Congratulations to the 2018 Alumni Association Award Recipients!

Elisabeth Tavarez




October 19—Marist produces outstanding alumni who have enjoyed success in virtually every professional field and who carry the College’s good name far and wide. Since 2012, Marist has recognized its most exceptional graduates with the annual Alumni Association Awards, which are presented at Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. The winners are chosen by the Alumni Awards Committee, made up of the President of the Marist Alumni Association; two members of the Alumni Executive Board; a member of the Board of Trustees; the Executive Director of Alumni Relations; the Student Body President; and a member of the Greystone Board, which includes past Presidents of the Alumni Association.

We invite you to meet the 2018 awardees, each of whom is a credit to the College.

The Dr. Linus Richard Foy ’50 Outstanding Alumnus Award

The highest honor bestowed by the Marist College Alumni Association, this award is named in honor of Dr. Linus Richard Foy, a 1950 graduate and president of Marist from 1958 to 1979. The award recognizes distinguished service by an alumnus or alumna to a profession, to the College, to the nation, or to humanity. The criterion for this award is a continuous record of distinguished service in a chosen field or endeavor that is related to the objectives and purposes of Marist.


Paul X. Rinn ’68

A proud graduate of the Class of 1968, Captain Paul X. Rinn, USN (Ret.) is an accomplished naval leader and successful businessman who has always remained connected to and supportive of Marist College. He is a 1972 graduate of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and a 1980 graduate of the U.S. Naval War College with “distinction.” Rinn went on to earn his MBA from Salve Regina College in 1982.

Rinn was commissioned in the United States Navy in October 1968, and over the next 30 years, he operated in every ocean in the world. He experienced combat encounters while holding numerous key operational assignments, Commands at Sea, and Pentagon postings, including Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and Operational Strike Briefer to the President of the United States. His many awards include the U.S. Navy League Stephen Decatur award for Operational Excellence in Command of the USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG 58), the John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership in Command of the USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the U.S. Congress’ National Day of Excellence Award presented by the late Senator John McCain, the Legion of Merit with Combat V, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon with Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

In 1998, Rinn retired from the United States Navy at the rank of Captain and joined the International Consulting firm of Whitney Bradley and Brown (WBB). As Corporate Vice President, he led the company’s largest sector, Management Consulting, and was key in growing WBB to a $115 million company in just 10 years. Currently, he is President of Rinn Speaks, and he has spoken both nationally and internationally at universities and businesses in the public and private sectors. Selected to speak at TEDX Michigan, Rinn’s success generated invitations to describe his leadership principles on Good Morning America and discuss his experiences on the History Channel.

Photo of Paul Rinn

In 2008, Rinn was inducted into the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare Hall of Fame. His decisions and leadership methods while in command are now required reading at the United States Naval Academy, NROTC programs, Naval War College, and U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer School. They are also recounted in Brad Penniston’s Washington Post best-selling book No Higher Honor and analyzed in University of Indiana’s Dr. Kenneth Hammond’s highly referenced cognitive study “Judgments Under Stress.”

For Rinn, it’s also important to be involved in the community. He is the director of the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation, distributing over $2 million to provide financial support to hundreds of Navy families whose service members have been injured in the line of duty. As a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, he has been involved in coordinating thousands of dollars of aid to schools and medical facilities in the Holy Land and in beleaguered parts of Syria during the present conflict. He is also a committed member and a proactive participant in the Chesapeake Save the Bay Foundation, as well as an equally strong supporter of the Sierra Club, which is committed to protecting the world’s environment.

Since graduating from Marist, Rinn has stayed connected to the campus. In 1989, he addressed the graduating class at Commencement, receiving the Marist College President’s Award and a Doctorate of Humane Letters. Rinn was the inaugural speaker at the Raymond A. Rich Institute for Leadership Development in 2013, and he continues to visit the campus to speak to students in the Schools of Management and Liberal Arts. He served on the Alumni Association Executive Board for nine years and as its President from 2014 until 2017. During that time, Rinn and members of the Board installed and dedicated a Veteran’s Memorial on campus, which has become the focal point for the College’s annual Veterans Day celebration. He also served on the recent Marist College Presidential Search Committee.

Rinn credits his success and ability to deal with challenges and problems both in the Navy and the business world to the inspiration, teaching, integrity, and ethics of the Marist Brothers, faculty, and coaches at the College. He has demonstrated excellence in education, a strong sense of duty to country, and a commitment to the service of humanity throughout his life, and Marist is proud to recognize him for his success in his profession and service to the College.


The Dr. Dennis J. Murray Distinguished Service Award

Presented to an alumnus or alumna who has diligently and faithfully served the Marist Alumni Association for an extended period of time. Service can be in the form of a regional chapter position or any involvement that advances the mission of Marist through dedicated volunteer efforts


James M. Barnes ’68

Jim Barnes is a proud member of the Class of 1968 and one of the College’s most dedicated graduates. Throughout his career, he has always made time to support both his alma mater and his community. Barnes graduated from Marist with a bachelor’s in business administration after attending Mount Saint Michael’s Academy, a Marist Brothers high school in the Bronx. He then went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, where he earned nine combat decorations as a First Lieutenant Combat Commander.

After retiring from the military, Barnes went on to become president of Fast Freight of New York until 1981, when he became a senior project manager with Moran, Stahl, and Boyer, Inc. There he specialized in relocating Fortune 100 firms worldwide. He then moved to FITCO Inc., where he served first as president of the company from 1987 to 1996, and then, after selling the company to Advance Mayflower, as vice president of sales from 1996 to 2012. Today, Barnes is president of McCoys Upholstery Group, Inc., a company committed to providing the Tri-State area with quality craftsmanship for auto, marine, custom, and commercial upholstery services.

Barnes’ commitment to Marist is evident in his variety of leadership positions. He has served on the Marist College Photo of James Barnes  Board of Trustees since 1991 and is the current chair of the Lifetime of Excellence in Sports Communication Award. He also co-chaired the Presidential Inauguration Committee in 2016, remains an active member of the Marist Alumni Career Network, and frequently sponsors Marist events at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. He and his family are also the most dedicated participants in the Marist contingent of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Barnes frequently refers prospective students to the College’s Office of Admission, including his own family members. Three of Jim’s children – Shamus, Virginia, and Sean – have graduated from Marist, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Three grandchildren are also current students. In addition to his time and energy, Barnes has also donated large quantities of office furniture to Marist over the years, and there are plaques dedicated to Barnes and his family in the McCann and Hancock Centers recognizing their support.

Marist has not been the only beneficiary of Barnes’ generous spirit. He is a member of the Knights of Saint Patrick, Wounded Warriors, Warriors in Motion, the Colony Theater Foundation, and is treasurer of the Classic Car Club of America Long Island Chapter. He dedicates his time to the Adaptive Sports Foundation serving wounded service members, with a special focus on downhill skiing at Windham Mountain. He was previously on the Board of Trustees at Mount St. Michael’s High School and secretary for the Winged Foot Rugby Club at the New York Athletic Club, with whom he played competitive rugby from 1976 to 1990.

The Marist College Young Alumna Award

Presented to an alumnus or alumna who has reached a significant level of achievement in his/her profession and who is a model of the quality and caliber of today’s Marist student


Kelsey Donohue ’13

Kelsey Donohue graduated from Marist College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. As a student, she was president of Marist Ambassadors, an Orientation Leader, and a Marist tour guide in the Office of Admission. She was also the assistant to then-Director of Admission, Luis Santiago. She credits her involvement with Admission and First Year Programs for sparking her love for higher education and putting her on the path she’s on today. This passion for education policy, as well as an interest in women’s issues, has led her to a number of successful positions.

While at Marist, Donohue studied abroad in Ireland and also spent a semester in Washington, DC during her final semester on campus. While there, she worked with the Department of Education as a digital analyst implementing initiatives such as Pre-K for All, ConnectED, and College Scorecard, as well as developing digital content. Despite being a proud native New Yorker, Donohue decided to stay in Washington, DC after graduation. She started working as the digital coordinator for EMILY’s List, a political action committee that aims to elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. There she served as the lead writer and strategist for the organization’s email program with over three million subscribers and created content for various online platforms.

Photo of Kelsey Donahue In February 2015, Donohue became the assistant press secretary to First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.  While in the East Wing, she supported the strategic communications for the First Lady’s official portfolio, including policy initiatives such as Let’s Move!, Reach Higher, and Let Girls Learn. She also coordinated segments for local and national media outlets including NBC, CNN, Univision, BET, and profiles in publications such as The New York Times, The Verge, Essence, Latina, Seventeen, and Variety.

Donohue credits former Marist professor Jennie Donohue’s sophomore communication class for helping her land the job at the White House. In class, she had been assigned to draft a communication plan for then-First Lady Michelle Obama – a project that she printed out two years later and brought to her interview with the First Lady’s team. She also thanks Brian Apfel ’05/’12M/’16M and Luis Santiago ’98 for mentoring her as she discovered a love for higher education and admissions specifically, as well as Kent Rhinehart ’94/’99M for helping her to secure her first internship at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling.

Since 2017, Donohue has held the role of communications director at Handshake, a career network supporting the job and internship search for nine million college students and alumni from 700 universities nationwide. 

Earlier this month, Donohue married Timothy Bishop, a Williams alumnus whom she met at Darby O’Gill’s in Hyde Park at a rugby formal as a sophomore. They will be calling Cambridge, Massachusetts home for the next three years as Timothy pursues a joint master’s degree between Harvard and MIT. Donohue is excited to be in the heart of so many universities and part of a higher education environment. Thinking long-term, she hopes someday to be vice president of communications at a university, or – even better – a college president.

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