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Maxwell to Honor Champions of Public Service with Inaugural Awards of Excellence

March 9, 2022

The awards will be presented at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 7.

A revered humanitarian and three accomplished alumni who exemplify the Maxwell School’s commitment to engaged citizenship will be honored during an inaugural celebration in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

Alumni and friends are invited to attend the Maxwell Awards of Excellence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)—home to the school’s Washington, D.C., programs. The event will be emceed by Maxwell Advisory Board member Donna Shalala ’70 M.S.Sc./’70 Ph.D. (SSc)/’87 Hon., who previously served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, president of the University of Miami and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A cocktail reception will follow the 6 p.m. presentation of awards to the following recipients

Helene Gayle

Helene Gayle, president and chief executive officer of The Chicago Community Trust, will receive the Maxwell Spirit of Public Service Award which honors individuals whose contributions have brought widespread impact and reflect the ideals of the Maxwell School. An expert on global development, humanitarian and health issues, Gayle previously led the international humanitarian organization, CARE. She also spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control and directed programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has received 18 honorary degrees and serves on numerous public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Co., Organon, Palo Alto Networks, the Brookings Institution, CSIS and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. She recently received the Chicago Mayor’s Medal of Honor for her work on COVID relief and recovery, and she has been named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women.”

Ken Auletta

Ken Auletta ’65 will receive the Maxwell 1924 Award, named for Maxwell’s founding year and established to honor an alumnus for distinguished professional and civic leadership and achievement in the spirit of the school’s mission. Auletta, who received a master’s degree in political science, is an award-winning writer, journalist and media critic. Since 1992, he has written the “Annals of Communications” profiles and columns for the New Yorker magazine. He is also the author of 12 books, including five national bestsellers. His previous roles include teaching Peace Corps volunteers and working on political campaigns.

Keome Rowe

Keome Rowe ’16 will receive the Maxwell Compass Award, created to recognize an early-career alumnus for exceptional accomplishments and professional or community impact. Rowe earned a master of public administration (M.P.A.) and an M.A. in international relations along with Certificates of Advanced Study in security studies and conflict resolution. A foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State, he has served as a diplomat in Pakistan and China. He has also previously worked as a foreign policy fellow with the U.S. House of Representatives, in the Office of Presidential Correspondence in the White House and in city government in Fort Worth, Texas.

Charles Willie

Charles V. Willie ’57, who earned a Ph.D. in sociology and an honorary doctorate in 1992, will be honored, posthumously, with the Maxwell Advocate Award, created to recognize individuals who’ve reflected Maxwell’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in their professional and volunteer pursuits. Willie, who died on Jan. 11 at the age of 94, taught at Maxwell for 25 years and was the first Black man appointed to an academic administration position at the University. He served as the chair of the Sociology Department and was named vice president for student affairs in 1972. Deeply committed to justice, his numerous accomplishments include successfully advocating for equal treatment of the University’s Black football players as well as the ordination of women priests in the Episcopal church and school desegregation in more than a dozen cities.

The Awards of Excellence program was developed to recognize graduates and friends of Maxwell for their professional accomplishments and public service. The honorees were selected from nominations submitted by alumni and other members of the Maxwell community.

“We are delighted to honor these four extraordinary individuals,” says Maxwell Dean David M. Van Slyke. “Each of them, through their professional work and civic and volunteer leadership, uniquely embodies Maxwell’s commitment to public service through engaged citizenship—an ideal that is especially crucial to restoring trust and building pathways to respectful engagement and understanding.”

There is no cost to attend the event, but RSVPs are required by Thursday, March 31. Those who plan to attend are asked to register on the event website. The event will be held in adherence with current Syracuse University COVID protocols; click here for up-to-date guidance.

Questions may be directed to Jessica Murray, director of alumni relations, at

Communications and Media Relations Office
200 Eggers Hall