2015 Great Immigrants Honorees: The Pride of America
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Madhulika Sikka was the executive editor for NPR News for nearly three years and worked at NPR for nearly ten. Last month, it was announced that she was leaving NPR to take on the same role at Mic, a news site aimed at millennials. She will join Mic in September. Sikka has won four Emmy Awards as well as the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence in 2009. Last year, she published a memoir called A Breast Cancer Alphabet about her cancer diagnosis and the subsequent challenge of navigating treatment options.
Born in Singapore and raised in Cambridge, England, Thomas P. Campbell is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he has overseen the openings of new galleries for Islamic and American art as well as renovation plans for the Costume Institute. Among his priorities are exploring the use of technology in the museum and integrating education into all of the Met’s activities. Campbell joined the museum in 1995 as an Assistant Curator, and was promoted to associate curator and curator before being named director.
Canadian native Lorne Michaels cocreated Saturday Night Live in 1975, and has produced it for nearly its entire forty-year run. The comedy sketch show has been nominated for more than 156 Emmy Awards and has won 36. Michaels won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2004 and received a Personal Peabody Award in 2013. He is also the executive producer of NBC’s The Tonight Show and Late Night.
Jonathan Hunt is a New York-based chief correspondent for FOX News Channel. He provided extensive coverage of the 2014 protests in New York City over the decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Hunt joined the network in 2002 as an international correspondent based in Los Angeles. Before that, he was the European bureau chief for Sky News.
Marie-Josée Kravis is an economist who serves on the international advisory board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She and her husband, Henry Kravis, are major donors to Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic, and together are ranked the 25th-highest donating individual according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Together, they established the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music in Composition, and a composer-in-residence program.
Winner of the 2015 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, Franziska Michor is a professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also the director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Physical Sciences-Oncology Center. In her lab, she has created mathematical models on the molecular subtleties of cancer progression and drug resistance; these models have led to new cancer treatment regimens that are now being tested in patients. Born in Vienna, Austria, Michor was inspired by her father, a mathematician, and her mother, a nurse, to pursue her career in biostatistics.
Maria Otero is the first holder of the office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, where she served from 2012–2013, and the first Latina Under Secretary in history. She also served as the President’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Otero received a master’s degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she has been an adjunct professor since 1997, coteaching a course on microfinance. She was also a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2008.
Born in Germany and raised in Syria, Malek Jandali was one of the first Syrian artists abroad to publicly speak out against the Syrian regime. He is known for his controversial song “Watani Ana: I am my Homeland,” which he performed at a protest in Washington D.C. Soon after, his parents, who still lived in Syria, were severely beaten and their home ransacked. Jandali blamed Syrian security forces for the attack, and promptly moved his parents to the United States. In 2013, he launched an international benefit tour to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Anchee Min, a native of Shanghai, is the author of two memoirs and six historical novels, which emphasize strong female characters such as Jiang Qing, the wife of Chairman Mao Zedong. At age 17, Min was sent to a collective farm, where she was discovered by talent scouts and became an actress. After the collapse of the Mao regime, Min fled to the United States in 1984 and subsequently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1985, she won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for her memoir, Red Azalea.
When Ilana Rovner was in law school in the 1960s, there had been only two women federal judges in the history of the United States. In 1992, after being nominated by President George H. W. Bush, she became the first woman appointed to the Seventh Circuit, serving as a federal judge for the Court of Appeals. A child during World War II, Rovner and her mother left Latvia for the United States to join her father and to escape the occupation of their native country by Nazi Germany.
The first Armenian American to sit on the Massachusetts Superior Court, Raffi Yessayan is also a published author. Previously, Yessayan worked for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, where he was chief of the Gang Unit. In 2007, he left the DA’s office and opened a private practice focusing on criminal defense and immigration law. Shortly after that, he published two crime novels with Random House, 8 in the Box and 2 in the Hat.
Known for his office’s prosecutions of nearly 100 Wall Street executives, Preet Bharara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His office has reached historic settlements with the three largest banks in the United States and charged several elected officials in public corruption cases. In 2010, Bharara assisted in recovering $7.2 million in funds from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which was used to compensate Madoff’s victims.
Focusing on the technical processes involved in the production of garments, Vietnamese-born Tuyen Tran is a graduate of Parsons School of Design at the New School and currently works as a freelance designer for J. Crew. Earlier this year she was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Fashion for her functional designs. And in 2014, Tran’s graduate collection of womens wear was nominated for the Parsons Designer of the Year award.
Born in Shanghai, Bette Bao Lord moved with her family to the United States in 1946. Three years later, the family was unable to return to their home country after Chairman Mao Zedong won the civil war in China. Bao Lord wrote about her childhood experiences as a Chinese immigrant in her autobiographical children’s book In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Her novel Spring Moon was an American Book Award nominee. In 1998, President Bill Clinton presented her with the first Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
In addition to being the Dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana is the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership and Development in organizational behavior at Harvard Business School and a professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His research involves executive labor markets and the history of business schools. Rakesh and the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, are working with the World Economic Forum and the Aspen Institute to create a business oath, like the MBA Oath, which promotes integrity, ethics, and serving the greater good.
A. Gabriel Esteban is the first lay president of Seton Hall, a Catholic university, in two decades; he is also its first Filipino president. As president, he spearheaded the university’s strategic planning and collaborated with faculty and academic leaders on enhancing and adding undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as strengthening the centrality of academics at Seton Hall. Esteban is a founding board member and vice chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Association of Colleges and Universities, a new national organization established to advocate on behalf of minority-serving institutions.
Dr. Firouz Naderi is the director for the Solar System Exploration Directorate at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Formerly, he was the associate director for Project Formulation and Strategy (2005-2011) providing oversight of new business acquisition and strategic planning at JPL. From 2000 to 2005, Naderi was the head of the Mars Exploration Program with the goal of determining whether the planet is a habitat for life. He oversaw the successful launch of Mars Odyssey; the landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity; and the development of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Naderi is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the recipient of a number of awards, including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Space Technology Hall of Fame Medal, and NASA’s highest honor–– the Distinguished Service Medal. He is a 2005 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for outstanding contributions that have enriched American society and exemplify its cultural diversity. He was also recognized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) with the William Randolph Lovelace II Award for outstanding contributions to space science and technology. Naderi received his doctorate from the University of Southern California in electrical engineering and joined JPL in 1979.
A law professor at the UCLA School of Law, Eugene Volokh is cofounder of the blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, which runs on the Washington Post’s website (which is independent of the newspaper). Before joining UCLA, where he teaches a myriad of subjects, including free speech law and religious freedom law, Volokh clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. Volokh was born in Kiev, Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and immigrated to the United States at age seven.
Ann Telnaes is a syndicated editorial cartoonist whose work appears in newspapers across the country. She is the second woman to earn a Pulitzer in this category and one of the few cartoonists to win without being affiliated with a particular newspaper. Her work related to the role of the Florida legislature and the Supreme Court in the outcome of the 2000 presidential election contributed to her Pulitzer win. A former animator at Disney, Telnaes now produces editorial animations for the Washington Post’s website.
Craig Nevill-Manning is a computer scientist who joined Google in 2000. After working in Mountain View, California, for three years, he relocated to New York City and founded Google’s first remote engineering center. In 2010, Google opened a New York headquarters in Chelsea that now employs more than 1,500 engineers. Among other achievements, Nevill-Manning invented Froogle, now known as Google Shopping. He is a native of New Zealand, and became a naturalized citizen in 2013.
The host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy! since 1984, Alex Trebek is the holder of the Guinness World Record for “the most gameshow episodes hosted by the same presenter (same program).” Trebek has won five Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Active in charitable causes, he has participated in 13 USO tours and was a recipient of the USO Bob Hope Award for his commitment to America’s troops. He also received the Alexander Graham Bell medal for his 25 years as host of the National Geographic Bee.
Ali Malekzadeh was named president of Roosevelt University in early 2015, and will assume his post on July 1. Born in Iran, Malekzadeh and his wife studied at the University of Denver, and soon after graduation were unable to return home due to the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They were granted asylum by the United States that year, and later became U.S. citizens. Malekzadeh has been a business dean at private and public universities for 17 years.
Born Ariadna Thalía Sodi Miranda, Thalía is a Mexican singer, author, and actress, who is known as the “Queen of Latin Pop” internationally. She has sold more than 400 million records worldwide and is one of the top-selling Latin musicians of all time. Thalía has also appeared in telenovelas that have aired in over 180 countries and she sings in several languages including Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Filipino. At the end of 2013, she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Arieh Warshel is a Nobel Prize–winning biochemist and biophysicist, who was born in kibbutz Sde Nahum in northern Israel. After serving as a captain in the Israeli army, he went on to earn his PhD in chemical physics. Warshel joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Southern California in 1976 following postdoctoral work at Harvard and other institutions. In 2013, he and two colleagues in the field were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”
Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani is chief investment officer of the Private Wealth Management Group at Goldman Sachs. She previously worked at Fidelity Management Trust Co., where she was chief investment officer for all separate and co-mingled fixed income accounts. A distinguished philanthropist, Mossavar-Rahmani helped establish the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University. She is a member of the Board of Trustees and the Investment Committee of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Harvard’s Committee on University Resources, and the National Advisory Board of the Merage Foundation for the American Dream. She is also vice president of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Investment Committee and member of the Audit and Finance Committee of the Trinity School in New York City. She is a former member of the Advisory Council for Princeton’s Bendheim Center for Finance. Mossavar-Rahmani has published two books, one on bond indexing and one on OPEC natural gas, as well as numerous articles on portfolio management issues. She earned a BA from Princeton University and an MS from Stanford University.
Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and national security fellow at the New America Foundation, brought the case of her childhood friend Adnan Syed to the attention of Sarah Koenig, who featured him on the popular Serial podcast last year. Hoping to prove his innocence—he’s currently incarcerated for murder—Chaudry is now host of a follow-up podcast called Undisclosed, which expands on Serial’s coverage. She covers Syed’s case on her blog Split the Moon, and uses it as a platform to petition for a new trial and to raise money for his legal defense fund. Her legal practice focuses on federal immigration law, while her work at the New American Foundation centers on the inclusion of American Muslim communities in the realm of national security.
Geraldine Brooks is an Australian American journalist, whose novel March, which retells Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women from the point of view of the March family’s largely absent father, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2006. In 1990, she and her husband, Tony Horwitz, received the Overseas Press Club of America’s Hal Boyle Award for Best Newspaper or Wire Service Reporting from Abroad, for their work covering the Persian Gulf.
Nastia Liukin represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics Games in Beijing, where she took home two individual silver medals and one team silver medal. She has also been awarded nine World Championships medals, seven of them individual, and is tied for second place among U.S. gymnasts for the highest tally. Now retired as a gymnast, Liukin was a contributor for NBCOlympics.com during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and a special correspondent for NBC during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
A professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, Thomas C. Südhof is a German American biochemist known for his study of synaptic transmission. In 2013, he and two colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on vesicle (a subunit of a cell) trafficking. Südhof earned his MD in 1982 at the University of Göttingen in Germany, after studying at RWTH Aachen University and Harvard University. The following year, he moved to the United States, where he conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center and contributed to a Nobel Prize–winning study.