October 16, 2019

Five earn 2019 Alumni Award of Distinction

The annual award honors alumni for making “significant positive impact on their communities, society, or the world”

The Alumni Council of Phillips Academy has selected five individuals to receive the 2019 Andover Alumni Award of Distinction. First presented in 2012, the annual award honors individual members of the alumni body for making “significant positive impact on their communities, society, or the world.” The honorees will received the awards on Friday, Oct. 25, during All-School Meeting. The 2019 recipients are:

Samatha Appleton ’93, William Nordhaus ’59, Sarah Chayes ’80, Guy Nordenson ’73

Samantha Appleton ’93

Samantha Appleton is a photojournalist who concentrates on the social and political consequences of conflict and neglect. Her work combines art and history to explain the complicated components of large news stories. She has covered many of the most tumultuous human-made events of the past decade, such as conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, social issues in Africa, and immigration issues in the United States. Appleton cofounded the photo agency Noor Images to promote projects in support of human rights and social justice.

Appleton earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. She began her journalism career as a writer and then became a full-time photographer after assisting renowned war photographer/photojournalist James Nachtwey in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, Appleton photographed in New York City following the 9/11 attacks. In a 2011 interview with The New Yorker, she recalled: “I wanted to be an overseas photographer concentrating on difficult stories. The conflict came home, and it was time. Earlier that month I had bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City to begin my freelance career, departing on September 12th. But instead I was barreling to New York by car in the middle of the night. My own direct trajectory from there would be Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Obama White House. But I didn’t know that yet.”

In 2008, she worked on the Obama campaign; from 2009 to 2014 she was an official White House photographer. Appleton’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Kodak Professional Award and the first-place prize for Picture of the Year in 2001. She also has participated in the 2005 World Press Master Class and was named one of the “30 Under 30” photographers by Photo District News. Her photos have appeared in Time magazine and The New Yorker. A 2019 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Appleton is examining the concept of otherness in the American psyche, from slavery to war, and how it affects the current century of news. She currently resides in New York City and Portland, Maine.


Sarah Chayes ’80

Sarah Chayes is a former senior fellow in the Carnegie Democracy, Conflict, and Governance program. The program rigorously analyzes the global state and interrelationship of democracy, conflict, and governance and seeks to strengthen democracy and governance, reduce violence, and stabilize conflict.

Internationally recognized for her innovative thinking on corruption and its implications, Chayes is the author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban. Her work explores how severe corruption can help prompt such crises as terrorism, revolutions and their violent aftermaths, and environmental degradation.

Prior to joining Carnegie, Chayes served as special assistant to the United States’ top military officer, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. She focused on governance issues and participated in cabinet-level decision-making on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab Spring, traveling with Mullen to these regions frequently. Chayes was tapped for this job following her work as special advisor to two commanders of the international troops in Afghanistan (ISAF), which included a decade on the ground there.

From 1996 to 2001, Chayes was NPR’s Paris correspondent. After an award-winning journalism career, including coverage of the Kosovo crisis and the fall of the Taliban, Chayes decided to stay in Afghanistan to help rebuild the country. She chose to settle in the former Taliban heartland, Kandahar. In 1999, Chayes earned the Foreign Press Club and Sigma Delta Chi awards for her work covering the Kosovo War.

In 2005, Chayes founded Arghand, a startup manufacturing cooperative in which men and women work together to produce fine skin-care products. The goal was to revive the Kandahar region’s historic role in exporting fruit and its derivatives, promote sustainable development, and expand alternatives to the country’s opium economy.

In 2006, Chayes received the Academy’s highest honor, the Claude Moore Fuess Award.


Guy Nordenson ’73

A structural engineer and professor of architecture and structural engineering at Princeton University, Guy Nordenson studied at MIT and the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career as a draftsman in the joint Long Island City studio of R. Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi in 1976. He started practicing structural engineering in 1978 in San Francisco and New York, then established the New York office of Ove Arup & Partners in 1987. He was a director there until 1997, when he began his independent practice. He is currently a partner at Guy Nordenson and Associates.

In 1994, Nordenson cofounded the Structural Engineers Association of New York. His research project, “On the Water: Palisade Bay,” won the 2007 American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows Latrobe Prize and was published in 2010. His book Seven Structural Engineers: The Felix Candela Lectures was published in 2008 and Patterns and Structure, a collection of essays, was published in 2010. Nordenson was only the seventh structural engineer to receive the AIA’s Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement Award (2009) and the first practicing structural engineer elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was commissioner and secretary of the New York City Public Design Commission from 2006 to 2015 and is a current member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change—both of which are mayoral appointments.

Nordenson was the structural engineer for the Museum of Modern Art expansion in New York, Jubilee Church in Rome, Simmons Residence Hall at MIT, Santa Fe Opera House, New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and more than 100 other projects. His recent projects include the expansion of the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, New York), National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, D.C.), and the Museum of Fine Arts and Menil Drawing Institute and Study Center, both in Houston.


William D. Nordhaus ’59

After completing his undergraduate work at Yale University in 1963, William Nordhaus earned a PhD in economics from MIT in 1967. He has been a Yale faculty member since 1967 and full professor of economics since 1973; he is also a professor in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research has focused on economic growth and natural resources and the economics of climate change, as well as the resource constraints on economic growth. In 2018, Nordhaus received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis.

Nordhaus is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is on the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research and has been a member and senior advisor of the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity in Washington, D.C., since 1972.

Nordhaus is current or past editor of several scientific journals and has served on the executive committees of the American Economic Association (AEA) and the Eastern Economic Association. He serves on the Congressional Budget Office Panel of Economic Experts and was the first chair of the Advisory Committee for the Bureau of Economic Analysis. He also was the first chair of the American Economic Association Committee on Federal Statistics. In 2004, Nordhaus was awarded the Distinguished Fellow prize by the AEA.

From 1977 to 1979, Nordhaus was a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. From 1986 to 1988, he served as the provost of Yale University. He has served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences, including the Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems, the Panel on Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, the Committee on National Statistics, the Committee on Data and Research on Illegal Drugs, and the Committee on the Implications for Science and Society of Abrupt Climate Change.

He has authored many books, including Invention, Growth, and Welfare; Efficient Use of Energy Resources; Managing the Global Commons: The Economics of Climate Change; Warming the World; and the classic textbook Economics (cowritten with Paul Samuelson), now in its 19th edition.


Kevin Olusola ’06

Kevin “K.O.” Olusola is an American musician, beatboxer, cellist, rapper, record producer, singer, and songwriter who is perhaps best known as the beatboxer of the vocal band Pentatonix. After winning NBC’s The Sing Off in 2011, the group has sold nearly 10 million albums worldwide, nine albums have reached the top 10 on Billboard’s 200 chart, and their YouTube channel has topped three billion video views.

Olusola has also been identified as the developer of the art of “celloboxing”—playing the cello and beatboxing simultaneously. His celloboxing version of Mark Summer’s “Julie-O” went viral in April 2011, which led to his collaboration with Pentatonix. Olusola has performed at classical music festivals such as the Amsterdam Cello Biennale and the Kronberg Academy Festival, opened the TED Conference in Vancouver, and was chosen by Quincy Jones to represent him in concert at the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival.

In 2015, Pentatonix won a Grammy Award in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Cappella category for their song “Daft Punk,” a medley of songs by Daft Punk. In 2016, Pentatonix won a second Grammy in the same category, this time for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from their Christmas album. In 2017, Pentatonix won a third Grammy in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category for “Jolene,” featuring Dolly Parton.

Olusola says that Andover instilled in him a strong work ethic, tenacity, and discipline. An overall average student as a junior, he became a high honors student in his senior year.

At Yale University, Olusola planned to pursue medicine and completed all his premed requirements. He began his studies as an academic music major, but switched to East Asian studies after being introduced to China through a 10-day Chinese government–sponsored trip for 100 Yale students. He lived in Beijing for six months and then took a leave of absence during the 2009–2010 academic school year on Yale’s Light Fellowship to study intensive Chinese in Beijing. Just one month before his 2011 graduation from Yale, his celloboxing version of “Julie-O” went viral—and his career path took a fortuitous turn.

Olusola was unable to attend the All-School Meeting ceremony, but will return to campus later in the academic year to accept his award.

Categories: Alumni

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