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Three Medill alumni recognized with NAA Awards

Three Medill alumni were honored for their professional and personal achievements and commitment and dedication to the university at the Northwestern Alumni Awards on Saturday, March 2. Kevin Salwen (BSJ79), Peter Johnson (MSJ72) and Lisa Caputo (MSJ87) were each recognized at the annual Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) event.

Salwen and his wife Joan King Salwen (WCAS82) were honored with the Service to Society Award, given in recognition for efforts that contribute to improving society. Along with advancing a cause, these efforts are seen as reflecting favorably on the university. 

Salwen, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, columnist and editor, co-wrote the book “The Power of Half” with his then-teenage daughter. The book details how Salwen’s daughter, Hannah, convinced the family to sell their suburban Atlanta home and donate half of the proceeds to charity. Salwen now spends much of his time encouraging Americans to recognize the relationships that can be built through generosity and service.

“We all have more than enough of something – from our stuff, to our money, to our time,” Salwen said. “If we all could look at our lives, pick out something we have in surplus and then give half, we could do wondrous amounts of good.” 

Salwen, who first set foot on Northwestern’s campus as part of the cherub’s program, also credits his time at Northwestern for helping him reach his career success. 

“I connected with the Purple Mafia in the media world in my first job … and then repeatedly since,” he said. “It’s like a club of people who all knew from an early age that we had a passion to tell great stories and do important reporting.” 

Johnson was honored with an Alumni Service Award in recognition for outstanding service to the University. Johnson currently serves as a marketing lecturer and academic director of Master of Science in Marketing Intelligence at Fordham University. He was one of five alumni from across the university to receive the Alumni Service Award.

Caputo received the Alumni Merit Award, given to alumni from across the university who represent success in a wide range of professions.

Caputo is currently the executive vice president of marketing and communications for Travelers. Earlier in her career she served as press secretary to former first lady Hillary Clinton and also as a senior adviser during Clinton’s 2008 bid for the presidency. 

Along with academic success, Caputo credits her time in the program, particularly the Medill Washington program, as highlighting how important a journalism career can be and for helping her see journalism as a public service and nurture her passion for political science.

“No one does it better than Medill by combining the academics in the classroom with putting you into the field as a working journalist,” she said. 

Caputo also chose to offer a bit of advice to current Medill students.

“For those coming out of Medill, the best advice I could give is to follow your passion and to stay focused on where you want to go,” she said. “It’s important to always remember that everybody you meet … at Northwestern and Medill is a connection that can help you.”