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Wisconsin Alumni Association Honors Three with Distinguished Alumni Awards

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) is honoring three alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards this fall: Milwaukee attorney John Daniels Jr. MS’72, Epic Systems CEO Judith Faulkner MS’67, and former Food Network producer and educator Doris Feldman Weisberg ’58.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by WAA. Since 1936, WAA has presented the award to the most prestigious graduates of UW–Madison to recognize their professional achievements, contributions to society, and support of the university.

John Daniels Jr. MS’72

John Daniels Jr. is the chair emeritus of Quarles & Brady, a national law firm, and serves as a strategic business adviser to many of the firm’s largest clients. As chair, he grew the firm significantly during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, expanding its ranks of attorneys and adding new locations and national practice specialties.

A nationally recognized expert in real estate and business law, Daniels has been involved in some of the nation’s most complex real estate redevelopment projects. He is the former national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and has represented major corporations such as General Electric, Kraft Foods, and Xerox. He has been named one of the 50 most influential diverse attorneys in America by the National Bar Association and one of the 100 Managing Partners You Need to Know by Lawdragon.

After earning his BA from North Central College, Daniels earned his MS in education from UW–Madison and his JD from Harvard University. His biography lists more than two dozen awards, including many that reflect his lifelong commitment to diversity and inclusion. “I started school in a legally segregated school in Birmingham, Alabama, and finished at Harvard Law School,” he told Wisconsin Super Lawyers in 2010. “This is really my view of the world: things can change; people can change and make things happen.” Daniels was the first African American lawyer in the United States to start as an associate in a major law firm and become chair.

Over the years, he has been a major force for civic good in Milwaukee. He has worked as the lead lawyer on many signature downtown projects. He also helped to organize an annual golf tournament, the Fellowship Open, that raises money to help children in need; and he has worked with his brother, a member of the clergy in Milwaukee, on a number of community housing and education projects.

Daniels has served on numerous boards of directors, including the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, BMO Harris, M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank, and V&J Foods. He served as chair of the board of several key Wisconsin organizations, including the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Aurora Health Care, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Judith Faulkner MS’67

Judy Faulkner is the founder and CEO of Epic Systems, which she began in 1979 in the basement of an apartment house with $70,000 in startup money and two part-time assistants. Epic has since grown to become the leading provider of integrated health care software.

Epic’s clients include many of the country’s top hospitals and health systems, including the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, CVS Health, and Walgreens. With more than 9,500 employees, Epic is the largest tech-based firm in Wisconsin, and more than half of the U.S. population has its medical information in an Epic system. Faulkner has kept the company privately held and has built a sustainable corporate campus in Verona, Wisconsin.

Faulkner earned her BS in mathematics from Dickinson College in 1965 and her MS in computer sciences from UW–Madison in 1967. She previously taught computer science for the UW System and worked as a health care software developer, creating one of the first databases organized around a patient’s record.

In 2013, Forbes Magazine called her the “most powerful woman in health care.” Faulkner received honorary doctorates from UW–Madison and from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Faulkner has pledged that 99 percent of her assets will go to philanthropy.

For nearly five years, Faulkner served on the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, a U.S. federal advisory committee that helps to shape IT-related health care policy, and its Privacy and Security subcommittee. She is a member of the national Academy of Medicine’s Leadership Roundtable. She also serves on the board of visitors for the UW–Madison Department of Computer Sciences, and Epic has endowed three faculty positions within the department.

Doris Feldman Weisberg ’58

Doris Feldman Weisberg was part of the team that launched the Food Network, where she produced numerous shows and was the managing editor of food news. She has also produced cooking shows for Lifetime Television and is a professor emerita at City College of the City University of New York, where she spent 26 years. She was the director of the Speech and Hearing Center and retired in 1992 as the chair of the speech department.

After graduating from Wisconsin, Doris earned her MS and PhD degrees from Columbia University. She has taught at The New School and was an adjunct professor at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Education, where she developed lecture series.            

As a student, Weisberg was very active at the Memorial Union and was president of the Union Directorate during her senior year. Today, she serves on the board of the Memorial Union Building Association, and she is helping to establish a distinguished-alumni lecture series and to position the Union to use locally grown food in its food-service operations.

Weisberg is also on the board of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, and she is a member of the UW Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropy Council and the Department of Political Science’s board of visitors. The New York City resident is a member of the Tri-State Women’s Initiative, which takes UW–Madison professors to the New York City area to speak on current events. “This group brings people back into the UW fold,” she says.

Weisberg and her husband have created a planned gift to establish the Doris Feldman Weisberg and Robert Weisberg Center for Progressive Political Thought. They also established the Doris and Robert Weisberg Current Issues Symposium Fund at the Memorial Union to bring relevant and timely speakers to campus.

“I’ve been associated with numerous colleges,” Weisberg says. “Each one is unique, but my favorite one is Wisconsin.”

The deadline for 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award nominations is December 16, 2016. For more information, see uwalumni.com/daa.

About the Wisconsin Alumni Association
Founded in 1861 to promote the welfare of the University of Wisconsin and serve the interests of its graduates, the Wisconsin Alumni Association® (WAA) connects, enriches, and serves a growing number of alumni to help facilitate their support of each other and the university. WAA is a division of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing UW–Madison. For more information, please visit uwalumni.com.