The ILR School honored two of its most prominent alumni at the Groat and Alpern Awards April 20 in New York City.
Joanne Restivo Jensen ’84 received the Alpern Award from Dean Kevin Hallock at ILR’s signature event. Professor Francine D. Blau ’66 received the Judge William B. Groat Alumni Award.
The awards are presented to ILR alumni who have served the Cornell ILR community and made an impact in the world.
Managing director and private banker at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, Jensen told the crowd of more than 350 at The Pierre hotel that her relatives included garment workers, bricklayers and steamfitters.
“Their workplace environments were exactly what we studied” at ILR, she said. “I am certain that my grandparents, aunts and uncles would appreciate the fact that there was a school that was so interested in advancing the work environments that they were struggling through.”
Jensen, a first-generation college graduate, said while guiding her daughters through the college application process, she realized how “foreign” the process was for her own parents.
“My mother was a secretary, and my father was first a barber, as his father was, and then a police officer. They were limited by their own education, knowledge and financial resources,” Jensen said.
Her parents’ hard work and the school’s contract status tuition made Cornell a possibility and allowed her to “break out of our socio-economic status.”
“It was a gift of love and a future that completely changed my life and gave me the confidence to strive for achievement,” Jensen said.
The Alpern Award was established in 1997 in honor of Jerome Alpern '49, MBA ’50, who attended the event.
David Ticzon ’18 is a writer intern for the ILR School.