The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) and the UC Berkeley Foundation honored the recipients of the 2019 Achievement Awards at the annual Berkeley Charter Gala on May 16, 2019. Hundreds of UC Berkeley community members came together to celebrate the achievements of accomplished alumni and the chartering of the university 151 years ago.
Kevin Chou ’02, who was honored as Alumnus of the Year, was speechless when he first took the stage. “It’s such an amazing honor to be recognized with all of the bright lights at Berkeley,” he began. He shared about the transformation he underwent at Cal, how moving to Berkeley dramatically broadened his rural, small-town horizons, and how Cal gave him so many opportunities that he felt compelled to pay them forward.
Chou and his wife, Connie Chen, gave UC Berkeley the largest gift the university has ever received from an alum under the age of 40 to fund the Connie & Kevin Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas, which has now earned the title of being the country’s greenest academic building. In the building is a plaque that reads, “We hope in this building students from all walks of life, experiences, and disciplines will come together to build a brighter future.”
“The plaque is dedicated to the gift of transformation,” Chou explained, “and celebrating how everyone at Berkeley can continue passing on the gift of transformation to Cal students.”
Honoring the 2019 Alumnus of the Year
Alumnus of the Year Kevin Chou ’02 was a former recipient of the Cal Alumni Association’s Leadership Award, graduated from the Haas School of Business magna cum laude, and began his career as a venture capitalist with Canaan Partners before pivoting into the gaming and esports industries. He first co-founded and served as CEO of Kabam, a mobile game developer, before founding and serving as the CEO of Forte, a blockchain startup geared toward helping people participate in the blockchain ecosystem through games. Since then, Chou has founded Generation Gaming, better known as Gen.G., an esports enterprise working to bridge the gap between Asia and North America.
Chou is “the very embodiment of the independent, bootstrapping, iconoclastic Berkeley alumni in the classic mold,” says Richard Lyons, UC Berkeley professor of finance and former dean of Berkeley Haas, “yet he also represents what Berkeley should and can be in the next 150 years.” Although Chou’s career accomplishments span continents, he maintains his ties to his alma mater and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the UC Berkeley Foundation. Read more about Chou’s background in California Magazine.
About the 2019 Achievement Award Honorees
Dado and Maria Banatao P ’96, ’01, ’02, ’04 were jointly awarded the Berkeley Founders Award for their commitment to education. In their native country, the Philippines, the Banataos support the work of the Philippine Development Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to eradicate poverty in the Philippines and fund a fellowship grant for computer science and engineering faculty from the University of the Philippines to collaborate on research with their UC Berkeley counterparts. At Cal, the Banataos founded the Banatao Institute and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), which works to create solutions for serious societal challenges. Maria has also served on the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees.
The Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus was awarded to Dan Hammer M.S. ’16, Ph.D. ’17 for his work at Earthrise Media. Hammer co-founded this nonprofit to make satellite imagery of Earth more accessible to educators and journalists. Dean of the College of Natural Resources (CNR) David Ackerly describes Hammer as someone who “exemplifies the motto of…CNR to ‘See the Bigger Picture. Make a Better World.’”
Four alumni earned the Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award this year: William C. Dudley M.A. ’80, Ph.D. ’82; Diane Greene M.S. ’88; Sir Michael Marmot M.P.H. ’72, Ph.D. ’75; and Virginia A. Phillips J.D. ’82.
Dudley, a senior research scholar at the Griswold Center for Economic Policy, has led a successful career in banking and foreign relations. From 2009 to 2018, Dudley served as the tenth president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and vice chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee. Prior to these roles, Dudley was executive director of the Markets Group at the New York Fed.
For 30 years, Greene has made her career in the technology industry as an engineer, entrepreneur, executive, and investor. She most recently served as the founding CEO of Google Cloud and currently co-chairs the UC Berkeley School of Engineering Advisory Board. In her tech career, Greene now focuses her efforts on advancing education, science, and women.
Marmot earned his M.P.H. and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley for his research on acculturation—the change in culture of an individual or group as a result of interaction with a different culture—and coronary heart disease in Japanese Americans. Marmot is currently an advisor for the World Health Organization and the president of the British Lung Foundation. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his work on health inequalities.
Phillips earned her law degree from UC Berkeley. Over the course of her career, she served as a magistrate judge from 1995 to 1999 and sat on the California Superior Court for four years, where she presided over numerous cases, including the lawsuit that challenged the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 1999, Phillips was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Professor Robert B. Reich, the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy and professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP), received the Fiat Lux Faculty Award. In his career, Reich worked for both the Carter and Ford administrations, served as the secretary of labor for President Clinton, an adviser to President Obama. While Reich never attended Cal himself, he says Berkeley is where his heart is. Assistant Dean of External Relations and Development at GSPP describes Reich as “a tireless advocate for those in our country who are marginalized both politically and economically.”