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Award Winners

From left: Acting Co-President Rob Goldberg, Deborah How ’89, Ayanna Johnson ’09, and Acting Co-President Tomoko Sakomura

From left: Acting Co-President Rob Goldberg, Deborah How ’89, Ayanna Johnson ’09, and Acting Co-President Tomoko Sakomura

Joseph B. Shane ’25 Alumni Service Award: Deborah How ’89

The nominations for Deborah “Deb” How were numerous and effusive. Her Swarthmore roommate Kirsten Talmage ’89 described Deb’s contribution to the Swarthmore community as “a steady force for good for decades” while fellow 1989 classmate David Salmanson wrote, “Building community and connection among Swatties has been Deb's primary goal.”

Deb has served Swarthmore as a volunteer for many years and continues to heed the call to service for the College. She currently serves on her Reunion Committee and actively manages the Alumni Virtual Connection on Facebook. Writes Matt Wall ’87, “Her creation of the Swarthmore College Alumni Virtual Connection Facebook group has been instrumental in reconnecting literally thousands of alumni with the college and one another.”

Since graduating from Swarthmore with a bachelor’s of arts in music with honors, Deb has served on Alumni Council, the Swarthmore Business Network, and as a Connections Chair. She participates in many College events, most recently presenting a “Creating Opportunities in the World of Music” workshop for the Department of Music and Dance. In addition to being an alum, one of her sons, Kielor Tung, is a current student. 

Deb is also a loyal and generous donor, supporting the restoration of the pipe organ in Lang Concert Hall and a summer opportunity for students. 

Deb is an accomplished classical pianist, harpsichordist, flutist, and piccoloist, as well as a music educator, ethnomusicologist, and entrepreneur. She is the owner of the Westside Music Conservatory in West Los Angeles, where she maintains an active piano, flute, chamber music, and music theory studio with national and international competition winners.

Ayanna Johnson ’09 and Shamil Mustafa Idriss ’94

Ayanna Johnson ’09 and Shamil Mustafa Idriss ’94

Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 Impact Award: Shamil Mustafa Idriss ’94

In her nomination of Shamil Idriss, Lori Melichar Gadkari ’94 wrote, “In the time since he graduated, Shamil has worked consistently towards a goal of no less than world peace.”

To that end, Shamil is CEO of Search for Common Ground, an international non-profit committed to transforming the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches toward cooperative solutions.

With more than 850 staff working in 36 countries, Search is the largest non-governmental peacebuilding organization and was nominated by the Quakers for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. During his tenure at Search for Common Ground, Shamil has presided over the organization’s growth in reach, impact, and influence, including leading multiple non-profit merger and acquisition processes; forging strategic partnerships with public and private sector entities including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Meta; and launching new programming to address increasing polarization and conflict in the United States. 

In 2005, Shamil was appointed by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. He served on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders and is a member of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders and recipient of the 2015 Open Society Foundation New Executive Award. He serves on the Board of Giving Tuesday and is a regular commentator on domestic and international peace and conflict issues on CNN and other mainstream media platforms. 

Shamil graduated from Swarthmore with distinction with a degree in economics and philosophy.


From left: Acting Co-President Rob Goldberg, Neil Heskel ’74, Ayanna Johnson ’09, and Acting Co-President Tomoko Sakomura

From left: Acting Co-President Rob Goldberg, Neil Heskel ’74, Ayanna Johnson ’09, and Acting Co-President Tomoko Sakomura

Arabella Carter Community Service Award: Neil Heskel ’74

Neil Haskin is a board-certified dermatologist. He graduated with distinction from Swarthmore with a degree in philosophy before continuing his education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, earning his medical degree in 1978. Following medical school, Neil pursued a pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, dedicating two years to this specialization. He then completed a dermatology residency at Oregon Health Sciences University. Since 1983, Neil has been a respected dermatologist in Vero Beach, Florida, where he has built a successful practice.

Neil has supported Haiti Clinic, a clinic dedicated to providing free access to dental and healthcare and relevant public health information and education in under-resourced areas of Port-au-Prince, since its founding 30 years ago. He has made dozens of trips to Haiti, where he and the other doctors treat thousands of patients a year. In addition to seeing hundreds of patients personally, he helped establish a full-time walk-in clinic in Cité Soleil, an area particularly hard-hit during the 2010 earthquake. Today, these clinics are staffed by Haitian nurses, doctors, and dentists, and supplemented by bimonthly weekend clinics staffed by American doctors and nurses. Haiti Clinic has special clinics for hypertension and at-risk pediatrics. There is also a women's clinic which provides birth control, disease prevention, and other types of care. Last year, Haiti Clinic treated over 12,000 patients.

Neil is a past president and member of the board of directors for Haiti Clinic, advocating for the medical care needs of Haitians and recruiting fellow medical professionals to join the team.