Rally Day 2012 to Honor Five Accomplished Alumnae
NORTHAMPTON, Mass – For their extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities, five alumnae have been named 2012 recipients of the prestigious Smith College Medal.
Established in 1962 to recognize women who exemplify in their lives and work “the true purpose” of a liberal arts education, the honor will be bestowed at Rally Day on Thursday, February 23, 2012.
The following alumnae will receive awards: Janet Fish ’60, artist; Betsy Humphreys ’69, medical librarian; Barbara Brenner ’73, breast cancer advocate; Dolores Kunda ’77, advertising leader; and Cynthia Wade ’89, documentary filmmaker.
Rally Day is a time for the Smith community to gather, remember the past, look to the future, and celebrate student life. The occasion marks the first time that seniors publicly wear their gowns along with inventive hats in keeping with the spirited, “rallying” nature of the day. Classes are cancelled.
In addition to celebrating the medalists, Rally Day has become the occasion that President Carol Christ announces the commencement speaker.
Janet Fish ’60, artist
A major American artist of her generation, Janet Fish is known for her brilliantly hued, light-filled still lifes and landscapes as well as for a body of prints in a variety of media. One of the first women to earn a master of fine arts from Yale University, Fish has work now in numerous public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Fish has continuously given back to the community by supporting younger, upcoming artists in a way that wasn’t available to her when she began her career. Fish has also volunteered for the Skowhegan School and Marian Walsh Sharpe Foundation and donated works. Among the awards she has received is the 1993 Outstanding Woman in the Arts from the Aspen Art Museum, as well as three MacDowell Colony Fellowships.
Betsy Humphreys ’69, medical librarian
Betsy Humphreys serves as deputy director of the world’s largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. In this capacity, Humphreys directs operations that deliver trillions of bytes of information to millions of people around the world every day. She plays a major role in developing and setting national standards for electronic health records, paving the way for the public to easily obtain authoritative information that is directly relevant to the conditions, medications and tests they face. Elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1999, Humphreys was the recipient of the 2009 Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence from the American College of Medical Informatics, considered the highest honor in the field. Also honored by the Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, she expanded leadership development programs to encourage diversity in the information professions and new roles for information specialists in science, health care and public health.
Dolores Kunda ’77, advertising leader
Dolores Kunda founded the Hispanic division of Chicago-based advertising giant Leo Burnett. Lápiz, which means “pencil” in Spanish, was one of the first advertising firms to recognize the importance of the Hispanic market in consumer products and other industries. Kunda’s clients include Allstate, Bush Brothers, General Motors, Procter & Gamble and other Fortune 500 companies. Concurrent with Lápiz, Kunda heads Leo Burnett’s award-winning office in Puerto Rico. In addition to serving as a founding board member of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) and as head of that group’s Research Committee, Kunda is a board member for such community organizations as Chicago-based Hispanic organization El Valor; The Old Town School of Folk Music; the YWCA and Chicago-based Casa Central. Her accolades include being named a Crain’s Chicago Business “25 Women to Watch” (2007); “Woman of the Year” by the Chicago Ad Federation (2007); and Hispanic Business magazine as one of “80 Elite Hispanic Women.”
Barbara Brenner ’73, advocate
Barbara Brenner’s life course changed in 1993 with her breast cancer diagnosis. In the years since, Brenner has become a leading voice for greater focus on research into the causes of breast cancer. For 15 years, until 2010, Brenner served as executive director of Breast Cancer Action (BCA), a grassroots advocacy organization that promotes education, prevention and research. Under her leadership, the organization placed breast cancer within a social justice framework by tackling issues including access to quality health care and the elimination of environmental causes that may be linked to breast cancer. She is respected for her outspoken advocacy related to environmental toxins and the “exploitation” of breast cancer for corporate gain. Prior to her recent career, Brenner was a partner in a San Francisco law firm focusing on public policy and political litigation. She has served on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California and the national ACLU.
Cynthia Wade ’89, documentary filmmaker
Award-winning filmmaker Cynthia Wade aims her camera at social issues. Her 2008 Oscar for the Best Documentary - Short Subject recognized “Freeheld,” which chronicles a dying New Jersey policewoman’s fight to secure pension benefits for her female life partner. The film won 16 film festival awards worldwide, and the story is now being made into a feature film starring Ellen Page. Wade’s 2010 short documentary “Born Sweet,” about a Cambodian village poisoned by arsenic-laced well water, was also greeted by worldwide acclaim. Others subjects tackled by Wade’s boutique documentary film company, Cynthia Wade Productions, Inc., include issues related to foster children, bipolar teens, urban homeless children and shelter dogs. She recently created a series of videos for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and a prime-time special about food insecurity and hunger for Sesame Street, and she is currently directing a new film for HBO about women and cancer.