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Meet the 2021 Smith College Medalists

News of Note

Closeup of the Smith College Medal

Published September 24, 2020

Four extraordinary alums will receive the Smith College Medal at Rally Day in February, in recognition of their contributions to their communities and the world.

This year’s medalists, announced at a faculty meeting in September, are:

  • Infectious disease specialist Anne Angen Gershon ’60
  • Business leader Mitsuru Claire Chino ’88
  • Family planning and reproductive health leader Clare Coleman ’92
  • Writer, curator and activist Kimberly Drew ’12

This year’s honorees will be celebrated at a Virtual Rally Day on February 18, 2021. Information on the public event will be forthcoming. Afternoon classes are canceled for Rally Day, which marks the first time seniors publicly wear their graduation gowns—along with inventive hats—in keeping with the day’s spirit of Smith pride.

The Smith Medal was established in 1962 to recognize alumnae who exemplify in their lives and work “the true purpose” of a liberal arts education. More than 200 outstanding alums have received the award in recognition of their professional achievements and outstanding service.

Smith Medalist Anne Gershon ’60

Anne Angen Gershon ’60
Infectious disease specialist

Anne Gershon, M.D., has been professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons since 1986, conducting research on epidemiology, diagnosis, immunology, latency, prevention and treatment of varicella and zoster. Her studies on the safety and efficacy of the varicella vaccine were critical to the vaccine’s licensure in the U.S. A member of several significant committees—including the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics ("Red Book" Committee) and the Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control—Gershon served as president of Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2008-9. The author of more than 350 publications and editor of 14 books, she has received many professional awards, including the Scientific Achievement Award of the Varicella-Zoster Research Foundation and the Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute for VZV research in 2013. Gershon received an honorary degree from Smith in 1993.

Smith Medalist Mitsuro Claire Chino ’88

Mitsuru Claire Chino ’88
President and CEO of ITOCHU International Inc. and managing executive officer of ITOCHU Corporation

The youngest and first female executive officer of any major Japanese trading company, Mitsuru Claire Chino leads ITOCHU International Inc., the North American flagship of ITOCHU Corporation, a leading trading company. Chino joined the Fortune Global 500 company in 2000 and has been a champion for women’s causes there; among her achievements, she helped to start a corporate diversity program within ITOCHU in 2004. Prior to joining ITOCHU, she was a partner at an international law firm. Chino has been widely honored for her work: the World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader, Yale University named her a Yale World Fellow, and she has received awards from Asia Society and the U.S. Japan Leadership Program. In 2018, she received the eighth annual Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award from the California Lawyers Association. She earned her J. D. degree at Cornell Law School, where she serves on the advisory board.

Headshot of Smith Medalist Clare Coleman ’92

Clare Coleman ’92
Family planning and reproductive health leader

Since 2009, Clare Coleman has been president & CEO of National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a membership organization for health providers and administrators. She is the first NFPRHA executive leader with a direct service delivery background, along with substantial expertise in policy; she previously served as CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley (NY) and worked for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep.Nita Lowey and Sen. Chuck Schumer. In addition to her decade-plus on the Hill, Coleman was the lead lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Federation during the abortion-ban fights in the 1990s. She also directed a federal research project on the public health impact of terrorist attacks and other catastrophes for the New York University School of Medicine.

Headshot of Smith Medalist Kimberley Drew ’12

Kimberly Drew ’12
Writer, curator and activist

Writer, curator and activist Kimberly Drew first experienced the art world as an intern for Thelma Golden '87 at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Her time there inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, sparking her interest in social media. Drew’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Teen Vogue and Elle. She is the author of international bestseller "This Is What I Know About Art,” and her upcoming book, “Black Futures,” which she is co-editing with Jenna Wortham, is due in December 2020. Drew is @museummammy on Instagram and Twitter.