The SEO Alumni Opportunity Awards

The Alumni Opportunity Awards recognized outstanding SEO alumni who have shown personal, professional, philanthropic, and community leadership. Recipients were recognized from the stage at our 50th Anniversary Awards Dinner and featured in the Dinner journal.

Thank you to all alumni who submitted nominations!  These seven winners were selected from an oustanding pool of nominees.

Jesse Battino ’70
Managing Director
Leadership Coaching Group

Anurima Bhargava ’95
Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section, Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice

Juny Francois ’90
Real Estate Broker, Founder
J. Francois & Associates, LLC

Barbara Hou ’01
Asian Women’s Leadership University Project

Eddie Ade Knowles ’65

Professor of Practice & Former Vice President for Student Life
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Bonnie St. John ’85

Leadership Consultant, Keynote Speaker,
Olympic Medalist, Best-Selling Author

Gary Trujillo ’83
President & CEO
Southwest Harvard Group


About the Winners

Jesse Battino ’70
Managing Director, Leadership Coaching Group
Jesse is a senior human resources executive with over 25 years of experience and has been the head of Human Resources for Sequa Corporation.   He has been an internal consultant to senior managers in the U.S. and abroad, establishing HR as a strategic business partner to improve organizational productivity and effectiveness.  Jesse founded the Leadership Coaching Group, which provides human resources consulting, executive/managerial coaching and other programs for small and mid-size businesses.  He is a Visiting Professor at the Keller Graduate School of Management.  Jesse serves on the board of Our Chance International, which coordinates volunteer physicians to provide surgeries to orphaned and disadvantaged children in Africa, Haiti and other parts of the world.  He is an emeritus board member of the Ethics & Compiance Officer Association.  Jesse has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Hunter College, and Master’s Degrees in Organizational Behavior from Iona College and in Counseling/Education from Fordham University.  He participated in the Traditional Program, now known as SEO Scholars.

Anurima Bhargava, SEO ’95
Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice
Anurima is Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  She leads the Division’s efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for all students nationwide by enforcing federal statutes that prohibit discrimination and harassment in schools, colleges and universities.  She was previously Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Education Practice, a NYC Department of Education staff attorney, and a U.S. District Court clerk for the Southern District of New York.  Anurima has served as Board Chair of Neighbors Together, which combats poverty in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn, and Peoples’ Production House, a media justice organization serving youth and underrepresented communities.  She served as an advisory board member of the Center for Institutional & Social Change and Jitegemee, Inc., which addresses the educational needs of street children in Kenya.  Anurima graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and earned her law degree from Columbia Law School.  She participated in SEO Career as an investment banking intern.

Juny François ’90
Real Estate Broker, Founder, J. François & Associates, LLC
In addition to founding her own real estate firm, Juny is a Principal of Green Mountains Development LLC and Blue Island Development LLC.  She is currently managing the development of affordable housing in Ghana.   Juny was previously a corporate and entertainment lawyer for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, and Scholastic Inc.  In 2010, she was appointed by Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Board of Directors.  Juny serves on the committee for the International Children’s Outreach Ministry, a mentoring program for children from developing countries.  In 2010, two weeks after the earthquake, Juny traveled to Haiti to assist in relief efforts with Helping Hands Haiti.  Today, she is a member of HaitiGreenHome, which is developing communities in Haiti.  Juny earned a B.A. in English from Columbia University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.  She participated in SEO Career as a corporate law intern.

Barbara Hou, SEO ’01
President & Founder, Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU) Project
Barbara is the president and founder of the Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU) Project, a nonprofit organization working to establish a global leadership university for women in Malaysia.  At Allen & Overy LLP and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in Hong Kong, Barbara represented investment banks on debt and equity capital raisings in emerging markets in Asia.  She also has experience in international development with organizations such as South African Human Rights Commission, Fellowship for Reconciliation in Uganda, Growing Together Myanmar, and Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.  The AWLU Project is targeted to enroll its first 100 students in September 2015 and has been featured in the New York Times, at the 2013 Harvard EdTalks, the 2012 TEDxLSE “Challenging the Mainstream” forum, in Asia Society’s White Paper on Women’s Leaderhship in Asia, and on GOOD Magazine’s 2013 Top 100 List.  Barbara graduated from Smith College and earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.  She participated in SEO Career as an investment banking intern.

Eddie Ade Knowles ’65
Professor of Practice & Former Vice President of Student Life, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
In 2011, after 34 years of service at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Knowles accepted a full-time appointment as Professor of Practice in the Arts.  He previously held positions at Rensselaer as an Adjunct Professor, Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Students, Dean of Minority Student Affairs, Assistant Dean, and Foreign Student Advisor. Before Rensselaer, he was a member of the faculty at Eugenia Maria de Hostos Community College.  He also served as the Assistant Director and subsequently Director of the College Discovery Program at Bronx Community College. He has published in scholarly journals and education magazines and received the Black Collegian’s Unity Award for reporting on education. He is also an accomplished musician with over 45 years of performance, workshop, and recording credits as a percussionist.  Dr. Knowles received a B.A. from Lincoln University, M.A. from Columbia University, and Ph.D. from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany.

Bonnie St. John ’85
Leadership Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Olympic Medalist, Best-Selling Author
Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, Bonnie became the first African-American to win Olympic medals in ski racing, winning silver and two bronze medals at the 1984 Paralympics.  Today, Bonnie travels the globe as a highly sought after keynote speaker, Fortune 500 business consultant, television and radio personality, business owner, and author of six books, including her recent best-seller, How Great Women Lead.  Bonnie served in the White House as a Director of the National Economic Council during the Clinton administration.  She donates her time speaking at schools, shelters, and community organizations across the country.  She has been featured extensively in the media, including: The Today Show, CNN, CBS Morning News, PBS, NPR, and The New York Times.  NBC Nightly News called Bonnie, “One of the five most inspiring women in America.”  Bonnie graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford.  She participated in SEO Career as an investment banking intern.

Gary Trujillo ’83
President & CEO, Southwest Harvard Group (SHG)
Gary founded and is President & CEO of SHG, a private venture capital and first-stage active venture incubator focused on Minority Business Enterprises and the Hispanic markets.  Gary began his career in investment banking at Salomon Brothers and RBC Capital Markets.  He served as a staff assistant to L. William Seidman, Chairman of the FDIC and the Resolution Trust Corporation.  Gary is recognized nationally for his educational contributions and was appointed by the Governor of Arizona as the First Chairperson of the Schools Facilities Board.  He created the Roosevelt Community Technology Center in Phoenix and he and his wife, Melissa, started the Be A Leader Foundation to mentor college-bound students throughout their educational and career development.  Gary received the Man of the Year award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Phoenix Business Journal in 2013.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University and graduated from Harvard Business School.  Gary participated in SEO Career as an investment banking intern.

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