Castleton University Recognizes Alumni, Community Members at Annual Gala

Nearly 150 members of the Castleton community came together to celebrate the University’s past, present, and future at the annual Castleton Gala on Saturday, June 22.  

The theme of the third annual event was “A Night Among the Stars,” and Castleton honored several outstanding alumni who have made a difference in their local communities, respective professions, and to the University.

“The individuals we honor this evening truly embrace all aspects of the Castleton Way. I often say that together, we can the world and tonight’s award recipients are proof that we are doing just that,” said Castleton President Dr. Karen M. Scolforo. “They have worked tirelessly to ensure that a friend’s legacy lives on in our students, that both women and men feel safe and respected in relationships, and that members of our community don’t go to bed hungry.”

Thomas Harty ’86 was recognized with the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Alumni Award, which honors alumni who have distinguished themselves through their professional accomplishments and displayed exemplary service to the University and their community. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a Castleton University graduate. Harty serves as the CEO of Meredith Corporation, an American media conglomerate that publishes magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens and owns a group of local television and radio stations. Harty created the Doug MacKenzie Fund, which has raised over $100,000 for the Men’s Lacrosse program since its inception in 2014, to honor his friend and former Castleton lacrosse player.

Jaklyn Van Manen ‘09 was honored with the University’s first-ever Emerging Leader Award. Given to alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years, recipients of this award are making an impact within their community and have demonstrated exceptional success in their chosen field, outstanding character, creative leadership, and a devotion to Castleton. While a student at Castleton, Van Manen helped to establish the CHANGE (Creating, Honoring, Advocating, and Nurturing Gender Equity) Initiative. Her efforts included establishing programming to prevent sexual assault, relationships violence, stalking and harassment. After graduating, she worked as the University’s CHANGE coordinator and was instrumental in establishing a support network for survivors on campus and a bystander intervention model. Van Manen has also worked as a researcher assessing the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on veterans and as director of the One Love Foundation, an organization that seeks to educate college and high school students about relationship violence.

Dan Warnecke ’17 was recognized with the Spartan Service Award of Excellence. Given to individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to the University, Warnecke exemplifies what it means to be a Spartan. Warnecke served as Executive Director of the Rutland Community Cupboard for the past year and has recently transitioned into a role as the associate director of United Way of Rutland County. During his time at Castleton, he was involved in Castleton’s Rotaract Club and was honored with the University’s Community Service Award. Warnecke welcomed Castleton students as volunteers at the Rutland Community Cupboard, an organization that served more than 11,000 individuals in need last year.

Heritage Family Credit Union was named Castleton’s Community Partner of the Year. Heritage Family Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative that offers a wide variety of financial products and services with 11 branches throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. Heritage Family Credit Union is an ardent champion of Castleton University and supports the University, its students, and the Castleton community through various initiatives including the summer concert series, the Castleton Classic Golf Tournament, and more.

The Class of 1957 was recognized as the Castleton Annual Fund Class of the Year, which honors the class that most embodied the spirit of philanthropy at Castleton throughout the last fiscal year.

All proceeds from the Castleton Gala benefit scholarships for the more than 80 percent of Castleton University students who receive need or merit-based financial aid.

Do you know a Castleton alumnus who you think deserves to be recognized for their accomplishments? Nominate them for a distinguished award at