MICDS was pleased to bestow the Distinguished Alumni Award upon four former students, welcoming three alumni back to campus for medal presentation and a lively panel discussion for Upper School students.
The four winners of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award are K.K. DuVivier ’71, Ting Wu ’72, Ernest L. Greer ’84, and Sterling K. Brown ’94. These alumni have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and continue to make a positive impact on our world. From renewable energy to genetics education, from professional and charitable leadership in the practice of law to ground-breaking performances in film and on stage, each one of these former students personifies the mission of MICDS. They are “responsible men and women who can meet the challenges of this world with confidence and embrace all its people with compassion.” They think critically and have resolved to stand for what is good and right, and they live lives of purpose and service. Full bios of each award recipient are at the end of this article.
Honoring alumni/ae is a long-standing tradition at our School. The Saint Louis Country Day School Distinguished Alumnus Award was given to honor an alumnus for “continuing contribution to mankind who distinguishes himself in his field of endeavor and brings honor to our Alma Mater.” This award was first given out in 1983. The Mary Institute Laurel Award was presented to the alumna who, “by her exemplary accomplishments, has clearly manifested the ideals instilled in her at Mary Institute.” This award was first given out in 1990.
In September of 2015 we honored our first group of MICDS Distinguished Alumni. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest and most prestigious award a school can bestow upon its alumni and represents a demonstrated record of distinguished service and extraordinary achievement in a particular field or endeavor that brings distinction and honor to MICDS. Click here for lists of all our alumni/ae who have been recognized, and for the Distinguished Alumni nomination form.
Ms. DuVivier, Mr. Greer and Mr. Brown returned to campus for an intimate evening reception, visiting with family, friends and classmates in Brauer Hall. Head of School Jay Rainey welcomed guests and remarked that Dr. Wu was unable to join as she was attending a genome conference.
The next day, Upper School students, faculty and staff, along with guests of our honorees, gathered in Brauer Auditorium to hear from the Distinguished Alumni. JK-12 English and Language Arts Department Chair Lynn Mittler led the panel discussion, using questions from students to spark conversation. The overwhelming message from our guests was this: embrace who you are and what you want to be, while recognizing the need to be flexible enough to seize unexpected opportunities. Each of our guests overcame hardships and stumbling blocks to achieve greatness, and they did it with grace, kindness and acceptance.
After the assembly, our guests spent time mingling with students at a reception, over lunch and in class. Upper Schoolers appreciated the opportunity to connect personally with our honored guests.
K.K. DuVivier ’71
K.K. DuVivier, Mary Institute Class of 1971, taught full-time for ten years at CU’s Law School before joining the Denver Law faculty in 2000 where she is currently a tenured Professor of Law. Her research and teaching focuses are energy and renewable energy law with a special emphasis on wind, solar, energy efficiency and distributed generation. In addition to scores of articles, including 17 years as author of The Scrivener column for The Colorado Lawyer, DuVivier also has two sole-author books: Energy Law Basics (2017) and The Renewable Energy Reader (2011). More recently, she authored “Chapter 19: Distributed Renewable Energy” in Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (2019) and with her students is working on model energy legislation for the Columbia Law School database. She also co-authored an interdisciplinary work published in Nature Energy on November 26, 2018: Costs and consequences of wake effects arising from uncoordinated wind energy development. DuVivier worked as a field geologist before law school, and after earning her J.D., she practiced for eight years, first in natural resources law at the law firms of Sherman & Howard and Arnold & Porter, then as an Assistant City Attorney in the land use and revenue section for the City and County of Denver.
She has been a member of the American Law Institute since 2006. She received the Robert B. Yegge Excellence in Teaching Award from DU in 2018 and the Clyde O. Martz Award from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation in 2019. In 2008, DuVivier and her former husband designed and built a net-positive-energy home following German Passive House principles. This house was featured in several sustainability tours and won the Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s “Renewable Energy and Sustainable Design in Buildings Award for the Residential-New Construction” category in 2012. DuVivier now lives in Boulder, Colorado, near her daughter and her family, and frequently travels with her son, who lives in California.
Ting Wu ’72
Ting Wu, Mary Institute Class of 1971, is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where she is also the Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics and Director of the Personal Genetics Education Project. She earned her B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (Cambridge and Boston, MA). Wu is the recipient of an NIH Director’s 2012 Pioneer Award for work on genome organization and inheritance and an NIH Director’s 2016 Transformative Research Award for work on sequence ultraconservation as a strategy for maintaining genome integrity. In addition, her group develops technologies for visualizing the genome, most recently, at super-resolution (Oligopaints, HOPs, OligoSTORM, and OligoDNA-PAINT). The Wu laboratory also houses the Personal Genetics Education Project, which works to promote public awareness and dialog about genetics and genetic technologies across all communities. Here, her group works in classrooms, provides curricula and teacher training, runs Congressional briefings, consults with the film and television industry and partners with communities of faith.
Wu recognized that there was a gap in awareness between geneticists and non-geneticists, about what genetics is and isn’t, what it can do and what it can’t. She wanted to foment a two-way dialogue between geneticists and the general public, and hoped to increase respect for diversity of opinions. Her Personal Genetics Education Project team travels around the country to visit classrooms, and she says she always leaves having learned something herself. “The energy of youth is admirable,” she said. They’ve also developed an online game where participants answer five questions (knowledge of genetics is not necessary!) and then pin themselves on a map. She often serves as a resource for Hollywood producers and writers, and for government officials, helping ensure that awareness of the study of genetics continues to increase.
Ernest L. Greer ’84
Ernest Greer, Saint Louis Country Day School Class of 1984, is Co-President of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm of over 2,100 attorneys in 41 locations. He plays a key role in the strategic direction of the firm and firmwide day-to-day operations, and is dedicated to continuing to shape the firm’s brand as a collaborative law firm providing high-quality legal work and excellent service. Previously, Greer served as Vice President of the firm, Co-Chair of the U.S. Strategic Committee, and Atlanta Managing Shareholder. During his tenure as Managing Shareholder, Greer was instrumental in the growth and advancement of the Atlanta office.
His leadership, accomplishments, and legal practice have been recognized by many industry publications and organizations, including the National Law Journal (Equality Trailblazer), Atlanta magazine (Atlanta 500 – The Most Powerful Business Leaders in Atlanta; Top 100 Attorneys in Georgia), The Atlantan (Philanthropist of the Year), Atlanta Business Chronicle (Most Admired CEO; Corporate Diversity Champion), the Daily Report (Distinguished Leader), National Bar Association (Sankofa Award), Best Lawyers in America, Chambers & Partners USA, Georgia Super Lawyers (Top 100 Lawyers in Georgia), and Georgia Trend’s “Legal Elite”. In 2018, Greer was inducted into the Gate City Foundation’s Hall of Fame.
Greer is not just a highly-accomplished business attorney, he is an outstanding leader and champion for his community. He uses his global position to reflect the firm’s commitment to dedicating time and talents through active involvement in communities in which they live and work. In doing so, Greer served as the Chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2014, where he was the first lawyer to serve in this capacity in the Chamber’s more than 100-year history. At present, he serves on the boards for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center, Achieve Atlanta, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and Atlanta Police Foundation. Ernest also currently serves as the Director of Buckhead Coalition, and is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Guardsman, Inc. Past board memberships include the Center for Civil & Human Rights, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, and The Carter Center’s Board of Councilors, which he joined at former President Carter’s request. Greer is married to his college sweetheart and they are the proud parents of two daughters.
Sterling K. Brown ’94
Two-time Emmy Award winning actor Sterling K. Brown, MICDS Class of 1994, currently stars in NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe nominated drama series This is Us. For his role as Randall Pearson, Brown received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as well as three consecutive nominations in the category. He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first African American actor to win his category in the award show’s 75-year history. Brown was also the first African American actor to receive the SAG Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama. He received two SAG awards alongside his cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In 2018, Brown was included in Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world. He currently stars in the powerful family drama Waves, for which he has received critical praise, and in Disney’s blockbuster hit Frozen 2. He can also be seen in the third season of the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He starred in Paramount’s spy thriller The Rhythm Section and Sony’s hit animated feature Angry Birds 2. In 2018, Brown created Indian Meadows Productions which champions diversity through the development and production of entertaining, educational and inclusive projects across multiple forms of media, including film, broadcast, cable and streaming. Brown co-starred in Marvel’s Academy Award-winning film Black Panther. The blockbuster broke worldwide box office records in its release, with Brown earning a SAG Award.
Brown also led the cast of Fox’s sci-fi thriller The Predator and starred in the action film Hotel Artemis. In 2017, Brown co-starred in the drama Marshall, receiving an NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance. Additional film credits include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Our Idiot Brother, The Suspect, Righteous Kill, Trust The Man and Spaceman. Brown received an Emmy nomination for his guest-starring comedy role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He won an NAACP Image Award and Critics Choice Award, and has been nominated for a BET Award, TCA Award and a Teen Choice Award. He won an Emmy Award and Critics’ Choice Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG Award and NAACP Image Award for his portrayal of prosecutor Christopher Darden in FX’s highly-rated award-winning television event series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. His additional television credits include Army Wives, Insecure, Supernatural, Person of Interest, Masters of Sex, The Mentalist, Castle and Criminal Minds and hosting Saturday Night Live (2018). A lover of theater, Brown has performed in a variety of staged shows, including NY and LA productions of Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), for which he won an NAACP Theatre Award and was nominated for an Ovation Award. His additional stage credits include Macbeth, The Brother/Sister Plays and The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui. Brown graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Stanford University before receiving his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Congratulations to our 2020 Distinguished Alumni!