2017 Alumni Achievement Awards

Libby Allman

#CareEnough

Libby Allman
Alumni Achievement Award

Libby Allman is a champion of women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, advocating through outreach and mentoring. As an engaged community member, she holds civic leadership positions that make significant impacts in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

As vice president of manufacturing and product procurement at Hallmark Cards, Allman leads domestic manufacturing and direct global sourcing activities in support of the greetings, home décor, gifts and retail businesses. Results of her leadership and expertise include growth in revenue, leading more than 1,000 employees through major operational change, and effective budget management. She led the creation of Hallmark’s first collaborative corporate process for IT prioritization.

At Hallmark, Allman has also served as vice president of product integrity and technical resources, vice president of supply chain planning, director of the Lean organization and general manager of the Liberty Distribution Center. She co-founded the Hallmark Women’s Network.

Allman received the Central Exchange’s STEMMy Ground Breaker Leadership Award in 2016, which honors women and their accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. She served as chair of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas & Northwest Missouri and continues to hold a board position.

Allman is vice chair of the Kansas City Regional Cabinet of Washington University and an advisor to the Kansas City Olin Business School EMBA program. She holds Fellow status with the Society of Women Engineers and serves on the Kansas City Urban Neighborhood Initiative Board.

Allman and her husband, Scott, are members of the Washington University Loyalty Society, Eliot Society Benefactors and support an annual engineering scholarship. They reside in Kansas City with their children, Ellie and Henry.

Allman earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering at Washington University in 1991, a bachelor of arts degree in physics from William Jewell College, and an MBA from Rockhurst University.


Brian Hoelscher

Transforming Communities

Brian Hoelscher
Alumni Achievement Award

Brian Hoelscher, a record-breaking student-athlete on the Washington University baseball and football teams, continues to shows his competitive spirit as a community leader. His strong relationships with civic stakeholders and St. Louis residents help Hoelscher change communities — one home, one business and one person at a time.

Leveraging a 30-year career with engineering and management experience, Hoelscher has led the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) since 2013. As executive director and CEO, he is responsible to execute more than $3 billion in capital improvements while servicing 1.3 million people. His excellent leadership helps to provide innovative and effective wastewater and storm water management to protect the environment, health and safety of our community.

Hoelscher has been a steadfast leader, notably driving MSD’s Capital Improvement Diversity program. His advocacy for minority- owned and women-owned companies has resulted in more than $43 million in completed construction projects. He is a resourceful executive, fostering comprehensive policy and financial management which ensures effective storm sewer operation and maintenance across the region.

Under his leadership, MSD received three Platinum Peak Performance Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for outstanding compliance records at the Missouri River, Fenton and Lower Meramec wastewater treatment plants.

Hoelscher serves as an ambassador for the Mosaic Project’s Professional Connector Program, a member of the Regional Business Council, the Water Environment Federation, the Missouri Water Environment Association, and is past director of the Engineer’s Club.

Hoelscher supports the continued growth, development and enhancement of intercollegiate athletics as a member of the W Club Executive Committee, Washington University’s Athletics Advisory Committee. A member of the Washington University Loyalty Society, he is a dedicated contributor to the university as an Eliot Society Benefactor. Hoelscher and his girlfriend, Carole, reside in St. Louis.

Hoelscher earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Washington University in 1985.


Raghu Sugavanam

Re-Engineering Health Care

Raghu Sugavanam
Alumni Achievement Award

Raghu Sugavanam is a seasoned and successful technology entrepreneur driven by improving patient care while sustaining market needs. His powerful methodology holds true significance resulting in cultural transformations and dynamic developments.

In 2014 Sugavanam co-founded Interpreta, an analytics company that updates, interprets and synchronizes clinical and genomics data by creating a personalized health-care roadmap. These real time insights provide physicians, care managers and clients with the patient specific information needed for quality improvement, prioritization, population management and precision medicine. Within two short years of its existence, Centene Corporation invested in Interpreta, acquiring 19 percent of the company.

With his technical expertise and more than 25 years in the software industry, Sugavanam has managed the successful deployment of direct marketing database solutions for several Fortune 1000 companies in the health-care, technology, finance and retail industries. Prior to Interpreta, Sugavanam was the founder, chief technology officer, and principal architect at Anvita, a clinical analytics company acquired by Humana in 2011. He was also the founder and president of Mercantile Software Systems, a high performance database system company acquired by Harte Hanks in 1997.

Sugavanam is a charter member of The Indus Entrepreneurs Global, a nonprofit global community that welcomes entrepreneurs from all over the world. In addition, he served on the board of directors for DataMotion, a data delivery software solution platform.

As a loyal member of the Washington University San Diego Campaign Committee, Sugavanam displays his creativity and technical acumen. He and his wife, Madhumathy, are Eliot Society Benefactors and support an annual engineering scholarship. They reside in San Diego with their children, Tara and Raj.

Sugavanam earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in 1978 and a master’s degree in computer science from Rutgers University.


Peter Young

Honoring an Education

Peter Young
Alumni Achievement Award

With a strong technical foundation in engineering and the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, Peter Young is an international friend to many and influences networks in a great way.

Young’s first position was with Allied-Signal Aerospace as a materials and process engineer. In 1983, Young returned to Hong Kong and founded Chemcentral Group, providing raw materials and equipment for manufacturers in China. Chemcentral Group has grown into an international trade and investment organization with branches specializing in paper industry products, chemical materials, real estate, ecotourism and recreation.

One of Chemcentral Group’s principal divisions in the engineering materials field is Chemcentral Ltd. The company is a manufacturer’s agent and distributor of kaolin coating clay. Young also oversees Ming Yuan Chemicals Trading Shanghai Co. Ltd., an import, export and warehousing enterprise in China which serves the paper and other technically demanding industries.

With offices worldwide, Young’s companies have remained the largest supplier of coating clay in China since 1984. To expand internationally, Young established headquarters in Shanghai, China, in 2002.

Young is a passionate stockholder of PURE brand whisky, brandy and scotch. He also holds investments in a hotel and spa property, the Lihua International Hotel & Spa, located in Longjing, China.

Peter’s service to the university includes membership on the School of Engineering & Applied Science National Council and the engineering Campaign Committee. Young is also a member of the Hong Kong Business Association of Taiwan.

As members of the Washington University Loyalty Society and Eliot Society, Peter and his wife, Lin, have established an annual fund challenge for engineering supporters and generously named the Young Archway in Preston M. Green Hall in honor of his parents. They reside in Hong Kong with their daughter, Vivian.

Young earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in 1980. He also attended the University of Southern California for graduate work in plastics and engineering.


Michael Lefenfeld

The Science of Innovation

Michael Lefenfeld
Engineering Entrepreneurship Award

As a passionate and dynamic leader, Michael Lefenfeld has mastered the art of bringing new technologies to the market, which has influenced the fields of healthcare, industrial chemistry and energy.

Lefenfeld is co-founder and chief executive officer of New York City-based SiGNa Chemistry, a global manufacturer of highly-active, environmentally friendly chemicals. SiGNa’s products are used to improve production processes in the energy recovery, petrochemical refining and chemical manufacturing industries.

As a scientific visionary, Lefenfeld built his career around the belief that many of the solutions our world seeks can be achieved with enhanced science. He has dedicated his career to cutting-edge scientific research. His work has led to safer industrial environments, better medical technologies and more effective, affordable energy solutions. Prior to SiGNa, Lefenfeld developed and commercialized several new technologies, launching and selling three companies by age 30.

The World Economic Forum recognized Lefenfeld as a 2016 Young Global Leader for his significant scientific, entrepreneurial and social contributions. He has also been awarded the Cedars-Sinai Award for Technology Innovation in Medical Devices, World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award, and the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award. Lefenfeld holds more than 50 patents in medical devices, controlled release, electronics, chemical reactivity and information technology.

Since 2009, Lefenfeld has served on the Advisory Board for Washington University’s Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and is an Eliot Society Benefactor supporting an annual engineering scholarship. He also devotes time to several national boards, including the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Venture for America, and the Advisory Board for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Lefenfeld resides in New York City.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering at Washington University in 2002, Lefenfeld earned a master’s of philosophy in chemistry at Columbia University and an executive education certificate at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.


David and Carol Gast

Enhancing Excellence

David and Carol Gast
Dean's Award

David and Carol Gast have a strong belief in the university’s mission and have played a pivotal role in advancing education. Their service, loyalty and commitment are key ingredients to making Washington University a world-class institution.

As St. Louis natives, David and Carol met at a football game enjoying the undergraduate life. David made a business of installing sound systems around campus, including the first system in Graham Chapel. He also furnished audio services for events such as the Bearskin Follies, the annual Quad Show spring musical, and the Assembly Series, where he recorded lectures by Eleanor Roosevelt, Linus Pauling and many others.

David continued his entrepreneurial streak after a stint in the United States Army, where then-Lieutenant Gast was an instructor in the Guided Missile School. He later joined the electrical and mechanical industrial equipment sales firm Carl F. Gast Co., which his parents had founded in 1935. After starting as a salesman, he became CEO. A few years later Carol became the bookkeeper for the firm. Since Gast’s retirement in 2005, the company is managed by third-generation owners.

Over the years, the Gasts have generously supported annual engineering scholarships and the stunning Gast Window in Preston M. Green Hall. The couple acknowledged the university’s role in their lives by making an estate commitment to endow a professorship in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. They are members of the Washington University Loyalty Society and the Eliot Society at the Patron level. Longtime supporters of the Weidenbaum Center, David and Carol were the first donors to the center’s Benefactor Fund for Student Research Opportunities and sponsored the center’s Gast Family Meeting Room.

David earned a bachelor of arts degree in physics and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1953 and a master’s of science degree in electrical engineering in 1954 from Washington University. Carol was in the Liberal Arts class of 1956.