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Alumni Award Winners

Each spring, Alumni Council presents three service awards. Alumni, classmates, and faculty and staff members submit nominations, which are then reviewed and voted on by Alumni Council or, in the case of the Shane award, the Advancement Office. This year’s recipients were announced by Alumni Council President BoHee Yoon '01 during Virtual Collection.

The Shane Award: Bob Barr '56

Robert "Bob" Barr '56

The Shane Award was established in honor of the late Joseph B. Shane, Class of 1925, who served Swarthmore College as vice president for alumni affairs and public relations for more than 21 years. Joe's service to the College went beyond a simple job description. His warmth, humor, dedication to the College, and Quaker spirit made a lasting mark on Swarthmore and all who knew him.

Bob Barr '56 embodies the very spirit of the Joseph B. Shane award. Bob first returned to campus only a year after graduation when he came to work in the newly formed Admissions Office. This job would be the start of a lifetime of service to Swarthmore as an administrator, a volunteer, and a donor. Bob, who majored in political science, later served as Dean of Men and then as Dean of Admissions from 1977 until 1994. An entire generation of Swarthmore alumni owe their admission to Swarthmore to Bob — and many credit their personal connection with Bob as the reason they chose to attend the College.

In addition to his storied career at Swarthmore, Bob is a loyal donor to the Chester Children’s Chorus, Scott Arboretum, and The Swarthmore Fund; a member of the James A. Michener Legacy Circle; and has held numerous volunteer roles including serving on his 65th reunion committee and the McCabe Award Selection Committee. Bob still returns to campus often for the annual Donor-Scholar Celebration as well as Alumni and Garnet Weekends. 

Arabella Carter Community Service Award: Rochelle "Shelley" Laws '01

Rochelle "Shelley" Laws '01


Arabella Carter was one of the great unsung heroes who worked for peace and social justice in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in the early 1900s. She never sought publicity or recognition for her work and was largely forgotten by all but Friends Historical Library archivists, who saw her hand in Quaker peace and social justice work over three decades. She appears to have received no monetary compensation for all these services, living simply on family money. The award honors alumni who have made significant contributions as volunteers in their own communities or on a regional or national level. The Council hopes to honor alumni whose volunteer service is relatively unknown.

Rochelle “Shelley” Laws '01 is an in-house attorney and a member of the Litigation Department at TD Bank. Shelley is receiving the Carter Award in recognition of her sustained volunteer work at Action Wellness. 

Action Wellness started out as ActionAIDS in 1986 with the goal to serve people infected with HIV in the greater Philadelphia area. In June 2016, ActionAIDS expanded and rebranded so that it could bring the same quality of medical case management, caring family atmosphere, and expertise to more individuals suffering from chronic illnesses. Each year, Action Wellness serves over 4,000 clients through the efforts of over 400 dedicated volunteers like Shelley.

Over the past almost 20 years, Shelley has dedicated her time, energy, money, and strategic leadership to Action Wellness. She served for more than 15 years as a Buddy, has been on the Board of Directors for over two years, and is now the President of the Board of Directors. 

The Eugene Lang ’38 Impact Award: Marcella Nunez-Smith '96

Marcella Nunez-Smith '96

The Eugene Lang Impact Award was named for its first recipient, the late Eugene Lang, Class of 1938. The Eugene Lang Impact Award recognizes an alum who has made an impact on society, just as Gene Lang did throughout his life.

It seems particularly fitting that this year’s Eugene Lang Impact Award is presented to our Collection Speaker, Marcella Nunez-Smith '96. Marcella Nunez-Smith is Associate Dean for Health Equity Research; Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management; and Founding Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center in the Office for Health Equity Research at Yale School of Medicine. 

Marcella’s research focuses on promoting health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on centering community engagement, supporting healthcare workforce diversity and development, developing patient reported measurements of healthcare quality, and identifying regional strategies to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases. Marcella currently serves as Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team and Chair of the Department of Health and Human Services’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

Marcella is board certified in internal medicine, having completed residency training at Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and fellowship at the Yale Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, where she also received a Masters in Health Sciences. Originally from the US Virgin Islands, she attended Jefferson Medical College, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society; she earned a BA in Biological Anthropology and Psychology at Swarthmore College.