.
He’s on the boards of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the One Family Fund, for which he has raised over $1 million to assist families who have been victimized by suicide terrorists in Israel - - and just four weeks ago was presented the 2008 Tony Snow Award for his fund-raising efforts on behalf of the ”Wounded Warrior Project,” which aids seriously wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Martin credits Rye Country Day School with introducing him to America 29 years ago. Tonight, it’s my great privilege to present him with our W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award.
*2007: Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Farrell, Ph.D., '82
The Blue and Gold Senior Dinner is part of our tradition and truly a joyous step in concluding your careers at Rye Country Day School. It also serves as a platform for the presentation of the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award and gives you the opportunity to visit with the honoree who preceded you in the same classrooms on the same campus that you will be leaving in just a few days.
The award was established in 1993 in the name of Dr. Pierson, a former headmaster, and has been given annually to alums from various walks of life, including last year, for the first time, to an actor, John Treacy Egan, a member of the class of 1980, who entertained us by singing at this dinner.
Tonight we honor Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Farrell, a member of the class of 1982, who currently is a professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I want to assure Colonel Farrell that we do not expect him to sing for us!
Singing may be one of the few talents missing from his distinguished career in the U.S. Army. He is a noted academician, with two masters degrees and a doctorate in modern British history, a writer and teacher, and a true American hero as a result of commanding combat units in three major conflicts. He is the holder of the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Combat Action Badge. He also is one of a very few holders of a Ph.D. who has commanded a tank battalion in combat.
Kevin’s classmates in 1982, captioned a yearbook photo of him as "a future General MacArthur," and his track record seems very much in line with that prediction.
From the time he was a small boy Kevin’s dream was to be a soldier. He played football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and baseball and studied history, languages and the arts at RCDS, but never took his eye off the military. He attended the Military Academy at West Point, graduated in 1986, and chose to serve in armored units when he went on active duty.
He taught history at West Point, and in 1994 also taught three history courses at RCDS during the summer. While teaching he earned his graduate degrees at Columbia University, and received his Ph.D. in 1999 just prior to serving as operations officer of the first U.S. tank battalion posted into Kosovo in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
Kevin later served as aide to two commanding generals, and then, in 2003, was an advisor and training officer to the Afghan National Army. He returned from Afghanistan to take command of an armor battalion of more than 900 men, which was deployed to Iraq in January, 2005. It became known as the “Desert Rogues Battalion” and engaged in 300 combat patrols and 15 major offensive missions in the next year.
Returning to Fort Stewart, Georgia, Kevin had the choice of two new jobs in the Army. One was to become operations officer of the Third Infantry Division, a position that traditionally has been rewarded with promotion to General. The other was to return to West Point as a professor of history. He chose West Point.
His decision to return to academia and teach is significant in honoring him tonight in view of Rye Country Day’s motto of “Not for Self, But For Service.” He gives great credit to RCDS for helping shape his life, and felt strongly that imparting these lessons to the West Point cadets was more important than taking a more clear path to gaining a star on his shoulder.
Kevin’s life has been devoted to shaping the lives of others. He is a patriot and defender of our freedoms and a man of whom we all may be proud. I am deeply honored to present him with our W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award.
*2006: John Treacy Egan
One of the great joys of being headmaster is the opportunity to recognize the contributions of members of our school community who have distinguished themselves both on and off campus.
Tonight, at the Blue and Gold Senior Dinner, we continue the tradition of honoring an outstanding alumnus-a man who 26 years ago sat at this dinner awaiting graduation-and who now ill receive the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award, one of the most prestigious awards presented by Rye Country Day School.
It was established in 1993 in the name of Dr. Pierson, who precede me as headmaster. It stems from our motto "Not for Self but for Service," and is awarded annually to a person whose generosity and service have significantly bettered and strengthened our society.
The Pierson honorees have come from various walks of life. Included are doctors, scientists, athletes, philanthropists, lawyers, public officials and others. Tonight, for the first time, we honor a member of the entertainment industry-a trained opera singer who, now performing as an actor in musical comedy, is the star of a Broadway show.
John Treacy Egan, a member of the class of 1980, is an outstanding example of what we teach in the classroom and of what we try to impart through our relationships with students-namely, perseverance, focus and dedication, in addition to service to others. I might add that versatility and the ability to adapt to new situations also are valuable qualities. Those of you who knew Johan as a natural redhead will note that he now has the slick black hair of the character he portrays on Broadway.
Think for a moment of the life of a member of the arts. First and foremost, of course, is the need for talent and the continual sharpening of those skills. The competition is severe and unrelenting. You never can rest on your laurels and you must give 100 per cent or more in every performance, every day. You learn to live with rejection and disappointment, and to continue to be "up" when the role you've been working for goes to someone else, or when your show suddenly closes and you're back in the audition lines seeking another job.
It's basically the same in every field you pursue-but while the scientist may work in a lab and the doctor or lawyer may deal with one patient or client at a time, the entertainer is constantly under public scrutiny, be it movies, television, radio, the concert hall or Broadway stage where the reviewers can be brutal. You must be true to yourself, yet also be faithful to what may be a tough and unusual role on stage. It is not necessarily an easy life.
On the other hand, the joy of an audience and the applause that follows can be pure elation. And I must tell you that John Egan receives a standing ovation at virtually every performance of The Producers for his wonderful portrayal of Max Bialystock, the manipulative showman who raises money for a show that he has designed to fail.
Prior to taking over the lead last October, John, a versatile performer, had played the roles of designer Roger DeBris and German soldier, Franz Liebkind, both of which include some of the funniest scenes in the show. John also can be seen in the motion picture version of this Mel Brooks hit.
He was an original cast member of the Broadway production and the film version of Jekyll & Hyde and has toured the U.S. and Europe in productions of Kiss Me Kate and Cats. He spent a year and a half in Zurich playing the role of Old Mr. Deuteronomy in Cats.
He has created roles Off-Broadway in When Pigs Fly! And Batboy The Musical, and has performed in numerous regional shows as well. He can be heard on several theatrical recordings and has sung on specials such as Bravo presents Linda Eder in Concert and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on the ABC network-and has appeared on Law & Order, As the World Turns and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Through all of his career growth, he has remained true to his roots in nearby Larchmont and at Rye Country Day School. He has directed many theater productions throughout Westchester and in regional theaters, and has taught master classes in performance in many of the high schools and universities in the New York area. He gives great credit to Dick Pike, Cary Fuller and other Rye Country Day teachers for their support and continuing friendship, and maintains a strong core of friends among his classmates. On the Rye Country Day stage John performed in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and starred as Earthquake McGoon in L'il Abner and as Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
He's a graduate of The State University of New York at Purchase where he studied music and began his career as an operatic tenor and in summer theater.
Never losing sight of "giving back" to society, John has been a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lord's Pantry here in Westchester. Since his high school days he has participated in benefit performances for his church in Larchmont. And, while starring in Cats, in Switzerland, he developed and directed a fund-raising production of Godspell to benefit a Zurich halfway house for drug addicts and victims of AIDS.
Last year, John was inducted into the Rye Country Day School Alumni Hall of Fame.
He's a great representative of Rye Country Day School, and I trust that he provides you with the same inspiration and sense of commitment that has shaped his life. Let's show him that his friends at Rye Country Day School can easily match the standing ovation he receives each night at the St. James Theatre.
I'm honored to present our Distinguished Alumni Award to John Treacy Egan.
2005: Dr. David Rovinksy '84
2004: Dr. June L. Biedler '43
2003: Richard A. Lipsey '85
2002: Edith Gwynne Read '22
2001: Dennis D. Parker '73
2000: Richard A.R. Pinkham, Jr. '63
1999: Susan Berndt Mahoney '69
1998: Dr. Joan Burbidge Macintosh CBE '37
1997: William H. Carlucci '85
1995: Joanna DeHaven Underwood '58
1994: Mary Struthers Pinkham '34 **
1993: Eleanor Thomas Elliott '42 **