From left to right: Kate Curran '85; Timothy L. Porter '68; Dr. David E. Wazer, M.D.; Benjamin Zawacki '97; and Jane Ryder '82. Photo by Avanell Brock
Kate Curran, you have distinguished yourself as a change agent and champion for the underserved. You have dedicated your life to making the world a better place, advocating for responsible business practices and economic fairness in the corporate sector and combatting poverty, addiction and housing issues in the public sector.
You hail from a proud family of Holy Cross graduates including your father Hugh C. Curran ’49, brother John ‘Jack’ Curran ’75, brother Hugh R. Curran ’84, and sister Mary Ellen Curran ’86. You graduated with a degree in English in 1985, then completed your law degree at Quinnipiac University School of Law and served in prestigious clerkships for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. These experiences gave you the professional and personal skills necessary to advocate for meaningful changes in public policy.
You first experienced the power you could wield as an agent of change during your tenure as Vice President, External Affairs at G.E. Capital. You spent nearly a decade as an attorney and executive there, shaping the corporation’s public policy on consumer financial matters in the United States and Latin America. Your commitment to economic fairness led you to create new services for victims of identity theft, to press G.E. to increase its community reinvestment obligation by $5 million, and to establish an innovative public/private partnership to revitalize the struggling community of Bridgeport, CT.
In 2007, you suffered the devastating loss of a brother and both parents in just two-and-a-half years. Moved by your mother’s last words— ‘I’ve had a great life,’—and your father’s lifelong commitment to public service, you resigned from G.E. to travel the world and define “a great life.” Over twelve months and four continents, you discovered a new passion project: bringing quality education to the world’s poorest children. You returned home and in 2009 founded School the World, an international organization dedicated to helping you realize your goal.
10 years in, this inspiring organization has built 75 schools and 39 playgrounds in Guatemala and Honduras, stocked 349 classroom libraries, trained more than 323 teachers, served over 9,000 students and empowered nearly 5,000 parents as the ‘first educators’ of their children.
Yet you press on. By 2020, your aim is to have built 100 schools that served 10,000 children in several additional countries. And you’re empowering the next generation of change makers as well through your ‘World Changers’ program, an initiative which has already enabled more than 700 U.S. high school students to participate in life-changing experiences with ‘School the World.’
“Kate is amazing and inspiring,” said nominator Deidre Brennan Regan. “She is a proud Holy Cross graduate who epitomizes the college’s values and beliefs and puts them into action.”
For your unwavering belief in the power of every individual to make the world a better place, your commitment to creating a culture that enlivens this belief, your tireless efforts to empower those less fortunate, and your ongoing dedication to respond to your alma mater’s call to be “men and women for and with others” in places near and far, the College of the Holy Cross presents you with the Sanctae Crucis Award.
Timothy Porter, you are a Renaissance man, a lover of language, law, music and theater. An attorney with broad business, civic and public policy experience, your work has carried you from court room to board room. You have unstintingly shared your wisdom and talent through major leadership roles in the fields of higher education, international relations, the arts, public policy, and economic development.
You spent more than 30 years with AT&T, where you rose to the position of vice president and chief counsel for labor, employment and environmental matters, overseeing everything from domestic and international labor relations to collective bargaining negotiations. You then served a five-year term as senior counsel and chief client relations counsel at the renowned New York-based law firm Proskauer Rose LLP before retiring in 2011.
You were raised in Woodstock, MD, the home of Woodstock College, which was the oldest Jesuit Seminary in the United States. A graduate of Loyola High School, you understood the value of a Jesuit education, and sought a Jesuit college that would allow you to see more of the country. You chose to attend Holy Cross because of its outstanding academic reputation, and you availed yourself of the intellectual bounty here at every turn.
An English major, you loved language and particularly adored John Wilson’s English seminars. You took every course he taught. You were also an avid student of German, history and political science and deeply involved in the College’s theater scene.
After graduating from Holy Cross, you pursued a degree in jurisprudence at New York University School of Law, taking a three-year hiatus to work with the New York-based Negro Ensemble Company. While there, the company produced The River Niger, winner of the 1973 Obie Award for Best American Play and the 1974 Tony Award for Best Play.
You have an abiding love of the arts and are an accomplished mandolinist who has performed and lectured widely in both the U.S. and Europe. You also actively share your passion through your work as chairman of the board for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate.
Over the course of your career, you have travelled the world while keeping Holy Cross close to your heart. You served the college faithfully as a trustee from 1986 to 1994 and again from 1995 to 2003. In your final year, you co-founded The Ann and Timothy L. Porter ’68 Endowment at Holy Cross to provide financial support to students wishing to study abroad.
You have honored the Jesuit tradition of a life of service outside the college as well, giving selflessly of your time to the boards of more than 40 organizations over the last 45 years including Newark Public Radio (WBGO-FM), New School University, Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, the Life Insurance Company of Boston and New York, the AT&T Investment Management Company and the Holy Cross Board of Trustees. Today you serve as a member of the Executive Committee of the Holy Cross Board of Advisors, as well as an Associate Trustee and member of the Board’s Committee on Mission and Identity.
For your many years of leadership and public service and for your extraordinary commitment to the Jesuit ideal of ‘active engagement with the world’, the College of the Holy Cross presents you with the Sanctae Crucis Award.
Jane Ryder, yours has been a life devoted to public service and the common good. For more than three decades, you have worked tirelessly to create social change and improve supports within the Massachusetts service system. You have repeatedly distinguished yourself by advancing services to individuals, families and communities and implementing programs that provide justice to a vulnerable population.
For the past 24 years, you have been an integral member of the MA Department of Developmental Services (DDS), a division that serves over 38,000 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Your desire to better understand the services available to your brother Mark led you to learn about DDS and then to join them as Director of Northeast Residential Services, working to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Your impact was so significant that you were recruited to work at the regional office as Community Services Director so that your skills and insights could be deployed to help the entire community service system.
In 2015, you were promoted to Deputy Commissioner for DDS and in 2018 you were named Commissioner, lauded by Governor Charlie Baker for working tirelessly “on behalf of individuals with disabilities for equality, empowerment and independence.” Over the years, you have overseen a series of initiatives to support people with autism, a cohort that previously had no agency in state government from whom to retain or obtain needed services. You have also increased quality and responsiveness within the agency workforce and shepherded new diversity initiatives.
Your commitment to caring for the whole person began with your family and was strengthened at Holy Cross. You came to The Hill with a deep understanding of this community—your father Owen was a member of the class of 1950; your great uncle, Fr. Earls, was a faculty member and vice president at the College; and your grandmother, a musician who grew up around Holy Cross, wrote the song “Linden Lane.” Twenty-two years after you graduated, your sister Ellen followed you to Mount Saint James, taking a position as the director of public affairs. A political science major, you opted to defer entering law school for a job with the Community Action Councils for Worcester and Haverhill. The decision was a fateful one. You loved the work and decided to make public policy your life’s calling.
In the following years, you bolstered your education, earning a Master of Science in Public Affairs from the John W. McCormack Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Your work at the Kennedy School was supported by your receipt of the Bradford Fellowship for Excellence in Public Administration.
Your prodigious leadership and management skills have been recognized through such prestigious honors as the Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service, the Department of Developmental Services Commissioner’s Award and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Performance Recognition Award.
“Beyond her skills, I think the core of her success is in her innate desire to make a difference and make things better for people,” notes former DDS colleague Amanda Chalmers. “Her vision for individuals with intellectual disabilities has been unwavering throughout her career and the number of lives she has touched in a positive way are too numerous to count.”
“Jane has always committed herself to serving the community since graduating from Holy Cross,” observes classmate Mary Pat Finnegan ’82. “Her compassion and the values she learned from her family and strengthened while at Holy Cross make her a beacon of light for all those she serves.”
For your unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for showing others how to value all members of their community, and for modeling the principles of ‘cura personalis,’ the College of the Holy Cross presents you with the Sanctae Crucis Award.
David Wazer, you are a dedicated physician and researcher, internationally renowned for your work in advancing cancer care—particularly for cancer of the breast—and for improving the lives of your patients.
A leader in the field of radiation oncology, you are recognized worldwide for your expertise in the application of new technology in the treatment of cancer.
A prolific scholar, you have published more than 300 scientific articles and have authored or edited several books, including Principles and Practices of Radiation Oncology, widely recognized as the premier textbook on radiation oncology. You also give generously of your time to your field’s professional journals, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology and as associate editor of Brachytherapy, Frontiers in Radiation Oncology, and Breast Diseases: A Yearbook Quarterly.
Your expertise is expansive. Your research covers areas of basic biology, computational biology, biological engineering and high energy physics. You spent time as a visiting scientist in MIT’s nuclear reactor laboratory. Your work has led to the invention of new methods and instruments for which you hold multiple patents.
You were drawn to Holy Cross by the reputation of the college’s pre-med program but discovered that as good as the science courses were, the true value of a Holy Cross education is its foundation in the liberal arts. You maintain that the communication skills you learned on The Hill have proved to be invaluable to you in your current work as director of Lifespan Comprehensive Care Center, a large cancer institute based in Providence, RI.
You earned your medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine and completed a research fellowship in neurochemistry at NYU before going on to a residency in radiation oncology at Tufts University in Boston. Renowned for your clinical expertise, you have since held faculty and research positions at Tufts University, Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Your career epitomizes a life lived in service to others. In addition to your work as director of Lifespan Comprehensive Care Center, you are also Professor & Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Brown as well as the radiation oncologist-in-chief at Rhode Island Hospital, the Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital, Women and Infants Hospital and Tufts Medical Center. You are actively involved in numerous initiatives to advance oncology care in the developing world as well.
Your peers have repeatedly recognized your skill and expertise, naming you a Fellow of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the American College of Radiology, and the American College of Radiation Oncology. You have served on national committees for the National Cancer Institute, the American Radium Society and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others. In 1999 you were awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Brown University. And your patients have been equally enthusiastic, earning you plaudits as one of America’s best doctors in publications from America’s Top Doctors to Good Housekeeping, Redbook Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.
Your work has had broad impact and has also touched those close to you. Your Holy Cross roommate and longtime friend Ed “Skip” McLaughlin ’78 was so appreciative of the care and support that you gave to his mother during her treatment for breast cancer that he established the David E. Wazer Breast Cancer Research Fund at Tufts-New England Medical Center.
For your unwavering dedication to the medical arts, your pioneering efforts in the science and technology of radiation oncology, and your commitment to mentoring physicians across the country, the College of the Holy Cross presents you with the Sanctae Crucis Award.
Benjamin Zawacki, you have distinguished yourself as a crusader for social justice, tirelessly employing your expansive intellect and generous heart to advocate for underserved populations, primarily in South East Asia.
A history major with a concentration in Peace & Conflict Studies, you steeped yourself in the lessons of the past, while also looking as far forward as possible. ‘From Kennedy to Watergate,’ ‘Liberation Theology,’ ‘A Coming of Age in America,’ and ‘History of the American Family’ were among your favorite courses, together with your First-Year Program and Senior Honors Seminars.
After graduating from Holy Cross, you taught in Micronesia with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, then returned to this country to earn your jurisprudence degree at the George Washington University Law School. You also completed the Joint Programme in International Human Rights Law at The University of Oxford and trained at Oxford’s International School in Forced Migration and the University of the Western Cape’s International Human Rights Academy in Cape Town, South Africa.
A passionate proponent of human rights, you have given your time and energy to entities from the UN Refugee Agency to Amnesty International, addressing human rights emergencies from Myanmar and Thailand to the Philippines and Cambodia. In 2013, you served as a policy advisor in Myanmar to President Jimmy Carter, Finland’s President Martti Ahtisaari, and Norway’s Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
You have also applied your deep insight to the task of promoting justice through writing, publishing numerous scholarly articles as well as a 2017 book, Thailand: Shifting Ground Between the U.S. and a Rising China. Written in part during your time as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program, the book has been reviewed by such esteemed media outlets as Foreign Affairs, Time, The Economist and The New York Review of Books. You have also been interviewed more than 70 times by such global media outlets as CNN, Al-Jazeera, BBC, AP, Reuters, and NBC and quoted in print publications from The Economist, and the Washington Post to The Guardian and the Financial Times.
Throughout your time on the Hill, you embraced every opportunity to achieve unity of the heart, mind and soul, becoming actively involved in Pax Christi, which you co-chaired your senior year; the Program to Mexico, which you co-chaired one year; and the Appalachia Service Project, for which you served as transportation head.
“Those of us lucky enough to be on the Hill at the same time as Benji viewed him as the poster child of that for which the Jesuits stand: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,” observes classmate and nominator Dr. Jennifer Schneider ’97.
For your unwavering determination to use your intellect and gift with the written word in pursuit of justice, for your dedication to amplifying the voices of the underserved and marginalized, and for your commitment to honoring your beliefs through your every action, the College of the Holy Cross presents you with the Sanctae Crucis Award.