After a virtual version last year, the 2021 University of New Orleans Distinguished Alumni Gala returned to the striking surroundings of the National WWII Museum on Thursday to celebrate alumni achievement and the University’s importance to the city and the region.
“I hope that tonight’s event will continue to build shared pride and reinforce the value of our beloved university,” said UNO President John Nicklow. “As I say to nearly every group I speak to, New Orleans doesn’t work without the University of New Orleans.”
The festivities included a fireside chat-style conversation moderated by alumnus Mark Romig and featuring 2021 Homer Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award recipient David Gallo, 2021 Norma Jane Sabiston Young Alumna of the Year Lacey Merrick Conway and 2020 Norma Jane Sabiston Young Alumna of the Year Sheba Turk.
Gallo, Conway and Turk reminisced about their formative experiences at UNO, discussed their chosen professions and offered advice to new graduates entering the workforce.
2020 Homer Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Timothy Adams, a business executive and the mayor of Bowie, Maryland, was unable to attend the ceremony but sent a video message expressing his appreciation for the honor and his alma mater.
In addition to celebrating Gallo, the president and CEO of Gallo Mechanical; Conway, the president and CEO of Latter & Blum; and Turk, an anchor with WWL-TV in New Orleans, the University also recognized distinguished alumni from each of its four academic colleges and athletics.
- The College of Business Administration honored Melonie Johnson, president and COO of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ.
- The College of Engineering honored Tony Cibilich, president and owner of C&C Marine Repair in Belle Chasse, La.
- The College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development honored B. Jeffrey Brooks, a partner with the law firm Adams & Reese.
- The College of Sciences honored Sabrina Farmer, vice president for engineering site reliability at Google.
- Privateer Athletics honored Robin Martin, deputy director of strategy, planning and management for the postsecondary success team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Nicklow closed his remarks by expressing his appreciation to the alumni and friends who support the University.
“Our institution means so much to so many people. It is, I venture to say, essential," Nicklow said. "So, on behalf our students, thank you.”