The Builders Awards
Established by the Association of Rice Alumni and the Rice Annual Fund in 2005, the Builders Awards recognition program honors young alumni who have made outstanding contributions to Rice post-graduation and enhanced the reputation of Rice through leadership in their careers or communities. Past winners include notable regional alumni leaders, Annual Fund volunteers, affinity group trailblazers and other young alumni who are committed to supporting Rice and its community of students and alumni through their dedication of time, talent and energy. We invite you to recognize young alumni who are building a better future for the university by nominating candidates for the award. Nominations must be submitted by January 4, 2018.
The 2017 Builders Award recipients were honored at the Association of Rice Alumni Laureates Awards Dinner, held on May 13, 2017, at the River Oaks Country Club.
2017 Builders Awards Recipients
Leonard N. Chan ’07
Leonard N. Chan (Lovett ’07) is a Houston metropolitan-area native from Sugar Land, Texas. While at Rice University, he served on the Lovett College Central Committee as a two-term outreach coordinator and on the Catholic Student Association leadership team as co-coordinator. After graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, history and religious studies, Chan earned his Masters of Public Administration at the University of Houston. During the 82nd Texas Legislature, he served as a staff member for the Sunset Advisory Commission before joining the Cedar Park Fire Department. Chan received the Distinguished Service Ribbon for his efforts in helping the department become the sixth civilian fire department in Texas to obtain accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). He currently serves as the acting chair of the Texas CPSE Consortium.
Chan regularly volunteers for the American Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team member, for the high school youth program at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas, and on special committees for the University of Houston Masters of Public Administration program. He also holds active memberships with the Texas Tribune, Bullock Texas State History Museum, Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association, Lyndon B. Johnson Future Forum and the American Society for Public Administrators.
In the lead-up to Rice University's centennial celebration, Chan served in the university's efforts to engage alumni, including as a class reunion committee member. He then accepted a post as a young alumni ambassador assigned to the Austin region, helping to build a full-service alumni program. The young alumni program in Austin has served as a feeder to alumni professional networks for entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and real estate professionals; demonstrated Rice pride by attending local watch parties and trivia nights; and impacted the community by volunteering time to the Capital Area Food Bank, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Thinkery. Chan believes that the alumni programs have proven that the Rice community can continue to grow even after graduation, while supporting the university’s vision and mission.
Matthew Harrigan ’07
Matthew Harrigan (Wiess ’07) is co-founder and managing director of Grand Central Tech (GCT). From GCT's founding in the spring of 2014, Harrigan immediately established the company as one of New York's premier accelerator programs for tech startups, thanks in part to its novel model whereby all accepted companies receive topnotch programming and support without the need to sacrifice equity, as is industry standard. Since then, GCT has grown into New York's largest single tech ecosystem, now overseeing four discrete programs: its eponymous accelerator program; the Urban Tech Hub for companies working on smarter city solutions; the New York Venture Fellows for luminaries in the New York tech ecosystem; and the Growth Space to continue serving participants of GCT’s programs as they mature.
Across all of GCT's programs, there are not only incredibly successful companies (GCT's portfolio has raised in excess of $200 million in funding as of winter 2017), but industry-leading statistics regarding diversity and inclusivity courtesy of values enshrined by GCT's code of conduct and novel internship program.
Prior to starting GCT, Harrigan was a product manager at ESPN overseeing apps and app analytics infrastructure. Before his time at ESPN, Harrigan was a consultant at the innovation strategy firm Fahrenheit 212 and at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked in international development across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Harrigan is a native New Yorker, having attended Regis High School on Manhattan's Upper East Side before graduating from Rice in 2007. He currently lives with his wife, Rebecca, in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Former Builders Awards Recipients
Akilah Mance ’05; Kate Gunn Pagel ’05
Ryan Aipperspach ’04; Kurt Kasper ’06 Ph.D.
Julie Tam ’03; Sparky Frost ’07, ’11
Katherine D. Hallaway '04; Matthew Haynie '03; Daniel Williamson '08
Melissa Kidonakis ‘07; Kaleen Tison Povis ‘05; Felisa Vergara Reynolds ‘00
Tony Castilleja '09; Jenny West Rozelle '00; Julia Smith Wellner '01
Holly Williams '03; Bryan Guido Hassin '01
Theresa Sandoval Hanson '96; Corey Devine '03; Stephen Herce '03
Michol Ecklund '97; Mitra Miller Roehr '92
Sidney Crenwelge '95; David VanHorn '00; Stephen Herce '03
Jen Cooper '90, Pat Huttenbach '92, Yve Thaller Huttenbach '94
George Webb '88; Barry Donovan '90