Joseph B. Shane ’25 Alumni Service Award: David Tornquist ’78
David Tornquist has been steadfast in his engagement with Swarthmore since graduating with a degree in political science in 1978. A few of his many volunteer roles have included hosting students through the Extern Program, serving as a member of the Parents Council while his son Matthew, Class of 2020, was a student, participating in planning his 45th reunion, and hosting new student send-offs and other events on behalf of the College. David has also been an active member of the Council on Presidential Initiatives since its inception in 2017 and a philanthropic leader, stepping up as one of the first members of CPI to make a campaign gift to the Dining and Community Commons.
What sets David apart, however, is how his engagement with Swarthmore has been a family affair. His wife, Alice, has been at David’s side and an active volunteer in her own right through reunions, CPI meetings, and Parents Council meetings. We are deeply grateful to both David and Alice for their engagement and generosity.
Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 Impact Award: Julia Landau ’78
Julia Landau is the Director of the Disability Education Justice Initiative and Autism Center at Massachusetts Advocates for Children. A specialist in special education law, Julia has over 40 years of experience conducting legislative advocacy and litigation on behalf of children with disabilities. She has served as a public policy advocate in many major legislative campaigns, including laws addressing the overhaul of the state special education law, transition rights of older students, participation of students with disabilities in the state high stakes graduation tests, assistive technology, and the establishment of rights and services for children with autism. Julia has developed special education law training curricula and provided workshops for parents and professionals throughout the Commonwealth.
Before joining Massachusetts Advocates for Children in 1984, Julia worked as an advocate at the Greater Boston ARC; the Disability Law Center in Boston; and the Disability Rights Education Defense Fund, the law center associated with the nation’s first independent living center in Berkeley, where she developed models of special education advocacy based on joint leadership of adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities.
Julia graduated with a special major from Swarthmore in 1978 and went on to earn her J.D from Suffolk University in 1984.
Of particular note in this impressive biography is Julia’s work advocating to launch a new initiative in Massachusetts offering 18 to 22 year old students with intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities the opportunity to take college classes and participate fully inclusively in college life. This breakthrough civil rights advancement opened up state colleges and universities to students who had always been shut out — and who no one thought had a right to be on college campuses. Not stopping there, Julia continued to advocate for even greater access for this population of students historically excluded from higher ed, with expanded state funding, growing the number of partner colleges and universities, and eventually breaking down an additional barrier for these students by welcoming them inclusively as residential students, living in regular dorm rooms, attending regular classes, and participating in college life just as any other student would. The inclusive concurrent enrollment movement spearheaded by Julia and others has inspired dozens of similar initiatives across the country and, in 2022, after over a decade of advocacy, Massachusetts passed a groundbreaking law, becoming the first state in the nation to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities are included in all state colleges and universities.
Nominator Amanda Cheetham Green, Class of 1985, had this to say about Julia: “Julia is a civil rights warrior who deserves recognition. As the most successful legislative influencer and special education advocate I have ever seen, I can think of no more deserving recipient of the Eugene Lang Impact Award than Julia Landau.”
Arabella Carter Community Service Award: Veronica Herrera ’03
In her nomination, classmate Lucy Lang ’03 described Veronica Herrera as “embodying the spirit of the unsung hero for her life’s work elevating the voices and experiences of marginalized communities in the fight for climate justice,” making her the ideal candidate for this award.
Veronica is a lifelong community activist and an associate professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA where she studies the politics of development in Global South cities with a focus on Latin America. Her research interests include urban politics, decentralization, civil society participation, social mobilization, and environmental politics and policymaking. She is also an expert on water policy in international development.
Veronica is the recipient of several national awards including the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Clarence Stone Young Scholars Award from the American Political Science Association’s Urban and Local Politics Section.
Veronica graduated from Swarthmore with a degree in political science with high honors before going on to receive a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Beyond her academic endeavors, Veronica created and currently directs an environmental leadership program called “Green Ambassadors” at a local elementary school. The first through fifth grade student participants meet monthly to sort recycling and learn about environmental issues in Los Angeles and globally, and then return to their classrooms to share their knowledge and help implement green practices.
Veronica has become a leading voice in her city and school district on matters ranging from recycling to water conservation to sustainable food service programs. Her commitment to educating and empowering individuals to speak up for climate justice is inspirational.