Outstanding alumni honored at inaugural Night of Excellence

Robert Simmons III, Lloyd Dean and Ming Li with awards

Dr. Robert Simmons III, Lloyd Dean and Dr. Ming Li at the 2018 Night of Excellence

Nov. 13, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s College of Education and Human Development honored three alumni: Lloyd Dean, Rochelle Gores Fredston and Dr. Robert Simmons III with CEHD Outstanding Alumni Awards. The CEHD Outstanding Alumni Award is one of the University's highest alumni awards and is given to alumni who bring distinction to their alma mater through professional achievements and who have enjoyed a high level of success in their careers. Award recipients were honored at the inaugural WMU Night of Excellence on Friday, Oct. 5.

Lloyd Dean (M.A. ’78, Educational Leadership), recipient of the inaugural CEHD Outstanding Alumni Award, is president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health care systems with 10,000 physicians and 60,000 employees. Dean is responsible for management, strategic direction and governance of Dignity Health, including $17 billion in assets. During his 18-year tenure with the organization, he has overseen its transformation into one of the largest health care systems in the nation, recognized for excellence in high quality, compassionate care and operational excellence.

Dean currently serves on the Board of the McDonald’s Corporation and has been appointed to its Board Audit and Finance Committee and Board Compensation Committee. As Dignity Health is based in San Francisco, Dean is Board Chair of the Board of Directors for the Committee on Jobs as well. Previously, Mr. Dean has served on the Board of Directors of Wells Fargo & Company; Board of Navigant Consulting, Inc.; as Board Chair of the Bay Area Council; as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic Health Association of the United States; Board Member for Mercy Housing California, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing, operating and financing affordable housing; and Board Chair of Cytori Therapeutics, an international leader in regenerative medicine and adult stem cell research.

A passionate advocate for health care reform, Dean was actively engaged with the White House Cabinet on health care issues during the Obama administration and directly participated in health care reform discussions with the former president during the formation of the Affordable Care Act. In California, Dean has been appointed to the State Health Care Cost Containment Commission, charged with developing practical state policies to contain health care costs in the nation.

In 2017, Dean was ranked number 21 in Modern Healthcare’s "100 Most Influential People in Healthcare" and is consistently named to Modern Healthcare’s "Top 25 Minority Leaders in Healthcare."

Rochelle Gores Fredston (B.S. ‘05, Textile and Apparel Studies), recipient of the inaugural CEHD Outstanding Alumni Award, is a modern day multi-hyphenate, forging an inspiring and exciting path as a businesswoman, philanthropist and entrepreneur. She brings her background in fashion to most everything she touches and applies a business acumen to her daily philanthropic and business endeavors.

Fredston began her career in New York where she was a field merchandiser overseeing visuals for 14 east coast stores. She continued her fashion career by opening ARCADE, a multi-line concept store featuring high-end designers that was located on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles from 2008 to 2012. Her reputation as a fashion influencer continues to grow with features in influential local and national media, including Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue.com, C Magazine, New York Post, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

As a philanthropist, Fredston is the founder and president of Learning Lab Ventures (formerly PSLA), a non-profit focused on disrupting generational poverty through providing intensive after school education and enrichment programming for children ages 5 to 19 who are living well below the Federal Poverty Line. Learning Lab Ventures aims to enable high-achieving, underrepresented students to graduate from top colleges equipped with the degree, skills and experience they need to excel in the workforce and beyond.

Fredston’s most notable fundraising effort is her annual winter gala, which over the past eight years has honored fashion heavyweights NET-A-PORTER, Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier and Stella McCartney. Fredston’s philanthropic efforts have raised over $17 million since 2008, helping to support over 300,000 disadvantaged youth and their families in Los Angeles.

Dr. Robert Simmons III (B.S. ‘97, Elementary Education), recipient of the inaugural CEHD Outstanding Alumni Award, is CEO of the See Forever Foundation and the Maya Angelou Schools in Washington, D.C. Dr. Simmons leads a nationally-renowned network of schools singularly focused on supporting young people who have been pushed out of the traditional schooling system, while also leading one of the most prominent efforts to reform the juvenile justice system.

A former middle school science teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, Dr. Simmons has been nominated twice as the Walt Disney National Teacher of the Year and once for the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation Outstanding Educator Award.

During his career as an educator, Dr. Simmons served as the first chief of innovation and research with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), where he was chief architect of the nationally-recognized racial equity initiative Empowering Males of Color. As a result of this work, Washington, D.C. was recognized as one of the top three cities working to improve the lives of males of color. Under his leadership, Dr. Simmons led the development of the first all-male public school in DCPS, as well as the highly touted school-to-classroom pipeline program Leading Men (a service year program in collaboration with the Literacy Lab).

Dr. Simmons has authored and co-authored of over 45 publications and was part of a research team that produced research and tools of practice for STEM teachers, as a result of a $1.4 million research grant.

As a nationally-recognized scholar and expert on racial equity and urban education, Dr. Simmons has lectured and delivered workshops throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Simmons has been asked to comment on racial equity and a variety of education issues on national media outlets including CNN, as well as local media outlets in Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Dr. Simmons was recently named by Black Enterprise as the Modern Man’s Advocate for Black Men.

The College of Education and Human Development also awarded four individuals with alumni awards at the Golden Apple and Keystone Awards on Oct. 4. For more information about the Golden Apple and Keystone Award winners please visit the CEHD Alumni Awards webpage.