Columbia Alumni Medalists are recognized for building Columbia's community—whether regionally, online, in specific schools, or in cross-campus initiatives. Alumni Medalists are honored at University Commencement and each fall at the the Alumni Medalists Gala during Columbia Alumni Leaders Weekend.
Learn more about this year's Medalists below:
John C. Connell, Esq. '76CC is a partner/shareholder at Archer & Greiner, P.C., in Haddonfield, NJ, where he practices civil litigation as a first-chair trial attorney in jury and bench trials and appeals in state and federal courts. As head of the firm's Appellate Advocacy and the Media and Communications Law Groups, he recently appeared as counsel of record to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, representing Simon Shiao Tam in Matal v. Tam, obtaining a favorable 8-0 decision in a precedential trademark/First Amendment dispute. He has been active in the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) for almost 35 years and has chaired the regional Southern New Jersey ARC for some 25 years. He has also served as chair of the Columbia University Club of Philadelphia (CUCP), which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary, and is the oldest alumni club outside of New York City. He has made a concerted effort to include the representation and participation of all divisions of the University among CUCP's members and leadership. During Connell's tenure as chair, CUCP was recognized with the Domestic Club of Excellence Award in 2015. He is a member of the Columbia Alumni Association's (CAA) Associations and Clubs Committee. Three of his four children are Columbia College alumni.
Joseph Ehrlich '92GS is executive vice president of Owens Group Insurance. He joined in 2004 and represents the third generation of the Owens family to work at the firm. He leads its Private Equity and Financial Services Practice Area. Ehrlich is a known expert on representation and warranties and transactional insurance products, frequently giving presentations and educating lawyers and other professionals. Prior to joining Owens Group, Ehrlich spent many years practicing law with O'Melveny & Myers LLP and its predecessor, O'Sullivan Graev & Karabell LLP. He assisted clients in evaluating, structuring, negotiating, and consummating private equity transactions. He graduated cum laude from Columbia with a BA in Classics in 1992 and received his JD from New York University's School of Law in 1997. He serves on both the Owens Group Board of Directors and its Advisory Committee. Among other philanthropic activities, Ehrlich is a member, and the immediate past president, of the NYU Law Alumni Association Board. He also volunteers as chair of the Columbia Alumni Benefits Committee, is a member of the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) Strategic Planning Committee, and serves on several other CAA committees. Ehrlich is a board member of Columbia University Club of New York and chairs its Membership Committee. He is a former board member of the CAA, having joined the board shortly after it was launched. While on the CAA board, he served on the Leaders Weekend Committee, where he moderated a panel on alumni relations and development. Ehrlich was also an original member of the CAA Collaboration Committee.
James P. Gerkis '80CC, '83LAW is a partner resident in the New York office of Proskauer Rose LLP, an international law firm where he practices corporate law and has extensive experience in sophisticated U.S. and global corporate transactions. He has made presentations at numerous industry and bar association conferences, and has authored many articles on different legal topics. Gerkis was admitted to Columbia College without finishing high school, and received his BA in 1980. At the College, he majored in political science and was on the staff of the Columbia-Barnard Course Guide. He received his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1983, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and a teaching fellow. Gerkis started doing alumni interviews for Columbia applicants upon graduation. Gerkis is currently the president of the Columbia University Club of New York and serves on its Board of Governors. He also serves on the Columbia College Fund Development Council (FDC) and the Board of Directors of the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA). Previously, he was co-chair of the FDC and served on the Executive Committee of the CCAA. He has worked as a class agent for the College and has been on Reunion committees for both the College and the Law School. Gerkis is on the board of directors of HABA-Hellenic American Association for Professionals in Finance. He is an active member of The Hellenic Lawyers Association and he received the 2017 Attorney of the Year Award from that organization. Gerkis lives in Larchmont, NY, with his wife, Agathy Vasilopoulos Gerkis, who has two graduate degrees from Columbia. They have two daughters, Catherine, a risk and quantitative analyst, and Laura, a special education and early childhood teacher.
Margaret (Margie) McBride Lehrman '70JRN is a TV news producer and executive who spent 30 years at NBC News in Washington, DC. There, she earned two national news Emmys, the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Reporting (from China), and worked in 40 countries. Her career includes radio, newspapers, magazines, and staff jobs at Peace Corps and the U.S. Senate. In six years on the J-School Alumni Board, she worked on the School's Centennial Committee, chaired both the Development and Programs Committees, and was board vice chair. Now she represents the Journalism School on the Alumni Trustee Nominating Committee. In 2015, she received the J-School's Distinguished Alumni Award. Lehrman has co-chaired nearly all her J-School class reunions, and continues to meet with students, research potential donors, and serve as a class agent. She is a member of Columbia's 1754 Society and the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) DC Club. Lehrman graduated with a BA from the University of Oregon where she's endowed a fellowship, and where she served 10 years as a UO Foundation Trustee. She is a skier and pilot, and has flown the North Atlantic in a small plane with her husband Michael Lehrman. They live in DC.
Dr. Thomas J. Magnani '80DM is a graduate of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, and has been practicing general and cosmetic dentistry in Manhattan for 38 years. He has been a faculty member of the College of Dental Medicine since 1980 and presently holds the title of assistant clinical professor. His many ties to the College of Dental Medicine include: President of the 1852 Society; member of the Admissions Committee for the Dental School; member of the Executive Board of the Alumni Association; member of the Board of Advisors to the Dean; and director of the Global Outreach Program for Central America. In 2014, Magnani received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Dental Medicine. He has lectured and given continuing education courses nationally and internationally. His greatest achievement in dentistry is that his daughter graduated from the College of Dental Medicine in 2017 and, after her residency, will join him in his practice.
Louis A. Parks '95GSAS, '03BUS, '12GS has spent a distinguished career on Wall Street where he is currently an executive in the hedge fund industry, serving as partner/principal investor, advisory board member and chief operating officer for several domestic and international investment funds. He began his career at Merrill Lynch and for over 30 years, worked at global firms such as Morgan Stanley, Sanford C. Bernstein, and Raymond James Financial. While working at investment banks, his roles included senior managing director/head of equity trading and head of equity capital markets. Parks has dedicated over 20 years as a volunteer at Columbia where he was committee chair for development on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Advisory Board, president of the GSAS Alumni Association, and chair of the Alumni Trustee Nominating Committee. In 2001, he endowed the Louis A. Parks Fellowship in Classics at GSAS and was awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his service to the School in 2010. As a student, Parks played inside center on the rugby team, volunteered in the Office of Career Services, and graduated from the School of General Studies magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. He resides in New York City with his wife Ann and is the proud father of Kira, '13BC, '15SW and Jenna.
Teresa Saputo-Crerend '87CC, '92BUS graduated Columbia College in 1987 in the first fully co-educational class. Her older brothers had already graduated from Columbia (Douglas, '81CC and Paul '83CC) and her mother, Helen Norman Saputo, had earned a Masters at Teacher's College in 1983. Saputo-Crerend was a captain of the Women's Tennis Team and a four-year Varsity "C" recipient. Saputo-Crerend remains the closest of friends with her Columbia and Barnard teammates as well as her East Campus roommates to this day. She returned to Columbia to earn her MBA from the Business School in 1992. She worked for 15 years in marketing, 10 of those years for Evian Natural Spring Water/Group Danone, where she oversaw corporate sponsorship, including Evian's multi-million dollar sponsorship of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in Queens, her hometown. Today she consults for the Each One Counts Foundation, a foundation that provides complementary pain-relieving services for terminally and chronically-ill children, and is pursuing a Master's of Social Work at NYU's Silver School. Through all of life's milestones Columbia has remained her focus and "community." She has served on College boards and committees for the past 12 years, and has served on the Board of the Columbia College Alumni Association, Dean’s Alumni Task Force, and Alumni Legacy Council. She is currently on the Board of Columbia College Women and on the Columbia Alumni Association's (CAA) Strategic Planning Committee. She served as co-chair of She Opened the Door, the first Columbia University Women’s Conference, in February 2018 where she worked with her former tennis teammate Donna MacPhee '89CC, president of the CAA, and former Alumni Medal recipient Kathleen Crowley '91PH, '13PH. She relishes her work with women at the College and the University and is truly excited about the myriad opportunities for Columbia women on and off campus. Saputo-Crerend lives in Bedford, NY, with her husband Bill and is the proud mother of Lucy '22CC, William, and Sabrina.
Michael J. Schmidtberger '82CC, '85LAW is the chairman of the Executive Committee of the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he is also co-head of the Investment Funds, Advisers and Derivatives group. His principal areas of practice are securities and futures-related funds, and related regulatory matters, with a specialization in hedge funds. Schmidtberger is ranked in Band 1 of Chambers USA in the category of Investment Funds: Hedge Funds, a practice in which Sidley is a first-tier firm. He received financial aid from both Columbia College and Columbia Law School. From the College, he earned a BA, cum laude, as well as admission to Phi Beta Kappa and the Bennett Cerf Memorial Prize for Critical Writing. In his sophomore year, he co-founded The Columbia Guide to New York. In 1981, he cast his vote as the sole student senator present at the University Senate Executive Committee's historic meeting, at which the decision to admit women to the College was made. In 1985, he earned a JD from the Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Schmidtberger served two terms as a member of the College's Alumni Association Board of Directors and served as his class reunion co-chair a number of times. He was a 2013 recipient of the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement. Aside from work and Columbia, Schmidtberger is co-chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of New York City. He, his wife, Margaret Sung, and daughters, Calee '22SEAS and Mollie, reside in New York City.
Helen Doyle Yeager '85BC is a managing director at MUFG, the leading financial services institution in Japan, and the world’s 5th largest bank. She manages the Institutional Client Group for the Americas and is a senior relationship manager at MUFG Securities. Having graduated with a BA from Barnard College in 1985, she also earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1989. Yeager has spent 25 years in the securities industry, working in senior management at several firms, including Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. She was a two-time captain of the Columbia women’s basketball team, and for the past decade, has served as chair of the Alumnae Advisory Board for Women’s Basketball, spearheading an increase in fundraising and outreach. One of three female members on the Leadership Committee for the Columbia Campaign for Athletics: Achieving Excellence, and a member of The Women's Leadership Council, Yeager is a major supporter of the women's basketball program as well as The Campbell Sports Center. As a Barnard student, she was proud to be the female student representative on the inaugural committee when the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium was founded and, 25 years later, was honored as one of the 25 most influential women in the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium's history. She currently serves on the Board of Citius Baseball, a not-for-profit inner-city baseball program based in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. Citius Baseball helps develop and prepare inner city and underprivileged kids, through high-level training and SAT Prep, for college and/or professional baseball.
Nick Yen '91SEAS, '92SEAS is the founder of Mad Scientists, a company with interests in modular building systems and product design. He also operates Orgo, a restaurant that he named after Orgo Night at Columbia. Yen was one of the founding members of the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) of Singapore and continues to serve as an adviser. In addition, he is chair of the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) and helps with regional clubs as the alumni delegate on the Associations & Clubs Committee. Over the last few years, Yen has been spending much of his time shuttling between his responsibilities in Singapore, the family business in Thailand, and the CAA Board. A strong proponent of the Columbia education, he started as a tour guide in his sophomore year and has always been engaged. He hopes to continue to contribute towards a vibrant Columbia community in which students and alumni can engage on multiple levels to create long-lasting relationships. Yen is also a Columbia parent.