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Forward under 40 awards honor 12 young UW-Madison alumni

March 1, 2010

Susanne Rust was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative journalism. While at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rust and a colleague broke a story about the failure of the U.S. government to protect Americans from chemicals in plastics.

In Washington, D.C., Elsworth Rockefeller is chief of young adult services for the District of Columbia Public Library System, where he advocates for youth with disabilities and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Rust and Rockefeller have very different career paths, but they have two things in common: They’re both under age 40, and their work is making a real difference.

They are among the 12 outstanding alumni of the University of Wisconsin–Madison being honored with this year’s Forward under 40 awards from the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA).

“We are proud to recognize our younger generation of alumni for their commitment to demonstrating the Wisconsin Idea in all that they do,” says Paula Bonner, WAA’s president and CEO. “They are positive contributors to their communities here in Wisconsin, across the country and around the world.”

The Wisconsin Idea is the 106-year-old guiding philosophy of UW–Madison outreach efforts to touch the lives of people in Wisconsin and throughout the world.

Honorees are featured in Forward under 40, a publication distributed this month to UW–Madison alumni and WAA members. Interactive profiles of the award winners are available at

The 2010 award recipients are:

  • Aaron Bishop ’94,’95, MS’00, Silver Spring, Md. Professional staff for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and advocate for persons with disabilities.
  • Phil Chavez ’94, JD’98, Milwaukee. Milwaukee Municipal Court judge and member of the board of directors of Special Olympics-Wisconsin.
  • Jerry Halverson ’94, MD’99, Fitchburg, Wis. Psychiatrist and assistant professor at UW–Madison, and president of the Dane County Medical Society.
  • Megan Johnson ’00, Chicago. Educator with Hostelling International-Chicago and founder of the Cultural Kitchen and Exchange Neighborhoods programs for high school students.
  • Britt Lintner ’92, London. Founder and owner of Britt Lintner Designs, a fashion label for professional women worn by the British Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown.
  • Brian Riedl ’98, Alexandria, Va. Grover Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs for The Heritage Foundation and public educator on government spending.
  • Elsworth Rockefeller MA’06, Washington, D.C. Chief of young adult services with the District of Columbia Public Library System and advocate for LGBT youth and youth with disabilities.
  • Angela Rose ’02, Chicago. Advocate for prevention of sexual violence, and founder and CEO of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE).
  • Susanne Rust MS’99, Menlo Park, Calif. 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist, award-winning science and medical investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University.
  • -Ahna Skop PhD’00, Sun Prairie, Wis. Assistant professor at UW–Madison and advocate for the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) and minority students in science.
  • Chad Sorenson ’99, MS’01, MBA’02, Oregon, Wis. President and founder of Sologear, a company that sells FlameDisk, a solid ethanol alternative to charcoal for use in outdoor grills.
  • Nelson Tansu ’98, PhD’03, Bethlehem, Penn. Associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh University, where he has made significant scientific advances. He also holds several U.S. patents.

Participation and membership in WAA and its chapters are open to all graduates, students and friends of UW–Madison. More information about WAA’s chapters and affiliate groups is available at