GW to Recognize Career Achievements of Eight Alumni

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients include Dana Bash, B.A. ’93, CNN chief political correspondent. The Oct. 19 award ceremony helps kick off Colonials Weekend.

alumni awards
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients include (clockwise from top left): Mindy Finn, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Davina Durgana, Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Jayne Plank, Michael Punke, Dana Bash and Robert Siegel.
August 14, 2017

Eight George Washington University alumni will be honored this year with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, the highest form of recognition given annually by the university and the George Washington Alumni Association to a graduate.

The 2017 award recipients are:

  • Dana Bash
    Dana Bash, B.A. ’93, is CNN’s chief political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. She is the network’s lead reporter covering the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Ms. Bash covered the 2016 presidential election extensively and often moderates CNN's political town hall specials, including one on health care at GW last February featuring Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
  • Anwar Mohammed Gargash
    Anwar Mohammed Gargash, B.A. ’81, M.A. ’84, is a member of the Federal Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates and has served as minister of state for foreign affairs since 2008. From 2006 to 2016, Dr. Gargash was the minister of state for federal national council affairs.
  • Jayne Plank
    Jayne Plank, B.A. ’54, has spent decades as a public servant: on the Kensington, Md., Town Council; as the first woman elected mayor of Kensington; and as director of intergovernmental affairs of the U.S. Department of State under President Ronald Reagan. She also worked as a cryptologic linguist for the National Security Agency.
  • Michael Punke
    Michael Punke, B.A. ’86, author of the novel “The Revenant,” is vice president for global public policy for Amazon Web Services. He has more than 25 years of experience in international trade and regulatory issues. From 2010 to 2017, Mr. Punke was deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
  • Rodolfo Rodriguez
    Rodolfo Rodriguez, M.S. ’69, is founder and chief scientific officer of Advanced Animal Diagnostics. He has 50 years of experience in bioengineering and is known as a research and development pioneer who holds dozens of U.S. patents.
  • Robert Siegel
    Robert Siegel, M.D. ’77, is professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and serves as the associate center director for education, training and network development for the GW Cancer Center. He is board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology. 
  • Davina Durgana
    Davina Durgana, B.A. ’10, is a statistician on the Global Slavery Index of the Walk Free Foundation. She uses statistics to analyze vulnerability, risk and prevalence of human trafficking domestically and internationally.
  • Mindy Finn
    Mindy Finn, M.P.S. ’10, a 15-year veteran of digital politics, is founder and CEO of Stand-Up Republic.

Dr. Durgana and Ms. Finn will receive the Recent Alumni Achievement Award, which is given to graduates of the past 10 years who have attained notable achievements in their field.

The awards, in their 81st year, are a highlight for alumni and—as the university announced in March—this year they will kick off a combined Colonials and Alumni weekend.

The 2017 Colonials Weekend will be a celebration for alumni, families, students and friends from Oct. 19-22 and will incorporate popular events from both weekends, including student performances, class reunion and affinity celebrations, academic and information sessions. It will include open houses in residence halls and other campus facilities, and opportunities to network, reconnect and explore the university. Registration opens Friday. 

Past recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award include NBA champion Arnold “Red” Auerbach, B.S. ’40, M.A. ’41; Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, Ph.D. ’55; former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, M.B.A. ’71; and Lt. General Nadja West, M.D. ’88, 44th surgeon general of the United States Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command.

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