Tralance Addy '69 and Lorene Cary Named Honorary Degree Recipients

by Celina De Léon

President Rebecca Chopp will award honorary degrees to entrepreneur and humanitarian Tralance Addy '69 and novelist and social activist Lorene Cary at the 141st commencement on June 2, 2013. In addition, approximately 350 undergraduates will receive degrees at the ceremony in Scott Amphitheater.


Tralance Addy '69

Tralance AddyTransporting clean water to those in need has been a part of innovator and humanitarian Tralance Addy's life since an early age. As a child growing up in Accra, Ghana, Addy would walk to the nearby public faucet each morning with his siblings to obtain water for his family's daily needs. Today, Addy continues to transport potable water, as well as other essential resources and technologies, but now to developing countries around the world where limited or total lack of  access to products and services that can meet basic needs like clean water result in major public health and socio-economic problems. He holds 14 U.S. and numerous international patents and is currently the first executive director of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). Initiated by Stanford University and housed in the Graduate School of Business, the institute works to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in developing economies to help build successful enterprises that can change the lives of those living in poverty.

During his 20-plus-year career with Johnson & Johnson, he served the firm in many capacities, among them as worldwide president of a subsidiary he founded within the company - Advanced Sterilization Products - and as an international vice president. In 2001, Addy launched Plebys International LLC, a venture capital and management firm specializing in start-up financings of innovative technologies that serve the needs of underserved populations. A year later, he became CEO of WaterHealth International (WHI), the first company acquired by Plebys. From 2002-2009, Addy revamped the company and built a network of local professionals and NGOs to operate safe water centers and educate communities about the importance of clean water, leading to locally hired and trained residents operating their own water systems through WHI. The organization has since established water purification systems in Ghana, Tibet, Mexico, El Salvador, Bangladesh, and Haiti.

Addy is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. In 2007, he was recognized as "Do-Good Capitalist of the Year" by Inc. magazine. Among his professional and civic leadership roles, Addy remains a member of the board of directors of WHI and has served on the boards of Phyto-Riker Pharmaceuticals in Ghana, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina, the Sickle Cell Association of America, and Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. He served on Swarthmore's Board of Managers from 2003-2007, where he was on the Student Affairs and Social Responsibility committees.

Addy is the first student in Swarthmore history to earn two degrees at the same time - a B.A. in chemistry and a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He later earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Lorene Cary

Lorene CaryThe words of acclaimed author, social activist, and educator Lorene Cary impact the lives of many near and far.  Inspired by her experiences as one of the first black and female students to study at St. Paul's preparatory boarding school in New Hampshire, her first book and memoir, Black Ice, was chosen as a Notable Book for 1992 by the American Library Association and continues to be taught in classrooms across the country. Her first novel, Price of a Child, was chosen as the inaugural "One Book, One Philadelphia" selection by the City and its Free Library in 2003. Cary's new novel, If Sons, Then Heirs (2011), takes a look at racial hatred and its effects on African-American land ownership and migration in the U.S.

In 1998, Cary founded Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia to provide a space for established and aspiring artists to create lectures, performances, and educational programs. Art Sanctuary annually hosts an African-American arts festival where writers discuss their work with thousands of students and participants in panels, workshops, and other events.

Cary holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and earned an M.A. at the Sussex University in England. Cary's essays have appeared in Time, Essence, O Magazine, Mirabella, Obsidian, American Visions, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She has also contributed scripts to the "President's House: Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation" exhibit at the Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia and is the author of a collection of true stories written for young readers titled, FREE! Great Escapes on the Underground Railroad.

Cary is currently a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania. She was appointed by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2011 as a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission and served until January 2013. In 2003, she was awarded one of the City's highest civic honors, The Philadelphia Award.

This story was updated on Fri., Apr. 26 to reflect that Robert Zoellick '75 elected to withdraw from participation in this year's Commencement ceremony.