The Shane Award: Ken DeFontes ’72
Ken DeFontes is a long-standing volunteer based in the Baltimore area. During the Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign, Ken served as the Chair of the Council on Presidential Initiatives. Members of this council raised over $35 million dollars in personal campaign commitments and through peer to peer fundraising efforts on behalf of the College, and Ken’s leadership of this group was invaluable as he went above and beyond to engage, support, and inspire his fellow volunteers and classmates.
Ken is extremely passionate about financial aid, having been the recipient of the Scott B. Lilly Scholarship while an undergraduate. Ken has pledged to give back at least what he received in financial aid, in today’s dollars. In that spirit, Ken and his wife, Donna, established a scholarship and are members of the James A. Michener Legacy Circle.
Ken graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore in 1972 with a degree in engineering and went on to receive an MBA from Loyola College. Ken worked at Baltimore Gas and Electric and Constellation Energy for 42 years before retiring as President and CEO in 2014.
The Shane Award: Gil Kemp ’72
Gil Kemp has served Swarthmore as an exemplary volunteer for decades. He has been a Reunion volunteer, alumni admissions interviewer, extern host, and served on the College’s Board of Managers for 16 years. He was named the 13th chair of the Board in 2012 and served in that role until 2015. In recognition of his extraordinary service, Gil was named an emeritus member of the Board in 2020.
Among his Board-related roles, Gil chaired The Swarthmore Fund for three years, and led a number of Board committees, including as chair of the Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign, which raised $440 million in new philanthropic commitments that have touched every part of the College. He was an indefatigable partner in the campaign, traveling across the country and the world for over eight years, at his own expense, to share the message that giving to Swarthmore is both meaningful and joyful.
As a member of the 1864 Leadership Giving Society and the Michener Legacy Circle, Gil’s own philanthropy at the College complements his volunteer service with an exceptionally generous history of giving over the years. Establishing family scholarships, fellowships, a professorship, and, most recently, providing the lead gift for the new Dining and Community Commons, Gil has created a lasting legacy of philanthropy at Swarthmore.
Gil was a decorated student-athlete at Swarthmore, graduating with honors with a B.A. in sociology in 1972. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and is the founder of Home Decorators Collection where he served as its president until his retirement in 2009.
The Shane Award: Ann Reichelderfer ’72
Ann Reichelderfer’s service to Swarthmore runs deep. She served on the Board of Managers from 2012 to 2016, was a member of the Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign leadership committee, Team 2020, and served on the Campaign Executive Committee in 2018.
Ann and her husband, Doug Blair ’70, met while working on The Phoenix in 1968. They hold a deep faith in the transformative power of a liberal arts education and believe that a socioeconomically diverse student population enhances Swarthmore’s value both to society and to its students. To this end, they are dedicated donors to financial aid and established an endowed fund in 2014. Both are also members of both The 1864 Leadership Giving Society and the Michener Legacy Circle. Ann and Doug’s legacy at Swarthmore continued as parents of a member of the Class of 2008.
A lawyer in Princeton, New Jersey, for the past 30 years, Ann represents individuals in estate planning and probate and trust law as well as several institutions of higher education in matters ranging from regulatory compliance to gift planning. While she has many demands on her time, Ann also remains intellectually engaged with the College — attending virtual Lifelong Learning Classes and Alumni Council’s SwatTalks.
Arabella Carter Community Service Award: Charles Bailey ’67
Charles Bailey spent his career leveraging his power and privilege to raise awareness about the multigenerational effects of Agent Orange on the people and land of Vietnam. It is no exaggeration to say that Charles’s work has saved future generations from continued suffering thanks to his ability to create constructive dialogues, his work coordinating efforts to identify and clean up polluted sites, and his compassion and dedication to taking care of victims.
The Vietnam War was the backdrop to Charles’s years at Swarthmore. After graduating with honors in history and political science, Charles served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, earned an MPA in public policy from Princeton University, and eventually earned a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Cornell University. He first arrived in Vietnam in 1997, while working for the Ford Foundation, where he witnessed the long lasting effects of Agent Orange on the land and people.
Although the U.S. government had acknowledged the harmful effects of the chemical on U.S. war veterans, it had not recompensed Vietnamese victims, nor had it acknowledged the ongoing harm from the toxic chemical in it, dioxin. Decades later, dioxin exposure was continuing to cause disabilities in adults and children. Appalled by this situation, Charles worked tirelessly to persuade the U.S. government to accept responsibility for its part in the ongoing tragedy and participate in the cleanup effort. When he ran into a wall with government officials, Charles got creative. He launched The Dialogue Group, engaging prominent citizens from both Vietnam and the United States to determine the top priorities and find ways to resolve conflicts and move forward with solutions. Thanks to Charles’s leadership, the problem is being addressed and inroads have been made.
Much like Arabella Carter, Charles worked quietly and diligently for years to bring awareness and action to an important social justice issue and it is only fitting that we present him with the Carter award today. As the nominating committee wrote in their citation of Charles, “His humility and integrity inspire all who are lucky enough to meet him. It makes us glad to know Charles Bailey is out in the world, representing the best of what it means to be a Swattie.”
The Eugene Lang ’38 Impact Award: Timothy Harrison ’87
This year’s Eugene Lang Impact Award is presented to Timothy Harrison ’87, co-chair of the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network. After graduating from Swarthmore, Tim received his Masters and Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University before pursuing his lifelong commitment to reducing disparities in access to health information and healthcare. For the past 18 years he has worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, where he has championed healthcare equity for historically underserved and under-resourced communities.
Among his primary duties, Tim currently manages the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund, a $55 million dollar fund, that supports the development of innovative local programs designed to reduce disparities in HIV/AIDS prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. In the last decade the Fund has supported tens of thousands of HIV and HCV (Hepatitis C) screenings in Indian country, increased access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, better known as PrEP, for black and Latinx gay men, and enabled the integration of HIV services in community health. Tim's communications skills, patience, and passion have been critical to his success as he has navigated the changing winds of four presidential administrations while never losing his focus on service to the American people.
Though Tim’s primary focus has been on HIV/AIDs and other infectious diseases, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our nation, he, along with many of his colleagues, pivoted in the fight against yet another infectious disease that disproportionately affects black and brown communities, once again activating his exemplary advocacy skills, community ties, and policy making ability. He says of his work: “It’s not glamorous. It means confronting some very challenging realities that shouldn’t be. It’s difficult conversations and at times, frustrating work with little acknowledgement.”
Tim’s work has impacted not only individual lives but also whole communities. The reach of his impact is reminiscent of the far-ranging impact of Gene Lang, and it is an honor and a privilege to present the Lang Impact Award to him.