A renowned digital artist, a Bruin quarterback and California’s secretary of state are among the distinguished UCLA graduates being honored this year by the UCLA Alumni Association for their extraordinary achievements, leadership and contributions to the university, their communities and the world. The UCLA Awards ceremony will be held Saturday, May 18.

“UCLA Awards celebrate the lifelong connection of Bruins to UCLA and our Bruin community,” said Julie Sina, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs. “We will celebrate the purpose with which our alumni lead and the impact of their leadership.

This year, we honor six alumni leaders and one network and launch a new award aligned with the UCLA Strategic Plan in recognition of inclusive excellence.”

The awards program has been a campus tradition since 1946. This year’s recipients are:

Refik Anadol — Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year

Since graduating in 2014 with a master of fine arts degree from UCLA’s design media arts program, Anadol has become one of the world’s best-known media artists. Using cutting-edge science and technology, he transforms vast amounts of data into visually stunning, immersive artworks, many of which address larger issues like climate change, mental health, and the power and limits of artificial intelligence.

Anadol’s works have been featured across the globe, from the Sphere in Las Vegas Sphere to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Hall. In April 2022, his dynamic multimedia installation “Moment of Reflection” in UCLA’s Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden invited thousands of attendees to contemplate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.

A dedicated supporter of UCLA as both a philanthropist and teacher, Anadol has launched an internship program for UCLA students and worked with campus neuroscientists to study how art can positively influence mental well-being. In addition, his studio has helped raise millions of dollars for earthquake victims in his native Turkey, Alzheimer’s research, children’s health and humanitarian aid, and the Yanawa people of the Amazon.

Asad Madni — Professional Achievement Award

Madni, who earned both his bachelor’s (1969) and master’s (1972) degrees from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, is a renowned scientist and inventor who has spent his career developing state-of-the-art technologies that have transformed the aerospace and automotive industries. His contributions have enabled NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to capture remarkably precise images of the universe, improved navigation and control for aircraft, and provided enhanced stability and rollover protection in passenger cars, saving millions of lives. 

In addition to serving as a distinguished adjunct professor at UCLA Samueli, Madni and his family have established endowed funds and scholarships for engineering students at UCLA, and he has mentored young professionals worldwide, particularly those from underrepresented and underresourced communities.

Chase Griffin — Young Alumnus of the Year

Born at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, UCLA quarterback Griffin has been a true lifelong Bruin, earning a bachelor’s degree in public affairs (2021) and a master’s in education (2023) from UCLA. Now he’s poised to add a UCLA master’s in legal studies to the list. One of college football’s most recognizable athletes, he has leveraged his status to raise awareness of social justice issues and encourage corporations to invest in community organizations.

Griffin, a leader in the NIL (name, image, likeness) licensing, which gives student-athletes power over their personal brand, launched the Chase Griffin Foundation to help combat food insecurity and has donated more than $50,000 of his NIL earnings to the Los Angeles Food Bank and other local groups. He has served on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Student-Athlete Task Force, mentored students at the Horace Mann UCLA Community School and in 2023 was initiated into the Order of the Golden Bruin, UCLA’s oldest honorary society, for his service to the university and community.

Donna Cox Wells — Public Service Award

Wells, a triple Bruin, has made a significant difference in the lives of Bruins and Latino residents of Los Angeles through her extensive volunteer work, philanthropy and legal advocacy. As a community ambassador for UCLA, she has inspired others to volunteer their time and talents and has leveraged her social media presence to help students and alumni seeking advice and support.

After earning bachelor’s (1966) and master’s (1969) degrees in Spanish at UCLA, Wells spent two decades in television production before returning to campus in 1989 to pursue a juris doctorate. In her second career as a lawyer, she was worked in the areas of labor, civil rights and film production and since 2010 has been an attorney with the nonprofit Los Angeles County Chicano Employees Association, providing legal representation and advice for Latino public workers and other communities. A former member of the UCLA Law Alumni Association’s board of directors, Wells continues to support the development of future lawyers through her participation in the UCLA Law Alumni Mentorship Program.

Cesar Pacheco Garcia — Volunteer of the Year

Pacheco, who graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, is working to build a more inclusive Bruin community as president of the UCLA Latino Alumni Association. Now in his second year, he has focused on strengthening the association’s influence, impact and reach by boosting its fundraising power and expanding the number of students who receive scholarships and support.

A real estate professional and a well-known representative and mentor in the Bruin community, Pacheco also serves as vice president for diversity and inclusion for the Young Bruin Professionals group, represents UCLA on the board of directors of the UC Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association and is a member of UCLA Alumni’s Order of the Blue Shield.

Gary Greene — Community Service Award

In 1971, Greene graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA, where he played violin in the symphony and opera orchestras and drums in the marching band, before going on to law school and a long and distinguished career as a trial attorney. Through it all, he has continued to share his love for music to build community and benefit those in need.

For many years, Greene volunteered with the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California, mentoring thousands of young musicians from diverse backgrounds. And in 2009, he founded the nonprofit Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic, made up of musicians from the legal community. With both groups, Greene has spearheaded events and community concerts that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, including support for pediatric medical care, research on diabetes and AIDS, and the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment.

Shirley Weber — Inclusive Excellence Award

Born to sharecroppers in Arkansas during the Jim Crow era, Weber and her family fled to Southern California when she was 3, after her father was threatened by a lynch mob. She would eventually earn bachelor’s (1970), master’s (1971) and doctoral (1975) degrees in communication at UCLA, become a university professor and San Diego school board member, and serve four terms in the California Assembly. Today, she is California’s Secretary of State.

During her years in public service, Weber has worked tirelessly to increase democratic participation, expand voting and other civil rights, combat hate, and ensure equal opportunities and equity for all Californians. This year, the Los Angeles City Council declared Feb. 14 “Shirley N. Weber Day” in honor of her remarkable legacy and her groundbreaking tenure as California’s first Black secretary of state.

UCLA Alumni San Francisco Bay Area Network — Network of the Year

Founded 55 years ago, the network in the Bay Area — home to the largest population of UCLA graduates outside of Los Angeles — has worked to unite the region’s diverse alumni and empower students through networking, mentorship, scholarships, community service and career development opportunities. With an endowment that has grown to nearly $500,000, the network continues to expand its support for Bay Area UCLA students and is currently developing a workshop focused on early-career guidance in Silicon Valley.

And when it comes to cheering on the Blue and Gold, the Bay Area network deserves a giant eight-clap: They were the first to organize a Bruin Bash and helped popularize the football pregame party, and their sports watch parties regularly attract several hundred alumni and their families.