New Trier Names 10 Outstanding Alumni to Receive Achievement Awards

New Trier Township High School has selected 10 outstanding alumni for its first-ever Alumni Achievement Awards and induction into a new Hall of Honor at the school.

The honorees are: Todd Golub '81, Anna Halprin '38, Sam Harris '54, Christie Hefner '70, Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. '37, Donald Rumsfeld '50, Jack Steinberger '38, Geoffrey Tabin '74, Richard Williamson '67 and Rainn Wilson '84. (Biographical information on each honoree is below).  

 These extraordinary alumni truly are a testament to the quality and character of New Trier’s graduates,” said New Trier District 203 Superintendent Linda Yonke. “It was difficult to narrow the field of nominees, but ultimately, these first inductees were chosen for lives and careers spent upholding the New Trier values of inquiry, compassion, and service.”

Nearly 90 nominations were submitted, and the inaugural group was chosen by a Selection Committee that included alumni, New Trier staff members, a current student, and representatives of the New Trier Educational Foundation.

The Educational Foundation, in coordination with the District, will host an awards dinner honoring the inductees on March 22 at the Sunset Ridge Country Club. The Foundation provides private funding for exceptional educational opportunities that are not funded – or are funded only in part - by the District 203 budget, and has funded numerous grant requests annually since 2002 to support initiatives of the faculty, staff and students.

“The Foundation is proud to be hosting the award dinner and ceremony honoring the inaugural recipients of the Alumni Achievement Award.  The Foundation’s ability to support the New Trier faculty, staff and students by funding educational programs and opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable depends on the support we receive from our alumni,” said Educational Foundation Board President Harry J. Secaras. “It’s a privilege for the Foundation to work cooperatively with the Board and the Administration in paying tribute to these deserving alumni.”

Nominations stay active for five years, so nominees who did not make the first group of inductees may be considered in future years.

“Our honorees embody New Trier's mission to commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion and lives to the service of humanity,” said Susan Noyes, an Educational Foundation Board memberand former New Trier Board of Education member who is chairing the Event Committee. “Because not all the well-qualified nominees could be included in this first group, we are assured of outstanding honorees in future years, too.”

Honorees also will participate in student events at New Trier during the week of the awards ceremony. More information on the dinner, including how to reserve tickets, will be available after the first of the year at



Todd Golub, Class of 1981

Dr. Todd Golub is a leading cancer researcher and founding member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a unique partnership of Harvard, MIT, and the Harvard teaching hospitals that uses cross-disciplinary collaboration to meet the most critical challenges in biology and medicine. Golub currently is the Charles Dana Investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He has won numberous awards and international recognition from peers for his scientific contributions, which focus on the invention and use of methods inspired or enabled by the Human Genome Project to understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. As just a few examples of his vast body of research, Golub discovered a novel gene and molecular mechanism underlying a form of adult leukemia and another cause of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research and was appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors. Golub received a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. At New Trier, Golub was involved in the performing arts as a crew member and member of the Board for Lagniappe, New Trier’s annual student-written and produced variety show.

Anna Halprin, Class of 1938

Anna Halprin is a pioneer in the field of postmodern dance known for her groundbreaking work in the expressive arts healing movement. Her love of dance began in her childhood in Winnetka, where she took interpretive dance lessons. After graduating from New Trier, she studied dance at the University of Wisconsin and became the mentee of the renowned dance educator Margaret H’Doubler. Halprin founded the San Francisco Dancer's Workshop in 1955 and the Tamalpa Institute in 1978 with her daughter, Daria Halprin. Her students include Meredith Monk, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Ruth Emmerson, and Sally Gross. Halprin has created 150 full-length dance theater works, including several with a focus on social issues such as world peace. She has led countless collaborative dance programs with terminally ill patients, committed to her belief in the connection between movement and the healing power of dance. Halprin has received numerous honors and awards, including recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Dance Guild, among others. In 1997, Halprin received the Samuel H. Scripps Award for Lifetime Achievement in Modern Dance from the American Dance Festival. The Dance Heritage Coalition named Halprin one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.” At New Trier, Halprin was Head of Dancing and was very involved in the GAA (girls’ athletics), playing sports including fistball, tennis, and table tennis.

Sam Harris, Class of 1954

Sam Harris was just a child in Deblin, Poland, when he and his family were rounded up for deportation to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. His father pushed him out of line and told him to run and hide, allowing him to escape death. Though the Deblin ghetto was eventually converted into a concentration camp, Harris hid from the guards and was able to survive even when those in the ghetto were moved to another camp.  After the camp’s liberation, he lived in orphanages and a foster home until 1948, when he was adopted by a Northbrook couple, Dr. Ellis and Harriet Harris. After graduation from New Trier, he went to college and became a successful insurance executive who rarely spoke about his Holocaust experiences. After hearing of a Holocaust denier, though, he became inspired to speak out, and educating others about the Holocaust soon became a passion. He spoke in synagogues and at schools and wrote a book, “Sammy: A Child Survivor of the Holocaust.” He wanted to do something more, though, and eventually became a driving force behind what would become the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, which opened in 2009 with a keynote address by President Bill Clinton. Today, Harris serves as President of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois and continues to speak before school groups, including regular appearances at New Trier. At New Trier, Harris was elected senior class president and was heavily involved in activities and athletics.

Christie Hefner, Class of 1970

Christie Hefner is not only a prominent and successful businesswoman, but also an advocate for social justice, women’s rights, AIDS research, and First Amendment freedoms. After graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis University, Hefner began working at the company her father founded, Playboy Enterprises. She was promoted to vice president after five years and became president of the company in 1982, then chairman and CEO in 1988. She stepped down in 2009 after more than 20 years leading the company, allowing her to devote more time to her charitable work, which had been a major focus even during the years she led Playboy. Hefner helped found three powerful women's organizations: EMILY's List, which raises money for pro-choice, Democratic women political candidates; The Chicago Network, an organization of prominent women working together to help other women; and The Committee of 200, an international organization of successful women business owners and executives. She served as project director of Chicago's CORE Center, raising $30 million to build a four-story, 60,000 square foot facility that provides a comprehensive range of outpatient care to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. She also has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her work promoting AIDS research and treatment, free speech, diversity and inclusiveness. During her time at New Trier, Hefner was involved in Girls Ensemble, Choir, and Potpourri, the annual student-written and produced variety show.

Arthur C. Nielsen Jr., Class of 1937

Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. is a business visionary who helped the company his father founded, the Nielsen Company, grow from a marketing research firm with approximately 1,000 U.S. employees to a worldwide powerhouse with nearly 22,000 employees operating in 25 countries. As president and eventually CEO, Nielsen saw the potential of technology in managing data and in 1948 invested in development of the first general-purpose computer.  Nielsen’s contributions to his community and country are equally impressive. He donated and funded the Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. Campus at the North Shore Senior Center in Northfield, which provides seniors with a place to socialize, learn, and remain active in their community. He also was integral in the founding of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, and he has served on dozens of business and charitable boards. Nielsen served more than four years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, attaining the rank of Major and earning the Legion of Merit Award. He was a presidential advisor for the Peace Corps, Small Business Administration, and Health Education. During his time at New Trier, Nielsen was president of the Tri-Ship Club and captain of the tennis team. He holds four U.S. Championship titles in tennis.  Nielsen has remained active at New Trier, chairing past Curriculum Committees and helping organize his 70th class reunion.

Donald Rumsfeld, Class of 1950

Donald Rumsfeld served as the United States’ 13th and 21st Secretary of Defense and is the only person to hold that Cabinet position for non-consecutive terms. His long record of service to his country began when he joined the U.S. Navy in 1954, where he served as a naval aviator and flight instructor and retired as a captain in the Naval Reserve. Rumsfeld served as an assistant to two congressmen before he made his own run for Congress, winning his first term representing Illinois’ 13th Congressional District in 1962 at the age of 30. He resigned from Congress in 1969 to join President Nixon's Cabinet, where he served successively as the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program, and U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Rumsfeld chaired President Gerald R. Ford’s transition to the presidency and served as White House Chief of Staff. In 1975, he was named Secretary of Defense, the youngest in the country's history, and oversaw the transition to an all-volunteer military. In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rumsfeld moved to private industry in 1977, serving  in leadership roles at G.D. Searle & Co., General Instrument Corporation, and Gilead Sciences, Inc. He returned to Washington to serve as Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006. In 2007, Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce, established the Rumsfeld Foundation, building on the work of the Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation, established in 1985. Since 2007, the Foundation has granted over 50 fellowships for U.S. graduate students and young leaders from Central Asia, provided over $2.1 million in microfinance grants, and donated more than $200,000 to charities for U.S. veterans.  At New Trier, Rumsfeld was Vice President of Tri-Ship and a member of the wrestling and football teams.

Jack Steinberger, Class of 1938

Jack Steinberger is a renowned physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988 for his co-discovery of the muon neutrino. Steinberger grew up in Germany but was forced to flee with his brother to the United States during the rise of the Nazis in 1934. Barnett Faroll, a successful grain broker, took Steinberger in , oversaw his education at New Trier, and helped bring his parents and younger brother to the area in 1938. Steinberger earned a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1942 and joined the Army, where he was assigned to the Signal Corps at MIT. He returned to graduate studies at the University of Chicago in 1946, studying under Edward Teller and Enrico Fermi. After receiving his doctorate, Steinberger continued his research at Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley, but was forced to leave Berkeley after refusing to sign a non-Communist oath. He joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1950 and then in 1968 began a long career with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where he continues to work today. Along with Leon Lederman and Melvin Schwartz,  he received the Nobel Prize in 1988 for the neutrino beam method that they developed at Columbia University and the discovery that there are at least two kinds of neutrino. Steinberger has returned to New Trier over the years to speak to students and donated his Nobel Prize medal to the school, where it is displayed in the Winnetka Campus Library. During his time at New Trier, Steinberger was part of the Honor Group.

Geoffrey Tabin, Class of 1974

Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, a Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, has spent his career working to prevent cataract blindness in developing nations. Tabin, an avid mountain climber who has reached the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, first developed an interest in helping those at risk of treatable blindness after climbing Mt. Everest and encountering a team performing surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. He co-founded the Himalayan Cataract Project in 2004 with Dr. Sanduk Ruit in Nepal, who pioneered an inexpensive method of operating on cataracts to cure preventable blindness. The two doctors have taken that technology into the field to perform surgeries at several high-volume eye surgery camps. As a result, the HCP has prevented blindness in more than 500,000 people in Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and North Korea. The project has recently expanded into Africa.  After graduating from New Trier, Tabin earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a Master of Arts in philosophy at Oxford University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. An IHSA medalist on New Trier’s tennis team, Tabin also served on the Social Service Board and Tri-Ship while at New Trier.

Richard Williamson, Class of 1967

Richard Williamson, a former U.S. Ambassador and recent Special Envoy to the President in Sudan, has turned his long career serving the U.S. government into a mission to educate others about what can be done to address genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity across the globe. Williamson worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Rep. Philip Crane and served two years in President Ronald Reagan’s administration as Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs before beginning his work in multilateral diplomacy. He focused on nuclear nonproliferation as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. offices in Vienna and then was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Affairs as well as Coordinator for Afghanistan Peace Accords and Humanitarian Assistance. After a break from diplomatic service to practice law, he served in various roles as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in peacekeeping operations, counterterrorism, and the Commission on Human Rights before his appointment in 2008 as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan, where he worked to stem the genocide and to work toward an end to the civil war. His challenges there led him to his work in education; he is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he is focusing on developing a human rights center. At New Trier, Williamson was captain of the football team, a Tri-Ship Board member, president of the N Club, and an Eagle Scout.

Rainn Wilson, Class of 1984

Rainn Wilson is an Emmy-nominated actor best known for his roles as Dwight Schrute on NBC’s “The Office” and Arthur Martin on HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” He also has starred in several feature films, including “Juno” and “The Rocker.” Wilson transferred to New Trier after his family moved to Wilmette to serve at the Bahá'í National Center. His deep involvement in that faith led to his work with several charities, including serving as a spokesman and activist for the Bahá'í-inspired The Mona Foundation, which supports worldwide projects under three guiding principles: universal education, the equality of men and women, and community building. Wilson also has worked for several other charities supporting children, women, and girls around the world, including Artists for Peace and Justice, Milk+Bookies, and the Tahirih Justice Center. He recently founded the website SoulPancake, which encourages users to “speak your mind, unload your questions, and figure out what it means to be human” and is the author of the new book “SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions.” Wilson holds a Master of Fine Arts from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and was a member of The Acting Company. During his time at New Trier, Wilson was on the staff of WNTH, played in the symphony orchestra, and served on the senior steering committee.