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WAA: Alumni Awards 2023 Communications Toolkit

Engaging Supporters
Last Updated: June 06, 2023


UW–Madison alumni and supporters have a history of pushing boundaries, achieving great heights, and giving back. The Wisconsin Alumni Association’s awards program annually recognizes alumni and supporters who exemplify the Wisconsin Idea, enhancing the positive influence of the university on campus as well as beyond its borders. This toolkit is designed to help you communicate information about Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) award recipients to your audiences.

The 2023 recipients will be recognized throughout the year and into the spring of 2024 at various alumni and supporter events.


2023 Alumni Award Recipients

Bios, press releases, and photos for each recipient can be found at:

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Since 1936, the Wisconsin Alumni Association has been presenting the awards to the most prestigious graduates of UW–Madison for their professional achievements, contributions to society, and support of the university.

Rajiv Batra
Cofounder of Palo Alto Networks
1983; MS; Computer Sciences

Steven Bornstein
President of North America at Genius Sports
1974; BA; Communication Arts

William Campbell
Merck Research Scientist, Nobel Laureate
1954; MS; Veterinary Science
1957; PhD; Veterinary Science

Luminary Award

The Luminary Award recognizes alumni who serve as aspirational examples for others through their accomplishments in the areas of leadership, discovery, progress, and service. It celebrates extraordinary Badgers who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their professions and/or service or philanthropy.

Zachary Ellis Jr.
CEO and Managing Director, South Loop Ventures
2013; MS; Biotechnology

Alexander Gee
Founder and CEO, The Center for Black Excellence and Culture
Founder and President, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development Pastor, Fountain of Life Church

Host, Black Like Me
1985; BA; African American Studies, Economics

Jessi Kendall
Registered Nurse, UW Health
Founder, Nursing Needs You
2014; BSN; Nursing

Jay Laabs
Founder and CEO, Spaulding Ridge
1998; BBA; Business; Finance, Investment, and Banking

Nicolaas Mink
Chief Restoration Officer, Seven Acre Dairy Company
Cofounder, Sitka Salmon Shares
Instructor of Environmental Studies, Knox College
2002; BA; History
2010; PhD; History

Patricia Marroquin Norby
Associate Curator of Indigenous Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art
2001; MA; Art
2002; MFA; Art

Dana Peterson
Chief Economist and Center Leader, Economy, Strategy, and Finance, The Conference Board
2002; MS; Economics

Forward Award

The Forward Award acknowledges rising stars in various fields who exemplify the Wisconsin Idea through an emphasis on service, discovery, and progress. Young alumni within 15 years of graduation who have demonstrated exceptional early-career achievement and a positive impact on their professions or communities are eligible for this award.

Jon Fasoli
Chief Product and Design Officer, Intuit Mailchimp
2009; BBA; Business; Finance, Investment, and Banking

Carlos Eduardo Gacharná
Artist and Teacher, artworxLA
2017; BFA; Art

Alex Hanna
Director of Research, Distributed AI Research Institute
2013; MS; Sociology
2016; PhD; Sociology (Journalism and Mass Media Minor)

Lanikque Howard
Director, Office of Community Services, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2014; MSW; Social Work
2018; PhD; Social Work

Farha Tahir
Program Analyst, U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2009; BA; History
2010; MIPA; International Public Afffairs

How to Promote the Award Winners

Use the resources provided in this communications toolkit to help celebrate the recipients and highlight those from your school, college, or region by featuring them in your communications. In the past, some award recipients have returned to campus to speak to classes or at events and engage with students, alumni, and faculty in other ways. Please reach out to Andrea Berns at if you’re interested in connecting with a recipient to engage them within your area.


The audience is all Badger alumni and friends; please promote widely and within your school.



Wisconsin Alumni Association awards program:

Forward Award:

Distinguished Alumni Award:

Luminary Award:

Nomination form (opening soon):

Shared files:

General Wisconsin Alumni Association media resources and logos:

Communications Timeline

Press releases

  • Forward Award — Early June and October
  • Distinguished Alumni Award — Early June and April 2024
  • Luminary Award — Early June and April 2024

WAA general communications

  • Social media posts — June
  • Publications: Digital Badger Insider, Badger Vibes, Flamingle, and Badger Leaders Connection — June and September

Alumni Awards publication
June 5

Distinguished Alumni Award presentation
April 2024

Luminary Award presentation
April 2024

Forward Award presentations
October 26, 2023


  • Announce award recipients and share Badger pride in their accomplishments through media outlets
  • Identify opportunities to deepen or develop relationships with award recipients


Contact Information

Andrea Berns
Senior Administrative Program Manager

Tod Pritchard
Director, Media and Public Relations

Social Media

We’ve provided social media posts that can be customized to celebrate and highlight the alumni award recipients. Whenever possible, please use this hashtag in posts: #WisAlumni

Schools and colleges are encouraged to help promote the alumni award recipients by using #WisAlumni and tagging Wisconsin Alumni Association (@WisAlumni) in social posts.

Please use these links when showcasing the recipients:

Awards home page:

Forward Award recipients:

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients:

Luminary Award:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn page tags
Wisconsin Alumni Association: @WisAlumni

Below are a few sample posts for use on social media channels. To access the graphics and sample copy below and more, please visit

Sample Feature Posts

A graphic for each recipient can be found at

Additional Resources

Please visit to access these additional promotional resources.

Kiosk Digital Slides
Access suggested copy for individual school and college kiosks highlighting your award winners.

Access publicity shots for each award recipient to use in print, with press releases, or on your website.

Press Release
Access the official press releases, which include bios and information about all of the award recipients.

Digital Awards Publication
Read the digital version of the 2023 Alumni Awards magazine.