Recognition - Alumni Awards
Many graduates of Roger Williams University have brought extraordinary credit to their alma mater through both professional and personal achievements. Each year, we are honored to recognize and celebrate members of our community who have had a beneficial impact on society and our campus, advancing the common good and inspiring others to address challenges with insight and creativity. The actions of award recipients communicate the dynamic excellence of a Roger Williams education and the importance of Service as one of our core values.
Nominate a Hawk for a Future Award
Distinguished Alum of the Year
This award recognizes a graduate (more than 10 years of experience) for significant long-term success in personal and professional achievements who has made outstanding contributions to their profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams and the Alumni Association.
2022 - Vernon H. Stafford, Jr. '80
2020/2021 - Sharon Castelli '86
2019 - Rebecca J. McWilliams, Esq. ’04
2018 - Scott Avedisian M'11
2017 - Melissa M. Husband '00
2016 - Mark Fallon '78
2015 - F. Michael Ayles
2014 - Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin '88 L'98
2013 - Pamela M. (Pinskey) Fernandes '76
2012 - Steven D. Ricciardi '82
2002 - Harry S. Kinch, Sr. '77
2001 - Timothy B. Yeaton '80
2000 - Major General Reginald A. Centracchio '86
1999 - Thomas F. Hudson '76
1998 - Louis W. Gingerella, Jr.' 75
Young Alumni Achievement Award
This award recognizes a recent graduate for significant short-term accomplishments who, in their first ten years since graduation, has made outstanding contributions to their chosen profession and has rendered distinguished service to the public welfare, thus honoring Roger Williams and the Alumni Association.
2022 - Brian Knowles M'15
2020/2021 - Omar Bah '10 M'14
2019 - Timothy LeBel '15
2018 - Lorin H. Richardson '09
2017 - Ashley K. Emanuele '09
2016 - Theresa M. Agonia '13
2015 - Kaitlyn Baird '06
2014 - Contessa M. Brown '06 '13M
2013 - Meghan Grady '08M
2012 - Meghan Rothschild '06
2002 - Lisa N. Cisero '99
2001 - Karl Daubman '95
2000 - Jeffrey A. Quinn '93
1999 - Colin Hynes '92
1998 - Michael P. Turner '92
Roger Williams Hawk Award
(Please note, beginning in 2023, the institution has combined the Roger Williams Spirit Award into the Roger Williams Hawk Award)
The award is presented to an outstanding RWU student who has school spirit and has fostered engagement among peers to participate with the Roger Williams Alumni Association. The student has exemplified the Hawk spirit and has shown an interest in being involved and contributing to the Roger Williams Alumni Association’s mission.
2020/2021 - Class Officers - Classes of 2020 and 2021
Former Roger Williams Spirit Award Winners:
2020/2021 - Jim Kelley '16, Jamie Warner '15 and Mackenzie "Mack" Doyle '15
Roger Williams Honorary Hawk Award
This award recognizes an exemplary member of the Roger Williams University faculty or staff who has a positive and spirited relation to the University. The individual fosters friendship and/or mentorship in the Roger Williams community and is always a positive light for students and alumni, regardless of their place of graduation.
Alumni Advancing DEI Award
This award recognizes an individual Roger Williams graduate, or Roger Williams graduates of organization working to recognize and advance work in the field of Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging. Their work has a proven track record of creating an inclusive culture in their workplace or community and empowering other individuals in working towards the goals of diversity and inclusion.
Nominate a Hawk
Alumni Service Award
This award recognizes a graduate for outstanding service to Roger Williams University. Their voluntary contributions, either directly or through activity in the Alumni Association, shall have been over and beyond the normal call of duty.
2019 - George N. Bolden Sr. '74, '98, PM'05
2018 - Alexander Rudkin '14
2017 - Spencer McCombe '97
2016 - Megan Alves '91
2015 - Daniel M. Gumb '08
2014 - Ashley Gingerella O'Shea '07
2013 - William Geraghty '78
2012 - Michael La Scala '83
2002 - Paul K. Williams '89
2000 - Jennifer E. Samolyk '92 L'96
1999 - Evelyn I. Bain '85
1998 - Richard D. Rohleder '85
Class Leadership Award
2019 - Class of 2014
2018 - Class of 2013
2017 - Class of 2012
2016 - Class of 2001
2015 - Class of 2005
2014 - Class of 1994
2013 - Class of 1993
2012 - Class of 1992
2002 - Marshall Margolis '66
2001 - David Kessler '54
2000 - Myron L. "Mike" Coken '58
Congratulations to our 2022 Alumni Award Recipients
Distinguished Alum of the Year
Vernon H. Stafford, Jr. ’80
Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Audit Executive, First Horizon National Corporation
Vernon H. Stafford, Jr. is a C-level senior executive vice president and chief audit executive at First Horizon Corporation, where he is responsible for corporate internal audit and credit risk assurance. First Horizon is a Memphis, TN-based regional bank holding company for First Horizon Bank, FHN Financial and First Horizon Advisors. Prior to joining First Horizon in June 2013, Vernon served a distinguished 33-year career as a commissioned national bank examiner for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). From July 2011 through May 2013, Vernon served as assistant deputy comptroller (ADC) in OCC’s Midsize Bank Supervision department. As ADC, Vernon supervised a staff of midsize bank examiners and a portfolio of midsize banking companies ranging in assets of $13 billion to $100 billion.
Vernon received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Roger Williams College (now University) in 1980. After functioning in various positions as field examiner and bank analyst, Vernon served from 1997 – 2001 as director for OCC’s Core Policy Development division in the OCC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters office. From 2001 through 2006, Vernon served as director for Large Bank Supervision, a division responsible for the supervision of the largest banking companies in the national banking system. From 2006 to 2011, Vernon served as examiner-in-charge of supervision for First Tennessee Bank, N.A., in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was responsible for the day-to-day supervisory and regulatory activities of the $30 billion banking company.
Vernon believes in service to community, as he has served in governance and voluntary roles at not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. Today, he serves on the board of directors of Leadership Memphis and the Hattiloo Theater as well as the board of trustees of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis. In 2017, Vernon was appointed jointly by Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Harwell to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, where he continues to serve. He has been recognized as a Distinguished Speaker by The Neal Corporate Governance Center of the University of Tennessee. In 2020, Savoy Magazine recognized Vernon as a Most Influential Black Executive in Corporate America.
Vernon is supported by his loving wife of 30 years - Barbara and their adult children Danielle (son-in-law Koedy), Vernon 3rd and Christina.
Young Alumni Achievement Award
Brian Knowles M'15
Wing Historian, 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana
United States Air Force
Mr. Knowles is Wing Historian, 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana. As Wing Historian, he is directly responsible for the management of the Wing Historian Office and is the point of contact for historical inquiries. His duties include creation, collection, and preservation of Wing unit history reports, archival records, reference library, oral history interview collection, and photograph collections. He records the activities and significant events of Airmen and civilians of the 434th ARW and Grissom ARB. Additionally, he conducts outreach activities with local communities.
Mr. Knowles graduated from Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, in 2015 with a Masters of Science in Historic Preservation. He also studied at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, 2008-2010 for a Masters of Arts in History. He earned both a Bachelors of Science in Historic Preservation and a Bachelors of Arts in History at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 2008. He enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in August 2001. He has continued to serve in the USMCR since then, with deployments on Active Duty in 2004 and 2009-2010 to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. His Staff Noncommissioned Officer billets include serving as an Archivist and Historian for U.S. Marine Corps History Division; Historian and Public Affairs Operations Chief for Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters, USMCR Centennial Program [2015-2017]; Historian and Broadcast Journalist for U.S. Africa Command; and Communications Strategy and Operations Chief, Communications Strategy Office, Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters. Mr. Knowles’ civilian employment includes: 2008-2009, Archivist at Ball State University Archive, Muncie, Indiana; 2010-2011, Archivist Fellowship, U.S. Marine Corps Archive, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; 2011-2014, Archives Technician, U.S. National Archives, Washington, D.C.; 2018-2019, Archivist, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany; and 2019-present, Wing Historian, 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana