Photographer Mary Ellen Mark Among 10 to Be Honored at Penn’s Alumni Gala

At a black-tie gala on Friday, Nov. 8, the University of Pennsylvania will honor distinguished alumni and alumni groups who, through their accomplishments or continued involvement, have brought honor and prestige to Penn.

The 79th Annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala will honor, among others, renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who will receive the Creative Spirit Award for her life-long commitment to and excellence in the arts. This year marks the fifth year of the Award, which recognizes alumni who have shown life-long commitment to and excellence in the arts.

Mark is widely considered to be one of the most influential photographers working today. Known for her powerful portraits and photo essays on the human condition, her subjects have included homeless children and their families in America, circus performers in India, transvestites in New York and heroin addicts in London. She has published 18 books, completed assignments for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and her work has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide.

She graduated from the College in 1962 with a degree in painting and art history. She went on to earn a master’s in photojournalism from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication in 1964 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University in 1994.

“Without Penn and the Annenberg School, I would not have the amazing life that I live as a photographer. I would not have met all those very special people, both famous and not famous, who have allowed me to photograph them,” Mark said. “I am extremely grateful to the University for the great opportunities it gave me.”

Sharing the spotlight that evening will be L. John Clark, Mindy Halikman Heyer, Helen Frame Peters and Steve Roth, who will accept the Alumni Award of Merit.

Chairman of the Steamboat Capital Group, Clark earned his undergrad and graduate degrees at Wharton in 1963 and 1968. While his career in finance and international marketing often took him abroad, Clark has consistently been an active volunteer and a generous supporter of Penn Athletics, the College, Wharton and the Kelly Writers House. He has been a University trustee since 1996 and is now an emeritus member of the board. As chair of the Athletics Overseers, he helped lead them to exceed their campaign goal and raise almost $125 million.

Halikman Heyer, a 1979 graduate of the College and Wharton, received an M.B.A. from Wharton in 1980. In 1997, she and her Penn-alumnus husband established the Andrew and Mindy Heyer Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduates majoring in English and economics. She also served on the College House Advisory Board, helping to garner alumni support for the renovation of the Quad and Hamilton Village. As chair of the Board of Overseers for the School of Veterinary Medicine since 2009, she has been an active volunteer and generous benefactor of the School.

In 1978, Peters became the first woman to earn a doctorate from Wharton. She is also a 1970 graduate of the College with a master’s. With a distinguished career in both financial services and in academia, she is the former dean of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. She founded the Center for Investment Research and Management there and continues to serve as a finance professor. She has served on the Graduate Board of the Wharton School and the Board of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business.

An avid runner, Roth brings a high level of energy to Penn as a volunteer leader. A 1966 graduate of Wharton, he helped to build a marketing research firm, Decisions Center Inc., working with such clients as Nike and Starbucks before selling the business to advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather. With his wife, Marsha, he created the Roth Family Endowed Scholarship. He has been instrumental in creating a successful annual Class Presidents’ event and works to enhance the Penn Reunion Leadership Conference.

In addition, Farnia Fresnel and Andrew J. Rosenthal will accept the Young Alumni Award of Merit.

Fresnel graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1998. While at Penn, she served as chapter historian and activities co-chair on the Board of the National Society for Black Engineers. In her senior year, she received the prestigious Raymond Pace Alexander Award. As an alumna, she continues to volunteer. In 2005, she became actively engaged in the Engineering Alumni Society, rising to the role of president.

Chief strategy officer of Jawbone, a high-tech health-care venture, Rosenthal earned a degree in health and societies from the College in 2006 and went on to earn an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He actively serves on the Penn Alumni Programming Committee and the Penn Alumni Executive Committee, as well as on The Penn Fund Executive Board. He also served a three-year tenure as president of the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia.

Class recognition awards will showcase the Class of 1978 and the Class of 2008.

The Class of 1978 will receive the Class Award of Merit for its extraordinary leadership, teamwork, organization and innovative programming, which led to exceptional results. The Class broke every attendance record for its 35th reunion, topping the previous record by 128 percent. They raised $22.6 million in 2013, more than any other 35th reunion class. As part of their continued commitment to the Penn Libraries, they inaugurated the Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, a stunning, glass-enclosed lecture and event space at the center of the newly renovated Kislak Special Collections Center.

The Class of 2008 will be awarded the David N. Tyre Award for Excellence in Class Communication for its innovative use of various platforms to connect with classmates about their fifth reunion. The class was recognized for engaging 666 donors, more than any other fifth-reunion class.

The Penn Alumni Club of Metro New Jersey will receive the 2013 Club Award of Merit. Under the leadership of co-presidents Gary and Lorraine Survis and a dynamic board of directors, the club has reached nearly 1,000 members from eight counties. It has engaged more than a third of its membership through creative strategies such as hosting more than 25 innovative and compelling programs and events for alumni of all ages.

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