Mason celebrates its outstanding alumni at the annual Celebration of Distinction


For more than 30 years, the Celebration of Distinction has recognized the outstanding achievements of Mason’s alumni, faculty members, and students. This year’s event, hosted by the George Mason University Alumni Association on Oct. 20, once again focused on elevating and honoring Mason excellence.

honorees at the Celebration of Distinction
Honorees at the 2023 Celebration of Distinction. Photo by Risdon Photography

“This is all about Mason alumni coming together to this event, to share the accomplishments that so many of you have had,” Mason President Gregory Washington told the crowd of more than 250 guests at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner.

The celebration, which awarded five honorees selected by the Alumni Association, and 16 more Distinguished Alumni selected by colleges and alumni chapters, “was planned with the intention to shine a bright light on all the ways that [alumni] contribute to our Mason family and across your communities,” said Trishana E. Bowden, vice president of advancement and alumni relations and president of the George Mason University Foundation. “Our graduates are our legacy. Our graduates are our ambassadors. And we are proud of each and every one of you.”

This year’s five alumni association honorees were Shaza L. Andersen, BA Area Studies ’89, the Alumna of the Year; Brandon O. Thompson, BS Administration of Justice ’08, who received the Alumni Service Award; Cordelia Cranshaw Skeete, BSW ’14, who received the Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award; Keith Renshaw as the Faculty Member of the Year; and Hannah Adamson, BA Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’23, as the Senior of the Year. Learn more about them here.

Shaza and President Washington
Alumna of the Year Shaza L. Andersen with President Washington. Photo by Risdon Photography

“Our alumni are absolutely remarkable,” said Jenn Robinson, JM ’02, associate vice president of alumni relations and executive director of the George Mason University Alumni Association. “It’s an honor to be able to recognize them and to celebrate their many accomplishments. It is amazing to see alumni reconnect at this event—the energy in the room is incredible, and I look forward to it every year.”

Guests celebrated with dinner and live music from the Green and Gold Soul band.

Washington attributed much of the university’s recent success to the accomplishments of its alumni.

“Getting into the top 50 public institutions in the country is a very difficult feat…and we’ve done it in 52 years. That is a big deal,” said Washington. “That has happened because of what you all have accomplished. What you have done has made it attractive for the young people of today to come to this institution. After all, they can graduate and be like any of you.”

“Your investment and support to the university matters,” Andersen said during her Alumna of Year acceptance speech. “George Mason is getting stronger by the day in large part due to the commitment of the people in this room.”

For the full list of awardees, please visit the Alumni Association website.