2020 Changemakers of the Year

NYU Alumni Changemakers
Building a Better World

Vision. Perseverance. Belief.

These are the qualities that unite this class of NYU Alumni Changemakers—a selected group of NYU alumni whose accomplishments help build a better world.

Chosen by the NYU Alumni Association Board from crowdsourced nominations, these alumni are the best of the best: entrepreneurs and visionaries who save lives, reduce suffering, and bring hope to the marginalized.

Ambition for private gain is one thing. But ambition with the public good in mind?
That’s how you make change.

Meet the Honorees

Meet Maria

Maria Toler Velissaris

(STERN ’09)

Founder and Managing Partner, SteelSky Ventures

“If more women and investors of color are able to raise funds, then we'll be able to invest in and empower our own communities to create a sustainable venture ecosystem.”
Meet Maria
Meet Miriam

Miriam Altman

(WAG ’13)

CEO and Co-founder, Kinvolved

“Absenteeism is the primary leading indicator of high school graduation.”
Meet Miriam
Meet Alexandra

Alexandra Meis

(WAG ’13)

Chief Product Officer and Co-founder, Kinvolved

“We're closing the equity gap that many schools, students and families face in the communities we serve.”
Meet Alexandra
Meet Judy Blume

Judy Blume



“There's no greater reward for a writer than having readers who remember what you've written.”
Meet Judy
Meet Robert

Robert Lee

(STERN ’13)

Co-founder and CEO, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

“Our philosophy is that every little bit counts.”
Meet Robert
Meet Liz

Liz Fanning

(WAG ’97)

Founder and Executive Director, CorpsAfrica

“People from Africa deserve the same chance to be part of those efforts.”
Meet Liz
Meet Dr. Jay Grossman

Dr. Jay Grossman

(DEN ’88)

Founder, President, and CEO, Homeless Not Toothless

“Being ordinary serves no one.”
Meet Jay
Meet Dr. Briar Flicker-Grossman

Dr. Briar Flicker-Grossman

(SSSW ’86)

Vice President, Homeless Not Toothless

“It's about lifting patients' dignity.”
Meet Briar
Meet Israel

Israel Rocha

(WAG ’18)

CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens

“Health care goes beyond the hospital bed—it’s where we live, how we live, and how we practice.”
Meet Israel
Meet Judith

Dr. Judith Haber

(MEYERS ’67, ’84)

Executive Director, Oral Health Nursing Education Practice (OHNEP) Program, and the Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing

“There's still a big frontier to conquer and that's the practice frontier.”
Meet Judith
Meet Lili

Lili Nikolova

(SPS ’13)

Project Director, Counter Human Trafficking, Northeast Nigeria, Heartland Alliance International

“The work I do saves lives, but those results happen through improving systems, services, and support for victims and survivors over the long-term.”
Meet Lili
Meet Jasper

Jasper H. Kane

(TANDON ’28, ’95)


He transformed an entire sector and is revered by those who knew and loved him.
Meet Jasper

Be The Light

With more than half-a-million NYU alumni around the globe, we need you to help us shine a light on NYU Alumni Changemakers and their impressive work.

It begins when you take a few moments to fill out a nomination form. Then, the NYU Alumni Association Board of Directors, along with a special committee made up of key members of the NYU community, will review all potential candidates based on the magnitude of the challenge, originality and innovation of the solution, and the results and impact achieved.

Their work sparked significant change. Your nomination illuminates their efforts and extends their impact.

Who inspires you today?

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500,000+NYU Alumni in 183 Countries

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28% of AlumniWork in Education, Entrepreneurship, or Community and Social Services

Past Honorees

Meet our extraordinary honorees from last year whose work is focused on making a better world.

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Meet Eleanor

2018 changemaker

Eleanor Baum

Meet Brenda

2019 changemaker

Brenda Berkman

Meet Taina

2019 changemaker

Taina Bien-Aimé

Meet Kristin

2019 changemaker

Kristin Van Busum

Meet Danielle

2018 changemaker

Danielle Butin

Meet Matthew

2019 changemaker

Matthew Campisi

Meet Hannah

2018 changemaker

Hannah Dehradunwala

Meet Jacqueline

2018 changemaker

Jacqueline Fawcett

Meet Hernando

2018 changemaker

Hernando Garzon

Meet Scott

2018 changemaker

Scott Harrison

Meet Martin

2018 changemaker

Martin Hellman

Meet Adrian

2019 changemaker

Adrian Kantrowitz

Meet Jean Paul

2018 changemaker

Jean Paul Laurent

Meet Hope

2018 changemaker

Hope Lewis

Meet Marcia

2019 changemaker

Marcia Robinson Lowry

Meet Janet

2019 changemaker

Janet Mock

Meet Jacqueline

2019 changemaker

Jacqueline Murekatete

Meet Eduardo

2018 changemaker

Eduardo Rodriguez

Meet Erin

2019 changemaker

Erin Vilardi

Meet Lori

2019 changemaker

Lori Wiener


Nominations for 2021 NYU Alumni Changemakers are now closed. Stay tuned as we will announce the list of honorees in August!

If you have any questions about the process, please let us know at alumni.changemakers@nyu.edu.

Thank you for your nomination! Check back to see who is named a 2020 NYU Alumni Changemaker.

Stay up-to-date with the latest alumni news and events by visiting nyualumni.com.