The 9th Annual Tommy Awards

Since 2009, USC’s annual Tommy Awards have offered an evening of recognition, celebration, and performance in honor of the contributions made by alumni to the cultural, philanthropic, and business communities of New York / Tri-State area.  All proceeds benefit the USC Alumni Club of New York’s scholarship fund, enabling the club to award scholarships to current students from the greater New York area.

Event photos found on the official USC Alumni Association Flickr.

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Tommy Award Winners

David Bach – Annenberg ’90 – Financial Author (The Automatic Millionaire, Debt Free for Life, Smart Women Finish Rich)Thomas Bahler – Thornton ’67 – Composer
Brandon Baylock – Viterbi ’79, MS ’83 – President & CEO, Airmall USA, Inc.; Partner, Faros Infrastructure Partners, LLC
John Blair – Dornsife ’77, Marshall MBA ’82 – Director, Credit Suisse (retired)
Steven Cantor – Cinematic Arts MFA ’95 – Filmmaker, CEO, Stick Figure Productions
Timothy Coleman – Marshall ’79 – Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
Heather Cruz – Viterbi ’89 – Partner, Investment Management, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates
Tom Deierlein – Viterbi ’93 – Co-founder & CEO, ThunderCat Technology
Brennan Diaz – Marshall ’06 – Portfolio Manager, Juno Capital
Sadie Diaz – Marshall ’06 – Attorney, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services
Jonie Fu – School of Architecture ’85 – Partner, Cooper, Robertson & Partners, Architects
Marilyn Horne – Thornton ’53 – Opera Singer
Stephen Ligouri – Marshall ’81 – Executive Director of Global Innovation and New Models, GE
Kevin McCollum – School of Cinematic Arts  MFA ’89 – Broadway Producer (Avenue Q, In the Heights, Rent)
Peter Plagens – Roski ’62 – Art Critic, Painter, Novelist
Quentin Schaffer – Annenberg ’76 – Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, HBO
Callie Schweitzer – Annenberg ’11 – Director of Digital Innovation, TIME
Steve Smith – Price ’06 – New York Giants Wide Receiver
Sheryl Staples – Thornton ’89 – Violinist & Principal Associate Concertmaster, New York Philharmonic
Helaine Steden – Marshall ’86 – Managing Director, Merrill Lynch
Danny Strong – School of Dramatic Arts ’96 – Writer/Producer (The Butler, Empire, Game Change)
Paul Suchman – Marshall ’90 – Global Chief Marketing Officer for CBRE
Andy Tennant – School of Dramatic Arts ’77 – Writer/Director (Ever After, Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama)
Mark Thompson – Price ’79 – Executive Vice President, Capalino & Company
Donald Webber – School of Dramatic Arts ’08 – Hamilton, The Wiz Live!, Motown
Frank Wildhorn – Dornsife ’81 – Composer/Producer (The Civil War, Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel)
Jason Wong – Dornsife ’03 – Federal Prosecutor, US Attorney’s Office; Assistant Chief Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security

Spirit of Troy Award Winners

Amir Akhavan – Marshall ’02 – Managing Director, JEGI
Leigh Bass, Esq – Annenberg ’90 – Partner, Loeb Block & Partners LLP
Adam Blumenthal – School of Dramatic Arts ’07 – Owner, Adam Blumenthal Theatrical Designs and Tannen’s Magic Shop
Julie Boardman – Thornton ’04 – Founder/CEO, Boardman Productions
Kate Cannova – Dramatic Arts ’03 – Associate Director, TBWA\WorldHealth
Dawn Frojen – Dornsife ’97 – Real Estate, Halstead Property
Abe Garver – Marshall ’90 – Managing Director, Focus Investment Banking
Sean Kearns – Annenberg ’97 – Real Estate, Cushman & Wakefield



Sponsorship registration is now open. Individual tickets for Tommy Awards will go on sale in March.


Tommy Awards Sponsorships:

Gold Sponsor – $15,000

  • Premier seating for 12 guests, access to an exclusive meet and greet with Tommy Awards performers at VIP reception for 12 guests, exclusive 9th Annual Tommy Awards gift, name on the Edison Ballroom Marquee, logo on website with hyperlink to company website, logo included on prominent event signage, ad in digital program, logo on invitation


Cardinal Sponsor – $10,000

  • Premier seating for 8 guests, access to an exclusive meet and greet with Tommy Awards performers at VIP reception for 10 guests, exclusive 9th Annual Tommy Awards gift, logo on website with hyperlink to company website, logo on and select event signage, ad in digital program and podium recognition during program


Trojan Sponsor – $5,000

  • Premium seating for 4 guests, access to an exclusive meet and greet with Tommy Awards performers at the VIP reception for 4 guests, exclusive 9th Annual Tommy Awards gift, logo on website, logo on select event signage, ad in digital program and podium recognition during program


Tribute to Troy Sponsor – $2,500

  • Preferred seating for 2 guests, access to the meet and greet with Tommy Awards performers at VIP reception for 2 guests and name recognition on Honoree Exterior Wall Board


Additional Sponsor Ticket – $250


Digital Program Ad – $500

2017-2018 Alumni Club of New York Scholars

Through your support of the Tommy Awards and the USC Alumni Club of New York, we are able to recognize many outstanding students from the tristate area with scholarships each year. Every gift, no matter the amount, is greatly appreciated and helps leave a lasting impact on students whose dreams are to attend the University of Southern California.

If you would like to make a gift to the USC Alumni Club of New York’s scholarship program, please click here.


Christine Amacker

Christine Amacker is a senior from Westport, Connecticut, studying biology and psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She is on the Dean’s List and received the Gamma Phi Beta International Mary A. Bingham Award for Leadership and Loyalty. Christine has worked as a research administrative assistant at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and is active with the American Red Cross Club. She also volunteers at NAPA, the Los Angeles-based Neurological and Physical Abilitation Center offering traditional and non-traditional therapies for children and adults with disabilities.


Morgan Bent

Morgan Bent is a senior from Manahawkin, New Jersey, studying computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.  Morgan is on the Dean’s List and served as the computing captain for Southern California Earthquake Center UseIT. She also interned as a research analyst at Nomura in New York. Outside of her studies, Morgan is a member-choreographer of the the USC Chamber Ballet Company.


Kenzie Cohen

Kenzie Cohen is a junior from East Hills, New York, studying health and human sciences and psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She serves on the executive board of AED (USC’s pre-medical honor society) and as the director of community outreach for the USC organization KDSAP (Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program).  Kenzie also volunteers at the Orthopedic Institute for Children.


Amanda Douglas

Amanda Douglas is a sophomore from Millstone Township, New Jersey, studying art history and business administration at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the USC Marshall School of Business, respectively. She is a founding member and the current Co-CEO of the USC Chapter of Smart Woman Securities (SWS), a national organization dedicated to teaching women about finance and investments. In addition to SWS, Amanda serves as a Marshall Student Ambassador and as the vice president of finance for the Fashion Industry Association. She has interned with UBM Fashion Group and Henri Bendel, where she gained experience in merchandising and planning for retailers and specialty stores. Amanda wants to pursue a career in equity research in the retail sector and will be interning with J.P. Morgan’s Equity Research  team this summer.


Casey Kravit

Casey Kravit is a junior from Brooklyn, New York, studying business and sports media at the USC Marshall School of Business. Casey is on the Dean’s List and a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. He also serves as the vice president of USC Men’s Club Lacrosse and as treasurer of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. A member of  the USC Association for Innovative Marketing (AIM), Casey is the leader for the consulting team working with the start-up Solé Bikes, providing promotional campaigns and market research for Solé. During the summer of 2017, he worked for the Los Angeles Rams corporate sponsorship team, leading a hotel sponsorship presentation and doing category research for potential sponsors of NFL team’s new stadium in Inglewood, California.


Jenna Miller

Jenna Miller is a junior from Syosset, New York,  studying business at the USC Marshall School of Business. Jenna is on the Dean’s List and has been awarded the Florence B. Watts Memorial Scholarship. She has served on the executive board of Alpha Chi Omega, and is active with the Hospitality Industry Project (HIP), intramural sports and Kicks for Kids, a service organization dedicated to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for children with special needs in the greater Los Angeles area.


Viren Rupani

Viren Rupani is a junior from Edison, New Jersey, studying business and economics at the USC Marshall School of Business. Viren is on the Dean’s List, an associate at USC’s Value Investing Group, and the chief technology oOfficer for Trojan Investing Society. He has interned at Sunrise Securities, Vitel Global Communications and Midstreet Group, getting experience in investment banking, financial services and telecommunications.

Heather Vitunac

Heather Vitunac is a junior from Danville, Pennsylvania, studying applied mathematics and political science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Heather is a Presidential Scholar, a member of the Trojan Scholar Society, a photographer for the Daily Trojan and a Geisinger Medical Center Food Ambassador. She is also active in USC Dornsife’s Joint Educational Project (JEP), one of the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the United States.


About the Alumni Club of NY

The USC Alumni Club of New York is the embodiment of Trojan Spirit—collegial, collaborative and community-oriented. The club provides opportunities for members of the Trojan Family to engage in a wide variety of rewarding activities from volunteer charity events, career networking, educational lectures, and faculty receptions to cultural outings, recreational sports, Trojan Football viewing and happy hours.

If you’re new to the city or a seasoned New Yorker, join us to meet new people, reconnect with fellow alumni or attend one of our many exciting events throughout the New York Metro region. For more information about upcoming events, please click here.

2018 Tommy Award Honorees

The Tommy Awards recognizes alumni whose outstanding accomplishments have brought honor and distinction to themselves, USC, and the New York / Tri-State area. This year’s recipients have made significant contributions to finance, communications, and performing arts.

Tommy Award


Heather Cruz ’89
BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Partner, Investment Management
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates

Heather Cruz is a partner in the New York office of the international law firm Skadden, Arts, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates, which has 22 offices on four continents. In this position, she  advises clients on the establishment, operation and sale of investment adviser and broker-dealer businesses.

With respect to private investment funds, Cruz advises clients on a broad spectrum of legal issues and considerations relating to the establishment and operation of private investment funds marketed and operated on a global basis. She also represents institutional investors seeking to invest in private investment funds and in investment advisers.

In addition, Cruz has extensive experience providing regulatory advice to broker-dealers and investment advisers, including regarding compliance with various aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act, with a particular focus on the Volcker Rule. She also advises on a range of issues relating to U.S. Investment Advisers Act, the U.S. Investment Company Act, and the rules and regulations of FINRA.

Cruz has repeatedly been selected for inclusion in Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business and Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. She also was named in Expert Guides – The World’s Leading Lawyers Chosen By Their Peers and as a worldwide leading lawyer in Euromoney Institutional Investor’s 2015 Banking Finance and Transactional Expert Guide.

After earning her undergraduate degree from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Cruz received her MBA and JD from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business and School of Law, respectively. She is a member of the Private Investment Funds Committee of the Association of the City of New York.



Quentin Schaffer ’76
BA, Journalism
Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications
Home Box Office

Quentin Schaffer is executive vice president, corporate communications, for Home Box Office (HBO), responsible for overseeing all of the company’s communications strategies with the media, including corporate image campaigns, crises management, program publicity and domestic and international PR efforts.   Named to this position in January 2008, Schaffer runs the Media Relations, Corporate Affairs, Talent Relations, Special Events and Corporate Social Responsibility areas and serves as key liaison with Time Warner corporate on messaging to its top constituencies.

One of the main architects of HBO’s press operations, Schaffer directs all consumer outreach—print, electronic and digital—and has oversight for the company’s successful Emmy and Golden Globes campaigns, its Hollywood and trade advertising, special screening events and policy positioning in regards to programming issues.

Throughout his tenure at HBO, Schaffer He has helped oversee PR campaigns for shows ranging from Game of Thrones and Westworld to Big Little Lies and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Prior to joining HBO more than three decades ago, Schaffer worked at WABC-TV and the entertainment PR firm Solters & Roskin.

A member of the Public Relations Society of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Schaffer serves as a board member of The Roosevelt Institute, the USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board, The Burke Foundation and the Time Warner Foundation. In 2017, he was named an Innovation Laureate by The Cable Center and was inducted into the PR Hall of Fame.




Donald Webber Jr. ’08
BFA, Theatre (Acting)
Actor, Hamilton, The Wiz Live!, Buckeye

Donald Eugene Webber Jr. is an accomplished actor-singer whose Broadway credits include Hamilton: An American MusicalMotown: The Musical and Holler If Ya Hear Me. He also appeared in NBC’s critically acclaimed production of The Wiz Live! and starred in the acclaimed short film Buckeye (2015).

A native of Inglewood, California, Webber earned several honors while studying at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, including the John Ritter Award for Outstanding Comedic Performance, the Jack Nicholson Award for Outstanding Actor, and one of the four James and Nony Doolittle Awards for Graduating Seniors.

After graduating from USC, Webber taught high school theatre in Los Angeles for three years before joining the cast of the first national touring production of the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. He then moved to New York, where he appeared in the original casts of Motown: The Musical and Holler if Ya Hear Me, a jukebox musical featuring the hits of rapper Tupac Shakur. In 2015, Webber made his Off-Broadway debut in the play Whorl Inside a Loop.

In 2017, Webber joined the ensemble cast of Hamilton: An American Musical and became the understudy for the title role. He is currently portraying the gospel star Bebe Winans in the Boston production of the new musical Born for This.

Spirit of Troy Award

The Spirit of Troy award is bestowed on a USC Alumni Club of New York member whose leadership and dedication has helped to further the mission of the club and university.


Adam Blumenthal ’07
BFA, Theatre (Design)

Adam Blumenthal is a theatrical lighting designer and the owner of Tannen’s Magic Shop, a New York institution for over 90 years.  His work as a lighting designer is currently represented in New York with In & Of Itself, directed by Frank Oz at the Daryll Roth Theatre. He has previously collaborated with such renowned directors as Graciela Daniele and Neil Patrick Harris.  In addition, Blumenthal has designed the world premieres of new musicals by Dick Sherman, the composer and lyricist of Mary Poppins, and Alain Boublil, the lyricist and librettist best known for Les Misérables and Miss Saigon.

Blumenthal has been the the proprieter and custodian of the legendary Tannen’s Magic shop, the oldest magic shop in the country, for almost a decade. He produces the annual Tannen’s Magic Camp, the only camp of its kind dedicated to teaching the art of magic to students ages 12-20.

While a student at USC, Blumenthal served as the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity’s philanthropy chair and was a member of the Trojan Triathlon team. He holds a BFA in design from the USC School of Dramatic Arts and serves on the school’s Alumni Leadership Council.  He has also served as the vice president of programming and president of the USC Alumni Club of New York, and continues to serve on the club’s senior advisory board. Blumenthal is a proud recipient of a Widney Alumni House Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of volunteers through service to the Trojan Family.

2018 Cast

Every year, the Tommy Awards showcases musical performances featuring fellow Trojans working on Broadway, off-Broadway and in other musical theater groups. This year includes an exciting line-up of alumni from a variety of majors and grad years who have all come to New York to make their dreams come true. 

Master of Ceremonies


Charl Brown 
BA, USC School of Dramatic Arts
Motown: The Musical (Tony Award nomination), Sister Act, Jersey Boys

Cast Members


Sara Benjamin 
BA, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Girl Talk with Nancy Anne


Annika Chavez 
BA, USC School of Dramatic Arts
Evita, The Wild Party, A Little Night Music


Laura Darrell 
BA, USC School of Dramatic Arts
Dietland (AMC), Sweeney Todd


Christopher Higgins 
BA, USC School of Dramatic Arts
The Molly HouseBare (L.A. revival)


Taubert Nadalini
BA, USC School of Dramatic Arts
Rebel Genius, Evita, A Little Night Music


Catherine Ricafort 
BS, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical, Honeymoon in Vegas, Mamma Mia!

2018 Tommy Award Sponsors

The USC Alumni Association and USC Alumni Club of New York sincerely thank the sponsors of the 8thAnnual Tommy Awards.

Gold Sponsor


Trojan Sponsor

USC Annneberg