From left to right: Aaron Yazzie, Hector Porras, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, and Henry Brandon III. (Image credit: David Gonzales)

Stanford’s four ethnic community centers inducted new members into the university’s Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame, an award honoring alumni with distinguished service to their communities and to society at large.

At Friday’s event to celebrate 2023 recipients, Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for institutional equity, access, and community, said he couldn’t help but feel humbled by the newest inductees’ storied accomplishments.

“Corporate leadership, volunteer activities, fundraising, diversifying student population, mentoring students, scholarly writing, award-winning books, outreach to increase representation in STEM, helping mankind study the evolution of the solar system – each of these individuals are prime examples of how the world is better when people of all identities have the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” said, Dunkley who is also the executive director of the Stanford IDEAL’s initiative.

“Although the world is changing, there is one constant that I want to reaffirm today: Stanford is a multicultural institution. It is multicultural for faculty, it is multicultural for students, it is multicultural for staff,” Dunkley said, emphasizing his commitment that it will continue to be so.

The celebration is held annually during the university’s Reunion Homecoming weekend and is sponsored by the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA).

Master of ceremonies for the event was SAA’s Chair of the Board of Directors, Jennifer Chou, ’00, MA ’01, JD ’05. In her opening remarks, Chou acknowledged the recent passing of Charles J. Ogletree Jr., BA ’75, MA ’75, a prominent civil rights lawyer, Harvard law professor, and former member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees who died in August. Among many of Ogletree’s contributions to the Stanford community was the idea to establish the Multicultural Hall of Fame.

“We would like to take a moment to salute this special Stanford citizen who helped bring us together in this forum,” said Chou, who is an assistant United States attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

The Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 1995. Every year, Stanford’s four ethnic community centers – the Black Community Services Center, the Asian American Activities Center, the Native American Cultural Center, and El Centro Chicano y Latino – each selects a recipient.

Meet this year’s inductees:

Henry Brandon III, ’78; Black Community Services Center

Henry Brandon is chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and partner for Nile Capital Group, a private equity firm specializing in providing capital and services to niche and diverse asset managers.

“I just am so honored to be part of this and to be part of Stanford,” Brandon said in his acceptance speech.

Brandon earned his BA at Stanford in economics. He has a 35-year career in investment banking and private equity and has held senior roles in investment and commercial banking at Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

Since graduating from Stanford, Brandon has remained a constant supporter of the university, particularly with the Black Community Services Center where a recent contribution led to the expansion of the Black House and a community room dedicated in his honor.

Brandon remembered when he was accepted to Stanford. His father was insistent he go to school on the East Coast, but Brandon and his mother were determined he attend Stanford.

Quoting Robert Frost, he said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”

As a student-athlete at Stanford, he participated on two Stanford NCAA National Championship tennis teams and was the first Black tennis player to play on the varsity team at Stanford. Brandon is a member of the Buck Cardinal Club.

Brandon is also chairman of the selection committee for Stanford’s President’s Award for the Advancement of the Common Good and was recently President of the Stanford National Black Alumni Association.

Brandon also serves on the boards of Stanford Haas Center National Advisory Board, APGA Tour, USA Triathlon, Riordan Programs, and Fulfillment Fund, and is a former member of the Stanford Athletic Board.

Brandon holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Anna Marie Porras, ’89, MA ’89 (posthumous); El Centro Chicano y Latino

Anna Marie Zarate Porras was a first-generation student who earned dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and sociology from Stanford followed by a master’s degree in sociology.

Porras started her professional career at Oracle before returning to Stanford in 1991 where she led outreach efforts to Mexican-American/Chicano students for the Office of Undergraduate Admission, and later served as acting dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid.

Accepting the award on her behalf was her husband, Hector Porras ’88, MS ’89.

“In her time at admissions, she advised many, many students, guiding their lives toward being the best version of themselves,” Hector Porras said. “Her tough love is legendary among the Stanford students she helped. She wanted the best for them.”

In 2005, Porras transitioned to the Office of Development as Associate Director of Major Gifts, where she oversaw Southern California’s engagement and diversity efforts. She was promoted to Senior Associate Director of Development. She received the inaugural Office of Development Distinguished Service Award in 2015. Throughout her Stanford career, Porras was instrumental in diversifying Stanford’s undergraduate student body, as well as playing a key role in fundraising and volunteer engagement efforts.

“Her work contributed to Stanford’s effort to ensure that all admitted students, regardless of the family’s personal financial status, have the chance to attend the same university,” Hector Porras said.

Porras passed away at the age of 48 in 2015 due to metastatic breast cancer. She is survived by her husband Hector Porras and her sons Antonio and Manuel Porras, ’21.

Patrick Dunkley addresses attendees celebrating this year’s recipients of the Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame, an annual event held during Reunion Homecoming weekend. (Image credit: David Gonzales)

Celine Parreñas Shimizu, PhD ’01; Asian American Activities Center

Celine Parreñas Shimizu is a film scholar and filmmaker and is the dean of the division of arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is also a distinguished professor of film and digital media.

Shimizu is considered one of the premiere scholars of Asian/American sexualities in representation. Her books include The Movies of Racial Childhoods (forthcoming, Duke, 2024); The Proximity of Other Skins (Oxford, 2020); Straitjacket Sexualities (Stanford, 2012); and The Hypersexuality of Race (2007). Shimizu also co-edited two other volumes.

She received her PhD in modern thought and literature from Stanford.

“At Stanford, I learned to deploy the creativity to reject the devaluation inflicted by racism and sexism that focuses on my difference from whiteness and maleness,” Shimizu said in her acceptance speech.

Shimizu’s articles have appeared in her field’s leading journals. Her recent films, The Celine Archive (2020) and 80 Years Later: On Japanese American Racial Inheritance (2022) have each won several film festival awards.

“When we all have access, we get better art. We get better workplaces, we all get better things. All of us benefit from the work of Multicultural Hall of Famers,” Shimizu said. “I am imbibing in the light of this award to really recharge my power so it’s even more visible when I enter and work the big rooms with small doors.”

Shimizu earned her MFA. in film directing and Production from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and her BA in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Aaron Yazzie, ’08; Native American Cultural Center

Aaron Yazzie is a Mechanical Systems Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Through work on missions like the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, InSight Mars Lander, Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, and the Mars Sample Return Campaign, he has contributed significantly to NASA’s quest to study the evolution of terrestrial planets in our solar system, and to search for evidence of past life on Mars.

Yazzie is Diné (Navajo), born of the Ashįįhí (Salt) Clan through his mother’s lineage, and born for the Tódích’íí’nii (Bitter Water) Clan through his father’s lineage. He was born in Tuba City, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, and was raised in Holbrook, Arizona.

During his acceptance speech, Yazzie said he used to feel like he had to navigate two very different worlds.

“But little by little, starting at Stanford and then now, especially at NASA, I started to really push hard against recognizing that these aren’t separate worlds,” Yazzie said.

It was through studying Mars that he came to a realization about his own identity. “Now that I’m at this point in my career, I’m learning how to bring my two worlds together. They’re not separate. It’s not about making myself conform to the dominant culture, it’s about making them adapt to me.”

In 2021, Yazzie worked with Perseverance’s science team leads and the Office of the Navajo Nation to use the Navajo language for identifying science targets made in the landing region on Mars. Yazzie’s work earned him the 2021 Technical Excellence Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Yazzie describes himself as passionate about STEM outreach and has worked to increase and improve the representation of Indigenous Peoples in the STEM fields. Through classroom visits, keynote speeches, media communications, and television appearances, Yazzie’s outreach efforts have earned him awards from NASA JPL and the Navajo Nation.