Announcements and Statements

Commencement 2024: Announcing This Year’s Speakers and Honorees…

Posted
April 3, 2024
empty podium at commencement

On Monday, May 20, the Class of 2024 will celebrate with some amazing guests to impart their wisdom to the departing graduates. Among the honorees are a Broadway powerhouse, a family who turned a heartbreaking loss into hope for children, a renowned judge, the former president of one of the largest and oldest American comic book companies, and a physician leading the way in AI-powered medicine.

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. We’re proud to announce that this year’s Honorary Degree Recipients, speakers, and honorees, who come to us with a diverse range of accomplishments and experiences and continue to push boundaries in their respective fields.

LaChanze

Tony Award-winning actor
Honorary Degree Recipient and speaker and honorary degree recipient at the Main Ceremony

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LaChanze in a yellow gown posing for the camera.

LaChanze, a powerhouse in Broadway for thirty-eight seasons, brings complex and triumphant women to life on stage. At last year’s Tony Awards, she became the first female producer ever to win two Tonys in one night: Best Revival of a Play for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog and Best Musical for Kimberly Akimbo. This season, she has three more projects on Broadway, including a musical based on the beloved novel The Outsiders, opening this spring. Next season, she’ll make her New York directing debut, with Wine in the Wilderness at the Classic Stage Company.

LaChanze's accolades include a Tony win for The Color Purple, originating the role of Ti Moune in Once on This Island, and nominations for her roles in Trouble In Mind and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. On screen, she's shined in productions like The Help and Hercules.

Amid all her professional commitments, is also the president of Black Theatre United, a community of creatives dedicated to awareness, accountability, and advocacy. She’s a proud mother, too, of Zaya LaChanze and Celia Rose—who started her own Broadway career while a performing arts student at Pace.

Angella and Danroy Henry

Parents of former Pace student Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr. and founders of the DJ Henry Dream Fund
Winners of the Opportunitas In Action Award

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Angella and Danroy Henry

Danroy "Dan" T. Henry is the co-founder of the DJ Henry Dream Fund. He was previously the Chief Culture Officer at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc. and Chief Human Resources Officer of Bright Horizons Family Solutions LLC (a subsidiary of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc.). Recognized as a values-driven business professional, he is a contributing author to Inside the Minds and has also been a featured speaker at the NEHRA annual convention, SHRM, the Conference Board, and NAAHR. Dan is a graduate of Cornell University’s College of Industrial and Labor Relations. In his past career, Dan held the position of Principal at Staples, Inc.; Executive Vice President of FleetBoston Financial Corp.; Principal at Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of NY, Inc.; Principal at Reebok International Ltd.; and Chairman at Northeast Human Resources Association.

Angella Henry is the co-founder of the DJ Henry Dream Fund and the Executive Director for over 10 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and Special Education from Bridgewater State University. Angella worked in the school system as a Special Education Teacher and SLPA for several years. She now devotes her time to the DJ Henry Dream Fund, ensuring thousands of children have the opportunities DJ had. She serves on several boards.

Paul Levitz

Former president of DC Comics
Speaker and honorary degree recipient at the Dyson College, Sands College, and School of Education ceremony

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Paul Levitz posing for the camera.

Paul Levitz, born in Brooklyn in 1956, pioneered comics journalism with The Comic Reader in 1971, winning multiple awards. Inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2019, he's received accolades like Comic Con International’s Inkpot Award and the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. Known for iconic DC Comics runs, including Justice Society and The Legion of Super-Heroes, his Legion: The Great Darkness Saga is hailed as one of the greatest comic stories. As a DC executive, he oversaw significant growth, and his writings, spanning over 500 stories, have sold over 25 million copies in 20 languages. Levitz remains a prominent figure, consulting for Warner Bros. and others. His influential works, such as 75 Years of DC Comics and The Power of Comics and Graphic Novels, have earned him industry acclaim, including Eisner Awards. Levitz's impact extends beyond comics; he's lectured at prestigious universities and authored textbooks on the medium, cementing his legacy as a titan of the industry.

David L. Reich, MD

President, The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens
Speaker at the College of Health Professions and Seidenberg School ceremony

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David Reich posing for the camera.

Dr. David Reich joined Mount Sinai in 1984. He is the Horace W. Goldsmith Professor of Anesthesiology and was Chair of the department prior to assuming his current position in 2013. An academic cardiac anesthesiologist, he has published more than 200 articles, editorials, and book chapters. As a hospital executive, he has enhanced safety and quality by forming an institute for critical care medicine, rapidly deploying digital innovation tools including AI-enhanced clinical decision support, and leading in COVID-19 care and diagnostics. He is the executive sponsor of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery.

Honorable Rowan D. Wilson

Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals
Honorary Degree Recipient and speaker at the Haub School of Law ceremony

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Honorable Rowan Wilson posing for the camera.

As chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, the Honorable Rowan D. Wilson leads New York’s highest court and oversees the state’s entire court system. He was nominated by Governor Kathy Hochul and confirmed by the State Senate as chief judge in April 2023 after serving as an associate judge on the court since February 2017.

Chief Judge Wilson was born in Pomona, California, and grew up in Berkeley, California. He received his AB degree from Harvard College in 1981, and his JD degree from Harvard Law School in 1984. He was admitted to the bar of the State of California in 1985, and the bar of the State of New York in 1987. From 1984 to 1986, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable James R. Browning, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, California. In 1986, he joined the firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City as an associate, and was elected to partnership there in 1991, in which position he continued until February 2017. His practice encompassed a wide variety of matters, including antitrust, intellectual property, securities and common-law fraud, contract, labor and employment, civil rights and first amendment issues, and he rose to become the firm’s first partner of color. On January 15, 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Judge Wilson to serve as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, and the New York State Senate confirmed his nomination on February 6, 2017. On April 10, 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul nominated Judge Wilson to serve as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York, breaking barriers as the first person of color in this role. The New York State Senate confirmed his nomination on April 18, 2023. While in private practice, Judge Wilson served on the boards of several charitable and not-for-profit organizations and handled numerous pro bono matters.

Stay tuned to the Commencement website for important information about deadlines (application to graduate, ticket ordering, and caps and gowns), the full schedule of events for May 20, and more. Can’t wait to see you on the big day!

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