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 Dasha Rettew (GAL ’14) handed out this year’s awards to the deserving alumni featured here.


André De Shields
Distinguished Alumni Award

André De Shields (GAL ’91) won the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his electrifying turn as Hermes in the hit Broadway musical Hadestown. Before that role, he was best known for a series of acclaimed performances in such legendary Broadway productions as The Wiz, The Full Monty, and Ain’t Misbehavin’, with the latter’s televised broadcast on NBC earning him an Emmy Award. In a career spanning half a century and counting, De Shields has worn many hats, including actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer, philanthropist, and educator.

André De Shields photo

Nick Grassi
Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Nick Grassi (LS ’12) is the cofounder of Finerio Connect, Mexico’s first personal finance manager app. The platform, attuned specifically to the needs of Latin Americans, works to increase financial literacy through expense tracking and budget creation, among many other features. The innovative start-up has received positive press coverage in Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as on Finerio won Best Corporate Initiative in the second local edition of the Everis Mexico Award, topping nearly 800 other entrants. It’s estimated to have saved its 300,000 users more than $40 million per year.

Nick Grassi photo

Nily Rozic
Distinguished Young Alumni Award  

Nily Rozic (CAS ’07) is a member of the New York State Assembly. Upon her election in 2012, she became the youngest woman in the state legislature. She is also the first woman to represent the 25th District in the northeastern part of Queens, which includes the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, and Douglaston. She chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, and also serves on four other committees: Ways & Means; Labor; Correction; and Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. To learn more about Rozic, read her profile in this issue.  

Nily Rozic photo

Zachary W. Carter
Eugene J. Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service 

Zachary W. Carter (LAW ’75) was appointed by Bill Clinton to serve as United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. He oversaw the prosecutions in the cases of Abner Louima and Yankel Rosenbaum, among others. During his distinguished career, Carter has also served as a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York, as a United States magistrate judge, and, most recently, as corporation counsel of the City of New York. In this role as the city’s chief legal officer, he advised the mayor and city commissioners on issues of legal policies and operations.

Zachary Carter photo

Marvin Leffler
Lifetime Service Award

Marvin Leffler (STERN ’42, ’51) is president emeritus of the Town Hall Foundation, where he served as president for 35 years. Accepting no salary, he fought to save the historic venue from demolition and championed its revival structurally, fiscally, and programmatically. Prior to that role, Leffler was CEO and chairman of the National Council of Salesmen’s Organizations, penning three popular books on the topic of sales. Like Ellerin, Leffler helped found and served as copresident of the NYUAA, and he is still a member of its Board of Directors—as well as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Marvin Leffler photo

Betty Weinberg Ellerin
Lifetime Service Award

Betty Weinberg Ellerin (WSC ’50, LAW ’52) was, among many other achievements within the judicial system, the first woman appointed to two major roles: New York State deputy chief administrative judge (where she was responsible for the operation of all the trial courts within New York City) and associate justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. She helped found and served as copresident of the NYUAA and is a member of its Board of Directors—as well as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. She is senior counsel at Alston & Bird LLP.

Betty Weinberg Ellerin

Read about these honorees and past award winners at