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Four receive Northwestern Alumni Association’s highest honor

Alumni Medals granted to leaders in public health, biotechnology, global business and retail

Four industry leaders in public health, biotechnology, global business and retail will receive the 2020 Northwestern Alumni Medal — the highest honor given by the Northwestern Alumni Association. The medal recognizes alumni who have had a transformative impact on their fields, performed exemplary volunteer service to society or demonstrated an outstanding record of service and support to the University.

This year’s recipients are Judy Belk ’75; Andrew C. Chan ’80, ’80 MS; Christopher B. Combe ’70 (’99 ’09 P) and Gordon Segal ’60 (’93 P). They join the ranks of a select group of more than 100 alumni — including Supreme Court justices and a Nobel laureate — who have been given the award since 1932.

Belk is president and CEO of a California foundation that helps ensure underserved communities have equal access to proper health care, quality education and more. Chan is an accomplished immunologist and biotech researcher who co-invented a drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Combe is a civic leader and global business executive in the health and personal care industry who has advanced Northwestern through his leadership and dedication. Segal is co-founder of Crate & Barrel and a design visionary and retail industry pioneer, who also helped transform the appearance of the University’s Evanston and Chicago campuses in his role on the Board of Trustees.

The medalists hold degrees from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, School of Communication and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. 

The University will celebrate this year’s recipients at in-person events in 2021, rather than 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Visit the NAA website to learn more. 

2020 Alumni Medalists

Judy Belk 

As president and CEO, Judy Belk leads the California Wellness Foundation, one of California’s largest public health philanthropic institutions. Cal Wellness awards approximately $43 million annually in grants and program-related investments that promote health equity, justice and advocacy for Californians whose well-being is too often determined by their race, income, immigration status or where they live. During Belk’s tenure, Cal Wellness has continued to be a leader in promoting violence prevention as a public health issue and funding gun violence prevention efforts.

Judy Belk
Judy Belk

Prior to joining Cal Wellness in 2014, Belk served as senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a global nonprofit founded by the Rockefeller family, and as vice president of global public affairs at Levi Strauss & Co. Under her leadership, the company was awarded the first Ron Brown Award for Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility for its fight against institutional racism. 

A prolific writer and speaker on organizational ethics, race and social change, Belk has been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio in addition to other news outlets. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Belk was inducted in the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame in recognition of her writing and public service leadership.

Belk currently serves on the boards of the Surdna Foundation, a national New York-based family foundation, and Hedgebrook, a women’s writing retreat that promotes women’s voices and social change. She also is a member of the Northwestern University Council of One Hundred and the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association. 

Belk received a B.S. in communication from Northwestern and an M.A. in public administration from California State University, East Bay. She and her husband, Roger A. Peeks ’74, met as students at Northwestern. They have two children, Ryan and Casey.

Andrew C. Chan 

Andrew Chan is senior vice president of research–biology at Genentech, a biotechnology company that works to develop medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases. 

Andrew C. Chan
Andrew C. Chan

An accomplished immunologist and drug developer, Chan leads more than 1,100 scientists in biological research spanning therapeutic areas of oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and protein sciences. His research is focused on understanding how changes in the immune system may result in disease. He is the co-inventor of ocrelizumab, an antibody approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Through his leadership roles on several committees, Chan oversees Genentech’s research programs and priorities, and early clinical development portfolio. He also helps shape the company culture as a member of the Genentech Research and Early Development Leadership Team. 

Before joining Genentech in 2001, Chan was a faculty member in the departments of medicine and pathology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and served as an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed his internal medicine residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and rheumatology fellowship at University of California—San Francisco.

Chan began serving on Northwestern’s Chemistry of Life Processes Institute Executive Advisory Board in 2007 and became chair in 2015. He also sits on the National Council of the Washington University School of Medicine, the scientific advisory board of the Arthritis Foundation and the Rosalind Russell/Ephraim Engleman UCSF Arthritis Center.

Chan holds a B.A. and M.S. in chemistry from Northwestern and an M.D. and Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Washington University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Mary, have two children, Michael and Jennifer.

Christopher B. Combe 

Christopher B. Combe is the former chairman and CEO of Combe Incorporated—a private, family-held company that manufactures and markets health and personal care products globally and is known for such brands as Just for Men, Vagisil and Seabond. 

Christopher Combe
Christopher B. Combe

Prior to his retirement in 2014, Combe expanded the organization’s international market by launching its business in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He joined the company—which was founded by his father, Ivan D. Combe ’33, ’36 JD, in 1949—in 1975. Previously, Combe spent five years in sales and marketing with American Hospital Supply Corp. (now Baxter International). 

Combe joined the Northwestern University Board of Trustees in 1997 and became a life trustee in 2017. He has also served on the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors since 1981, the Alumni Admission Council since 1975 and several class reunion committees. Combe became a co-chair of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern in 2014.

Today, Combe also sits on the boards of Malaria No More, an organization that works to end malaria-related deaths in Africa, and Heart Care International, which is dedicated to improving the health of children with heart disease.

Combe earned a B.A. in economics from Northwestern. He is married to Christina Combe and has three children—Keech ’99, ’06 MBA, Cameron ’09 and Christie. In addition to his father, who received the Northwestern Alumni Medal in 1998, several other family members attended Northwestern. They include his sister, Juliette Combe Larson ’65; niece, Stephanie Price ’94; son-in-law, Akshay Shetty ’06 MBA; and nephew-in-law Mark Price ’94.

Gordon Segal

Gordon Segal is co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Crate & Barrel, an internationally recognized, multichannel home furnishings retail chain. He led the company as CEO from 1962 until his retirement in 2008. Today, he is managing director of Prairie Management Group, a private investment firm.

Gordon Segal
Gordon Segal

Segal joined the Northwestern Board of Trustees in 1990 and became a life trustee in 2009. As a member of the board’s Educational Properties Committee since 1990 and as chair from 1994 to 2017, he oversaw the planning of several Northwestern buildings — including the Kellogg Global Hub, Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts and Walter Athletics Center. He is a life member of the Kellogg Global Advisory Board and a member of the Northwestern University Libraries Board of Governors. 

A former chairman of the National Retail Federation, Segal also serves on several civic boards, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Chicago History Museum, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Window to the World Communications, Inc. 

In 2007, Segal was inducted into the World Retail Congress Hall of Fame. His other awards include the Retailing Hall of Fame at Texas A&M University, the American Furniture Hall of Fame, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Patron Award, House Beautiful magazine’s Giant of Design designation and the National Retail Federation Gold Medal Award.

Segal earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Northwestern. He is married to Carole Browe Segal ’60, whom he met as a student at the University. She received the Northwestern Alumni Medal in 2008. The Segals have three children — Robert, Katie and Christopher ’93 MBA. Their daughter-in-law, Karen Segal ’93 MBA, also graduated from Northwestern.