2016 Alumni Association Awards

This year's Distinguished Alumni recipients from left, Peter Abuisi '66, Benjamin Lamb '07, Buffy Lord '98, Michelle Kirby '90, and Katherine Foster Warren '82. Not pictured: Michelle Dubois '66.

The MCLA Alumni Association held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday, October 15, during Reunion & Fall Family Weekend. This year's recipients join the ranks of past distinguished alumni, all of whom embody the ideals of compassion, leadership, and dedicated service that define the core values of what an education from MCLA represents.

This event recognizes the achievements of past graduates of the College by presenting the following awards: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Service to the College Award, Humanitarian Award, Young Alumnus Award, Outstanding Educator Emeritus Award, and Outstanding Educator Award.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Katherine Foster Warren '82

Graduating from NASC in 1982 with a B.S. in Medical Technology, Katherine went on to obtain her medical degree at Tufts University in 1990. She completed a residency in pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center, followed by a fellowship with the National Cancer Institute. She is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. She is currently a Senior Investigator, leading the field of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology in both the Pediatric Oncology and Neuro-Oncology branches of the National Cancer Institute. Katherine originally started her career focusing on childhood Leukemia, but after meeting a young patient who suffered from a brain tumor who subsequently died as there were no effective treatments available, she changed her focus specializing in tumors called “diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas” or DIPGs. While leukemia is treatable, Dr. Warren found that there wasn’t any treatment for DIPGs. Today she dedicates her work to solving this treatment deficit. Katherine 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. As the treatment surrounding cancer of the central nervous system and survival rates among afflicted children has not substantially changed in the past three decades, she 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. Katherine 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.

Service to the College Award

Buffy Duringer Lord '98

After graduating in 1998 with a B.A. in History, Buffy went on to obtain her law degree from Pepperdine University. Since then, she has combined a professional career as a private attorney with countless hours of service and giving back to the College and her community. Buffy originally came to us from Lee, Massachusetts and currently works with a private law firm in North Adams. Licensed to practice law in multiple federal courts and the state of Vermont, Buffy 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.

She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Berkshire Bar Association and a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Her pro bono works include the Northern Berkshire United Way, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Land Mark Credit Union. In 2010 she was honored with an Unsung Hero Award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. From 2008 to 2011 Buffy returned to MCLA and taught as an Adjunct Professor of History. She has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2006-2012, becoming Vice President in 2008 and President in 2010 and has sat on the MCLA Foundation Board of Directors since 2009. In 2012 she joined the MCLA Board of Trustees and serves on the Board of Trustees Executive Committee, Enrollment Management Committee, and serves as Chair of the Student Affairs Committee. In addition, Buffy and her mother Deborah Smith endowed a scholarship fund at MCLA in support of student scholarship aid, the College’s area of greatest need.

Humanitarian Award

Michelle Dubois '06

Michelle graduated from MCLA in 2006 with a B.A. in Philosophy. Born and raised in Brockton, MA, Michelle 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, fundraiser, 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. Elected in November 2014 to represent the 10th Plymouth District, she 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. Before her election in 2014, DuBois served five terms on the Brockton City Council, watching over Ward 6. Throughout her career in public service, Michelle has shown a great determination to help improve the livelihood for every one of her constituents. She is currently pushing legislation for job growth, protecting seniors and children, education, and more transparent government. Michelle has spent her career dedicated to serve, protect, and to improve the welfare of all her constituents, especially the underserved.

Young Alum Award

Ben Lamb '07

Ben graduated from MCLA in 2007 with a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science. Following graduation, Ben’s many adventures brought him to the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, Central America as an Ecotourism Intern; to Fredericksburg, VA where he worked as a Natural Resources Intern at the Fredericksburg National Military Park; to Kenai, AK as a Salmon Population Research Intern; to Brattleboro, VT as a Polymer Adhesive Resin Chemist; to Albany, NY as a Business Specialist with Apple Inc., and back to MCLA as a student affairs graduate intern. Ben is currently the Assistant Director of Student Involvement at Williams College as well as co-owner of Oh Crepe! located here in North Adams. During this time, Ben earned his Master’s in Education at the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY and is currently working on a doctorate in philosophy in Higher Education Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dedicating his professional career to working in student affairs while pursuing advanced degrees, Ben’s continued commitment, dedication and support of the College has extended far and wide throughout Berkshire county. Currently, President of the North Adams City Council, Ben is a board member for the North Adams Partnership, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors; and is a member of the Williamstown Rotary Club. Ben is dedicated to enriching the lives of his students as well as his community.

Outstanding Educator Award

Michelle Kirby '90

After graduating in 1990 with a degree in English/Communications, Michelle moved to Seattle then to Oregon where she met her husband Andy Hammerman while working for Green Tortoise Adventure Travel Company. Together they worked in Baja, Mexico, and then backpacked through Central and South America where they fell in love with a tiny farming village in Chugchilán (Choog-Chee-lahn), Ecuador. In 1994, they relocated to Chugchilan founded and began building the Black Sheep Inn Eco Lodge at 10,500 feet in the Ecuadorian Andes. In 2005 The Black Sheep Inn was honored with Smithsonian Magazine’s Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award. For the past 20 years, Michelle has volunteered as an English and Computer skills teacher at the local high school. She also works with Emilie’s Charities, a U.K. based non-profit that provides scholarships for under privileged youths in South America. Michelle serves as administrator of the scholarships, as well as a counselor for the students. In addition, Michelle and Andy recently supported humanitarian relief efforts following the April 2016 earthquake in Ecuador, and they encourage humanitarianism to their guests by educating them about the multiple avenues where they too can volunteer and help out the community of Chugchilán. For Michelle, education comes in many forms in and out of the classroom, with countless opportunities to broaden people’s experiences.

Outstanding Educator Emeritus Award

Peter Abuisi '66

Peter left North Adams State College in 1966 and embarked on a career dedicated to developing new innovations in the education field, immersing himself in both traditional and special education classrooms. His first position started with teaching social studies to 7th and 8th graders in a K through 12 school in Stockbridge Mass. In 1966 K through 12 schools were becoming scarce as decisions were made to reorganize into the regional school district system, but Peter always appreciated the model. In 1967, he moved on to take a fellowship in Boston studying special education. His practicum placement was at the Judge Baker Guidance Center, a residential treatment program for boys who attended Manville School, located in the same building. After completing the Master’s program and earning a certificate of Clinical Training, he was hired as a staff member where his primary assignment was the teaching of boys living in the residence and day students commuting from neighboring towns. In 1971 Peter accepted the challenge to set up a Massachusetts public Law 750 Class at Lincoln School in Melrose, where he repurposed an old basement locker room into a classroom teaching emotionally troubled students ages 8 to 12 with skills ranging from 1st to 3rd-grade levels. He later moved to DC to work at a Freudian-oriented 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 NASC and taught in the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Nursery at Oklahoma University. It was in 1976 when he was called upon by the Vail Mountain School, a k-12 institution in Colorado that was converting from a ski academy to a more balanced academic program. In 1978 he became the school’s headmaster. Under his leadership, the school became a successful college preparatory school with a balanced academic, athletics, and arts curriculum. All of the Vale Mountain School Graduates continue to be accepted to four-year colleges. Peter retired from the school in 2013 after a career that was built on the foundation of his education at NASC and from the formative year in Stockbridge.

Prior to her arrival at MCLA, she attended the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy where she became a licensed massage therapist and started a private practice in Bennington, Vermont.
She then attended MCLA and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2009. While at MCLA she made Dean's List every semester, was inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta and Alpha Chi, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She was a member of the Biology Club and served as a Teaching Assistant for several upper-level Biology laboratory courses, including Cell Biology. In her senior year she was the recipient of the Biology Achievement Award.
After graduation she continued on to New York Chiropractic College where she earned the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic. During the completion of her graduate degree, she was chosen to be a chiropractic intern at the nation’s largest military teaching hospital, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where she provided chiropractic care for Wounded Warriors and Active Duty Military personnel. She also participated in rotations in several allopathic departments.
She is currently a chiropractor in the Burlington, Vermont area for Chittenden County Chiropractic.  She has established a relationship with the area’s teaching hospital, Fletcher Allen Health Care, a University of Vermont affiliate, where she furthers her knowledge in the departments of Spinal Orthopedics, Neuroradiology, Neurosurgery, and Obstetrics.
Since graduating, Tori returns annually to the MCLA campus to present on the field of Chiropractic Medicine to students in Dr. Ann Billetz’s Freshman Biology Seminar.  She was also the Keynote speaker at the 2014 MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference.  
Tori, because of your respect and dedication to the health and well being of humanity, your passion for continual learning, and for your leadership skills in your profession and community.



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