For nearly four decades, educator, author, scholar and Dominican Republic native Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis has been a leader in the advancement of educational opportunities and a pioneer in the field of Dominican women studies. President of Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) in Waterbury and Danbury since 2008, De Filippis has built a legacy of shared community vision, student-centeredness, collaboration and civic engagement, and under her guidance student retention has risen, enrollment has increased and graduation awards have more than doubled. In September 2016, NVCC was named one of the Top 25 community colleges nationwide in advancing opportunities for low-income students. Dr. De Filippis holds a Ph.D. in Spanish language and a M. Phil. in Spanish literature from the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY, an M.A. in Spanish literature and a B.A. in Spanish and English Literatures from Queens College, CUNY. In 2016, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities by the University of Santo Domingo, the oldest university in the Americas, in recognition of her contributions to Dominican, Caribbean and Dominican Diaspora literature.
One of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, Adnan Durrani is Chief Executive Officer of American Halal/Saffron Road Foods in Stamford and President of Condor Ventures, Inc., a strategic investor in natural food companies. Saffron Road is the first Halal product to be sold nationally by Whole Foods and is now sold in 15,000 food stores in the U.S. Mr. Durrani has been recognized as one of the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who engineered "20 Ideas That Changed the Way the World Does Business." He founded Vermont Pure/Crystal Rock Water Co., the second-largest bottled water company in the Northeast, and was a financial partner of Stonyfield Farms, Inc., the leading organic yogurt brand. He was also a principal of Delicious Brands, Inc., which became the nation’s fifth largest cookie brand. A graduate of Columbia University, Mr. Durrani is Chairman Emeritus of Columbia’s Board of Visitors of the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is the former Director, Treasurer and Finance Chair of READ (Rural Education and Development Enterprise) Nepal, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded organization devoted to building libraries in rural communities in Nepal and India.
Since moving to New Haven in 1961, the Koh Family has made monumental contributions in the fields of international relations, health and human rights. As South Korean natives, the late Kwang Lim Koh and his wife, 89-year-old Dr. Hesung Chun Koh, dedicated their lives to inspiring cross-cultural exchange, Kwang Lim as former South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. and Professor and Director of the Center for Area and Interdisciplinary Studies at CCSU, Hesung Chun as Co-Founder, Chair and President Emerita of East Rock Institute, the first U.S. institution dedicated to Korean Diaspora culture. Their six accomplished children include: Dr. Howard Kyongju Koh, the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School, is a former Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health; Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law and former Dean at Yale Law School, and former Legal Adviser and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights at the U.S. Dept. of State, is a leading expert in public and private international law, national security law and human rights; and Jean Kyongun Koh Peters, the Sol Goldman Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School and an expert in children, families and the law.
Born in Bagrowo, Poland in 1930, the late Dr. Stanislaw Milewski overcame wartime oppression as a child to become a leading ophthalmologist, mentor and humanitarian in the U.S. Deported with family to Russia in 1940, Dr. Milewski made his way to the U.S. in 1959, earning medical degrees and completing various internships, residencies and fellowships at esteemed medical centers including Leicester Royal Infirmary (England) and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary of Harvard Medical School among others. He established Retina Consultants, P.C., in Manchester in the 1970s, and was Chief of Ophthalmology at Manchester Memorial Hospital for 15 years, where he was the first to perform vitreoretinal surgery in the Hartford area. Dr. Milewski established the Milewski Polish Studies Lecture Endowment Fund at CCSU, the Milewski Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, and over the years donated nearly half a million dollars in ophthalmic equipment to various universities in Poland. Among his many awards were the Cavalier Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996 and the Outstanding Physician Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 from ECHN, Manchester Memorial Hospital and Rockville General Hospital.