Each year, the Yale Alumni Association Leadership Awards celebrate the accomplishments of volunteers whose efforts reflect the YAA’s mission and core values, honoring them both for their service to Yale and for their innovative leadership – both with the YAA and in the graduate and professional school ranks.
This year’s awards ceremony will take place January 27 at 7 p.m. ET as part of a virtual celebration honoring the Leadership Award winners along with the recipients of the YAA Board of Governors Excellence Awards, the Alumni Schools Committee Awards, and the Yale Alumni Fund Chair’s Awards. The ceremony will be open to all alums.
Leadership Award candidates and honorees are nominated and selected by alumni relations staff members.
The 2021 YAA Leadership Awards for Volunteer Service and Innovative Leadership recipients are:
Joe English ’17
As one of Yale’s most engaged young alumni leaders, English continues to look for ways to collaborate and work with the wider Yale community. During the pandemic, the former chair of the Yale College Council was a catalyst for meaningful and ongoing conversations with recent alums pursuing social entrepreneurship. And as an early adapter of Cross Campus and its mentorship program, he has actively engaged with current students to foster meaningful relationships.
“When it comes to volunteer engagement by recent alums, Joe sets the bar,” said Yale Alumni Association staff members Jeannie Daniel, assistant director of recent graduate engagement, and Steve Blum, senior director of strategic initiatives. “In his short time as an alum, he’s become one of the YAA’s most trusted volunteers. The conversation he sparked about recent alums who have made a positive impact through social entrepreneurship during the pandemic shows that he understands the value of our alumni community and the importance of connectedness. We look forward to seeing what he does in the future for Yale.”
Jeffrey Juger ’11 MBA
Juger has served as chair of the Yale School of Management Alumni Advisory Board since July 2020, after previously serving as a board member and as vice chair. An inclusive and collaborative problem solver, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership during the pandemic, shifting to virtual meetings and facilitating conversations among students and school administration.
“Jeffrey’s leadership and guidance of board committees and members, his facility in presiding over a multitude of virtual meetings, and his availability to tackle difficult conversations with students, alumni, and staff alike have been an example we can all learn from,” said Margie Adler, former managing director of alumni relations at SOM. “Jeffrey is open to ideas from all corners, making sure that all stakeholders are acknowledged and heard. The board has been extremely effective and impactful under his leadership.”
Nik Khakee ’96 MPPM
Khakee has served as the board president of the Yale School of Management New York City chapter since 2018. A model chapter leader, he leads monthly chapter board meetings open to all SOM alumni; pivoted the annual NYC Chapter Alumni Award Banquet in 2020 to a virtual event that honored frontline SOM alumni healthcare workers; and championed a board initiative to support the struggling arts industry, especially artists of color, by organizing a virtual theater performance followed by a “talkback” with the actors. In addition, he led his team in organizing a multi-chapter collaboration where the New York chapter joined forces with the Washington, D.C., chapter to produce a panel discussion about learning challenges faced by traditional schooling during the pandemic. Khakee also serves as a Yale SOM/Yale Alumni Association appointed delegate.
“Nik is one of the strongest and most passionate alumni volunteers at Yale,” said Courtney Lightfoot, managing director of alumni engagement at SOM, “and we’re incredibly fortunate to rely on his leadership of the Yale SOM NYC chapter.”
Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88
Madar has given back to the Yale community through her work with YaleWomen, Yale Boston, the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors, and several shared interest groups and initiative-driven committees. During her time with YaleWomen, where she served as vice chair and later chair, Madar streamlined committee work and advocated to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her leadership as president of the Yale Club of Boston was similarly impactful, building an environment that encouraged engagement for all alumni and successfully integrating interest group leaders and members. Today, she continues her leadership by serving as an executive board member on the YAA Board of Governors.
“Jennifer is an exemplary leader,” said Maria Canales, YAA online services analyst. “If you have ever had the opportunity to interact with her, you will experience her infectious enthusiasm and supportive nature. Her contributions have been far-reaching and have had a lasting impact. We should all be fortunate enough to have a volunteer leader like Jennifer in our organizations.”
Julien Mininberg ’86, ’90 MBA
Mininberg has served as president and as an active member of the Yale School of Management’s Alumni Association, and he continues to serve as a member of SOM’s Board of Advisors. He has supported many students with his endowed scholarship and also through his own mentoring efforts, devoting considerable time and effort to meeting with students to discuss their lives, career goals, and ambitions. He also works with them on resume building and career planning. Moreover, he has been an admissions volunteer, was a member of the SOM Class of 1990 Gift Committee for his 30th reunion, and has consistently advocated for all alumni to be actively engaged with the school and its students.
“Julien takes a genuine interest in his students’ ideas and aspirations, and the students value his advice and knowledge,” said Susan Mommsen, associate director for donor relations and financial stewardship, Yale School of Management development and alumni relations. “His impact in all areas of volunteering truly strengthens the mission and core values of the Yale School of Management.”
Yvette Soliz Rivers ’96
Rivers has held numerous leadership roles that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to serving Yale alumni. She has organized 60 alumni events across various groups, with a focus on giving back to Yale, inspiring a sense of belonging for all alumni, and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In her time as vice president of programming and then president of the Yale Club of Washington, D.C., she was instrumental in the club’s dramatic expansion of both in-person and virtual events, as well as diversifying club’s board. And as an active member of 1stGenYale, she mentored first-generation/low-income students, volunteered for the 1stGenYale Summer Internship program, and co-founded the 1stGenYale D.C. chapter. She also is a member of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors.
“Everything Yvette does is with an emphasis on enhancing and renewing the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni,” said Johnson Flucker, director, YAA regional clubs. “Her work has served to foster connections among alumni and to provide educational programming on critical issues such as social justice reform as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.”