Two Class of 1978 alumni win ILR School’s top awards

John Bickerman ’78, M.S. ’80, is the 2021 Groat Award winner and Mary Zitwer Millman ’78 is the 2021 Alpern Award winner.

“We are very pleased to recognize the many achievements of these two outstanding alumni,” said Alex Colvin, Ph.D. ’99, the ILR School’s Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean and Martin F. Scheinman Professor of Conflict Resolution.

Bickerman is an internationally recognized neutral, an impartial mediator and arbitrator who specializes in complex, multiparty disputes, who has resolved more than $4 billion in claims in more than 40 states.

John Bickerman

Mary Zitwer Millman

He has been retained by dozens of Fortune 500 companies, as well as by all major domestic and many international insurers to resolve commercial disputes. He has also facilitated the resolution of major natural resource, water and environmental disputes between the federal government, U.S. states and American Indian tribes.

Bickerman mediated a decades-long dispute over water rights between Denver and the West Slope communities of Colorado that resulted in the historic Colorado River Cooperative Agreement. He also negotiated a resolution of one of the most significant U.S. fishing rights disputes between five American Indian tribes, the state of Michigan, the United States, sports fishermen and environmentalists.

Principal of Bickerman Dispute Resolution, he is a senior visiting lecturer at ILR, where he has taught “Negotiating and Mediating Environmental Claims” for 10 years. He has been a member of ILR’s Martin and Laurie Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution Board of Advisers since its inception.

“John is a leader in the field of dispute resolution and has brought his expertise back to campus, teaching students and working with ILR’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution,” Colvin said. “Mary has been an exemplary ILRie from her time as student through her many years of deep commitment and service to ILR and the Cornell community.”

Millman, affiliated with Brown Harris Stevens in Manhattan, has worked as an attorney in corporate law, litigation and bankruptcy, has been a partner at a New York law firm and served as a bankruptcy trustee in Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in the Southern District of New York.

She also served as an assistant trustee in the Office of the United States Trustee at the Department of Justice in New York’s Southern District. As an attorney, she prepared documents for submission to the U.S. Supreme Court and appeared in federal courts throughout the country, representing debtors and creditors’ committees and the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union National Retirement Fund.

Several years ago, she and her family, and fellow alumna Mary Wilensky Kahn ’79, established the Kahn-Millman Public Health Fellowship at Gannett Health Services (now Cornell Health) to foster student health and well-being.

She supports programs including the ILR Freshman Colloquium, the ILR Katz International Experience Fund, the ILR Annual Fund and the ILR Faculty Excellence Fund, among others. Millman was a member of the ILR Dean’s Advisory Council, and is a member of the ILR Alumni Association Board of Directors and also serves as co-chair of the New York City chapter.

Millman has served on two Cornell Reunion committees, supported the Cornell Women’s Network, hosted alumni dinners in New York City and supported medical research at Weill Cornell Medicine. She served on the board of directors of Cornell Hillel and remains on its advisory board. Currently, Millman serves on the Cornell University Council and the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network.

Millman is president of the Eugene Zitwer Foundation, a charity offering support to seriously ill children and their families in the New York City area.

The Jerome Alpern Award was established in 1997 and named in honor of Jerome Alpern '49, MBA ’50 for his contributions of outstanding service and support to the ILR School, its students and its alumni, combined with his professional accomplishments outside the field of industrial and labor relations.

The Groat Award was established in 1971 in honor of Judge William B. Groat (1899-1986), a justice on the New York State Supreme Court, Eleventh Judicial District, who served as counsel to the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Industrial and Labor Relations, where he played a pivotal role in founding the ILR School.

Mary Catt is director of communications at the ILR School.

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Rebecca Valli