MCLA Alumni Association Presented Awards for 2012


NORTH ADAMS, MA - The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Alumni Association held its annual alumni award ceremony on campus on Saturday, Oct. 20. This year's recipients are Stephen Valley '88, Donna Denelli-Hess '75, Sally Webster Douglas '74 and Rachel Dayton Churchill '06.

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

Valley is this year's Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. He graduated from North Adams State College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/communications in 1988. 

Valley is a sergeant major with the U.S. Army Reserve and a foreign media analyst/senior communicator at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, FL. In March of 2011, Valley was stationed in Japan during the earthquake and tsunami. In the aftermath of the disaster, he handled public affairs and media relations calls; including setting up media embed opportunities and preparing situation reports.

Valley is a 26-year military member and a proud veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, for which he earned a Bronze Star Medal and was awarded the Combat Action Badge. Valley also is a former All-American VFW Post Commander and a member of the Executive Board of the AUSA's Suncoast Chapter. He is also sustaining member of the USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Denelli-Hess is the recipient of the Alumni Association's Humanitarian Award. She graduated from North Adams State College in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.

Along with MCLA psychology professor Dr. Deborah Foss, Denelli-Hess volunteered at the Nyumbani Children's Home in Kenya for HIV-positive children since 2004. For the past eight years, she has invested her time and energy providing educational and medical support to children living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya.  She took a year's leave of absence from her position as director of health education at Williams College in 2007 to start the adoption process for one of Nyumbani's residents, a boy named Ben.

In 2006, Denelli-Hess received a humanitarian service award from the Children of God Relief Fund, Inc. and Nyumbani U.S. Board of Directors, along with Foss. The award recognized their volunteer work with the Nyumbani Children's Home in Kenya. In 2009, Foss and Denelli-Hess were awarded the Peacemaker Award by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition for their continued efforts caring for and educating children with HIV in an orphanage in Kenya.

Douglas will receive the Alumni Association's Award for Outstanding Service to the College. She has served on the MCLA Foundation Board since 2000. Throughout her 12-year tenure on the board, Douglas has been dedicated to the success and growth of the MCLA campus and community as a whole. She serves as the MCLA Foundation Board's Treasurer and sits on the Foundation's Endowment and Trust Committee which oversees the management of the MCLA endowment. Douglas was instrumental in guiding the creation of an Audit Committee and has also served on the Nominations and By-law Review committees.

Churchill was honored with the MCLA Alumni Association's first ever Young Alumnus Award. She graduated from MCLA summa cum laude in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and minors in physics, political science and English.

As a student at MCLA, Churchill was the recipient of Academic Leadership Scholarship, Moore Trust Scholarship, Paul Tsongas Scholarship, Academic Achievement Scholarship, and the Ames Samuel Pierce History Award.  She went on to complete her Juris Doctorate at Suffolk Law School and became a member of the Boston Bar Association in 2009. Churchill is employed as an attorney at McCarter & English, LLP Partnership in Boston. She also serves on the board of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Alumni Association.

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.