Photographs by Armando Brown
Dedicated, selfless, invaluable. Those are just a few of the words that describe the global network of Trojan Family volunteers honored at the USC Alumni Association’s (USCAA) annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner on Sept. 19.
Nearly 550 attendees gathered for the event emceed by Ramona Cappello ’81, president of the USCAA Board of Governors, and Patrick E. Auerbach EdD ’08, associate senior vice president for alumni relations.
Volunteer Organization of the Year Awards were presented to the USC School of Pharmacy’s QSAD Centurion and the USC Alumni Club of North Texas in recognition of their efforts to engage alumni and foster philanthropy. Cynthia Wiese ’96, executive assistant to USC Trojan Marching Band Director Arthur C. Bartner, received the Volunteer Friend of the Year Award, which is given to a USC faculty or staf member in recognition of outstanding support for alumni volunteers. In addition, 35 USC volunteers went home with Widney Alumni House Awards for their loyalty, support and dedication to USC and the community. Six Trojans received the President’s Award in recognition of their leadership, service, achievement and contributions to USC. Meet the honorees:
Modesta J. Bassity MA ’73
USC Rossier School of Education
A fifth-generation Californian, Modesta Bassity began volunteering for her alma mater in the early 1980s because, in the words of a fellow alumna, “she felt it was the right thing to do.” For Bassity, that means putting others first and working for the common good of all, whether it’s on behalf of the Trojan Guild of Los Angeles, Town & Gown of USC or the USC Rossier School of Education. Fellow volunteers call her a born leader and problem solver who is reliable, self-motivated, gracious and persistent. As another alumna put it, “Mo does not know the meaning of the word ‘no.’”
Gregory R. Hillgren ’76, MBA ’77
USC Marshall School Of Business
Not only is Gregory Hillgren co-chair of the USC Marshall School of Business Campaign Committee, but he’s also president of two real estate investment and development firms—all while serving as Dean James G. Ellis’ adviser and a staunch supporter of the school’s academic program. Yet no matter how busy he is, Hillgren still makes time to share his insights on important strategic initiatives and priorities with USC Marshall’s Board of Leaders. Ellis praised him for being “faithful, courageous and ambitious in helping achieve the vision we share as members of the USC Trojan Family. We at Marshall are so very grateful for Greg’s leadership, energy and passion for our school.”
Rod Y. Nakamoto ’83, MBA ’94
USC Marshall School of Business
Rod Nakamoto’s leadership skills, creative thinking and “big picture” vision have made the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association (APAA) what it is today. During his two terms as APAA’s president, Nakamoto enthusiastically attended nearly every APAA event. He helped launch the group’s Orange County Committee in 2011 and established the professional leadership/development series in 2013. He also led the charge to turn APAA’s popular homecoming tailgate into a signature event. According to fellow APAA volunteers, few Trojans are more deserving of this honor than Nakamoto.
Kathryn Shirley MBT ’97
USC Leventhal School of Accounting
Fellow USC Black Alumni Association (BAA) leaders said two adjectives immediately spring to mind when describing Kathryn Shirley: selfless and supportive. A longtime BAA volunteer, she stewards key programs, mentors students and devotes countless hours of her time to the alumni organization. As the chair of the BAA’s Advisory Council, Shirley has impressed her fellow association members with her hands-on approach, strategic flair and enthusiastic leadership in overseeing BAA’s alumni and scholar programs. Shirley also chairs the BAA’s Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Robert L. Skinner ’85, JD ’90
USC Marshall School Of Business
USC Gould School Of Law
Robert Skinner gives generously of his time, energy and expertise to USC. The chairman of the USC Gould School of Law Board of Councilors, he has inspired record-setting financial participation by fellow board members. Giving to the school has increased 126 percent during his tenure. “Rob and his family have stepped up to ensure that we can continue to provide a world-class education at Gould,” Dean Robert Rasmussen said. “When I think of those who give from the heart of their time and treasure, Rob belongs at the top of the list.”
Linda Ward ’71, MA ’74
USC Dornsife College Of Letters,
Arts and Sciences
Cheerful and organized, Linda Ward brings her resolve, tireless work ethic and meticulous attention to detail to a wide variety of USC projects. A fellow volunteer said the Trojan Club of the Desert president always “jumps in with both feet and never stops helping.” Ward also coordinates the annual Coaches Tour in the desert and football gameviewing parties. In the words of another volunteer, “You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who cheers louder for the Trojans than Linda!”