Meet the 2018 GW Alumni Awards Recipients

The university honored nine alumni for their significant career accomplishments and service commitment.

2018 alumni award winners
From left to right: Steven Skancke, Stephen LaForte, Renee Lewis, Mischel Kwon, Nelson Carbonell, Jr., Thomas LeBlanc, Ronald Peterson, Ashley Trick, Jake Sherman, Joshua D’Angelo. (Photo by Abby Greenawalt)
October 26, 2018

For their many and varied contributions to public service and business to health care and technology, George Washington University alumni were recognized Thursday for their career and service accomplishments during the 2018 Alumni Awards, which kicked off Colonials Weekend.

“The people in this room are wonderful inspirations for our students,” President Thomas LeBlanc told the nine awardees and guests gathered to honor them. “And you are proof of what they will one day become: citizens making a big impact in their communities and around the world.”

That impact reflects on the university and brings honor to the entire GW community, said Matt Manfra, senior associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving.

“Our alumni are changing the world each and every day through innovative research and exemplary public service,” Mr. Manfra said. “Our alumni remind us of where a valuable education—a GW education—can lead us.”

Hear from the awardees’ nominators and see what the recipients had to say:

Alumni Achievement Award

Nelson A. Carbonell Jr., B.S. ’85
CEO of Nelson Carbonell and Associates and chair of the Board of Trustees

“My parents were refugees from Cuba, came here and they didn’t speak English. And I grew up in Washington, D.C. And many along the way helped me. … The event that changed my life was when GW offered me a scholarship. That scholarship allowed me to attend a university I would have never been able to afford to go to myself. … I had to come back to GW, and I had to pay back what GW had done for me.”

Dr. LeBlanc also thanked Mr. Carbonell for his service to GW, which by the spring will include 18 years on the Board of Trustees and six years as chair.

“Nelson’s story is an only-at-GW story,” Dr. LeBlanc said, later adding: “Nelson has said he will never be able to give back enough, but I can tell you he’s really tried.”

Mischel L. Kwon, CERT ’04
Founder and CEO of MKACyber

“Obviously GW has changed my life … and I thank everyone here at GW for giving me this opportunity and really making my life a success.”

Ronald R. Peterson, M.H.S.A. ’74
President emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Health System and special advisor to the dean of Johns Hopkins Medicine

“I had the good fortune to come to George Washington University … I walked away from the experience with a commitment to service and never, ever forgot that the business of health care administration ultimately was about the facilitation of the care of patients and their families when they are most vulnerable.”

Recent Alumni Achievement Award

Joshua D’Angelo, D.P.T. ’13
Co-founder and chief operations officer of Move Together

“I came to GW as a 22 year old graduate student … with a humble willingness to improve the lives of my patients and my classmates and my community. … The faculty at GW made it a place of possibilities, where new ideas were encouraged and supported, and for that and their efforts I’ll be forever grateful.”

Jake Sherman, B.A. ’08
Senior writer at Politico and author of the Politico Playbook

"GW helped make Washington home for me. … I really do believe that GW’s athletic department is the front door to this university and it is the best and most public advertisement for us and we should all be super supportive of it. … I graduated from GW, but I really believe I graduated from the GW Hatchet—it was my home for so long and my friends have produced some of the greatest reporters of this generation."

Jane Lingo Service Award

Ashley N. Trick, B.A. ’15; M.P.A. ’18
Program associate for Immersion Service at the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service

“My experiences here have helped me to realize that service isn’t just a career—it’s what we owe to one another.”

Alumni Outstanding Service Award

Stephen J. LaForte, B.A. ’86, J.D. ’93
Director of strategic corporate operations and general counsel for Cascadia Healthcare

“My resume got pulled from a stack of hundreds of resumes because the administrative assistant for the managing partner saw GW on my resume, and the managing partner had gone to GW. And she thought that was a special qualification. And I have to say, GW is a special qualification and I seek to pay back what it has given me every day and pay it forward to the next generation of students.”

Renee Lewis, M.S. ’90
Founder, CEO and president of Pensare Group LLC

“This organization changes and grows so fast and it is so wonderful for our students … I love giving back to this university and really being part of Colonials serving Colonials.”

Steven L. Skancke, B.A. ’72; M.Phil. ’78; Ph.D. ’81
Chief investment officer for Keel Point

“When I came to GW 50 years ago from South Dakota I had no idea what to expect … GW really has been the key to the wisdom I’ve accumulated over the years and am important part of my life.”


Presented annually, the Alumni Achievement Awards and Recent Alumni Achievement Awards are given to graduates who have contributed notable accomplishments to their fields. Outstanding Service Awards are given to alumni who have made significant contributions to university programs.

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Members of the GW community gathered to ask President Thomas LeBlanc questions during a Colonials Weekend event.

Alumni Awards to Recognize Career, Service Achievements

August 20, 2018

The awards will be presented at a ceremony that helps kick off Colonials Weekend in October.