Three members of Colorado College’s distinguished alumni were awarded honorary degrees at Opening Convocation Aug. 29. President Tiefenthaler conferred the following degrees: Jennifer Zimdahl Galt ’81, Doctor of Law, honoris causa; John Novembre ’00, Doctor of Science, honoris causa; and Jamie Torres ’99, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Jennifer Zimdahl Galt ’81 is the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia, a position she was nominated for by President Barack Obama in 2015. As ambassador, she is working to strengthen economic ties and create opportunities for U.S. businesses, support Mongolia’s democratic development, and enhance our military partnership. In her first year in office, Galt launched a Young Leaders Initiative to help build Mongolia’s next generation of democratic leaders.
Galt is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, where she has worked for the past 29 years. Prior to her role as ambassador to Mongolia, she served as principal officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China, one of the largest consulates in the world, where she led and mentored a team of nearly 500, including American officers and Chinese colleagues. Other overseas posts have included positions in Belgrade, Serbia; Mumbai, India; Beijing and Shanghai, China; Taipei, Taiwan, with the American Institute in Taiwan; and the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels. Galt also served as senior advisor in the Bureau of Public Affairs and as deputy director for public diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.
In 2015, she was awarded the Arnold L. Raphel Award for Excellence in Mentoring by the State Department, and the Public Diplomacy Achievement Award by the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association, which recognizes individuals who display the qualities of leadership, imagination, resourcefulness, and determination under often challenging conditions.
Galt, who is from Fort Collins, Colorado, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Colorado College. She holds master’s degrees from the National Defense University and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
John Novembre ’00 is an associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, where he has worked since 2013. Prior to this current position, he worked for five years as an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award. From 2006-2008 he was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in bioinformatics at the University of Chicago.
After graduating cum laude from Colorado College with a degree in biochemistry, he received a doctoral degree in integrative biology with a designated emphasis in computational biology/genomics from the University of California, Berkeley.
As a Boettcher Scholar at CC, he was nominated to Phi Beta Kappa and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. He also conducted undergraduate research and received the Alfred W. Alberts Summer Research Prize and an American Institute of Chemists Award in Biochemistry.
As a population geneticist and computational biologist, Novembre’s research focuses on problems at the intersection of evolutionary history and human genetics. Last year he was named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is a five-year grant awarded to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more accomplishment in the future. Some of Novembre’s other honors and fellowships include being named as a Searle Scholar, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow, and a Sloan Research Fellow.
He has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers and his articles have appeared in journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Genetics, the American Journal of Human Genetics, and Bioinformatics, and others.
Denver native Jamie Torres ’99 is deputy director for the Mayors’ Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP) and director for the Denver Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at the City and County of Denver. Her passion for community engagement and serving others has led to a more than 16-year career at the HRCP, where she has keenly focused on immigration integration centers, helping to make Denver a welcoming place for all residents. During her tenure she has also worked on gender equity, anti-poverty, and anti-racism issues, while reforming institutional and systemic barriers for marginalized populations.
After graduating from Colorado College with a degree in anthropology, Torres accepted a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, Arizona, where her interest in the intersection of health and culture was nourished. This life-transforming experience led her to pursue graduate studies, and in 2004, she received a master’s degree in medical anthropology from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Torres’s passion for community service extends well beyond her professional work. She is board president at Groundwork Denver and was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Denver Housing Authority by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2013, where she serves as treasurer and chair of the Finance and Operations Committee. She recently joined the board of Denver Community Ventures, the nonprofit arm of the Denver Housing Authority.
Torres has previously served as board chair for the Denver Election ACCESO Spanish Language Voter Advisory Board within the Denver Clerk and Recorders Office, KUVO Radio/Rocky Mountain PBS, Denver Sister Cities International, and the Denver Center for Crime Victims.