Albion College to Celebrate Seven 2020 Alumni Award Honorees

February 4, 2020 (Updated March 12, 2020)

Albion College is pleased to announce that it will honor and recognize seven Britons this spring during the annual Alumni Awards dinner and ceremony in Baldwin Hall.

Due to public health concerns related to COVID-19, the event, originally scheduled for April 17, will be postponed to April 16, 2021. When those details are set, additional announcements will be made.

Read more about the 2020 award recipients below.

Young Alumni Awards

Recognizing alumni who have achieved great success in the first 10 years following graduation.

Christopher N. Blaker, ’14

Editor, Marine Corps University Press, U.S. Department of the Navy
Quantico, VA

Christopher Blaker is an American historian who works for the Department of the Navy as a scholarly book and journal editor at Marine Corps University Press. Most of his publishing work focuses on political and military history, international relations, national security and geopolitics. He has published a book and numerous articles in journals and magazines, gives lectures throughout the country, has offered historical consultation on a Hollywood film, and was recently featured on NPR. At Albion, Blaker was president of Euphonics, historian for Phi Mu Alpha, and a member of the History and English Department honor societies.

Soe Yu Nwe, ’13

Artist in Residence, Pottery Northwest
Seattle, WA

Soe Yu Nwe earned an MFA in ceramics from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and since then has embarked on a successful international career as a professional artist. Currently a resident artist at Pottery Northwest in Seattle, Soe Yu has held residencies and participated in exhibitions on four continents, including her home country of Myanmar. Her work has been acquired by the esteemed Australian state museum, Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Soe Yu was Albion College’s youngest Philip C. Curtis Artist-in-Residence and in 2019 was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30: Art & Style list. While at Albion, she won the Michigan Mud student prize, an award rarely given to undergraduates.

James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award

Inaugural year recognizing Black alumni who have made significant contributions of time and effort to Albion College and its students.

Darrell K. Williams, ’77

Dentist and Owner, Darrell K. Williams, DDS
Southfield, MI

Darrell Williams opened his private dental practice in 1983, committed to serving Detroit residents who often struggled to find affordable care. Not only is he still going strong in that original location, Darrell has reached other clients through his affiliation with Advantage Health Care Centers. He also volunteers with Covenant Community Care of Detroit and Delta Dental of Michigan to provide oral dental screenings and referrals to schoolchildren in marginalized areas of Detroit. He is the current president of the Wolverine Dental Society of Detroit, past president of the Detroit Dental District Society/Central Branch and a member of Delta Sigma Delta Dental Fraternity. Darrell and his Albion sweetheart, Yolanda Toran Williams (who completed two years at Albion, then graduated from Marygrove College in 1977), established the Troy & Shirley Williams Scholarship, which has been awarded to eight students. At Albion, Darrell played football and served as president of the Black Student Union. He and Yolanda are the parents of two children, Erin and Ryan, ’06.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Recognizing alumni who have demonstrated excellence in career achievements and contributions to community and humanity.

Deanna M. Behring, ’85

Assistant Dean for College of Agricultural Sciences International Programs, Faculty Affiliate in the School for International Affairs, Penn State University
City Councilwoman

State College, PA

Deanna Behring leads and coordinates Penn State’s portfolio of international research and educational programs in food security, often utilizing her skills in speaking Chinese and French. Prior to joining Penn State, she was assistant director for international affairs for President Clinton’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Deanna has also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Commerce as well as on projects for the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Agency for International Development. She is serving her first term as councilwoman for the city of State College and is working on her first book, a guide to help students find their way in the “passion economy.” As an undergraduate, Deanna was involved with Alpha Chi Omega, Albion College Players and College Democrats.

Kevin Chalut, ’99

British Royal Society Research Fellow in Physics, Cambridge University
Cambridge, England, UK

Kevin Chalut is currently leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers that is making important new discoveries about the nature of stem cells and development. Based at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at Cambridge University, he is the principal investigator on a large program grant that applies physics and engineering to stem cell and developmental biology to better understand the how, when and where of the “choices” stem cells make. Kevin’s work has been featured in Nature and in the international press, and in the past two years alone he has shared his work with top research institutions in the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Singapore, Germany, Canada and the U.S.

Bonciel Griffin-Burress, ’97

Orthodontist and Owner, Griffin Orthodontics and Ivory Dental Specialists
Chicago, IL

Bonciel Griffin-Burress is believed to be the first African American female to own a multi-office orthodontic and dental practice in the metropolitan Chicago area. In addition to treating her own full load of orthodontic patients and managing her business, Bonciel mentors interns and dental assistant trainees. In 2012, Bonciel was named one of WVON-Chicago’s 40 Under 40 Game Changers. The Chicago native studied dentistry at the University of Michigan and earned an orthodontics specialty at Howard University’s School of Dentistry. In 2017, Bonciel established Albion’s Gregory and Patricia Griffin Scholarship. While at Albion, she was involved with United Voices of Albion College and Black Student Alliance.

Craig Kirby, ’85

Founder/CEO, Golf. My Future. My Game.
Washington, DC

A retired political strategist whose clients included presidents and federal legislators, Craig is applying his networking and problem-solving talents to open the business and sport of golf to many who historically have been shut out. His nonprofit organization—Golf. My Future. My Game.—gives youth, people of color and women a unique opportunity to strengthen problem-solving and career-development skills through mastering a challenging sport. His efforts have led to successful partnerships with equipment manufacturers, golf courses, educational institutions, equal-access-focused groups, and both the PGA and USGA. In 2019 Craig was featured on ABC’s “Holey Moley” with NBA superstar Stephen Curry. While a student at Albion, Craig was active with Student Senate, Black Student Alliance and Delta Sigma Phi.

For more information, contact College Events at or 517/629-1835.