Event Recognizes Leaders Rising From Each of the University’s Schools, Colleges

2023 University Alumni Award recipients Image by Tory Wesnofske
UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen, far left, and Executive Director of  Alumni and Donor Relations Heather Makrez-Allen, far right, celebrate the 2023 University Alumni Award recipients.


Contact: Emily Gowdey-Backus, Emily-GowdeyBackus@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
In honor of their outstanding service to the campus and community, UMass Lowell has recognized 12 distinguished graduates with 2023 University Alumni Awards. 
 “Every day, contributions by UMass Lowell graduates advance the arts, education, engineering, business, health care and more,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen. “We are proud to spotlight the 2023 Alumni Award winners for their achievements and thank them for being wonderful ambassadors for UMass Lowell.”
A ceremony honoring award recipients was held Thursday, Oct. 12, at UMass Lowell’s University Crossing student center. The event capped the annual Celebration of Philanthropy, which honors donors for their commitment to and engagement with the university, named by The Wall Street Journal as the top public university in Massachusetts for its student outcomes.
Each of nine alumni award honorees represents one of UMass Lowell’s schools and colleges, while an additional three outstanding young alumni were recognized for the impact they have made in service to the university, the community or in their profession. The award recipients are:
  • Peter Barrett ’74, of Boston, Massachusetts, an honoree of the Kennedy College of Sciences, is a partner at Atlas Venture, a venture capital firm where he has funded several startup biotech companies.
  • Suzanne Lane Conrad ’81, of Iowa, an honoree of the Solomont School of Nursing, is CEO of the nonprofit Iowa Donor Network and built a 30-year career in organ donation and transplant services. 
  • Mark Elgart ’01, of Brookhaven, Georgia, an honoree of the School of Education, is the CEO of Cognia and an internationally recognized education leader with more than 40 years of experience helping students and improving schools. 
  • Scott McGaunn ’06, of Massachusetts, an honoree of the School of Criminology and Justice Studies, is retired from the FBI, where investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, among other cases.  
  • Kemi Olugemo ’97, of Wayland, Massachusetts, an honoree of the Zuckerberg College of Heath Sciences, serves as vice president of global clinical development at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, where she leads teams in developing potentially life-changing medicines for patients with rare neurological diseases.
  • David Shulman ’85, ’87, of Bellevue, Washington, an honoree of the Richard A. Miner School of Computer and Information Sciences, helped pioneer the Microsoft Exchange email software program and rose to senior leadership at the company before his retirement.
  • Darlene Kolodziej Steffen ’76, of Moline, Illinois, an honoree of the Manning School of Business, forged a 32-year career in finance at John Deere before launching her own financial consulting practice. 
  • Gregory Sydney ’81, of Sharon, Massachusetts, an honoree of the Francis College of Engineering, holds nine patents related to angioplasty catheters and drug-coated stents, has advanced HIV testing and improved protection for health care staff, reducing their risk of contracting the virus while handling patients’ blood.
  • Patricia Sullivan Talty ’78, of Fort Myers, Florida and Wells, Maine, an honoree of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, co-founded the law firm Talty & Talty, P.C., of Lowell, and is a UMass Lowell faculty member who has helped countless students pursue careers in the legal profession through her teaching, volunteering and mentoring. 
Young Alumni Awards were presented to: 
  • Roma Aurora, ’18, ’21, of North Andover, Massachusetts, for service to the university. Now a marketing manager with Instinet Incorporated, Aurora is a past president of both the school’s Manning Leaders Council and Marketing Society and served as both a student alumni and international student ambassador.
  • Ralph Saint-Louis, ’18, ’21, of Lowell, Massachusetts, for service to the community. A biology, chemistry and STEM education teacher at Lowell High School, Saint-Louis is a senior policy fellow at Teach Plus Massachusetts, where he mentors teachers throughout Massachusetts.
  • Fang Zhang, ’15, ’20, of Woburn, Massachusetts, for his pursuit of innovation and success. A senior scientist at Pfizer, Zhang is making a difference through his research, service leadership and mentorship.