Pride and Support
A record-breaking year
Northeastern’s leadership in rethinking higher education to meet a world of evolving challenges and opportunities inspires pride and generosity in our community of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends.
in gifts and pledges, 2020–2021
Northeastern’s Roux Institute, an innovation hub launched to expand the digital economy in Maine and beyond, received $100 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The gift provides financial aid for graduate students, funding for postdoctoral research, and support for students hired in monthslong co-ops by Maine employers. The institute offers certificate, master’s, doctoral, and postdoc programs in fields including artificial intelligence, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences.
For first-generation immigrants like me, financial constraints are a barrier to higher education. With my Harold Alfond Foundation scholarship, I can focus on doing well in classes and embrace all the Roux Institute’s opportunities.
Candidate for the MS in Project Management, Northeastern’s Roux Institute
$20M for social impact
The Burnes Family Center for Social Change and Innovation was established with a $20 million commitment from the late emerita trustee Nonnie Burnes, L’78, H’07, and her husband, Rick Burnes. Integrating education, research, experiential learning, and professional development, the center reflects Northeastern’s focus on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and its multidisciplinary approach to solving global problems. The Burnes family’s gift builds on one they made in 1999 to create the Public Interest Law Scholars Program, which supports outstanding lawyers committed to social justice. Nonnie Burnes passed away in August 2021, shortly before the center’s launch.
To address complex and difficult legal and social problems, one has to be thoughtful, rigorous, imaginative, courageous, and tenacious. Don’t look at the challenges; look at the opportunities.
—Nonnie Burnes, L’78, H’07, LATE NORTHEASTERN TRUSTEE EMERITA
individual donors from 56 countries, including 6,167 first-time donors
corporations and foundations made gifts and pledges of $153.2 million
Advancing legal system reforms
To combat systemic racism and help reform the criminal justice system, the Zitrin Foundation donated $2.5 million to create the Elizabeth Zitrin Justice Fellowship at the Northeastern University School of Law. Zitrin, L’79, is known for her pioneering efforts to abolish the death penalty. Zitrin Fellows will devote one year to litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. The inaugural fellow will join Northeastern’s renowned Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.
Protecting our oceans
Climate change has left the world’s oceans in a precarious state. The planet requires urgent action to mitigate threats to port security and sea-level rise, collapsing fisheries, invasive species, pollution, and the loss of biodiversity. These challenges spurred Charles Ryan, PNT’23, PNT’26, to commit $1 million to the Doherty Chair in Marine and Environmental Sciences Fund, inspired by Marine Science Center Director Geoffrey Trussell’s leadership in environmental sustainability.
Bringing energy justice for all
To promote renewable energy sources and their more equitable distribution, Northeastern has launched the Initiative for Energy Justice. Founded by former Northeastern Professor of Law Shalanda Baker, Shiva Prakash, L’16, and fellow attorney Subin DeVar, this public health initiative will provide policymakers with a framework and tools for establishing best practices while also generating grassroots engagement. The founders’ efforts have already attracted $1.23 million from the Kendeda, Barr, Heising-Simons, and Surdna foundations.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of their wedding and his graduation from Northeastern, the Yaffes established the Harry and Belle Yaffe Diversity Scholarship with a gift that also recognizes the university’s role in their personal and professional lives. The couple’s $150,000 scholarship fund will promote diversity in academia and industry. It will also pay tribute to Belle’s father, a Native American who faced and overcame discrimination while expanding his own company.
Encouraging women in STEM
As a Northeastern double husky and wife of the late Bentley College President Gregory Adamian, Deborah Murdza Adamian, LA’70, MBA’75, understands how scholarships can inspire and support women to study in STEM-area fields. Launched with her gift of $100,000, the Deborah Murdza Adamian and Gregory H. Adamian Scholarship Fund is specially designated for women who are studying mathematics or computer sciences at Northeastern.
During the past year, life sciences giant Thermo Fisher Scientific partnered with Northeastern to help keep students, faculty, and staff on the Boston campus safe. The partnership enabled the development and operation of a comprehensive testing center for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and tracking of the virus’s spread. In late April 2021, Northeastern’s state-of-the-art Life Sciences Testing Center, located at its Innovation Campus at Burlington, Massachusetts, conducted its millionth COVID-19 test.
In spring 2021, Northeastern, the Cartier Women’s Initiative, and other corporate and individual donors established the Women Who Empower Innovator Awards. More than 150 applications for awards poured in from people representing Northeastern’s nine colleges and more than a dozen countries on five continents. A total of 19 venture creators, including Molly Beck, Gabrielle Whittle, and Emily Man, received 17 awards equaling $100,000 in one-time grants.
Our community united
Celebrating volunteer leaders
Northeastern honored six members of the university community for furthering its mission at the virtual Networked for Life celebration, an annual volunteer leadership summit. Distinguished Service Awards went to Barbara Alleyne, LA’70, Katherine “Kater” Pendergast, MEd’73, and Joseph Fleming, PAH’70, MS’71, while Binja Basimike, BHS’12, MPH’14, and Chuanwei Zhuo, MS’09, PhD’14, received Emerging Leaders Awards. The Pioneer Award went to the late Louis Barnett, B’44, H’77, the chemical engineer for whom the Barnett institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis was named.
Promoting community ventures
Northeastern’s entrepreneurial spirit was on full display when, around the winter holidays, the university launched in-person and virtual marketplace events that introduced the community to student- and alumni-owned businesses. On offer were goods from clothing to books and skincare products, as well as health and wellness services.
Giving when it matters most
On Giving Day, more than 17,000 gifts from donors in 28 countries totaling nearly $1.3 million supported students, faculty, and programs at Northeastern’s Boston campus. This fourth annual event, held virtually on April 8, exceeded expectations, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. The 24-hour philanthropic blitz challenged alumni, students, parents, staff, faculty, and friends to direct donations and matching gifts to student clubs, team sports, schools and colleges, and other organizations.
Growing our African network
The Africa Global Initiative was launched in 2020 to strengthen Northeastern’s presence in Africa and increase African student enrollment and exchanges. Since then, the initiative has hosted three virtual events that drew 370 participants (including Oriteme Banigo, SSH’08, above) to enhance existing partnerships and foster new ones in Africa, with the goal of funding scholarships, expanding co-op and internship opportunities, and developing joint research programs with leading higher education institutions on the continent.
alumni live and work in 179 countries
Northeastern communities on four continents—Asia, Europe, North America, and South America
participants from 145 countries engaged in 397 programs and events
Beyond its environmental implications, the climate crisis has highlighted profound social, racial, and economic inequities. Those injustices were the subject of a virtual talk last spring attended by nearly 130 alumni and featuring Northeastern Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Jennie Stephens, Future Faculty Fellow Frances Roberts-Gregory, and Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy Brian Helmuth. The panelists urged listeners to take responsibility for their own actions while also supporting public investment in climate-change mitigation projects to benefit their communities.
Noting the extra burdens that the pandemic has levied on working parents, Northeastern Associate Professor of Public Policy, Urban Affairs, and Economics Alicia Sasser Modestino called on employers to build better family support systems and offer remote-work options. Speaking at a spring webinar on COVID-19’s special impact on women and families, Modesto, director of research at Northeastern’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, said her survey of 2,500 working parents shows childcare is not just a family issue, but also a business one.
A role model for Black physician-leaders
Kimberly Washington, AS’05, a biochemistry major, began making her mark in medicine as the first Black woman admitted into the residency program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine. Today she’s a surgical fellow at the Oregon Health & Science University specializing in liver and pancreatic procedures. She’s also co-hosting a podcast with her two sisters called “The Drs. Washington.” Together, they’re building an educational platform to highlight African American physicians who are making an impact on medicine.
Ben Kneppers, E’07, a mechanical engineering major and entrepreneur, uses his sustainable mindset and engineering prowess to tackle one of the world’s largest pollution problems: fishing nets. As co-founder of Bureo, Kneppers and his team recycle plastic nets scavenged from the ocean with help from fishing crews and local residents into a sustainable material called NetPlus. They’re partnering with Patagonia, Humanscale, and other companies to create skateboards, sunglasses, brimmed hats, office furniture, surf fins, and other eco-friendly products.
Pushing for statehood
Oye Owolewa, BHS’14, who majored in pharmacy at Northeastern, loves working with his community to create change. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Owolewa was on the vaccine frontlines helping provide information and resources to get Black people and their families vaccinated. After being elected to Congress as the U.S. shadow representative for the District of Columbia in November 2020, he has continued to advocate for his community by pushing for income equality in, and statehood for, D.C.
Alexandra Tarzikhan, BHS’15, L’18, born in the U.S. and raised in Aleppo, Syria, understands the many advantages her American passport has afforded her compared to Syrians who are struggling to find safety and asylum in Europe. Now Tarzikhan is a Schuette Clinical Fellow in Health and Human Rights at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, supporting health and human rights projects in Lebanon, Nigeria, and Greece. She’s also bringing attention to the ongoing refugee crisis through social media. Tarzikhan uses Instagram to create informational posts, repost articles, profile refugee stories, and share ways to offer support and get involved through the feed and stories feature on Instagram @meetarefugee, raising awareness of human rights issues for her thousands of followers.
Supporting the Latino community
In May 2021, Evelyn Barahona, DMSB’99, was named the first director for the new philanthropic Latino Equity Fund, a collaboration among local Latino leaders, The Boston Foundation, and Hispanics in Philanthropy. When the COVID-19 pandemic began highlighting health and economic inequities, the fund’s advisory board expanded its focus to benefit Latino communities across Massachusetts. The LEF raises donations from community stakeholders and directs them to people in need. Barahona’s goal is to raise $10 million to reinvest in Latino businesses and organizations. She also serves on the board for Amplify Latinx, an organization that is expanding job opportunities for Latinos and strengthening their political clout.
Physical therapist Haig Haroutunian, BHS’18, set off from Boston in 2020 to his native Armenia after seeing news footage of injured Armenian soldiers. Before the new year, Haroutunian was helping Armenians recover from burns and shrapnel wounds incurred in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflicts at a 160-bed, government-run facility set up to help treat an overwhelming number of patients. Haroutunian aided those physically injured throughout the crisis, providing hands-on therapy, educating his patients about their injuries, and offering emotional support to them and their families. Several weeks later, Haroutunian returned to Boston to resume his work as a home-care physical therapist.