Valued Volunteers

November 30, 2009

The Duke Alumni Association (DAA) and the Annual Fund have awarded Charles A. Dukes Awards to six alumni for outstanding volunteer service to the university. The awards, named for the late Dukes '29, director of the alumni affairs office from 1944 to 1963, honor individuals who reflect his dedication to the university. Dukes award winners are selected by the DAA board of directors and the executive committee of the Annual Fund.

This year's recipients are Betsy Alden-Rutledge '64, Marilyn Mayberry Arthur '56, Danal Blessis B.S.E. '82, Jill Bayer Ciporin '84, Jill Moskowitz Gardner '89, and Janis Jordan Rehlaender B.S.E. '77.

Alden-Rutledge, who was Service Learning Coordinator at the Kenan Institute for Ethics until her retirement in 2007, was instrumental in establishing a number of service-learning initiatives at Duke, including LEAPS (Learning through Experience, Action, Partnership and Service). She has also contributed to the DAA's civic-engagement committee and to its efforts to plan and implement Duke Alums Engage, a program modeled after DukeEngage that provides service-learning opportunities for alumni. A third-generation alumna, Alden has worked on several of her class-reunion committees and was an interviewer for the DAA's Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee (AAAC) for nearly a decade.

Arthur is an artist and jeweler who has been a longtime advocate for the arts at Duke. As a member of the President's Art Museum Committee, she helped explore the possibility of a new museum, raised money for what became the Nasher Museum of Art, and committed considerable financial support to the project. She has been an active member of the board of the Friends of the Nasher Museum of Art and established an endowed fund to support the museum's programs, and she has provided annual support for specific exhibitions and acquisitions. Arthur also has passed along her love of the arts to her children, Lori Arthur '79 and R. David Arthur II '88, who also support the Nasher. She lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Blessis is an engineer for the Fo Tan Railway House, part of Hong Kong's mass-transit system. He has helped raise Duke's international profile by serving as the AAAC chair in Hong Kong for ten years. In this capacity, he coordinates interviews for all Hong Kong applicants and for applicants from mainland China when they visit Hong Kong; he also hosts welcome parties for admitted students. He has been president of the Duke Club of Hong Kong since 2000.

Ciporin has been an active member of the New York Women's Forum and a volunteer for her 15th reunion. But her work as chair of her 25th class reunion was particularly noteworthy. She helped create a class-chair training program, conducted conference calls to prepare reunion-gift committee members for recruitment and solicitation activities, and personally called on more than seventy-five members of her class to donate more than $25,000 for the class-reunion gift. Ciporin also worked with Paul Dewey '84 to organize a reunion video series that featured ten members of the class talking about their Duke experiences. She and her husband, Daniel Ciporin, live in Greenwich, Connecticut, with their two sons.

Gardner has stayed engaged with Duke since graduation, as a AAAC volunteer, fundraiser, and donor. As class chair for her 20th class reunion, she recruited half of the members of the reunion-gift committee, solicited her classmates' support for the Annual Fund, and encouraged attendance for Reunions Weekend. Gardner also launched the first reunion volunteer phonathon at her home; the phonathon, which brought in $25,000, will be used as a model for future reunion classes. She and her husband, Seth Gardner '89, live in New York with their three children.

Rehlaender is vice chair of the Pratt School of Engineering's board of visitors and a member of its development committee. In 2009, she encouraged her classmates to donate to engineering's annual fund by offering to make a personal donation to the charity of their choice. She's helped enhance and formalize the role of board members, asking each member of the development committee to secure a commitment of at least one new gift at any level (twenty-five dollars or more) each year; undertaking a matching gift effort to encourage members of the graduating class and new donors to contribute; and working closely with Pratt development staff members to enhance and strengthen alumni involvement. Rehlaender and her husband, James Rehlaender Jr., live in Greenwich, Connecticut, and have three sons, James Rehlaender III '07, Jason Rehlaender '09, and Jordan Rehlaender '11.