Distinguished alumni Steven A. Denning, MBA ’78, and V. Joy Simmons, AB ’74, are this year’s recipients of the Gold Spike Award, Stanford’s highest annual honor for volunteer service. President Marc Tessier-Lavigne conferred the awards at an April 2 dinner held in their honor.

The Gold Spike Award is presented by Stanford Associates, an honorary organization of Stanford alumni who have demonstrated significant and long-standing volunteer service to the university. The award is named for the gold spike that was the final link in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, driven home by California Sen. Leland Stanford in Promontory, Utah, in 1869. A century later, the university established the Gold Spike Award as Stanford’s highest annual honor for volunteer leadership service. Stanford Associates assumed responsibility for the award in 1973.

Steven A. Denning (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Steve Denning “is a force on and off campus who brings people together, helps shape big ideas, and bridges Stanford to the world,” Stanford Associates said in its announcement. “Steve has collaborated with Stanford presidents, academic leaders, and fellow alumni to pioneer interdisciplinary research and teaching and to bolster the university’s global impact.”

A former chair and longtime member of the Board of Trustees, Denning has touched the university in myriad ways. Among his many leadership roles, he served as co-chair of The Stanford Challenge, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, attracting some of the world’s brightest graduate students to Stanford; Denning House is their community home.

He is a long-standing member of the GSB Advisory Council, a member and past chair of the Freeman Spogli Institute Advisory Council and chair of the university’s first Global Advisory Council. Along with his colleagues on the Sustainability Task Force, Denning has been integral in helping design Stanford’s first new school in more than 70 years, which will focus on climate and sustainability. He and his wife, Roberta, AB ’75, MBA ’78, have generously endowed faculty programs, graduate fellowships and capital projects across the university.

V. Joy Simmons (Image credit: Leroy Hamilton)

Joy Simmons “is an unwavering pillar of the Stanford community who leads by example, a tireless champion of the undergraduate experience, the arts, and diversity,” Stanford Associates wrote. “Through decades of leadership and mentoring, and with indomitable energy and advocacy, Joy is a standard-bearer for alumni and future generations.”

As a physician and a patron of the arts, Simmons’ leadership to Stanford has spanned a great spectrum, including membership on the Haas Center for Public Service National Advisory Board (including several years as chair), Stanford’s Arts Advisory Council, the Stanford Alumni Association Board of Directors and the LEAD Council. She is currently the chair of the Stanford LA Arts Council, and is well known for engaging Stanford students and alumni with the Los Angeles arts community. As a member of the Board of Trustees, Simmons was known as an astute strategist and keen advocate. Her distinct approach to service inspired the creation of the Trustee Leadership Award in Stanford’s African and African American Studies program. At every opportunity, Simmons is an ardent supporter, champion and mentor for Stanford and its communities.

Simmons was a founding member and president of the Stanford Black Alumni Association of Southern California. A major proponent of the expansion of the Black Community Services Center, she galvanized many donors to give to the university. Her energetic calls-to-action have been vital in the ongoing growth of the Stanford National Black Alumni Association, where she remains a guiding force.

Media Contacts

Karen McKinley, Associate Director Alumni Volunteer Engagement, Stanford Alumni Association: (650) 724-4604, kmckinley@stanford.edu