Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award Home Alumni Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

Established in 2012, this award pays tribute to notable alumni who have used their Shorecrest experience to bring excellence to their professional achievements, provide inspirational leadership to others and develop exceptional qualities.

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2022-2023 Recipient: Valerie Piper '83

Shorecrest is proud to announce that Valerie Piper ‘83 has been named the 2022-2023 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award Winner!

Long before becoming a well-respected executive in housing, community economic development and urban redevelopment, Valerie balanced academic achievements with an active extracurricular life at Shorecrest. She was involved in activities including Junior Exchange Club, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, French Honor Society, The Chronicle, Homecoming Committee, Thespians and Performing Arts, Basketball and JV Cheerleading. 

After graduating, she earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University; and became interested in how buildings and infrastructure shape the world we live in, and how people from different places and backgrounds interact in those spaces. She went on to complete a master’s degree in government administration and urban development at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Valerie is currently the Housing Development Advisor for the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development; and during her 30-year career she has held leadership positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the Chicago Housing Authority; and the University of Pennsylvania. Her commitment to affordable housing and urban redevelopment has been unwavering; and her unique skills and consistent efforts have improved the quality of opportunities for many communities.

Her experiences have allowed her to play a pivotal role in crafting collaborations that bring resources and capacities together in new ways to advance equitable development goals. Examples of successful efforts include The Promise Zones Initiative, which coordinated resources and technical assistance from 13 federal agencies to accelerate local neighborhood revitalization work across the nation; and The Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation, which laid the foundation for a $1.5 billion capital program to redevelop or rehabilitate 25,000 public housing units and secure 13,000 new housing choice vouchers.

Valerie has also been active with philanthropy and think tanks, run her own consulting practice, and served on governing and advisory boards for community development and finance organizations and networks. 

“We are so proud of all of Valerie's personal and professional accomplishments since graduating from Shorecrest and are excited to honor her with the 2022-2023 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award,” says Shorecrest Associate Director of Advancement for Community Engagement, Olivia Segalman. “As a Shorecrest alumna, she truly exemplifies the School’s mission and is an inspiration to current and future Shorecrest students.”

Prior Recipients 

2020-2021: ROB GRADY '86

Rob Grady '86 was named the 2020-2021 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award Winner. From Shorecrest, to Harvard, to Stanford, and on to leadership positions in some of the world’s leading businesses including P&G, Starbucks and Amazon; Rob has continued to model Shorecrest’s mission and core values in his professional and personal endeavors, and serves as an inspiration to current and future Shorecrest students. Rob was recognized at Shorecrest on October 7, 2021, at an Upper School assembly.

Rob’s impressive career experience spans from early-stage startups like RealNetworks, the original pioneer in Internet audio and video, to large consumer brands, including Procter & Gamble. Currently General Manager for the Amazon Transportation Product/Tech Team, Rob leads the Amazon Freight Partner program, which empowers transportation entrepreneurs to start and grow trucking businesses with Amazon. He joined Amazon in 2014 and spent his first five years as COO of IMDb - the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and entertainment content - and Amazon’s first-ever acquisition.

Prior to IMDb, Rob was COO of Wetpaint, a venture-backed digital media startup that was acquired by Viggle, Inc. in 2013. Before that, Rob spent seven years with Starbucks, where he was Vice President, Global Beverage, and Director of New Ventures for Starbucks’ U.S. operations.

A self-described “learning curve addict,” Rob is a lifelong learner who savors exploring new industries, companies, leadership challenges and technologies. He’s also committed to mentorship and supporting future business leaders. Those that know him attest that Rob is “a natural mentor in all areas of his life.” He is continually sought out by friends, co-workers and colleagues for advice, guidance and mentorship - as they like to say at Amazon, it is one of his “superpowers.”

Rob’s leadership abilities date back to his Shorecrest days when he served as Senior Class President, National Honor Society member, and Prom Committee member, among many other leadership opportunities and extracurriculars including multiple Chargers Athletics teams, all while excelling academically. He credits his time at Shorecrest with helping him to learn to balance competing priorities in life. 

Rob continued to effectively balance leadership with academics at Harvard where he was president of his club, a class president and on “The Crimson” staff.

Rob has been part of the University of Washington (UW) Foster School of Business Mentoring Program for over 10 years, and was recently recognized for his 10 years of service.  

In 2019, Rob was invited by Andy Jassy, now CEO of Amazon, to craft and participate in the inception of a mentor program with the UW Men's Basketball team. Through the program the coaching staff pairs each player with a local business executive to help the players to develop and meet their goals for “life after basketball.” The program is an intersection of two of Rob’s passions - mentoring and sports, particularly Seattle sports teams, including UW football, basketball, and the Seattle Seahawks. 

As involved as he is at work and with the greater community, to Rob, family always comes first. A devoted husband and father, Rob has been married to his wife, Amy, for 26 years. Together they have two grown boys, Kellen and Connolly. He’s also known as “favorite uncle” to nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. 

“We are so proud to call Rob a Shorecrest alumnus and are excited to honor him with the 2020-2021 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award,” says Shorecrest Director of Alumni and Community Relations Stacy Alexander. “He truly exemplifies the School’s mission and is an inspiration to current and future Shorecrest students.” 

2019-2020: CAROLYN SLOSS '85

On March 6, 2020, during an Upper School Assembly, Carolyn Sloss ’85 was presented with the 2019-2020 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. 

After graduating from Shorecrest, Carolyn attended Auburn University and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She started her career at Webb Entertainment and then transitioned to Planet Hollywood as the PR Manager in Atlanta, where she notably planned all efforts for the restaurant chain during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. She next served as Account Supervisor and Vice President at Fahlgren Advertising leading publicity and promotions for the Entertainment Division. 

In 2001, she launched Allied Global Marketing’s first office in the South. As Vice President of Field Marketing, her responsibilities include running the Atlanta office with 30 employees as well as national account management and strategic planning. She oversees the agency’s film, TV, hospitality and lifestyle clients in the SE including Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Netflix, Fox Searchlight, Screen Gems, A24, Coca-Cola, Cirque du Soleil, MotorTrend Auto Shows, Studio Movie Grill and Van Michael Salon. Additionally Carolyn serves as senior counsel for Turner Broadcasting projects and plays a key role in the company’s new business development.

Carolyn always finds time to volunteer and lend her talents to nonprofit organizations that are meaningful to her including the Atlanta Film Festival, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and VOX Teen Communication. At VOX she helps with fundraising and coaches teens at the after school program which teaches journalism, publishing and self-expression. VOX recently named Carolyn an inductee in their 2019 Hall of Fame class.

It is clear Carolyn has used her Shorecrest experience to bring not only excellence in her professional achievements but also provide inspirational leadership to others. With her career successes, service and meaningful contributions to her community, Carolyn can now add Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award recipient to her long list of accolades and accomplishments.

2018-2019: DR. MICHAEL ROOT ‘85

During an Upper School assembly on April 26, 2019, Dr. Michael Root ‘85 was presented with this year’s Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. The award was presented in the Janet Root Theatre, a familiar and sentimental location for the Root family.

After graduating from Shorecrest, Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University followed by an MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Biophysics. Dr. Root joined Thomas Jefferson University in 2001, and currently directs the PhD program in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He was also recently appointed as an Assistant Dean in the Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences. In addition to his significant education responsibilities, Root has an active research program focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in HIV entry.

Fellow Shorecrest classmate CeCe Bowman Coppins ‘85 shared, “I can't imagine a more Distinguished Alumni in any year. While Michael was brilliant beyond any of us, he was loving and kind, and always there for a great laugh. What amazing achievements! I know the Class of 1985 continues to cheer you on into 2019 and beyond.”


Flickr album: Dr. Michael Root, Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


2017-2018: DR. LAURIE BUTLER '77

On February 9, 2018, Shorecrest Preparatory School sophomores, juniors and seniors attended the presentation of the 2017-18 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award to alumna Dr. Laurie Butler '77.

Laurie attended Shorecrest with her twin sister Lynne and graduated in 1977. Following high school, Laurie matriculated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1981. Laurie went on to study physical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where she did her thesis research on electronic state-selective photochemistry and received her Ph.D. in 1985. 

Laurie has been a professor in the Department of Chemistry and The James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago since 1987 and has received numerous teaching awards and fellowships throughout her academic career. In addition to her work as a professor and researcher, Laurie has co-authored over 100 research publications, including a number of chemistry textbooks, used in classrooms across the world. When she is not working, Laurie enjoys spending time riding her two horses and spending time with her sister.

2016-2017: MARY GREENE '83

On Friday, February 24, Shorecrest Preparatory School sophomores, juniors and seniors attended the presentation of the 2016-17 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award to alumna Mary Greene '83.

The award was presented by former Head of School Bruce Haskell, after which Mary delivered a passionate speech to kick off Career Day 2017. Her speech, titled "Don't Follow Your Dreams" gave advice to Shorecrest students not to blindly follow their passions, and not to be too concerned if they did not yet have a passion, but to find the place where their personal strengths and interests intersect. She advised students to above all else find meaning in their work.

"The great and exciting challenge for you is to discover your own path. If your underlying goal is to act with altruism, to seek work that is meaningful for you – because you made choices that improved the lives of others, you have a really great shot at living a happy and fulfilling life."

A video of her speech may be found here.

2015-2016: DR. MICHAEL ISON '89

On February 19, 2016, the 2015-16 Shorecrest Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to alumnus Dr. Michael Ison '89, a physician working in transplants and infectious diseases at Northwestern University in Chicago. 

Following his time at Shorecrest, Michael attended Grinnell College where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Chinese Studies before returning to Florida where he obtained his medical degree at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He then completed his Internal Medicine Residency and General Internal Medicine Fellowship at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. He then obtained his Master of Science in Health Evaluation Sciences and did his Infectious Diseases Fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Michael's research focused on the immunopathogenesis of influenza and its treatment in immunosuppressed and hospitalized patients. He developed an immunocompromised mouse model of influenza to study the development of antiviral resistance. After leaving the University of Virginia, he undertook additional training in Transplant Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He then joined the faculty of the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Organ Transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2005.

He is currently the Medical Director of the Transplant & Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases Service, Northwestern University Comprehensive Transplant Center.

Following his acceptance of the award, Michael delivered a 2016 Career Day keynote address to the students.


Flickr album: Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award 2015 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin

Watch a video of the award presentation and Dr. Michael Ison's Career Day Keynote here.

2014-2015: DR. CARLOS F. BARBAS III ’82

Video from Award Ceremony
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Dr. Carlos F. Barbas III ’82 has been selected to receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award posthumously in recognition of his groundbreaking biomedical research which laid the foundation for new therapies, including those to treat HIV and cancer.

After taking every science class Shorecrest Upper School had to offer, Barbas majored in chemistry at Eckerd College. He earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1989, and conducted postdoctoral studies at Pennsylvania State University and at Scripps Research Institute.

Some of his accomplishments include developing the first human antibody phage libraries, creating the first synthetic antibodies, developing the first artificial transcription factors capable of regulating endogenous genes, and pioneering chemically programmed antibodies. Each of these approaches has resulted in a new drug class that is currently in clinical trials or approved for the treatment of a variety of diseases.

Dr. Barbas was the Janet and Keith Kellogg II Chair professor, and member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at the Scripps. "I always wanted to be a scientist, an astronaut or a brain surgeon," he said in a 2009 interview. "I've also started three companies that are all based on therapeutic antibodies and inventions I've made. I'm very optimistic about the impact of science on the country. I certainly favor channeling more Americans into science."

In addition to being named a scholar of The American Foundation for AIDS Research and a fellow of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Barbas was the recipient of the Investigator Award from the Cancer Research Institute, the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award and the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.

Sadly, Carlos passed away June 24, after a battle with a rare form of medullary thyroid cancer. He is survived by his wife, Annica, and children Derek, Sabrina, Sixten and Viggo.

2013-2014: PATRICK WILSON '91

Video from Award Ceremony
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Patrick Wilson began his Shorecrest career in Fourth Grade, shortly after his family moved to St. Petersburg from St. Louis. Even in St. Louis he had become involved in theatre productions. His first real Shorecrest show, however, was as a Freshman playing Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors.” In following years, he performed in "You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown", LEE’s SHOW, "Twelfth Night", and "Beauty and the Beast" - all of which were performed in the old Crisp Gymnasium before Shorecrest had the Janet Root Theatre.

Patrick was a member of Thespians, President of his class, and Captain of the soccer team. Just prior to the start of the soccer season he broke his leg, which not only affected soccer, but also his performance for Thespians. He and Jeff Datillo '94, didn’t let that affect their scene, however, as Patrick adjusted his performance to sitting on a stool with a crutch in hand. They won Critic’s Choice.

After graduating from Shorecrest, Patrick attended Carnegic Mellon University earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Starting his career on the stage, he earned applause in the national tours of "Miss Saigon" and "Carousel". In 1999, he starred off-Broadway in "Bright Lights, Big City", winning a Drama League Award and receiving a Drama Desk Award nomination. That same year, he made his Broadway debut in "Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm", for which he won another Drama League Award.

Today, Wilson is a critically acclaimed and award-winning actor who has quickly become well-known for his body of work. Over the years Wilson has tackled lead roles in major Broadway musicals as well as starring in big-budget blockbusters. Recently, Patrick teamed up with Director James Wan for the highly anticipated horror film, "The Conjuring". Opening at #1 to rave reviews, "The Conjuring" is one of the top 5 highest grossing supernatural films of all time. Wilson can be seen alongside Liv Tyler in the film "Space Station 76", a dramatic comedy that takes place in the 1970s versions of the future where both personalities and asteroids collide.

At the time of writing, Patrick just wrapped filming "North of Hell" starring Jordana Brewster and Katherine Heigl and "Let's Kill Ward’s Wife" alongside Amy Acker and Scott Foley. His motion picture work also includes “Little Children,”; “Prometheus”; “Insidious”; “Young Adult”; “The Ledge”; “Morning Glory”; “The Switch”; “Barry Munday”; “The A Team”; “Watchmen”; “Evening”; “Lakeview Terrace”; “Passengers”; “Life in Flight”; “Purple Violets”; “Running with Scissors”; “Hard Candy”; “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Alamo”.

On the small screen, Wilson received Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for his portrayal of the morally conflicted Joe Pitt in the HBO miniseries “Angels in America,” the much-honored 2003 adaptation of Tony Kushner’s award-winning plays “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” and “Angels in America: Perestroika.” Wilson also starred in the CBS medical drama, “A Gifted Man”, which you can enjoy on Netflix.

Wilson has been honored with two consecutive Tony Award nominations for Best Actor in a Musical, the most recent coming for his performance as Curly in the successful 2002 Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!,” for which he also received a Drama Desk Award nomination. He earned his first Tony nomination for his work in the 2001 Broadway hit “The Full Monty,” for which he also garnered Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations and won a Drama League Award. In 2006, he returned to Broadway to star in the revival of the Neil Simon comedy “Barefoot in the Park,” opposite Amanda Peet. His most recent Broadway credit is the 2008/09 revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” with John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and Katie Holmes.
In 2013, Wilson guest starred on the 2nd season of the award winning HBO original series “Girls.” The episode, “One Man’s Trash,” became one of the most talked about episodes of the show’s history, as well as one of the most watched episodes of the season.

Patrick lives in New Jersey with his family but returns to St. Petersburg often, including getting together with his family and former Shorecrest classmates. His father, John and brother, Mark '87, are accomplished and well-loved local FOX TV news anchors. His mother, Mary K, is the go-to local lady for voice training, and has trained many of Shorecrest’s accomplished singers over the years. Patrick's brother, Paul '86, owns a local advertising and public relations agency. Sometimes they all rock out on stage as The Wilson Van. Patrick also takes time to visit with current Shorecrest theatre students, whether in St. Petersburg or New York, sharing his love of acting and offering encouragement and advice.

2012-2013: ROBERT H. WILLIS, JR. '77

A committee including Shorecrest Alumni from every graduating class decade, faculty, and parents of Alumni chose Robert H. Willis, Jr. ’77 as the first ever recipient of this award. Receiving several nominations, Bob Willis was described as “a person who exemplifies all of the ideals that Shorecrest tries to instill in its students.”

While at Shorecrest, Bob participated in football, soccer, track and baseball. He served as Student Body President his senior year and on student council all four years of high school, plus participated in many service clubs.

Bob matriculated to Washington & Lee University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree as an English major and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1981. He also served as the Student Body President as an undergraduate. He went on to Harvard Law School graduating with his Juris Doctor degree Cum Laude in 1985.

After graduation, Bob served as a law clerk for the Honorable Justice Ben F. Overton on the Florida Supreme Court from 1985-1987 before joining his current firm, Skelton, Willis, Bennett & Wallace, LLP in St. Petersburg, FL, where he is a partner.

In addition to his professional work, Bob has remained active in the local business community, serving on the Board of Directors for the Sabal Trust Company since 2003, on the Ark Royal Insurance Company Board since 2007, on the Hancock Bank South Pinellas Board of Directors since 2007, on the Working Ox Capital Board of Directors, and as General Counsel to the Citizens First Trust Company.

Bob also provides leadership to many not-for-profit organizations including the Salvador Dali Board of Trustees since 2006. He has been a member of the Boy Scouts of America, West Central Florida Council since 1967, serving on the Executive Board since 1989 and receiving the Silver Beaver award in 1996. Bob also served on the St. Petersburg Commission on Aging from 1990 to 1992, and served two separate terms on the Shorecrest Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1996 and then again from 1999 to 2007.


Nomination Criteria

For an alumni to be considered for the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, the candidate must have attended Shorecrest for a minimum of 4 years, and at least 15 years shall have elapsed since their graduation.

Selection Criteria

  • General contribution to society as evidenced by leadership in and service to the community or Shorecrest, displayed through outstanding contributions in one or more area of society, including but not limited to, professional, academic, athletic, artistic, social, or personal achievements.
  • Above all, the nominee shall serve as a role model for current and future students of Shorecrest.
  • A candidate may be nominated posthumously.

Deadline to nominate: August 30

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