Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award

Lab’s highest alumni honor, this award celebrates the accomplishments of alumni across spheres of professional and personal achievement, public and civic service, and philanthropic and volunteer engagement.

The 2019 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner

Valerie Jarrett, ’73

Valerie is a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. As the longest-serving senior advisor to President Barack Obama, she oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. She currently serves on the boards of Ariel Capital Management Holdings, the Kennedy Center, the Economic Club of Chicago, When We All Vote, 2U, and Lyft. Her memoir, Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, appeared in 2019. Valerie is the proud parent of Lab alumna Laura Jarrett, ’03. 


Margo Jefferson, '64


Susan Landau Axelrod, '70, MBA'82


Diane Meier, '69


Andrea Ghez, '83


Hal Higdon, '47


Peter Kovler, '69, AB'74


Rising Star Professional Achievement Award

The Rising Star Professional Achievement Award recognizes a Lab alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the last 30 years and has made an impact in his or her field.

The 2019 Rising Star Professional Achievement Award Winner:

Amanda Williams, ’92

A Chicago-based visual artist who trained as an architect, Amanda has exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Her art is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a member of the Obama Presidential Center Museum Design Team and a frequent lecturer. Amanda’s creative practice employs color as a way to draw attention to the complexities of race, space, and value in cities. Her many accolades include a 2018 USA Ford Fellowship, and she is also a Joan Mitchell Foundation awardee. Amanda was Lab’s Mark Plotkin | Muriel Rosenthal Alumni Speaker in 2016. She and her husband are the proud parents of two current Lab students.


Smita N. Shah, '91


Debra Gittler, '98


Graham Moore, '99


Bert Vaux, '86, AB'90


Wendell Lim, '82


Sarah Hanck, '96


Alumni Service Award

The Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the Laboratory Schools and the alumni community.

The 2019 Alumni Service Award Winner:

Susie Stein, ’45

Susie is a passionate volunteer leader and tireless supporter of Lab. She has been a committed member of the Lab Alumni Association Executive Board, serving as reunion committee chair and regional outreach advocate. In addition, Susie has served on Lab’s Connections Committee as well as on the University of Chicago Women’s Board,  UChicago Urban Education Institute’s Partners Committee and the UChicago Music Department Visiting Committee.