2022 Anchor Awards

The University of Hartford Alumni Association's most prestigious award, the Anchor Award, is presented each Hawktober Weekend.

Distinguished Alum

Awarded annually to an alum who embodies the highest caliber of personal and professional accomplishments, strength of character, and representation of our University values.

Richard Booth ’69, M ’77, Hon.’05 (Barney)

richard-booth-250x179.jpgDistinguished Alumni

Richard Booth has been a leader in the financial services and insurance industries for more than 50 years

He began his career in Hartford at Coopers and Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse Coopers) and after earning his CPA certificate, he focused his career on the insurance industry. Just four years after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Hartford, he became a vice president of financial reporting and tax for the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. His formal education at UHart continued several years after his first degree, with a Master of Science in Professional Accounting, while his practical experience continued to move swiftly along with a series of leadership roles in the world of financial management and insurance.

Much of his career was spent in Hartford and included serving as president and COO of the Travelers; executive vice president and board member of Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Company; and chairman and CEO of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. With his strong ties to Hartford and to Connecticut, supporting his home state and its capital city has always been an important focus for Booth. Further career activities included roles as vice chairman of AIG; vice chairman of Guy Carpenter, LLC; and chairman of Somerset Reinsurance Ltd. For the past several years, Booth has been an advisor to a number of Insurtech and Fintech companies as well as private equity firms focused on the financial industry. He is currently a senior advisor to Century Capital Partners and Altai Ventures.

Booth’s civic commitment to Hartford has long been demonstrated by his service as a board member of numerous organizations, including the University of Hartford, Urban League, St. Francis Hospital, World Affairs Council, Florence Griswold Museum, Greater Hartford Arts Council, and Wadsworth Atheneum. He has been the recipient of many honors from the Hartford community, including serving as Grand Marshal of the Veterans Day parade and recognition of his service by Junior Achievement, the Girl and Boy Scouts, Urban League, United Way, and Greater Hartford Arts Council.

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Outstanding Alum: Exceptional Professional Success

This award recognizes an alum whose career accomplishments are exceptional.

Samuel T. Broomer, M ’97, M ’99 (Barney)

broomer-600x430.jpgExceptional Professional Success

Samuel Broomer is known as a hard-working and progressive insurance and reinsurance professional.

A two-time master’s graduate of the Barney School of Business, he rose through the ranks at several top insurance carriers by consistently learning new skills, dedicating his time to service, and generating a constant stream of ideas and motivations, often centered on community and education.

Broomer is currently executive vice president & chief innovation officer of Berkley Re Solutions, a W. R. Berkley company that develops customized insurance products, including cybersecurity and privacy breach; family cyber protection; employment practices; professional liability; workplace and personal safety; and many other emerging and future potential protection needs.

Broomer takes his industry responsibilities beyond the day to day by offering his skills and viewpoints on various boards and on a number of corporate and social responsibility panels. Those activities have included chairing the Merit Society of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the educational committee of the Pennsylvania Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. He has also collaborated with agencies such as the U.S. Department of Treasury, for which he offered perspective on the then developing and constantly changing cyber insurance market.

Closer to home, Broomer is involved in many social progress pursuits, such as serving as the chair of the board of directors for the Channel 3 Kids Camp in Andover Connecticut, mentoring young professionals at the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and acting as vice chair of his town’s Pension Committee.

Broomer readily shares his enthusiasm for arts and culture, constructive environments for children, valuable educational programs and opportunities, economic empowerment, effective politics, and social services. These are among the areas to which he selflessly devotes much of his time. It is Broomer’s hope that he can help others contribute positive changes to our shared society.

For the Barney School, he serves as chair of the board of visitors and is a co-founder of its developing incubator ecosystem program.

Broomer lives with his wife and two sons in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

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Phillip Boykin '95 (Hartt)

boykinExceptional Professional Success

Singer Phillip Boykin has been using his vocal instrument for almost 30 years to entertain audiences on Broadway, in regional theaters, in concert halls and on film.

He also trains other musicians who aspire to the kind of professionalism he has exhibited throughout his stellar career.

Boykin is an award-winning bass-baritone whose recent credits include featured singing roles in recent Broadway revival of The Music Man and a national tour of Once on This Island. In addition to performing, he eagerly embarks on other activities designed to provide entertainment to as many audiences as possible, such as creating, directing and managing the New York Gospel Brothers touring quartet.

During his undergraduate years, professors and fellow classmates alike became well aware of Boykin partially because of the level of his campus activity. While a student he served as director of a gospel choir, director of a spiritual ensembles, founder of the Hartt African-American Musicians organization, and creator of several Black History month shows conceived to raise funds for scholarships. He was also a member of the Brothers and Sisters United/African-American Student Association.

His professional life has been marked by a string of successes in multiple mediums. Among his many theatrical roles have been the pirate king in Pirates of Penzance, Fats Waller in Ain’t Misbehavin, and Caiaphas in Jesus Christ, Superstar. He performed in the operas Susanna, Cosi Fan Tutte, and The Rape of Lucretia, among others. On film he appeared in Freedom starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and in Top Five, written and directed by Chris Rock.

Long a dedicated supporter of the Hartt School, Boykin is always sure to credit instructors and school administrators with helping him reach for the levels of professionalism he has embraced. Validating those successes have been a number of honors, including a Theatre World Award and a Savannah Music Festival bronze medal,  as well as nominations for a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Circle Critics Award, among others.

In addition to the valuable time he devoted in Connecticut for training, Boykin, currently a resident of New Jersey, also spent time studying at various theater school, art centers, and colleges in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., where he did coursework in preparation for a master’s degree in jazz vocal performance.  

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Ara Dinkjian ’80 (Hartt)

dinkjianExceptional Professional Success

Ara Dinkjian is a skilled musician on a number of instruments, though he has become internationally renowned for one in particular, and a unique one at that.

He is an exemplary oudist, the oud being a fretless lute of Persian origin from many centuries ago. His expertise developed at The Hartt School, which created a special major degree in the instrument exclusively for him. That allowed him to embark on independent study in a musical discipline that was seen as being as potentially entertaining as it was distinctive.

After several decades as an instrumentalist and composer, that promise has been decisively delivered, with countless performances and recordings over the years as part of his impressive portfolio.

Dinkjian began his musical life as a child. He cites the age of six as the time he was able to start calling himself a professional, accompanying his father, Onnik Dinkjian, who is a prominent Armenian folk and liturgical singer, at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. Young Ara played the dumbeg at the time, which is an ancient, hour-glass shaped hand drum. Soon after, he learned the piano, guitar and clarinet, and has been his Armenian church’s organist for over 40 years.

Dinkjian auditioned for three music conservatories, including Hartt, and since he considered Hartt the best, he eagerly accepted. After college, he began to embark on a vigorous calendar of professional activity. As just a small sampling, he formed an instrumental quartet called Night Ark which recorded four CDs for RCA/BMG and Universal/PolyGram; has had his original compositions recorded in 16 languages by famous artists and singers; had his piece Homecoming (Dinata, Dinata) performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics; and has had his compositions featured on many movie soundtracks.

As a world-class oud player, Dinkjian has performed in 24 countries and has collaborated with many top artists. In 2002, he was selected to represent Armenia in the First International Meeting of the Oud, where a dozen of the world’s top oud players gathered in Greece for three days of solo performances and master classes. Dinkjian has released 10 CDs of original music. His latest, Live at Princeton University, was awarded Best World Music CD by the Indie Acoustic Project.

He credits many of his professors for teaching him not only music, but how to be a good human being and to tap into one’s own uniqueness, which he says is a skill everyone should pursue.

Dinkjian and his wife live in Fort Lee, New Jersey. They have three children and two grandchildren.

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Outstanding Alum: Impact on Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement

Awarded to an alum whose professional success is rooted in bettering community and has made significant and notable contributions in this space.

Laura Dinan Haber ’07 (Barney)

haber-600x430.jpgImpact on Social Responsibility/Civic Engagement

Laura Dinan Haber has an extensive palette of skills, interests, and motivations that compliment her professional portfolio.

Throughout her career she has been a strong advocate of effective networking, economic development, career mentoring, entrepreneurship, and several other important goals. She also remains active in providing guidance and support on behalf of economic and community progress in the greater Hartford region.

The Barney graduate is currently innovation program manager for the Nassau Financial Group, headquartered in Hartford, a company that provides insurance products for the needs of retirees. Earlier roles included event planner and marketing specialist for Ameriprise Financial, coordinator of economic develop and community relations at Northeast Utilities, and director of investor events for the MetroHartford Alliance, an investor-based economic development partnership that helps businesses grow, attract talent, and promote the region.

Dinan Haber, who resides with her husband in Kensington, CT, maintains a tireless schedule of affiliations geared to help her assist her region and her community in any way she can. Among them are the Connecticut Economic Development Association, Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs, Connecticut Technology Council, Connecticut Invention Convention and others. She has also conducted seminars and workshops on public speaking, and helped organize TEDxHartford, a series of events designed to bring local people together to share stories that motivate and inspire.

She served as Vice President of the University of Hartford’s Alumni Association Board and has stated that her motivation is to share with others what the university and its professors helped her find within herself, namely global curiosity, creative perspective, and a passion to make the world a better place.

Also at her alma mater, Dinan Haber served on the University Park Board, and is a board member of reSET, a nonprofit organization designed to advance the social enterprise sector throughout the Hartford region.

She has been recognized a number of times for her diligent and industrious dedication to service and causes. Hartford Business Journal included her in its annual “40 Under 40” a few years ago, and among many other honors she won a special event award from the Northeastern Economic Developers Association and an Energy Toastmaster of the Year Award from Toastmasters International.

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Alexander Matarazzo '14 (Barney)

matarazzoImpact on Social Responsibility/Civic Engagement

Alexander Matarazzo has helped bring digital transformation to the health care and life science sector through his work with such integral organizations as Salesforce and ShopKeep, and all within a decade of graduating from the Barney School of Business.

While an undergraduate, Matarazzo was a noted lacrosse player who in 2013 and 2014 was selected for the America East All-Conference First team. Calling himself a motivated team player in the business world is a natural consequence of his success on the field, although he always keeps one foot in the actual game itself as a youth lacrosse coach and mentor in his current hometown of Stamford, Connecticut.

Matarazzo is an account executive for the Growth Business-Healthcare & Life Sciences division of Salesforce, a San Francisco-headquartered cloud-based software company that provides customer relationship management software and applications. It Is a $21 billion dollar firm with more than 69,000 employees. He previously served at the firm in its Enterprise Business Development unit.

He is also co-president of Boldforce, a New York City-based group that works to expand, empower, and celebrate the Black community within Salesforce through education and meaningful engagement.

Prior to Salesforce, Matarazzo was a Sales Executive at ShopKeep, part of large cloud-based technology firm that promotes itself as a partner-of-choice for future-focused businesses.

Aspiring to always give back in recognition of his success, in addition to his lacrosse coaching, he also serves as a student mentor for Junior Achievement of New York, a student mentor for Project Sunshine, and a mentor and big brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. In addition, he volunteers for the New York Urban League and the Civil Rights and Social Action organization.

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Lee J. Simmons ’06 (A&S)

simmonsImpact on Social Responsibility/Civic Engagement

Lee Simmons operates one of the most successful event production companies in the area, Event Resources.

He first joined the East Hartford Connecticut company in 2013 as director of client services and marketing, before purchasing the company in 2018. Currently, as owner and president, Simmons oversees all aspects of the busy company and provides a positive and fun work environment for his team. He prides himself on having his team feel valued and fulfilled. The company collaborates with many not-for-profit organizations, corporate clients, and universities/schools on special events of all types and sizes. Helping not-for-profit organizations raise money for important causes and helping be part of college and high school graduations is an important mission for the company.

Event Resources, founded in 1989, not only helps plan events but also manages countless behind-the-scenes logistical and technical activities while the events ensue. Simmons provides his ideas, advice, and expertise on such project elements as sound systems, video projection, staging and lighting, LED walls, set design, virtual productions, livestreaming, and more. The company continues to grow in the community under his leadership and passion.

Prior to his stellar career at Event Resources, Simmons worked in the television industry as a newscast director for multiple stations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also organizes annually TEDxHartford, a local independent version of TED.

Simmons was a recipient of the the Ellen Abrams Memorial Scholarship, which was a one-year college scholarship from his hometown given to selected graduating high school seniors. During his undergraduate years at UHart, he was actively involved with STN Channel 2, the campus’s innovative and educationally oriented television station.

Following his graduation from the University of Hartford, Simmons gave back to the school by serving as an adjunct professor for eight years. He was also a volunteer for various activities in the School of Communication.

Simmons, his wife, and two children live in Agawam, Massachusetts.

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Julia Winer ’05 (ENHP)

winerImpact on Social Responsibility/Civic Engagement

Julia Winer has centered her career on helping mission-driven companies and nonprofits achieve their goals through smart and skillful execution of strategies.

She began in education after achieving her first degree at the University of Hartford and a master’s degree from Oxford University through the John J. Martin Scholarship, which she was awarded by the University of Hartford in 2005. More recently, she began working in healthcare after obtaining her MBA from the University of Connecticut.

She is passionate about education, health care, social justice, responsible business operations, and philanthropy. Her work over the past decade and a half clearly bears that out.

In her current position as chief of staff at MD Ally, Winer is an integral member of the executive team, helping lead the mission-driven company’s operations and strategy. MD Ally is a telehealth solution that allows 911 dispatch and EMS to triage non-emergency patients to virtual care, saving limited, emergency services and preventing dispatch centers and EDs from being overcrowded with non-emergency calls and visits.

Previously, as chief corporate officer and chief of staff at Silver Fern Healthcare of Hartford, Winer supported the company’s pursuit to improve the lives of patients with tools that help clinicians identify and best support each patient’s individual experience living with a chronic disease. At Silver Fern, her responsibilities included public relations, marketing, human resources, internal operations, and product improvement initiatives.

Prior to Silver Fern, Winer held several key functions with the Capital Region Education Council (CREC) of Hartford, most recently as director of public policy and strategic planning, as well as chief of staff, assistant director of communications, and other roles. During her time at CREC, she led the company’s public policy and legislative agenda, which included raising millions of dollars in annual funds for the Harford-region magnet schools and students.

Winer has also taught as an adjunct instructor in the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, and she started her career as a special education teacher and educational consultant.

Winer’s professional memberships are extensive and align with her personal commitment to local organizations. She is proud vice chair of the board of trustees at Watkinson School, a private day school adjacent to the University of Hartford with a progressive approach to education. She is a member of the Women Business Leaders of the US Healthcare Industry and a volunteer wish granter for the Connecticut Make-A-Wish foundation. Early in her career she was an active member of the Metro Hartford Alliance’s HYPE Civic Engineering Committee, and she was a member of Governor Ned Lamont's Education Policy Transition Committee.

She and her family reside in West Hartford, and her children attend the University of Hartford Magnet School located on the University of Hartford campus.  

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Outstanding Alum: Exceptional Early Career Professional

Recognizes an alum whose demonstrated exceptional early career success and future potential.

Sherice Forde A ’14 (Hillyer), ’16 (Barney)

fordeEarly Career Professional

Sherice Forde, a fixed income associate at the global financial services organization Morgan Stanley, has distinguished herself in the asset industry in the short time she has been a professional, much as she distinguished herself as an undergraduate at Hillyer and Barney with an abundance of valuable pursuits.


Prior to joining the Fortune 500 company earlier this year, Forde was an assistant vice president, a private client banker, and a relationship banker with JPMorgan Chase Bank. That impressive role followed one as an account executive with Atlantis Capital, and a legal negotiator with National Debt Relief.

Before graduating from the University of Hartford she served as a student leader Intern with the Children’s Defense Fund and as a UHart representative with Leadership Greater Hartford. She tutored first-year students on integrated algebra and calculus and older student with statistics. As an undergraduate she kept an exceptionally active schedule of activity, including involvement with such groups as Express to Success and Strong Independent Sisters. She gratefully acknowledges her appreciation of several University of Hartford educators who mentored her during her time on campus. She also studied abroad in Spain.

Her hard work has enabled her to gain the credentials that are required for the high-stakes world of financial services. These include certifications to be a New York life insurance agent and broker and a uniform securities agent. She also has certification from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as an investment company and variable contract products representative.

In addition to her hard work as a student on the West Hartford campus at two of its acclaimed schools, Forde also spent some time studying financial planning and services at New York University.

Forde does whatever she can to support children’s rights, civil rights , social action, economic empowerment, and poverty alleviation.

She lives with her husband, whom she married in 2021, in Brooklyn, New York.

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Maryann Macdonald ’09 (A&S)

mcdonaldEarly Career Professional

Maryann Macdonald, an eight-year military veteran as a medical technologist at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is as dedicated to causes outside the service as she was inside.


That includes such activity as tutoring inner city children in science and working with the Red Cross. She also continues to participate in many events with veteran organizations on behalf of raising awareness about the pervasiveness of military and post-military suicides. In addition to protecting the lives of others during her active- duty years, Macdonald also helped save many service members, civilians, and military working dogs. This was accomplished through responsibilities such as platelet and whole blood collections from volunteers and increasing canine blood donations of plasma and whole blood in a combat environment. Her military medical career included a vital role as laboratory specialist with the Army during a nine-month deployment to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

The honors that Macdonald received during her time in the service are extensive, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, a NATO medal, a national defense service medal, a global war on terrorism service medal, and half a dozen others.

Macdonald is currently a senior medical technologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in the United States. Prior to that, she served as a medical technologist with St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, responsible for training new technologists.

At the University of Hartford, Macdonald studied chemistry and biology and was an active member of the Premed Club and the cheerleading team. She also studied at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., for a certification in clinical laboratory science.

Licensed as a medical laboratory specialist through the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and holding a basic life support certification from the American Red Cross, Macdonald continues to forge a path of confident, positive, and selfless dedication to her chosen field through many professional and supplemental activities.

She currently resides in Boston, where Brigham and Women’s Hospital has its main campus.

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Karishma Pinto ’17, M’18 (A&S)

pintoEarly Career Professional

Since graduating from the University of Hartford, Karishma Pinto has made her mark professionally and personally in the Greater Hartford region.


Karishma Pinto was recently named senior marketing program manager at Adams & Knight, an integrated marketing agency located in Avon, Conn. She previously served as a senior marketing specialist at New Park Creative, a digital marketing agency in Hartford, where she handled accounts, managed projects, and developed brand strategies for a broad demographic. 

Her earlier roles included serving as marketing and communications coordinator & race equity lead for Leadership Greater Hartford and as creative services coordinator and game-day production assistant for the Hartford Yard Goats baseball team.

Pinto graduated in 2018 with a master's degree in communication, where she studied organizational communication and management. She also earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University with a focus in advertising and public relations with a double minor in marketing and graphic design.

She previously served as the marketing and communications coordinator & race equity lead at Leadership Greater Hartford, as well as the creative services coordinator and game day production assistant at the Hartford Yard Goats Baseball Club, double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

In 2019, Pinto was among about a dozen alums selected to participate in the Obama Foundation's Community Leadership Corps. in Hartford, a six-month charter to develop new opportunities and address challenges in Connecticut's capital city, of which she is a resident. She is also a proud alumna of Leadership Greater Harford's Quest program.

Pinto currently serves on The Women's Advancement Initiative board and is an advisory board member with Black, Beauty & Butterflies, an organization started by a local high schooler for Turner Syndrome awareness. Additionally, she is a lunchtime volunteer reader with Read to a Child.

Before the pandemic, Pinto spent time at Connecticut Children's Medical Center as a Child Life volunteer and served as a co-troop leader with Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Indicative of her intelligent, vigorous, self-starting business acumen and community spirit, just three years after earning her master’s degree, Pinto was the youngest member recognized in the Hartford Business Journal's prestigious 40 Under Forty Awards class in 2021.

She strives to approach her work through the lens of equity and inclusion and cares deeply for the region where she lives and works. Today, Pinto remains an engaged alumna and advocate for the University of Hartford.

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