NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Alumni Association will hold its annual alumni award ceremony on campus on Saturday, Oct. 19, at noon in Murdock Hall, in the Sammer Dennis Room (218). This year's recipients are Eloise Stevens '78, Jerry Desmarais '74, Kevin O'Connor '83, Maura Mills '05 and Richard Brown '74.

This event recognizes the achievements of past graduates of the College by presenting the following awards: Outstanding Educator Award, Outstanding Service to the College, Humanitarian Award, Young Alumnus Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Stevens is this year's recipient of the Outstanding Educator Award, the Alumni Association's newest award to honor both the College's history as a teacher training institution and the many, many teachers who have graduated from MCLA. Stevens graduated from North Adams State College in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in education. In 2008, she also earned her master's in education from MCLA.

Stevens recently retired as executive director of the Berkshire Head Start, a post she held for most than 20 years. She has worked in the early childhood education field for more than 35 years, impacting the lives of countless families in Northern Berkshire County. Stevens has served on many boards including The Salvation Army, Community Partnerships for Children Early Childhood Advisory Counci, and the Allocations Committee of the Northern Berkshire United Way.

Desmarais is this year's recipient of the Outstanding Service to the College Award. He graduated from North Adams State College in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Over the years, Desmarais has held many major roles at the College, including director of admission, director of financial aid, and treasurer - a post he held for the past 16 years until his retirement in early October.

Desmarais has been an advocate for his fellow alumni and the activities of the Alumni Association by participating in events and encouraging alumni to come back to campus for alumni and campus events.

O'Connor is this year's recipient of the Humanitarian Award. O'Connor graduated from North Adams State College in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. After graduating he stayed in North Adams where he was the director of Help Line, a 24-hour crisis and referral service.

O'Connor is the executive director at Joseph's House and Shelter, Inc., an agency that administers homeless shelters for adults and families, as well as permanent housing programs for formerly homeless adults and families in Troy, N.Y. He has been a visiting professor at Siena College in the social work department, where he coordinated the department's internship program. In 2009 O'Connor received the Linda Mills Memorial Award for Re-Entry, given to honor those who work with ex-offenders.

Mills is this year's recipient of the Young Alumnus Award. Mills graduated from MCLA in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and English, and minors in women's studies and business.

Since graduating, Mills has furthered her education at Kansas State University where she received her master's degree and Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. Mills has worked at Sirota Survey Intelligence and taught at Highland Community College and Northern Arizona University. She is an assistant professor at Hofstra University in New York.

Brown is this year's recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. He graduated from North Adams State College in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Brown has had many leadership positions and executive positions at pharmaceutical and medical chemistry product companies. He is the president and CEO of AVIA Biosystems, a biotechnology company. AVIA was awarded a $1.25 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health. Brown has co-founded and sold three corporations.

MCLA is honored to count this year's alumni award recipients among the ranks of our many distinguished alumni making a difference in the world every day.

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