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Honors Pillar Awards honor 4 outstanding community members

June 23, 2016

The Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University honored four distinguished members of the Metro Detroit community on Tuesday, June 21 during its Pillar Awards Ceremony.

Diane Van Buren (Zachary and Associates), Dr. Ali Moiin, John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press), and Dr. Felecia Williams (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan) were honored for their contributions through professional endeavors, community engagement and service, and philanthropy during a ceremony held at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, located on the campus of Wayne State University. The Pillar Awards, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Irvin D. Reid Honors College, are awarded to individuals who exemplify the four foundational pillars of the Honors College: community, service, research, and career.

“Each of our awardees serve as inspirational models for our students through their many accomplishments that embody Honors’ four pillars. These four individuals exemplify the very best of our community through their dedication and commitment to giving back,” said Dr. Jerry Herron, Dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. “It was an honor to recognize them with the Pillar Awards. They make the world a finer place, for all of us, through their presence in it and through all they do.”

The awardees were as follows:

Diane Van Buren (Community): Diane Van Buren integrates urban redevelopment, historic preservation and sustainable development principles to maximize community resources and energy efficiency of the built environment. In practice for more than 25 years, she has made redevelopment a primary focus of the economic development firm Zachary and Associates, who serves a wide range of public, private and non-profit clients. By placing a high value on demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative energy with historic preservation projects, she was instrumental in creating the Sugar Hill Development 71 Garfield project that incorporated the use of solar and geothermal technologies in the adaptive reuse of a historic 1922 building. She is currently leading a multi-faceted legal, financial, and technology team to develop and install a 5 megawatt community solar project and one billion gallon rainwater recapture system within a former industrial district in Detroit.

She is also a certified speaker with the Al Gore Climate Reality Project and holds a Green Advantage Environmental Certification and a Master’s of Science Degree in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University. She is a graduate of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy from Michigan State University, where she also earned a BA in Education. She has served as a Public Director on the National Board of the American Institute of Architects in 2007 and 2008, and has served on the Sustainability Committee and Long Range Planning Committees. She is a long-time friend and supporter of the Honors College and currently serves as chair of the Honors College Board of Visitors, a role she has previously held as well.

Dr. Ali Moiin (Service): Dr. Moiin received his Bachelor's degree in Pharmacology and Master's degree in Biology from the University of California Santa Barbara. He received further training in pharmacy at the University of California San Francisco and was awarded his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of California Davis. He completed his residency training in dermatology at Wayne State’s School of Medicine and has received additional training in cosmetic dermatology at Tulane University Medical Center. Dr. Moiin is board-certified in dermatology by the American Board of Dermatology and is a fellow of the American Laser Surgery and Medicine Society.

Dr. Moiin is an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Wayne State’s School of Medicine and also served as Chief of Dermatology at Harper Hospital. Recently, Dr. Moiin was chosen as the Best Professor of Dermatology at Wayne State University. He maintains affiliations with major medical centers in the Detroit metro area, including Detroit Medical Center, St. John's Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital and William Beaumont Hospital. He has been a member of the Board of Medicine of the State of Michigan. In addition, Dr. Moiin serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Board of Directors for the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Opera House, and SkinPAC—the American Academy of Dermatology Association Political Action Committee. He also serves on our own Honors College Board of Visitors. He is a past president of the Wayne County Medical Society of Southeast Michigan, current chairman of medical education for the Michigan Dermatological Society, and current president of the Shirin Ebadi Foundation.

John Gallagher (Research): John Gallagher is a veteran journalist and author whose book, “Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City,” was named by The Huffington Post as one of the best social and political books of 2010. His most recent book “Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity,” is a biography of architect Minoru Yamasaki.

He has expertly covered development news for 29 years. Among his achievements, Gallagher provided key leadership and insight covering Detroit’s 18-month bankruptcy and was co-author of “How Detroit Went Broke,” a deeply reported narrative that explored the real reasons behind the city’s 60-year slide into insolvency.

John was born in New York City and joined the Free Press in 1987 to cover urban and economic redevelopment efforts in Detroit and Michigan, a position he still holds. He has written several books on urban development including “Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention,” “Great Architecture of Michigan,” and is a co-author of “AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.” John and his wife, Sheu-Jane, live along Detroit’s east riverfront.

Dr. Felecia Williams (Career): Dr. Felecia Williams, a native Detroiter and a graduate of the Detroit Public School System, also graduated from Wayne State University as a Presidential Scholar, receiving a BS in Biology with distinction. She then went on to receive a medical degree from the University of Michigan and subsequently completed her pediatric residency training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She returned to Detroit and became a practitioner of pediatrics in her community.  After serving ten years as a pediatrician and health center administrator, Dr. Williams left clinical practice to pursue an MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.  At Duke, Dr. Williams was awarded a Keller Scholarship, the most prestigious award granted to incoming Fuqua students.

Dr. Williams is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physician Executives. She is also a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics, and a member of the American Association of Professional Coders. Dr. Williams is currently a regional medical director at Blue Care Network.  She has held various leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies and large nonprofit corporations including Merck & Company, Inc., Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, TX; Hospital Corporation of America and The Wellness Plan here in Detroit. Through all of her stellar career accomplishments, she has managed to maintain a focus on paying it forward through mentorship and philanthropy.

The four pillars serve as a foundation and road map for students within the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. During the freshmen year students become engaged with the Detroit community through cultural passport events and a first year-course that focuses on Detroit and citizenship. The second year sees students engage in service-learning projects that combine classroom learning with hands-on practice within the community in order to help rebuild the community we call home.

In year three students show what it means to attend a research university as they become researchers while undertaking independent projects in Honors seminars. Their work is culminated in their electronic portfolio as they move towards their senior thesis in their final year, which focuses on career readiness, professional development, or preparation for graduate or professional school.