DAA Winner: Josh A. Cassada, ’95
The sky’s the limit for all Albion alumni, but in Josh Cassada’s case, that might not be quite high enough. He has spent much of the past decade flying combat and rescue missions, training pilots, and testing out new wings for the U.S. Navy.
Then two years ago, at the ripe old age of 37, Cassada began helping the Navy purchase planes, directing nearly $28 billion in contracts with Boeing. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing production of the P-8A (anti-submarine) and KC-46 (refueling) aircraft, airborne early warning and control systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Cassada currently serves as a test pilot for the P-8A, evaluating each one for the government prior to purchase and delivery.
A standout physics student at Albion, Cassada earned recognition as an exemplary graduate teaching assistant. While completing his doctorate, he was a research assistant at the Collider Detector Facility within the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and also served briefly as a postdoctoral fellow there. Wanting an even bigger challenge, Cassada joined the U.S. Navy, becoming a patrol plane commander and pilot. He and his 10-member crew assisted with tsunami relief, did stand-alone counternarcotic operations, and flew 23 combat missions, including ground support and reconnaissance for Operations Iraqi Freedom, Joint Guardian, and Deliberate Force. Cassada also trained military test pilots at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland.
In 2011, Cassada was recognized as the Defense Contract Management Agency Northwest Field Grade Officer of the Year. He has received several military medals, including combat medals from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Cassada holds two graduate degrees in physics from the University of Rochester. He and his wife, Megan, are the parents of Quinn and Graham, and live in Seattle.
DAA Winner: April DuVal, ’65
This past July, April DuVal retired as executive director of the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD). During her 43-year tenure there, April provided leadership for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, helped develop educational, vocational, and residential programs for persons with intellectual disabilities and established the Parent Outreach and Citizen Advocacy programs in Louisville.
Even more admirably, while April helped change society's view and treatment of the developmentally disabled, she served hundreds of clients with individual, personal care. "Almost every parent who is active in the CDD could tell a story about how April personally helped them through a trying time," says Natalie Semaria, a "CCD parent" for nearly 40 years. Semaria further notes that April has been "the guardian and/or payee for several disabled adults who have no one else to stand up for them. She personally accompanied me to Guardian Court, understanding that it was a difficult step for me. April has retired from her leadership role but I know that she will never “retire” from caring for disabled people and acting as an advocate.
DuVal was among the first in her field to recognize the potential for computers to transform learning and employment for people with disabilities. She won grants from Apple to establish an enabling technology center and is a past president of the National Alliance of Technology Access. She has taught classes for the School of Social Work at Spalding University. She is also a past president of the Kentucky Association on Mental Retardation.
April has received numerous awards, including the University of Louisville Outstanding Social Work Field Supervisor, the Louisville Courier Journal Phenomenal Woman Award, and the Kentucky Colonel Award, presented by Governor John Y. Brown. She has been honored officially by the mayor of Louisville, the 3rd Kentucky Congressional District, the Kentucky House of Representatives, and the Kentucky Senate.
Childhood friend and Albion classmate Sharon Thorne Vydick, '65, notes that April was also their sixth-grade class president and organizer of their 50-year high school reunion. "She's been my friend for life," said Vydick, who notes that she and classmate Teresa Trostmiller, '65, regularly enjoy being with their friend. "April is very driven and that's gotten her where she is. She is a friendly, happy, smiley person and that's why everyone loves her."
"April and I benefitted from the Kresges and Putnams, the people who love Albion and support it in very tangible ways," says April's sister, Marcia Lile, '67. "It's great that Albion acknowledges people like April, who never made a lot of money, but who also loved Albion and were also impacted in the same way. When we were students in the 1960s, Albion brought us speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged us to act in daring ways. Those were inspiring times and April's life is a response to that."
After graduating Phi Beta Kapp with honors from Albion, April earned her MSW from the University of Michgian. In 1994 she was inducted into Albion's Athletic Hall of Fame for her prowess on the field hockey team. She has two children and six grandchildren and lives in Louisville.
DAA Winner: Lori Latowski Grover, ’85
When it comes to professional dedication, Lori Grover doesn’t just “talk the talk”—she’s got a pile of frequent flyer miles to prove her passion. A nationally recognized clinician and educator, she commutes during the year several times each month from her family’s home in Scottsdale, Arizona, to work at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. At the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Grover serves as an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology in the Wilmer Eye Institute and Director of Research in the Office of Women in Science and Medicine.
A clinical specialist in vision impairment and low-vision rehabilitation, Grover also collaborates with other health care professionals on evaluating and improving their care delivery eye care programs. She has been intensely involved in serving her profession, as past chair of the American Optometric Association (AOA) Vision Rehabilitation Section Executive Council and current member of the AOA Evidence Based Care Committee. She was recently elected to serves as a Vision Care Section Councilor of the American Public Health Association and was recently appointed to the Prevent Blindness America Board of Directors. Grover is a former board member of with the Arizona Optometric Association and past President of the Greater Baltimore Optometric Society.
As the recipient of a five-year National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health Mentored Clinical Scientist Training Grant award, Grover completed her is also finishing a doctorate in Health Services Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
On top of her work and professional service, Grover regularly publishes journal articles and presents at professional gatherings across the country. Among many awards, she was recognized as a Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow in Optometry by the National Academies of Practice, named to the inaugural Leadership Program for Women Faculty by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and received 2004 Alumna of the Year honors from her other alma mater, the Illinois College of Optometry.
Grover also holds certificates in public health economics and public health informatics from the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A member of Delta Gamma and president of the Panhellenic Council while a student, Grover is a current Albion College admission volunteer. She is married to her Albion sweetheart, Michael Grover, ’86. The couple and their daughter, Kate, live in Scottsdale.
DAA Winner: Richard B. Jones, ’71
For 24 of his 38 years in education, Richard Jones was employed as a teacher, coach, and principal at North Farmington High School in suburban Detroit—but what he did there reached far beyond any of those job expectations. An innovative and out-of-the-box thinker, Jones implemented programs that energized and inspired not only his own students and teachers, but the Farmington community and other educators across the country. Upon his retirement in 2011, North Farmington High School’s main building was renamed the Richard B. Jones Academic Center. The school’s athletic campus is also named in his honor.
Jones’ legacy includes his implementation of school year “themes” that involved students, teachers, parents, and the community in exploration of social justice issues through numerous interdisciplinary activities. Environmentalism and sustainability, civil rights, and the revitalization of Detroit were among the topics studied, with the goal of moving the students “from awareness to activism.” During the school’s yearlong examination of genocide, Jones was co-recipient of the Anne Frank Center USA’s Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Educator Award. Jones and North Farmington joined forces with a high school in Danbury, Connecticut, together raising over $135,000 to build “Promise School” in Sudan as an activism project for the genocide study.
Not surprisingly, Jones has earned many awards for excellence, including four Teacher-of-the-Year honors; he is also a recipient of the Great Seal of Michigan, for his school’s efforts to pass a state divestiture bill regarding Sudan. He is Michigan’s 2008-09 High School Principal of the Year. Jones has been on the board of the Michigan Chapter of the National Football Foundation since 1995, and since 2004 has traveled to Mali, in West Africa, three times as a member of a medical team.
A Detroit native, Jones spent 14 years as a teacher and coach in Bay County, Florida, before moving to Farmington Hills. He earned a master’s degree in movement science and sports psychology from Florida State University, where he also studied school administration.
As a student at Albion, Jones played varsity baseball, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, and founded Albion’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of Keely and Lauren, and live in Farmington Hills.