Daemen Names 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

By | September 7, 2021

Daemen will honor five accomplished graduates at its 2021 Daemen Distinguished Alumni Awards virtual presentation ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m., Sept. 30.

The event will be broadcast live on YouTube.

An annual tradition now in its 35th year, the Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize the achievements, growth, and societal contributions of the college’s outstanding alumni. 

Award recipients, who are selected by the National Alumni Board of Governors, exhibit the ideals expressed by the college’s founders and that remain strong at the institution today.

This year’s recipient of the highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, is Jacquelyn Gray Rizzo ’70. The award—presented by Daemen President Gary Olson—recognizes a graduate who has achieved distinction in their career and in the community and has shown outstanding dedication to the college.

Other 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Lucy Jacox Turnage ’98, Advancement in Career; Paulette Anzelone ‘73, Dedication to the College; Sr. Maria Chacha ’04, ’07, Service to the Community; and Taylore Passero ’16, Graduate of the Last Decade.

Distinguished Alumni Award—Jacquelyn Gray Rizzo ’70

Rizzo served as Chair of the National Alumni Board of Governors from 2015-18. A generous donor and advocate for alums, Rizzo believes strongly in giving back to the college and ensuring that the students of today have the rich experience she had as an undergraduate. She received a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts at the college. 

She most recently served as a supervisory customs and border protection officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before her retirement. During her 30-year career in law enforcement, she developed a training course for officers to help them interpret body language, dress, and other signals to spot persons who may be using a false identity. The training program is still used at the DHS today.  

Rizzo has also mentored generations of young women serving as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of the USA and the American Association of University Women. She received a “Thanks Badge” and “Thanks Badge II” from the Girls Scouts in honor of her 45 years as a volunteer member and adult educator.  

She is a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia. 

Advancement in Career—Lucy Jacox Turnage ’98

Turnage is the senior legal entity controller for Bank of America and participates in its CFO Group RISE (Recruitment, Inclusion Support & Engagement). She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the college.

Turnage previously worked as an associate auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a senior financial analyst at the ABC Television Network, a senior accounting manager for retail sales and marketing at Time Warner, Inc., a director of planning and analysis at Prudential, and in a vice presidential role at Goldman Sachs. 

Turnage is a volunteer and lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). She currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband Jermaine, daughter Lauren and son Jonathan.

Dedication to the College—Paulette Anzelone ‘73

Anzelone spent virtually her entire 41-year career in administrative positions at Daemen College/Rosary Hill College. During her tenure at Daemen, Anzelone was twice honored as the recipient of the College’s Outstanding Administrator’s award. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the college.

Anzelone began her career with an appointment as a counselor for a grant-funded program in experiential education. She later advanced to director of the cooperative education program and was then appointed as coordinator of the college’s $2.1-million Title III grant. She was promoted to college registrar until the close of her career.

Anzelone has a life-long passion for both the arts and animal rights/advocacy through active engagement in artistic companies and humane organizations throughout New York State and across the U.S. 

A native of Buffalo, she is a product of the Catholic educational systems, from early childhood through graduate studies. 

Outstanding Service to the Community—Sr. Maria Chacha ’04, ’07

Chacha is an advocate for victims of gender violence in her native Tanzania. She holds a leadership position with the Moye Center. Under her guidance, the center has evolved from a day center for children to a residential center for children who are victims of gender-based violence. They offer to customize schooling options and vocational education for children up to young adults. She received degrees in social work and executive leadership and change—with a specialization in non-profit organizations—at the college.

Chacha is part of a multi-faith consortium. She works with the local authorities to provide guidance, shelter, and emotional support to victims. She was a co-researcher on a proposal for “Social Protection of Orphans: Participatory Social-Economic Enhancement of Children Living in Orphanage Centres. A Case Study of Geita and Mwanza Region.”

She resides in Tanzania.

Graduate of the Last Decade—Taylore Passero ’16, ‘17

Passero is a full-time physician assistant in Women’s Health Care at General Physician, PC in East Amherst, New York. She received degrees in natural science and physician assistant studies at the college.

Passero’s passion for helping others led her to start the OB/GYN-themed TikTok @gyno_girls. In a few short months, she has surpassed over 750,000 followers, influencing women all around the world. Passero hopes to use her social media platforms to help educate others on women’s healthcare, break down any barriers and stigmas women may face and encourage women to speak up about their concerns.

She resides in Clarence Center, New York.

Read more about the history of the award and nominate a deserving graduate for the 2022 awards today.   

Last year’s ceremony can be viewed here