The Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction was established in 2012 by the Auburn Education Foundation to honor those Auburn public school graduates who have distinguished themselves through outstanding academic, professional, personal or civic achievements. This recognition also serves as an inspiration to current students and highlights that an Auburn education can be the beginning of successful endeavors and accomplishments.
The Auburn Education Foundation proudly recognizes the five individuals who will be inducted into the Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction Class of 2019: Michael Lynch, Brian McKeon, Tricia Purdy Messinger, Julie Jordan DiPalma and John Liberatore.
• Michael Lynch is a renowned biologist and leader in the study of evolution at the Center For Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University. He graduated from Auburn East High School in 1969 and became the first member of his family to attend college. He received an undergraduate degree in biology from St. Bonaventure University and a Ph.D. in ecology and behavioral biology from the University of Minnesota. His papers have been cited in the scientific literature more than 60,000 times, and he gives about 20 talks annually all over the world. His research focuses on the genetic mechanisms of evolution.
• Brian McKeon has over 30 years of federal government experience, including top positions at the White House, the Pentagon and the Senate. He graduated from Auburn High School in 1981. He received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Brian worked for over 20 years in the Senate for Sen. Joe Biden and then served in the Obama administration in various national security positions. Today, he is a senior director at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania, a foreign policy institute based in Washington, D.C.
• Tricia Purdy Messinger is currently senior vice president and head of UnitedHealth Group's external affairs. UnitedHealth Group, No. 5 on the Fortune 500 list, is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. Tricia graduated from Auburn High School in 1996 and received a B.A. from Loyola University. At UnitedHealth Group, Tricia focuses on effectively positioning the enterprise with key audiences at the federal and state levels. This includes leading policy, public affairs, advocacy, thought leadership and philanthropic efforts.
• Julie Jordan DiPalma is an award-winning owner of The Law Offices of Jordan DiPalma PLLC, specializing in personal injury and wrongful death litigation. Her ability to obtain successful outcomes for her plaintiff clients has led her to be named to The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 for three consecutive years. Julie graduated from Auburn High School in 1997 and then from the University of Rochester with a dual degree in political science and health and society. She earned her law degree at Syracuse University College of Law. Julie was the head of the nursing home neglect and abuse practice at a Rochester firm before opening her own practice.
• John Liberatore is a renowned composer and pianist who is presently an assistant professor of theory and composition at the University of Notre Dame. He graduated from Auburn High School in 2003, Syracuse University and the Eastman School of Music (Ph.D., M.M.). His music has received hundreds of performances in venues around the world. He has written for many top-tier performers in classical music, including Grammy-winning artists Roomful of Teeth, Molly Barth and Nicolas Photinos, principals from major orchestras and internationally renowned soloists. John is also one of the world’s few glass harmonica players. In 2018, Albany Records released “Line Drawings,” a portrait album of his chamber music that features his recording debut on the glass harmonica.
These five distinguished alumni will be honored for their achievements and inducted into the Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction at an hors d’oeuvres and dessert reception at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Tickets are available for $35 on AEF’s website, auburnedfoundation.org. Please join us as we honor these five accomplished graduates of Auburn public schools.
If you know of someone who is deserving of this honor, please fill out the nomination form found on AEF’s website. Nominations are accepted at any time and are kept and reviewed each year by the selection committee. With the class of 2019, 42 graduates will be esteemed members of the Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction. Biographies of all past inductees can be found on the website.