‘Engaged and Accomplished’ Alumni Honored With Maxwell Centennial Awards

‘Engaged and Accomplished’ Alumni Honored With Maxwell Centennial Awards

Published 04/22/2024 - Four remarkable individuals will be among the honorees at the Maxwell School’s centennial celebration planned for May 31 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

A longtime city manager committed to cultivating future public servants. A retired managing director dedicated to volunteerism and philanthropy. A public health pioneer who has improved the lives of millions. An accomplished executive and entrepreneur committed to advancing sustainability.

In their varied pursuits, the four individuals above have represented the Maxwell School’s commitment to engaged citizenship and making the world better for all. For their efforts, Wally Bobkiewicz ’89 M.P.A., Cathy Daicoff ’79 M.P.A., Anuradha Gupta ’07 CAS (PA) and Ken Pontarelli ’92 B.S. (Econ), will be honored with centennial awards at the Maxwell School centennial celebration planned for May 31 in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The event will mark the Maxwell School’s 100th anniversary and serve as a gathering for alumni and friends to connect and celebrate. “We are thrilled to honor these four highly engaged and accomplished individuals who have, in a variety of ways and across sectors, demonstrated a commitment to Maxwell’s ideals,” says Dean David M. Van Slyke, who will serve as the event’s emcee.

The centennial celebration includes five additional honors: Awards of Excellence will go to alumni B. Ben Baldanza ’84 B.A. (Econ/PSt), Carlisha Williams Bradley ’09 M.P.A., Mary Margaret Graham ’78 M.A. (SSc), Lia Miller ’03 M.P.A./M.A. (IR) and Jessica Sun ’09 M.P.A.

The centennial award honorees are listed below.

Centennial Champion Award

Wally Bobkiewicz ’89 M.P.A.

The Maxwell Centennial Champion Award recognizes dedicated volunteer engagement and philanthropy in support of the school, and there is no greater champion of the Maxwell School’s local government initiatives than Wally Bobkiewicz.

A career city manager who has worked in local government for more than 30 years, Bobkiewicz tirelessly channels his passion for public service to uplift communities as well as the careers of countless Maxwell students and alumni. For decades, Bobkiewicz has been a powerful force behind the scenes, working to nurture relationships, create professional opportunities and galvanize support among Maxwell alumni. He is de facto host and connector at annual local and city management conferences and networking events; and he inspires others to invest their time and money to support career development opportunities for students.

Since 2019, Bobkiewicz has served as city administrator of Issaquah, Washington. Previously, he was city manager of Evanston, Illinois, and Santa Paula, California, and worked in local government for Novato, California, and Long Beach, California. He is former president of the Syracuse University Alumni Association and served on its board of directors from 2001-10. He is the recipient of the 2024 American Society for Public Administration National Public Service Award.

Centennial Steward Award

Cathy Daicoff ’79 M.P.A.

For significant engagement, volunteer service and philanthropic support that have sustained the continued excellence of the school, Maxwell School Advisory Board Vice Chair Cathy Daicoff is the recipient of the Centennial Steward Award. A dedicated supporter of the school since earning an M.P.A. in 1979, Daicoff has served as a member of its advisory board for more than 25 years and maintained an increasingly generous level of giving throughout this time.

Daicoff’s gifts, including her $1.2 million endowment to establish the Marguerite Fisher Faculty Research Fund and a major gift for the creation of the Daicoff Faculty Scholars award, to help the school attract and retain world class faculty. In addition, she shares her expertise in domestic and international finance with the board and as a trusted career advisor to students and alumni interested in the field.

Daicoff retired in 2016 as a managing director at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services after 38 years with the company. Her career spanned management responsibility in U.S. domestic operations, Canada, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and global positions. She was the company’s first senior policy officer and director of policy training for Ratings Services, and she served for more than 20 years on the firm’s Analytics Policy Board.

Centennial Luminary Award for Global Health Equity

Anuradha Gupta ’07 CAS (PA)

For her profound impact spearheading global initiatives that improve public health and increase equitable access to vaccines, Anuradha Gupta is the recipient of the Centennial Luminary Award for Global Health Equity.

Gupta’s work has helped to save and improve millions of lives. Currently, she is president of global immunization at Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C., an organization dedicated to strengthening immunization in communities most affected by infectious diseases, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Prior to this, she served as deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (2014-22) in Geneva, where she oversaw programs across 73 countries and partnerships with WHO, UNICEF and The World Bank. She introduced the pivotal concept of zero dose children, bringing inequities into global focus.

Previously, Gupta served in the Indian Administrative Service for 30 years, holding leadership positions in a wide range of areas including health, education, nutrition and finance. As mission director of the National Health Mission of India (2010-14), she ran the largest public health program in the world, achieving several public health feats which include polio eradication and a steep reduction of maternal and child deaths in India.

Centennial Luminary Award for Sustainability

Ken Pontarelli ’92 B.S. (Econ)

For his leadership and dedication to developing solutions that balance the economic need for growth with environmental sustainability, Ken Pontarelli is the recipient of the Centennial Luminary Award for Sustainability.

As a Syracuse University trustee, Pontarelli lends his deep expertise in financial markets and sustainability investing, earned over a 30-year career at Goldman Sachs, to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration resulting in environmental policy research that is grounded in a realistic understanding of markets and financial mechanisms. Together with his spouse, Tracey, he established the Pontarelli Professorship of Environmental Sustainability and Finance at the Maxwell School, currently held by Professor Jay Golden, founder and director of the Dynamic Sustainability Lab.

Pontarelli graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in economics, from Maxwell, and finance, from the Whitman School of Management, where he now serves on the advisory board. In 2018, Pontarelli founded Mission Driven Capital Partners, a New York City-based firm focused on sustainability investing. Two years later, he returned to Goldman Sachs, where he serves as partner and managing director and leads its sustainable investing group.