Speakers and honorands | 2019

Commencement Speaker: David E. Kelley

David E Kelley

The winner of 11 Emmy awards, David E. Kelley created and wrote Boston Legal, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, and, most recently, adapted the novel Big Little Lies for the hit HBO series. Kelley earned a J.D. and practiced law in Boston for three years before joining the entertainment world. That background informed much of his writing, which also became known for his exploration of women’s voices and issues they face in the workforce.

Reflecting on Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon told Good Morning America, “For me it was a huge opportunity with five distinct female parts, where women are talking to each other in the way that they really talk to each other, about issues that are really affecting their lives every day.”

In that HBO show, Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and others play characters who “were informed by the double standard that many of these women are held to,” Kelley told Variety in 2017. “They’re expected to have careers but god forbid they miss a moment of their children’s lives or they will be maligned. There’s just a bigotry there that men are not exposed to.”

Honorary degree citation

Conferred May 26, 2019

David E. Kelley

Your remarkable trajectory, which began in Waterville, included a winding path that led you to become a popular culture icon. Rooted in the precise craft of dialogue, you have shown the ability to capture a moment in time and present nuance, especially in the lives of women, in ways that have entertained and inspired while making important contributions to the national conversation. You remind us all that our professional choices build on each other and that the power of words is unparalleled. At Colby we have long called your father “legendary,” and it is evident that you, too, have earned that designation.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, David E. Kelley, the degree of doctor of fine arts, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Baccalaureate Speaker: Mary Bonauto

Mary Bonauto Described by former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank as “our Thurgood Marshall,” Mary Bonauto has successfully litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our times, including before the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same-sex couples nationwide the right to marry. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont have freedom to marry laws thanks to her litigation. In Maine, she was a member of the executive committee on the state’s marriage ballot campaigns.

Wrote Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times, “Most Americans have never heard of Mary Bonauto. But inside the tightknit world of gay legal advocacy, Ms. Bonauto is a quiet celebrity.”

Beyond same-sex marriage, Bonauto works to ensure legal protection for children whose parents are not married, and she’s won cases regarding guardianship, de facto parenthood, and adoption rights for LGBTQ people and couples in several states. She is civil rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at Harvard Law School, and a member of the Gill Foundation board of directors.

Honorary degree citation

Conferred May 26, 2019

Mary L. Bonauto

You have brought a quiet determination, a relentless approach to research, and a courageous legal strategy to achieve the long-elusive goal of true equality in marriage. Your formidable and decades-long commitment to the civil rights of marginalized people has changed the course of history and has made you one of the most important legal advocates of our time. The results of your work are being felt, and will continue to be felt, by couples and families who have benefited and by those who believe that all among us are deserving of respect, recognition, security, equality, and love.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Mary Bonauto, the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Honorand: Joan Alfond

Joan Alfond Joan Loring Alfond has had a longtime commitment to youth education, starting as a child in Eastport, Maine, through earning a degree in elementary education from the University of Cincinnati. In 1990 she cofounded Concierge Services for Students, which provides support services to international students from more than 40 countries and helps them navigate the educational system and broader culture in America.

She was a former director with the Red Sox Foundation, and, together with her husband, supports educational, health care, and charitable institutions in Maine and Massachusetts through the William and Joan Alfond Foundation, which they created in 1986.

Honorary degree citation

Conferred May 26, 2019

Joan Alfond

You live your values through your profound commitment to family and your belief in the power of community to help children thrive. A savvy businesswoman, your advocacy on behalf of students has opened opportunities and earned you the trust of people from around the world. A global citizen and loyal daughter of Maine, you honor your family and your family’s history through your presence, your generosity, and your understated strength as the family matriarch, and the effects of your deep integrity will be felt for generations.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Joan Loring Alfond, the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Honorand: Bill Alfond ’72

Bill Alfond '72 William L. Alfond ’72 is a successful businessman and committed philanthropist, the third of four children of Harold Alfond, L.H.D. ’80 and Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond ’38. Born in Waterville, he forged his own path in business and became a senior executive in the family-owned Dexter Shoe Company, where he was an expert in areas of business management such as production, finance, inventory management, and marketing.

Alfond is professionally involved with the Boston Red Sox as a member of its board, and he is co-chair of the U.S. Biathlon Association and serves on the boards of the YMCA in Maine, the Governor’s Academy, and Carrabassett Valley Academy. A Colby trustee, he is also currently co-chair of the College’s campaign, Dare Northward.

Honorary degree citation

Conferred May 26, 2019

Bill Alfond

From your earliest days growing up in Waterville, you have demonstrated unending pride in this city, a love that is second to none. Your long-standing desire to bridge your hometown and your College came into reality, and this entire community is reaping the benefits. You have built on the remarkable legacy of your family, sometimes quietly and always with your passions for people and place at the center. Education, you say, taught you to ask “why,” and Colby taught you to ask “why not?” How evident it is that you live by these simple words that carry such impact, and how fortunate we are that you do.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, William “Bill” L. Alfond, the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Honorand: John W. Rogers, Jr.

John Rogers John W. Rogers Jr. is chairman, chief executive officer, and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based firm he founded in 1983 that offers no-load mutual funds for individual investors as well as separately managed accounts for institutions and high net-worth individuals.

Beyond Ariel, Rogers is a board member of McDonald’s, NIKE, and the New York Times Company, and he serves as vice chair of the University of Chicago’s board of trustees. Nationally, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

In 2008 Rogers was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented to alumni whose career embodies a commitment to national service. Following the election of President Barack Obama, he served as co-chair for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009, and he recently joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s board of directors.

Honorary degree citation

Conferred May 26, 2019

John Rogers

As the beneficiary of an unusually early introduction to investing and an exceptional education, you have become a champion for both, creating opportunities that sustain underprivileged youth and combat the inequality that can plague communities and groups. You have devoted your life to filling a gap in financial literacy, improving the prosperity of families from minority backgrounds and earning you countless accolades. Your mother blazed the trail by becoming the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School, and your father as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. The trail you are blazing will also leave an enduring legacy.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, John W. Rogers Jr., the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

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