2020-2021 Alumni Award Winners Visit with US Students

Photo (from top, l to r): Catherine A. Chomiak ’05, Shira Concool ’06, Patrick L. Courtney ’85, Christopher L. Jones ’91, Paris L. McLean ’00, Tania Schoennagel ’86, Julie K. Taitsman ’90 and Lisa A. Warren ’71

Princeton Day School's eight Alumni Award recipients for 2020 and 2021 participated in virtual sessions on May 14, 2021, as part of the School's virtual Alumni weekend activities. Eight sessions, featuring Catherine A. Chomiak ’05, Shira Concool ’06, Patrick L. Courtney ’85, Christopher L. Jones ’91, Paris L. McLean ’00, Tania Schoennagel ’86, Julie K. Taitsman ’90 and Lisbeth A. Warren ’71 offered US students the choice of which conversations to join to hear about the PDS and career journeys of these accomplished alumni in a range of fields. 

After reviewing bios of each of the alumni guests, students on campus gathered in designated classrooms to watch their chosen speaker on the DTENs while remote students also participated via Zoom. It was an afternoon of inspiration, learning and Panther pride, as Acting Head of School Chris Rhodes commented in his weekly letter to US families: "As we all know, our School's strength lies in its community. Today, Upper School students had the chance to meet virtually with eight distinguished alumni. It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about the many ways one can navigate life and find fulfillment."

2020 John D. Wallace ’48 Alumni Service Award: Julie K. Taitsman ’90  

Pandemics, opioid addiction, Medicare fraud, ancient Indian treaties; these are just a few of the issues that could cross Julie Taitsman’s desk on any given day. She’s the Chief Medical Officer for the Office of Inspector General, the agency that ensures the health and safety of beneficiaries of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs—essentially all Americans. Her focus is on protecting and overseeing services for vulnerable populations and she uses both her law and medical degrees as OIG’s primary resource on clinical and scientific issues. Julie worked to combat the Ebola and HIV/AIDS outbreaks and is now leading the agency’s response to COVID-19. 

2020 Alumni Achievement Award: Patrick L. Courtney ’85        

Pat Courtney is the Chief Communications Officer for Major League Baseball and the principal spokesman for Commissioner Rob Manfred. He’s responsible for supervising all aspects of the organization’s communications and media relations as well as its initiatives in social responsibility and philanthropy. For more than 25 years, Pat’s directed media operations at Major League Baseball’s premier events such as the World Series and the All-Star Game and has been one of MLB’s top liaisons to its 30 Clubs. In 2009, he received the prestigious Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence, as voted on by his peers. Last spring, Pat was part of the leadership effort that led the MLB to be the first professional U.S. sports league to start and finish a season during the pandemic.

Alumni Awards and HOF Inductee visitors 2020 and 2021 Catherine Chomiak '05

Photo: Catherine Chomiak meeting with 9th graders in Shepherd Commons

2020 Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Catherine A. Chomiak ’05

Early in her television career, Katie Chomiak became a State Department Producer for Andrea Mitchell Reports and traveled with the journalist to 31 countries, producing live, hour-long remote broadcasts. She then spent five years in Abu Dhabi as Senior Producer for CNN International’s flagship Middle East prime time show, Connect the World with Becky Anderson. She filmed special editions of the show in Jerusalem, London, Amman, Doha and Riyadh; the two-hour program, for which Katie supervised all aspects of production, received three Emmy nominations. In 2019, she returned to Washington, DC and in March 2020, she reunited with Andrea Mitchell as Senior Producer on Ms. Mitchell's MSNBC show.

Alumni Awards and HOF Inductee visitors 2020 and 2021_Paris McLean '00

Photo: Paris L. McLean conversing with 10th and 11th graders  

2020 Athletic Hall of Fame: Paris L. McLean ’00

In only two years at PDS, Paris McLean made his presence felt as a three-sport powerhouse and magnetic team leader. He captained the football and basketball teams and received All-State and/or All-Prep recognition in football, basketball, and baseball. At LaSalle University he played four years of football and was repeatedly recognized with national and state honors. He was named a Scholar-Athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and, in 2003, was one of only 22 college football players nationwide selected for the All-State Good Works Team. In 2004, he returned to PDS to teach Lower School and coach football and basketball and was voted Basketball Coach of the Year by local newspapers in 2008, 2011 and 2012. He is now Assistant Head of School at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart.

2021 John D. Wallace ’48 Alumni Service Award: Lisa A. Warren ’71

Volunteer service has been a hallmark of Lisa Warren's life. Her legal expertise and thoughtful leadership have guided organizations at the national, state and local levels. Her 36-year affiliation with Visions and Pathways, an organization that provides housing and support services for abused, neglected and homeless youth, contributed greatly to the expansion and success of the nonprofit. Lisa sits on the PDS Alumni Board and co-coaches the school’s Mock Trial Team. She’s also a trustee of SAVE animal shelter and volunteers with the NJ Law and Education Empowerment Project where she coaches debate and mock trial, helps students with résumé writing and interview skills and mentors a tenth grader.

Alumni Awards and HOF Inductee visitors 2020 and 2021-Christopher Jones '91

Photo: Christoper L. Jones speaking with 11th graders in the Wellemeyer STEAM Center.

2021 Alumni Achievement Award: Christopher L. Jones ’91 

Chris Jones is an internationally recognized blockchain expert and technology veteran who has launched several successful startups and helped shape others. His choice of projects is colored as much by his belief in a company’s business plan as with the opportunities it offers to effect positive change within the community. Fresh out of college, he worked to establish one of the first nonprofits that combined academics and athletics in an after-school program for inner city students. Today, he’s an investor in Console USA, a technology outsourcing company that seeks to leverage the untapped energy and talent in typically overlooked communities. He volunteers as a soccer coach and has been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at both PDS and Georgetown University.

2021 Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Shira Concool ’06

Shira Concool is dedicated to the pursuit of racial equity and social justice and works, both professionally and in her personal life, to foster understanding and improve her community. She’s a psychotherapist whose experience in college and community counseling centers led to the opening of her own private practice where she works with multi-faith and interracial couples and offers career and mental health counseling. In addition, she seeks to support queer and transgender clients and help them navigate their complex identity issues. Shira studied racism in both the U.S. and abroad and battles prejudice as a community activist and organizer.

2021 Athletic Hall of Fame: Tania Schoennagel ’86

The PDS field hockey and lacrosse teams on which Tania Schoennagel played competed in a highly competitive league and captured seven Prep A State Championships. As a freshman, she made the girls varsity ice hockey team after learning to skate only the summer before and, in her senior year, she helped the team amass a 10-1 record. She captained all the varsity teams on which she played and was awarded the Gold P at graduation. She went on to play Division I field hockey and lacrosse at Dartmouth College. Today she still plays ice hockey and takes advantage of the nearby Rocky Mountains to go hiking, trail running, biking and cross-country and telemark skiing.

Read profiles of each of our 2020 and 2021 Alumni Award winners and Athletics Hall of Fame inductees in the 2021 Spring Journal.

More News