NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Alumni Association held its Annual Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 15, when it recognized the achievements of past graduates of the college.
This year's recipients included Peter Abuisi '66, who received the Outstanding Educator Emeritus Award; The Honorable Representative Michelle Dubois '06, who received the MCLA Alumni Humanitarian Award; Michelle Kirby '90, who received the MCLA Outstanding Educator Award; Benjamin Lamb '07, who received the MCLA Young Alumnus Award; Buffy Duringer Lord '98, who received the MCLA Outstanding Service to the College Award; and Dr. Katherine Foster Warren '82, who was presented with the MCLA Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Abuisi, the recipient of the Outstanding Educator Emeritus Award, dedicated his career to the development of new innovations in the education field. Following a yearlong position as a social studies teacher for seventh- and eighth-grade students in Stockbridge, he accepted a Boston fellowship in 1967 to study special education. He went on to complete a Master of Education (M.ED) and earned a certificate of clinical training during that time, and went on to set up a Massachusetts Public Law 750 Class at Lincoln School in Melrose, in 1971.
Abuisi next moved to Washington, DC to work at an asylum for adults as part of their research staff to ascertain whether the methodologies employed in the reading program based on the principles of Charles Firster and B.F. Skinner could be expanded to include other learning skills. In 1973, he moved to Oklahoma, where he helped a small progressive school establish a middle division using ideas from a workshop he took at the former North Adams State College (NASC, now MCLA), and taught in the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Nursery at Oklahoma University.
In 1976 he joined Vail Mountain School, a K-12 institution in Colorado that was in the process of converting from a ski academy to a more balanced academic program, and became its headmaster two years later. Under Abuisi's leadership the school became a successful college preparatory school with a balanced academic, athletics, and arts curriculum. All of the Vail Mountain School graduates continue to be accepted to four year colleges.
Dubois, who received the MCLA Alumni Humanitarian Award, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. Born and raised in Brockton, she quickly embarked on a career that included membership of various non-profit organizations, as she served as a voice and an advocate for her community.
Elected in November 2014 to represent the 10th Plymouth District, Dubois serves on the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities; the Committee on Public Service; the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight; and the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.
For over a decade, Dubois has dedicated herself to serving the public in both the non-profit and government sectors. Prior to her successful state election, her non-profit work included serving as an administrator, a fundraiser, as legal counsel, and as a director of development at a variety of organizations, including the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Pine Street Inn, St. Francis House, Courageous Sailing Center, YMCA Boston, and at South Coastal Counties Legal Services
DuBois also served five terms on the Brockton City Council, watching over Ward 6.
Last semester at MCLA, she was honored by the Susan B. Anthony Women's Center at their "One of us" event.
Kirby, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Communications, received the MCLA Outstanding Educator Award. She is the co-owner of The Black Sheep Inn in Chugchilán, Ecuador, which in 2005 was honored with Smithsonian Magazine's Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award.
Although she entered the former NASC with the intention of becoming a radio personality, an opportunity to study abroad in Spain in 1988 changed the direction of her career. After an internship at a Seattle, Wash., radio rock station, Kirby realized that she instead most enjoyed adventure and travel, so she went to work for Green Tortoise Adventure Travel Company in Oregon, where she met her husband, Andy Hammerman. After a backpacking trip through Central and South America, the couple fell in love with a tiny farming village in Chugchilán, Ecuador.
In 1994, they relocated to Chugchilán, where they built and operate The Black Sheep Inn, an internationally acclaimed, award winning ecolodge, which offers an "off the beaten path" experience. In addition to running the Inn, Kirby has volunteered as an English and computer skills teacher at the local high school for the past 19 years. The couple also is responsible for donating a library to the community, filled with Spanish reading books and computers for educational purposes.
During her four years at MCLA, Kirby wrote for The Beacon student newspaper, had her own radio show, and was a board member of WJJW, the campus radio station. She also was a member and officer of Kappa Delta Phi National Affiliated Sorority.
Lamb, who received the MCLA Young Alumnus Award, earned his bachelor of arts degree in biology and environmental science. He is the assistant director of student involvement at Williams College, and co-owner of the Oh Crepe! Restaurant in North Adams.
In addition, Lamb is the president of the North Adams City Council, and serves as a board member for the North Adams Partnership, the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and the MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors. He also is a member of the Williamstown Rotary Club. He recently was named a recipient of the "Forty under 40" award from Berkshire Community College and 1Berkshire, as a 2014 Berkshire 25 Recipient from Berkshire Magazine, and received both the Innovation Award and 2012 New Professional of the Year award from the American College Personnel Association.
Lamb earned his master's degree in education at the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y., and is working on a doctorate in philosophy in higher education administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
While at MCLA, Lamb worked as an ecotourism intern at the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, Central America; a natural resources intern at the Fredericksburg National Military Park in Virginia; a salmon population research intern in Kenai, Alaska; a polymer adhesive resin chemist in Brattleboro, Vt.; a business specialist with Apple Inc. in Albany, N.Y.; and as a student affairs graduate intern at MCLA.
Lord, who received the MCLA Outstanding Service to the College Award, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from MCLA in 1998. Since then, she has combined a professional career as a private attorney with many hours of service, giving back to the College and her community.
Lord, an attorney with a private law firm in North Adams, is licensed to practice law in multiple federal courts and the state of Vermont. She has focused on litigation during her career, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. Her areas of expertise include personal injury, mediation, wrongful death and property damage.
After obtaining her law degree at Pepperdine University in 2003, Lord served as an extern for a federal judge in the Central District of California. She then moved to Louisiana, where she became licensed to practice law and began work as an associate attorney with Preis and Roy, PLC.
She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Berkshire Bar Association and a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Her pro bono work includes serving the Northern Berkshire United Way, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Landmark Credit Union. In 2010 she was honored with an Unsung Hero Award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In addition to serving as an adjunct professor of history at MCLA from 2008 to 2011, Lord served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2006-2012, becoming vice president in 2008 and president in 2010. She has been part of the MCLA Foundation Board of Directors since 2009. In 2012, she joined the MCLA Board of Trustees. In addition, she and her mother, Deborah Smith, endowed a scholarship fund at MCLA in support of student scholarship aid.
Warren, who received the MCLA Distinguished Alumnus Award, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from NASC. She is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology, and works as a senior investigator, leading the field of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology in both the Pediatric Oncology and Neuro-Oncology branches of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.
Warren began her career with a concentration on childhood leukemia, but after meeting a young patient who suffered from, and later died as the result of a brain tumor, she changed her focus by specializing in tumors called "diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas" or DIPGs. While leukemia is treatable, she found that there was no treatment for DIPGs, so she dedicates her work to solving this treatment deficit.
She has performed extensive research in clinical trials, non-invasive evaluation/imaging of the brain, and the neurotoxicity that results from brain tumors and their corresponding treatments. Because the treatment surrounding cancer of the central nervous system and survival rates among afflicted children has not substantially changed in the past three decades, Warren has made it her goal to develop new therapeutic strategies to treat children with this type of cancer, focusing on pharmacokinetic studies and early phase clinical trials.
Warren employs a multifaceted approach in her efforts to develop these trials, utilizing both biological and pharmacological rationale. Her many other areas of expertise include noninvasive analyses of patients using technology such as multiparametric imaging diffusing intrinsic pontine glioma and alternative modes of drug delivery.
She earned her medical degree at Tufts University in 1990, and later completed a residency in pediatrics at Children's National Medical Center, which was followed by a fellowship with the National Cancer Institute.
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