2022 Commencement Main Landing
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  • Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

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Undergraduate Ceremony

Arthur M. Blank

Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98

Owner and Chairman, Blank Family of Businesses

Perhaps best known as co-founder of The Home Depot, Arthur Blank is now widely recognized for his diverse businesses. Named by ESPN as the 2021 Sports Philanthropist of the Year, Blank is a tireless advocate of using purpose and profit hand-in-hand to benefit the communities around him. Blank has been distinguished by Forbes as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Living Business Minds 2017, Sports Business Journal’s Executive of the Year 2018 and Sports Business Journal’s one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sports 2016, 2017, 2018.

In addition to the Blank Family Foundation, Blank’s Family of Businesses includes the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United; the nationwide PGA TOUR Superstore; three ranches in Montana, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, West Creek Ranch and Paradise Valley Ranch; and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which hosted the 2019 Super Bowl and is home to the Falcons and Atlanta United.

In 2020, Blank released his book Good Company, a national best-seller, highlighting how the core values successfully used to the build The Home Depot can be applied to varying businesses. Blank believes in the importance of making a difference – professionally and personally. In addition to the company’s financial success, during his 23 years with The Home Depot the company donated more than $113 million to communities, while associates participated in hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer time. Blank is applying the same business acumen and values in building his competitive, successful and community-oriented businesses today.

Blank is dedicated to his own giving back. Since 1995, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has granted more than $1 billion, and will significantly accelerate the impact of its philanthropy over the next 10+ years in its new priority areas of giving, which include Youth Development, Democracy, Environment, Mental Health and Well-Being, and Atlanta’s Historic Westside. The foundation also leads giving programs for each of the for-profit businesses in Blank’s portfolio. Through his foundation and businesses, Blank has donated nearly $7 million to COVID-19 pandemic relief.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Blank received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration with Distinction from Babson College. Blank resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is the father of six children and has six grandchildren. Consistent with the way he approaches work and life, his favorite T-shirt appropriately reads, “There is no finish line.”

Kerry Murphy Healey

Kerry Murphy Healey, Ph.D.

13th President of Babson College and 70th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts

Kerry Murphy Healey, Ph.D., is President Emerita of Babson College. Her more than 30 year career spans higher education, elected office, public policy and non-profit leadership. Healey served as president of Babson College from 2013 to 2019, the first woman to hold that position in the College’s history. Highlights of her tenure included increasing the College’s international profile, founding the Global Scholars Program and Babson Connect Worldwide, championing women entrepreneurs, creating greater affordability and access for students, generating increased philanthropic investment in the College, and overseeing both a dramatic $200 million renewal of the Wellesley campus and expansion into Boston and Miami.

Previously, Dr. Healey served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. During that time, she led bipartisan efforts to improve services for the homeless and those impacted by the opioid crisis, and increased protections for victims of child abuse, drunk driving accidents, and sexual and domestic violence. She was also integral in crafting the state’s pioneering health care reform legislation.

From 2019 until 2022, Dr. Healey served as the inaugural president of the Milken Institute's Center for Advancing the American Dream (MCAAD) in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Healey currently serves as co-chair of the Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM) with former House Leader, Congressman Dick Gephardt.  CRSM is a cross-partisan project addressing the negative impacts of social media on young people, civic discourse and national security in America. She also is a Lecturer at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, and Executive Chair of the Forward Party. 

Additionally, Dr. Healey has been a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics and Center for Public Leadership. She is a member of the International Council of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on numerous corporate, academic and civic boards, including Apollo Global Management, the American University of Afghanistan, the American University of Bahrain and the Adams Presidential Center. 

Dr. Healey holds an A.B. in government from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in political science and law from Trinity College,Dublin. 

Dr. Healey will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony on May 11, 2024.

Harry Susilo

Harry Susilo P’96, G’24’26

Chairman of the Sekar Group

Harry Susilo has been the chairman of the Sekar Group, based in Surabaya, Indonesia, since he founded the company in 1966. Originally, he began his career trading fish out of necessity, when his father suffered a stroke and he had to leave school and become the breadwinner for his eleven younger siblings. He gradually built up the company for over 50 years into a major worldwide exporter.

Today, Sekar is a leader in Indonesia’s frozen food industry, specializing in shrimp, fish, and other frozen processed food. Sekar is comprised of a number of companies involved with manufacturing in the fisheries and food sectors, aquaculture, agriculture, food distribution, trading, finance, and tourism. Throughout its expansion, Sekar has remained committed to sustainable practices to ensure continued raw material supply and community development.

Mr. Susilo is passionate about business ethics on a global scale. He is deeply committed to supporting a deeper understanding of the topic in academics and in practice. Additionally, he is interested in the cultural roots of ethical behavior, and how they influence business decisions in both the East and the West. In 2014, he made an endowed gift to Boston University to establish the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy at the Questrom School of Business. The Susilo Institute promotes scholarship, dialogue, and education in ethical business actions and responsible leadership with a global perspective.

Mr. Susilo lives in Singapore with his wife, Maria Susilo, P’96, G’24’26. Their daughter Finna Huang graduated from Babson in 1996. Two of Finna’s sons are current Babson students: Owen Matthew Setiawan ’24 and Nolan Andrew Setiawan ’26. Mr. Susilo was inducted into Babson’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs in 2017.

Mr. Susilo will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony on May 11, 2024.

Graduate Ceremony

Eric G. Johnson

Eric G. Johnson '72, P'08

Chairman of Baldwin Richardson Foods Company

Eric G. Johnson is Chairman of Baldwin Richardson Foods Company, one of the largest African- American-owned businesses in the food industry. Headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, with manufacturing facilities in Macedon and Williamson, New York.

In 1989, Mr. Johnson, following in his father’s footsteps, became chief executive officer of Johnson Products Company, the nation’s first African-American owned publicly-traded company. Having turned around the company’s performance in 1991, it was the seventh best performing stock on the American Stock Exchange and earned the American Management Association’s “Turn Around” award.

A business entrepreneur, in 1992 he purchased Baldwin Ice Cream Co., a small company established in Chicago in 1921. Mr. Johnson expanded the distribution and sales of the company, and in 1997, completed the acquisition of Richardson Foods from the Quaker Oats Company. The company produced Nance’s mustard and condiments, Mrs. Richardson’s famous dessert toppings, and liquid products for McDonald’s.

Baldwin Richardson Foods is a major producer of products and ingredients for McDonald’s Corporation, Kellogg, General Mills, Dunkin Brands, Starbucks, and Frito-Lay Quaker Oats. The company also has retail brands and food service products that it distributes nationally.

Mr. Johnson received his Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees in Finance and Management from Babson College. In 1971, as the student representative to the management department, he work with Professor John Hornaday on the evolution of the entrepreneurial studies program and curriculum.

He has served three terms as a Trustee of the College. Each year a four year, full tuition, scholarship is awarded for the Baldwin Richardson Foods Scholars Program. The company has a sister program at Spelman College in Atlanta for women in food science.

He serves as a Chairman of the Board of Directors at Baldwin Richardson Foods Company.

Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Board of Directors - Lincoln National Corporation and is chairman of its Finance Committee;  a member of the Board of Trustees and Vice Chairman, Babson College; a member of the Board of Trustees - Pérez Art Miami Museum; Chairman of the Foundation Board - The Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; Vice Chairman, The Greater Rochester New York Chamber of Commerce; Consultant and advisor to The HistoryMakers the world’s largest repository of African American Oral Histories housed in The Smithsonian and The Library of Congress.

Mr. Johnson will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony on May 11, 2024.

Erin Tolefree

Erin Tolefree

President & CEO of Baldwin Richardson Foods Company

Erin Marie Tolefree is President and CEO of Baldwin Richardson Foods (BRF), a leading custom ingredients manufacturer of sauces, syrups, toppings and fillings for the food and beverage industry and one of the largest Black-owned food manufacturing companies in the nation. BRF, a multi-generational, family-owned company, has forged strategic relationships with some of the world’s largest food companies across Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and Food Service clients. These global, iconic food brands trust Baldwin Richardson Foods as their partner to deliver the highest quality products that exceed industry standards. The company also manufactures and markets its own consumer brands including Mrs. Richardson’s Ice Cream Toppings and Nance’s Mustards and Condiments. With four locations across Illinois, New York and California, Baldwin Richardson Foods employs over 500 people.

During Erin’s tenure as President, she has led the company through a period of significant growth with a vision to lead the industry with excellence and flavorful innovations that delight the world and enable Baldwin Richardson Foods to make a positive impact on the lives of its people, partners and community.

In 2023, the company expanded into aseptic manufacturing, growing its manufacturing capabilities to include high-demand aseptic products, leveraging its leadership position and accelerating its commercial strategy to become a full-portfolio liquid product supplier across the food and beverage industry.

Erin began her career at BRF in 2001 with a focus on account management and quickly demonstrated her ability to build and grow strong customer partnerships. She is recognized as an adaptive leader who champions change. As Executive Vice President, Erin led the company’s Strategic Planning and Business Development efforts. In 2019, she earned the role of Chief Operating Officer, managing Operations, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, Research, Quality & Innovation, Sales and Supply Chain teams.

In 2021, Erin spearheaded BRF’s partnership with the Rochester Area Community Foundation and U3 Advisors to launch the Rochester Procurement Equity Project, a multi-year effort to close the racial disparity gap by leveraging the impact of corporate and institutional procurement dollars within communities of color in Rochester.

Erin’s commitment to excellence, passion for service and people-centric leadership extend from the company to its customers and the wider community. The Baldwin Richardson Foods Scholars Program at Babson College and the Baldwin Richardson Annual Scholarship at Spelman College were established by Erin (C’ 2001) and her sister, Cara Johnson Hughes (C’2003), both Spelman alumnae. The program provides four-year, full-tuition scholarships to deserving students.

Erin’s community involvement includes service on the boards of ESL Federal Credit Union, ROC2025, the Rochester Advisory Board for Excellus BCBS and the governing board of the Lifetime Healthcare Co, Excellus BCBS of New York. She is also a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and previously served on the boards of Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council, and Food Link.

Erin was featured in the Rochester Business Journal 2021 and 2022 Power Lists, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle as a “Women to Watch” in February 2015 and joined Rochester’s 40 under Forty class. In January 2016, she was recognized as an Athena Young Professional Award Finalist. 

Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Minor in Spanish from Spelman College in Atlanta. She includes travel and long-distance running as her favorite hobbies and has competed in two marathons and eleven half marathons. 

Erin lives in Rochester with her husband, Truman, and their three children.

Ms. Tolefree will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony on May 11, 2024.