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NYUAA Alumni Awards

2015 Meritorious Service Award Recipients

Join the New York University Alumni Association as they celebrate the 2015 Meritorious Service Award honorees on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Michael Denkensohn (STERN ’73) is the executive director at Seward & Kissel LLP, a law firm with more than 160 attorneys. Assuming the role in 2007, he is responsible for the firm’s non-legal operations and has functional responsibility for, among other things, Seward & Kissel’s finance, human resources, benefits, recruitment, marketing, technology, office operations, and space and facilities activities.

From 2000 to 2007, Denkensohn was the executive director at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Previously, he was global head of human resources and chief financial officer at the international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (1996–2000) and served as both an audit and administrative partner at Arthur Andersen (1973–1996).

Denkensohn is an alumni trustee on the New York University Board of Trustees and serves as a member of the board of directors of the NYU Alumni Association, of which he is a past president.

Andre J.L. Koo (SPS ’93, STERN ’94) is chairman of the Chailease Group, which includes Chailease Holding and Yellowstone Holding.

Founded in 1977, Chailease Holding is the core financial services company in Taiwan and provides clients with leasing, installment sales, factoring, and direct financing services. The company is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and has operations in Taiwan, the United States, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Chailease leads the market share of leasing and installment sales in Taiwan, and is the largest foreign-owned independent leasing company in China.

Yellowstone Holding is comprised of diverse investments in industrial equipment sales, polymer processing and sales, real estate construction and development, interior design, private security, property management, and lodging services.

Koo joined Chailease Group in 1997 after serving at several financial institutions in the United States. Previously, he served as managing director of Chinatrust Hotel Ltd., and as chairman of China Life Insurance Co., Ltd. Koo earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University’s School of Professional Studies and his master’s in business administration from NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He is a member of the NYU Board of Trustees, a member of the NYU Stern Board of Overseers, a member of the NYU President’s Global Council, and president of the NYU Pan-Asia Alumni Association.


2015 Award Recipients

A respected and distinguished graduate of any school, college, or division of NYU who has demonstrated extraordinary service and continuing devotion to their Alma Mater and who embodies the University motto: to Persevere and to Excel.

Carmen Guillén Fariña (STEINHARDT ’65)
The Eugene J. Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service
Presented to a respected and distinguished public figure of recognized stature or identity who has clearly demonstrated a record of outstanding public service in her professional, vocational, social, and cultural endeavors, and who, by receiving this award, brings honor to the University.

Carmen Guillén Fariña is chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the US. During her five-decade career, she has worked in virtually every capacity, from teacher and principal to district superintendent and deputy chancellor, distinguishing herself as an innovative educator committed to helping students, teachers, and principals excel. Fariña holds a bachelor of science from NYU and master’s degrees from Brooklyn College, Fordham University, and Pace University. She is co-author of A School Leader’s Guide to Excellence: Collaborating Our Way to Better Schools (Heinemann).

Ruth Gruber (WSC ’30)
The Eugene J. Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service
Presented to a respected and distinguished public figure of recognized stature or identity who has clearly demonstrated a record of outstanding public service in her professional, vocational, social, and cultural endeavors, and who, by receiving this award, brings honor to the University.

A highly-respected journalist and humanitarian, Ruth Gruber has contributed to several of the most defining moments of the 20th Century. At age 20, she was the youngest person in the world to receive a PhD; she was the first foreign correspondent to fly through Siberia into the Soviet Arctic; she served as special assistant to the US Secretary of the Interior during World War II, where she was assigned a secret mission to bring Jewish refugees and wounded American soldiers to the US; and she documented the plight of Jewish refugees following the War, including coverage of the Exodus 1947 ship. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Na’amat USA’s Golda Meir Human Rights Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and five honorary doctorates.

Ted Allen (GSAS ’90)
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Presented to a respected and distinguished graduate of any school, college, or division of NYU, who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement and/or service in his professional, vocational, social, and cultural endeavors, and who deserves acknowledgement as embodying the spirit of distinction that brings pride to the University.

Ted Allen is host of the Food Network series Chopped and formerly starred on Bravo’s Queer Eye, for which he received a James Beard Award and an Emmy, respectively. In addition to his notable career in culinary entertainment, Allen has been a contributing writer for Esquire since 1997 and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for a feature on the little-known phenomenon of male breast cancer. Allen works with several charitable organizations, including the James Beard Foundation, the Point Foundation, Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry, the Food Bank for New York City, the Washington D.C. Central Kitchen, the Food Council for City Harvest, and Dining Out for Life.

Martin Cohen (STERN ’76)
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Presented to a respected and distinguished graduate of any school, college, or division of NYU, who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement and/or service in his professional, vocational, social, and cultural endeavors, and who deserves acknowledgement as embodying the spirit of distinction that brings pride to the University.

Martin Cohen is executive chairman of Cohen & Steers, Inc., a leading global investment management firm, and considered to be a pioneer and one of the nation’s top experts in real estate securities investment. An active philanthropist, Cohen chairs the City College of New York 21st Century Foundation, chairs the board of Guild Hall of East Hampton, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy, as well as a member of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 2007 he was presented the National Jewish Health Humanitarian Award.

Cristi Marie Hegranes (GSAS ’05) 
Distinguished Young Alumna Award
The Distinguished Young Alumna award is presented to an outstanding graduate of any school, college, or division of NYU who is under the age of 35. This alumna has demonstrated sustained excellence in her professional, vocational, social, and cultural endeavors, and deserves acknowledgement as embodying the spirit of distinction that brings pride to the University.

Cristi Marie Hegranes is the founder and executive director of Global Press Institute, an award-winning, high-impact social venture that uses journalism as a tool to educate, employ, and empower women in the developing world to produce professional local news coverage that elevates global awareness and catalyzes social change. She is also the publisher and executive editor of Global Press Journal. A 2013 Ashoka Fellow, Hegranes is an experienced social entrepreneur and renowned international journalism trainer.



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