Alumnae Association Award Winners

Barnard recognized nine alumnae at Reunion for their career accomplishments and dedicated service to the College and its graduates

Leila Bassi Award for Service to Barnard
Leila Bassi serves as an Alumnae Trustee, president of the Barnard College Club of London, a member of the AABC Board, and as a Barnard Alumnae Admissions Representative. She has hosted numerous London-based Barnard events and sponsored a 2017 reception for alumnae and parents at the Royal Institution in London, which featured Barnard adjunct associate professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hisham Matar. Bassi began her career in the music industry, working in strategic planning for a major music company, as well as a startup online music retailer. After receiving her MBA from Columbia Business School, she held various positions in the financial services industry in both equity research and asset management.
Edna Conway Distinguished Alumna Award
A speaker at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit this year, Conway is the chief security officer for Cisco Systems’ global value chain. She has given testimony before the U.S. Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and drafted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s directive on cyber defense. She served on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force. Conway’s insights are featured in reports, case studies, and publications such as Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, CIO magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. She received the Federal 100 Award, the SC Media Reboot Leadership Award, and the New Hampshire TechProfessional of 2018 Award.
Alexis Gumbs Young Alumna Award
Teen Vogue called her a black feminist hero, and BBC World News lauded her as “innovative” for co-founding the Black Feminist Bookmobile project. Gumbs describes herself as a “queer black troublemaker and black feminist love evangelist.” Currently the Winton Chair in the Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theater Arts and Dance, Gumbs was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University (during her dissertation process). She co-founded the Mobile Homecoming project, an experiential archive amplifying generations of black LGBTQ brilliance, as well as Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, a transmedia-enabled community school.
Lori Hoepner Award for Service to Barnard
For the past 25 years, Hoepner has tirelessly promoted Barnard, while also pursuing two graduate degrees and embarking on a demanding career in public health. Since her graduation in 1994, Hoepner has served continuously as either class president, class vice president/Reunion chair, or nominating chair. She has participated in many AABC committees, volunteered as a Barnard Alumnae Admissions Representative, taken part in Beyond Barnard’s Mentoring Program, worked as a member on the board of the now-defunct Barnard Business and Professional Women, and held numerous leadership roles in the Barnard College Club of New York.
Leslie Kantor Millicent Carey McIntosh Award for Feminism
Kantor began work at the intersection of research, programs, policy, and advocacy when she founded the AIDS Peer Educators group at Barnard, a student-run HIV/AIDS education program geared toward women, which eventually expanded to all Columbia undergraduates. While an intern for Congressman Henry Waxman, she conducted critical work to defeat discriminatory amendments in early AIDS legislation. Kantor’s awards for her continued work in this field include the Carl S. Shultz Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Sexual and Reproductive Health Section of the American Public Health Association, and the Golden APPLE Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education.
Pauline Sherman Award for Service to Barnard
Sherman’s long-standing commitment to Barnard  is most clearly demonstrated by her work on behalf of the Annual Fund. As a class fund chair and a regular participant in Barnard’s Annual Fund phone-a-thons, she’s utilitized her personal relationships with classmates to strengthen the College’s appeals for support. She has also served as class vice president and Reunion chair. A member of AABC’s Project Continuum and Fellowship Committees, she often attends College ceremonies and events. Sherman was the senior vice president, secretary, and associate general counsel of the financial services organization AXA Financial, Inc., AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (now AXA), and certain of their affiliates.
Marsha Simms Distinguished Alumna Award
Simms has been involved with and honored by the Association of Black Women Attorneys, the New York City Bar Association, and the American Bar Association (ABA). At the ABA, she chaired the African Law Initiative Council and several committees of the Business Law Section, was a member of the Commission on Women in the Profession, and is currently a member of the Central and Eastern European Division of the Rule of Law Initiative. Simms has made it her mission to help others as she has been helped so many times.
Krista Suh Millicent Carey McIntosh Award for Feminism
Suh is a screenwriter, novelist, “craftivist,” and artist whose mission is to make the world a safer place for women and help each one validate her own creativity, femininity, and intuition. In 2017, she shot to fame when she co-created the Pussyhat, the pink knit hat with cat ears that was worn as a symbol of resistance during the 2017 Women’s Marches around the globe. Leading up to the marches, the Pussyhat Project offered free Pussyhat patterns to knitters of all levels, drawing an extraordinary response. The hat continues to function as a symbol of contemporary feminism.
Linda Yellen Woman of Achievement Award
Linda Yellen is a director, writer, and producer best known for her work in television and independent film. While still a student, she taught one of the first film courses at Barnard. Since then, she has made more than 25 films for both large and small screens, including two of television’s highest-rated movies. Her productions have won two Peabody Awards, seven Emmys, one Luminas, one Silver Nymph, and two Christophers. Yellen was selected to be part of the Executive Council of the Writers Guild of America. She became the youngest woman director ever admitted to the Directors Guild of America and is currently serving a second term on its Executive Council.

—Photos by Asiya Khaki '09

Latest IssueWinter 2023