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2022 Washington DC Awards Gala

The SOAR! Board of Directors cordially invite you to the

36th Annual Washington DC Awards Gala


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Reception 6:30 pm | Dinner 7:30 pm


Dr. Irma Becerra, Ph.D.

Dr. Irma Becerra took office as the seventh President of Marymount University on July 1, 2018. In her time as President, she launched the University’s new Strategic Plan, added market-driven academic programs and overseen the transition to a new academic structure, acquired a luxury apartment building for residential life use, improved the University’s IT infrastructure and navigated the school community through the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is a nationally recognized educator known for innovation, entrepreneurship and transformational education. Prior to Marymount, she served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer at St. Thomas University and spent three decades at Florida International University (FIU) in a variety of positions that included Vice President, Vice Provost, Entrepreneurship Center Director and tenured professor. She became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at FIU.

A Cuban-born American, Dr. Becerra immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was an infant, living in Puerto Rico through high school. Those formative experiences ignited her mind, imbuing her with a passion for knowledge along with a deep-seated belief that “no one can take away your education.” An educator who began her career in the private sector and is the holder of four patents and copyrights, Dr. Becerra is an ardent advocate for a STEM-educated workforce and holds the mindset of a trained scientist and seasoned entrepreneur. Catholic-educated throughout her primary and secondary years, she understands the great importance of faith-based instruction and plans to raise Marymount’s profile and spur growth in enrollment and academic programs. This will be accomplished, in part, through innovative partnerships, scholarship opportunities and broad initiatives.

Norvell V. “Van” Coots, M.D.
President & CEO, Holy Cross Health

Dr. Norvell V. Coots serves as the President and CEO of Holy Cross Health, and the President and CEO of the Maryland Region of Trinity Health. Holy Cross Health System consists of Holy Cross Hospital, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, Holy Cross Health Network, Holy Cross Health Foundation, and the Holy Cross Radiation Treatment Center, all located in Montgomery County. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Maryland Physicians Care, a Medicaid MCO, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Maryland Hospital Association. He is a member of the Maryland Governor’s Covid19 Task Force.

In 2016 he retired from the United States Army as a Brigadier General. His final assignment was as the Commanding General of Regional Health Command Europe and as the Command Surgeon for the US Army Europe and 7th Army. His previous assignments have included Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Medical Command, the Assistant Surgeon General of the Army, and as the Surgeon General for the US Forces in Afghanistan. From 2008- 2011, he served as the final Commander of the historic Walter Reed Healthcare System and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, DC.

He is Board Certified in Dermatology, holds a master’s degree in Strategy from the Army War College, and a certification in advanced healthcare management from the Interagency Institute for Federal Healthcare Executives. His civilian healthcare awards include the Scroll of Merit of the National Medical Association, the 2020 Exceptional Healthcare Executive of the Year award, given by the US-India SME Council, recognition as one of the recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Healthcare Leadership Award from the National Association of Health Sector Executives, and recognition on the 2017 and 2019 Becker’s Healthcare/American Medical Association list of 105 Physician Leaders to Know.

His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal. He has been awarded the Legion of Honor from France and is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit. He is also a member of the American Academy of Dermatology’s Leadership Circle on Volunteerism.

Michael F. Curtin, Jr.
CEO, DC Central Kitchen

After graduating from Gonzaga College High School and then Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in religion, Mike lived and worked in Osaka, Japan as a teacher, copywriter, and bartender in his neighborhood pub. Upon returning to the United States, he began a career in the hospitality business that included owning and operating his own restaurant, The Broad Street Grill, in Falls Church, Virginia.

Mike joined DC Central Kitchen in 2004 and drawing on his hospitality experience, has significantly expanded the Kitchen’s revenue-generating social enterprise initiatives. Under his leadership, DC Central Kitchen’s Fresh Start Catering expanded from traditional catering to include contracts to provide locally sourced, scratch-cooked meals to schools across Washington, DC. In order to handle this growth, the Kitchen launched a second production facility that led to increased investments in purchasing from local farms, a wholesale business distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to corner stores in DC’s food deserts, and two cafes. These programs now generate over $8 million annually and employ over 170 people, half of whom are graduates of the Kitchen’s nationally recognized Culinary Job Training Program.

Mike’s steady leadership through the pandemic enabled the Kitchen to meet the unprecedented increase in demand while keeping the staff safe and healthy over the last two-plus years. During this time, Mike also led the Kitchen’s development of what will be its new 36,000 square foot headquarters to open later this year on the banks of the Anacostia River in Ward 6, a facility that will more than double DC Central Kitchen’s current $80 million annual economic and social impact in our region. 

The Kitchen has received numerous accolades under Mike’s leadership, including the Mayor’s Environmental Excellence Award; the Washington Business Journal’s Green Business Award for Innovation; and the DC Chamber of Commerce 2012 Community Impact Award.

Mike is a recipient of the 2010 Gelman, Rosenberg + Freedman EXCEL Award for excellence in chief executive leadership, the St. Aloysius Medal from Gonzaga College High School, and the Bicentennial Medal from, Williams College, the highest honor the college bestows on its alumni.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Christiano, Director of Special Events at events@soar-usa.org.


November 2, 2022
6:30 pm EDT
Event Category:


Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven Street, NW
Washington, DC United States
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