Meet the NYU Alumni Association Award Honorees

Each year, the NYU Alumni Association recognizes outstanding graduates for their exceptional achievements and public service contributions that reflect the university’s spirit. NYU President Andrew Hamilton and NYUAA President Nikolai A. T. M. Wolfe (TANDON ’09, ’11) handed out this year’s awards to the deserving alumni featured here.

Christy Turlington Burns (GAL ’99)
Distinguished Alumni Award

She first made headlines as one of the world’s most famous supermodels, but today Christy Turlington Burns is a passionate advocate for reducing maternal mortality. Every two minutes, one woman dies from complications due to pregnancy or birth—that’s roughly 287,000 deaths annually. After suffering a complication during childbirth herself, one she wouldn’t have survived without medical intervention, Turlington Burns founded the 501(c)(3) charitable organization Every Mother Counts, which under her leadership as president has invested more than $27 million in programs to help make pregnancy and delivery safer for mothers globally. She directed the documentary No Woman, No Cry on the subject.

Christy Turlington photo

Eduardo Rodriguez (DEN ’92)
Distinguished Alumni Award

A face transplant can be nothing short of a miracle for an accident victim, cancer survivor, or someone with a congenital defect. Eduardo Rodriguez is one of the few people on the planet who can deliver this miracle. Rodriguez is chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery and a professor of reconstructive plastic surgery at the Grossman School of Medicine. He is dual-certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To date, he has performed three face transplants as well as the world’s first face and double-hand transplant.

Eduardo Rodriguez photo

Quemuel Arroyo (CAS ’12, WAG ’20)
Distinguished Young Alumni Award  

As the first chief accessibility officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Quemuel Arroyo leads the implementation of policies, initiatives, and programs that advance accessibility throughout the MTA—on subways, buses, and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains. Previously, as the first chief accessibility specialist at the New York City Department of Transportation, he secured funding to install speed bumps on roads, added accessible signals for low-vision and blind pedestrians, and forged a plan to make every intersection in the city accessible.

Quemuel Arroyo photo

Jennifer Curry (WAG ’07, STEINHARDT ’14)
Distinguished Young Alumni Award

The consultancy Change Impact helps organizations that help others, specifically mission-driven groups that prioritize doing work consciously, systemically, and sustainably—or that serve or attempt to solve a local or global community need. Founder and chief executive officer Jennifer Curry, with her team, assists these groups in achieving their goals and advancing equity. They’ve trained more than 35,000 professionals, raised over $197 million in grants for nonprofits and schools, and laid out program and equity strategies for over 120 partners. Clients include the New York City Department of Education, the YMCA and YWCA, and the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem.

Jennifer Curry photo

Alvin Kass (STEINHARDT ’76)
Eugene J. Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service

Chief Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass was appointed to the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 1966, making him the most tenured chaplain in the NYPD. For 57 years, Chief Chaplain Kass’ counsel and spiritual guidance have been invaluable to officers of all ranks and to the communities they serve. A renowned educator, respected lecturer, published author, trusted media personality, and prominent community leader, Chief Chaplain Kass has dedicated his life to public service.

Read our profile of Kass in this issue.

Alvin Kass photo

Read more about these honorees (and check out past award winners) on the NYU Alumni site.