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2014 Alumni Reunion Is a Sellout – and a Rousing Success

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Hundreds of alumni from throughout John Jay’s long, proud history returned to their alma mater on April 24 for a festive annual reunion that featured a “Founding Generation” symposium and another spirited after-party hosted by former John Jay student and now Latin music entrepreneur Johnny Marines.

The full day of events also included a presentation by noted political consultant Hank Sheinkopf (MA ’79), along with building tours and pre-dinner receptions.

At the dinner in the new student dining hall, the Alumni Association saluted Michael F. McCann (BS ’74), who recently stepped down after 10 years as the association’s president. McCann, whose oft-heard catchphrase as alumni president was “If not for John Jay. . .,” was honored with a standing ovation for his tireless efforts to reinvigorate the Alumni Association and enhance its presence within the John Jay and professional communities.

In his honor, the annual alumni endowed scholarship has been renamed the Michael F. McCann Alumni Scholarship, and Shantoi Shaw, a sophomore Honors Program student majoring in Computer Information Systems, was announced as the first winner of the rebranded scholarship. “This scholarship will help increase my confidence and competence in my chosen field,” said Shaw, who is a Peer Ambassador and member of the CUNY Service Corps.

Succeeding McCann at the association’s helm is Shauna-Kay Gooden (BA/MPA ’04), the assistant general counsel in the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer (BA ’86). Gooden is formerly an Executive at Large on the Alumni Association’s board, and served as President of the John Jay Student Council as an undergraduate.

The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, created in 2013, was presented to Andrew Schweighardt (MS ’99, PhD ’12), a criminalist with the Office of the New York City Chief Medical Examiner. Schweighardt spoke of his good fortune to be working in “one of the greatest labs in the world,” where some 30 John Jay alumni are on the staff of his department.

“John Jay is the Ivy League of criminal justice, and I’m so proud to say that!” Schweighardt said. “Long live John Jay!”

Professor Alisse Waterston, a member of the Department of Anthropology since 2003 and chair of the John Jay Faculty Fund, which supports the Rising Star Fellowships, received the 2014 Distinguished Faculty Award. The President-elect of the American Anthropological Association, Waterston said of John Jay, “We are a public institution, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here — to support public education.

The recipient of the annual Distinguished Alumna Award, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson (BA ’75), who recently retired after a distinguished legal career, was saluted for her work as a prominent taxation law specialist. She has worked for the blue-chip law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen, served on the staff of the Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation, founded the boutique law firm of Washington Counsel PC, and concluded her career as a principal for the accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

“I know what this school has meant in my life,” said Garrett-Nelson, who is an active supporter of the John Jay Pre Law Institute. “and I want to see it continue to have such meaning for others.”

On a beautiful spring evening, alumni and other guests wrapped up the reunion with an after-party in the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery in the New Building. Guest DJ Camilo of Hot 97 radio provided the party’s entertainment, setting the tone for an evening of wall-to-wall music and dancing.