UHart Announces 2024 Commencement Speakers

Commencement addresses by two distinguished alumni will be among the highlights of the University of Hartford’s 2024 Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 12, at downtown Hartford’s XL Center.

commencement speaker headshots

Jay Malave M’98, chief financial officer of Lockheed Martin, one of the nation’s leading global security and aerospace companies, will address graduates at the morning ceremony for doctoral and master’s degree recipients. Later that day, UHart’s undergraduate Class of 2024 will hear from Georgia State Senator Sonya Halpern M’90, a persevering advocate for equity and opportunity.

As CFO of Lockheed Martin, Malave holds principal responsibility for the corporation’s financial strategies and business operations. His corporate tenure prior to the position is no less impressive, including roles as senior vice president and CFO for L3Harris Technologies, vice president and CFO for Carrier Corporation, and CFO of UTC Aerospace Systems.

A Connecticut native who grew up in the Hartford suburb of Newington, Malave has reached the top echelon of corporate success from a modest background. He worked diligently to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Connecticut, a master’s in accounting from the University of Hartford, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Halpern was first elected in 2020 and is currently serving her second term in the Georgia State Senate. She represents neighborhoods in District 39, one of the most socio-economically diverse in Georgia and the country. As a proponent of equity and opportunity for all, the list of organizations to which she belongs, advises, founded, or has led is much longer than an average résumé—and entirely consistent with her character and that of her family.

Halpern’s legacy includes being the daughter of two graduates of an historically Black university, Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Her parents each had notable careers of their own: Her father first joined the U.S. Air Force before making his mark at IBM for more than 30 years, and her mother joined a company that advocated for people with disabilities.

As she approached her own college years, Halpern decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, then came to the University of Hartford for her MBA. After beginning her early career in New York City, Halpern was drawn to Atlanta by a job opportunity at Cox Interactive Media. It was there that she married and began a family—as well as a long streak of work as a tireless and active advocate for equity, access, and opportunity.

Halpern has taken on many civic leadership roles and is a founding member of the Atlanta School for the Arts Foundation. Among other honors, she was named one of the “2024 Top State Lawmakers” by James Magazine, a “Top 100 Black Women of Influence” by the Atlanta Business League, and a “Woman of Achievement” by the YWCA.

Both Malave and Halpern currently serve on the University’s Board of Regents and have received prestigious honors from the school—Malave is a 2022 inductee into the Barney School of Business Alumni Hall of Fame while Halpern received an Anchor Award in 2021 in the category of Outstanding Alum: Impact on Social Responsibility/Civic Engagement.

For Media Inquiries

Matt Besterman