Department ofGermanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

Alumni Award Winners

Alumni Award Winners

German and Slavic Languages and Literatures

2024 Award Winner

Madhury Ray ’04 Russian, Mathematics and Pre-medicine

Madhury (Didi) Ray, MD, MPH, CEM is an innovator in disaster management working at the intersection of medicine, data, health equity, and public health at the New York City Health Department. Her projects integrate diverse disciplines, from inventing a novel, participatory method to define disaster risk to standing up NYC’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination sites to designing NYC’s first hyperlocal emergency response. Her interdisciplinary approach to innovation began 20 years ago, when she graduated as a triple major in Russian, Mathematics, and Premedicine from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by medical degree from Drexel University, general surgery training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California in Los Angeles, and a Masters in Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School with a specialization in Global Health and a concentration in Humanitarian Studies. Dr. Ray counts her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution as one of her most formative experiences. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Center for Conflict Resolution (IC4CR) and was named a 40 Under 40 Rising Leader in Public Health by the deBeaumont Foundation. Dr. Ray’s current work centers climate change’s impact on human health, the greatest emerging public health threat of our time.

2023 Award Winners

Carey Barnes ’82 MA Slavic Languages and Literatures  

Carey Barnes earned bachelor’s degrees in French and Russian at Bucknell University, followed by two master’s degrees at Penn State—a master of arts degree in Russian and an MBA. Since 1984, Carey has worked for and held leadership positions at several companies, culminating in her becoming the owner and chief executive officer of Plan 365, Inc., a company offering services to help clients with their marketing and sales performance. Self-described as a “serial entrepreneur,” Carey recently sold Plan 365 to the Raleigh, North Carolina-based BCD Meetings & Events and served as its managing director for a little more than a year. Now retired, Carey concentrates on opportunities to give back to the community by helping entrepreneurs, small business owners, and charitable enterprises focused on children and seniors in need. She currently serves as a member of the boards of directors for the Aquinas Leadership Group and the Music Maker Relief Foundation.

Jaz Azari ‘06 German and International Relations

Jaz Azari earned a BA in German Studies and a BA in International Relations in 2006 and obtained a Master’s degree in War Studies from King’s College London. She is currently a Senior Consultant at the management consulting firm Guidehouse. At the beginning of her career, Jaz worked for the United States Marine Corps as a research analyst for The Center for Advanced Operational Cultural Learning. She later was a Social Scientist embedded with an Army brigade in Diyala, Iraq, speaking with the Iraqi population to understand their perceptions, motivations, and needs. Jaz then became a political officer in the Foreign Service, serving as the Staff Assistant to the Ambassador in Embassy Nairobi in Kenya. She also had positions working on policy issues, from political to environment, science, technology, health, for Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. Jaz moved on to become a Program Manager spearheading new interactive programs as a quasi news anchor and co-leading live media broadcasts for President Obama’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative. She also was the lead for Cabinet-level interagency planning for then Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Our Ocean Conference”. Jaz has received awards throughout her career, including a Certificate of Commendation from the U.S. Marine Corps and multiple awards from her time serving in and supporting the Department of State for her leadership and innovation in her work. Jaz also was a Government Fellow for the think tank the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Geneva, Switzerland. Jaz has published on topics such as terrorism and military psychology, and she is the author of two fantasy fiction novels: The Noble Rogues and The Obsidian Staff.

2022 Award Winner

Carolyn Mudrinich Weiss  ’81 BA German

Carolyn Mudrinich Weiss has been a chief financial and investment officer at foundations for the past 15 years. She leads teams responsible for investments, finance, taxation, and technology. She has built investment and technology platforms for foundations with sophisticated needs, with assets under management ranging from $200 million to $4 billion. Early in her career, Carolyn was a vice president at Deutsche Bank and senior manager at KPMG and worked in both New York City and Germany for both firms. Carolyn holds a B.A. in German from Penn State.

2020 Award Winner

Kevin Ruth ’95 BA German and French, ’97 MA Comparative Literature

Kevin Ruth graduated from Penn State with a B.A. in German and French (1995). While studying in Regensburg and Strasbourg, he earned an MA in Comparative Literature at Penn State as well in 1997. He then went on to earn a PhD in Medieval Studies at Rutgers University in 2004. Mr. Ruth moved through teaching and administrative positions to become the President of Moreland University an online university focused on teacher education.

2019 Award Winner

Lori Feathers ’90 BA Russian

Lori Feathers is the co-founder of Interabang Books in Dallas, Texas.  She retired in March 2017 as associate general counsel of Pioneer Resources, based in Dallas, TX to open the bookstore with two business partners. A sister store is planned for Houston.

Lori earned joint law and masters degrees in international relations at American University in 1993 after which she took a position at the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.  At Commerce, she traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union (spending time in 13 of the 15 former Soviet republics) as a member of various delegations working on US trade and investment issues in the region.  After four years at Commerce, Lori was hired as an international oil and gas attorney for Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and moved to Dallas. While at ARCO Lori negotiated with Rosneft, Lukoil, and the Georgian State Oil Company on billion-dollar oil exploration and infrastructure deals, earning lots of frequent flier miles meeting with officials in Moscow and Tbilisi. When ARCO was acquired by British Petroleum in 2000, Lori joined the Dallas law firm of Haynes and Boone as an international attorney.  Then in 2005, she was hired by independent oil and gas producer, Pioneer Natural Resources, as the Associate General Counsel for International Business.

Lori serves on the Board of the National Book Critics Circle and is a judge for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award. In addition to writing book reviews for several publications, she is an Assistant Managing Editor for Asymptote and serves on the Resident Reading Committee for Dallas-based Carve Magazine.