59th Annual Award Recipients

The Annual Alumni Awards is a celebration that we look forward to every year. However, due to the postponement of the 2020 Alumni Awards ceremony, President Smith offers a special message of congratulations to our esteemed Alumni Award recipients.

Watch the video on YouTube

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Farah Harb (MBA12)

Global Education Analyst, Ford Motor Co. Fund & Community Services

Farah Harb received her BBA degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and MBA from Eastern Michigan University. After undergrad, she worked in the Career Planning and Placement office at Wayne State University for four years as a Career Advisor and then was promoted to Assistant Director. Currently, she’s the Global Education Programs Analyst at Ford Motor Company Fund, overseeing education programs that provide scholarship opportunities for students to help them financially achieve academic success, as well as funding for student-led projects that address a social need or problem in communities around the world. Farah serves on EMU's Strategic Planning Committee and is heavily involved in EMU's Digital Divas STEM program. 

Zach Wigal (BBA16)

Founder, Gamers Outreach and Gamers for Giving Fundraiser

Zach Wigal is the founder of Gamers Outreach, a charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. To date, Gamers Outreach programs enable an estimated 1.5 - 2 million play sessions for patients across 200 healthcare facilities each year. The organization also hosts one of the largest local area network (LAN) parties in North America - Gamers for Giving - which brings together gamers and esports enthusiasts in support of hospitalized families. Wigal has been recognized as a 2019 CNN Hero, named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list (2017) for his work in the games for health space, and was selected as Los Angeles Children's Hospital's Emerging Leaders.

Alumni Achievement Award 

Kevin N. Alschuler, Ph.D. (MS06, PHD10)

Associate Professor and Attending Psychologist, University of Washington School of Medicine

Kevin N. Alschuler, Ph.D., is an experienced athlete, coach, and psychologist who helps sports organizations enhance their philosophy, training, and use of sport psychology skills, strategies, and techniques. Kevin currently serves as Associate Professor and Attending Psychologist at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. Dr. Alschuler has made significant contributions to the area of rehabilitation psychology so much that he received the 2016 Rosenthal Early Career Research Award by the American Psychological Association Division 22, Rehabilitation Psychology.  This award is only given to persons who while in their first 10 years after receiving their doctorate have made significant contributions to research in the area of rehabilitation psychology. He also serves as an EMU ambassador by representing the university and doctoral program on the national level for clinical psychology.  

Dr. Derrick R. Coleman (BS96, MA01)

Superintendent, River Rouge School District

Dr. Derrick R. Coleman enjoys an extensive and personal relationship with his alma mater. Not only having earned two degrees from EMU, Derrick is consistently engaged with various aspects of campus and student life including the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration and the EMU Foundation Board of Trustees. He is also a longtime member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Black Alumni Association (EMUBA). Derrick received his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University (2017). Currently, Dr. Coleman serves as Superintendent of River Rouge School District where he was able to boost enrollment on the brink of insolvency by opening a new STEM focused school and school-based health center. These changes led to an academic standard that has resulted in higher college preparatory test scores.  

Chad Newton (BS96, MS10)

Chief Executive Officer, Wayne County Airport Authority

Chad Newton serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA). In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the independent governmental entity tasked with management and operation of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport, Michigan’s busiest airport system and one of the world’s leading air transportation hubs. Chad is the first-ever WCAA CEO to become certified as an Accredited Airport Executive, the highest accreditation granted to aviation professionals among many other certifications. Chad graduated from EMU's School of Police Staff and Command (2014) as well as in the 262nd class of the FBI (2015) in addition to many other accolades through his military and public service career. Chad also is a former member of the EMU Alumni Association Board of Directors. 

Distinguished Alumni Award 

Bynarozell (Byna) Elliott (BBA92) 

Head of Advancing Black Pathways, J.P. Morgan Chase and Company

Byna Elliott serves as the Head of Advancing Black Pathways for J.P. Morgan Chase and Company beginning this new role in December of 2020.  Previously she served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Enterprise Responsibility Officer for Fifth Third Bank overseeing Corporate Social Responsibility functions which include environmental sustainability initiatives, direct philanthropic giving, ethical business practices and economic responsibility. Byna also has many years of service to EMU supporting a variety of initiatives and organizations through giving, advocating, and serving on the EMU Foundation Board of Trustees. She is a proud supporter of many academic programs for students such as the Undergraduate Symposium and many scholarships, as well as service to her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award

Gregory A. Peoples 

Emeritus Dean of Students and University Ombudsman, Eastern Michigan University

Gregory A. Peoples is a student affairs professional with over 40 years of experience as a university administrator. He graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Penn., with a BA in speech and communication. He has a M.Ed. from Kent State University in Higher Education Administration. Gregory has been a resident of the Ypsilanti community for over 37 years. He has been an active leader in the community serving on many local boards including Hope Medical Clinic, a board that provides free medical care to indigent families in the Ypsilanti area, The Dispute Resolution Center Board, providing mediation services to residents in Washtenaw County and the Ypsilanti Area Community Foundation.