The John Hope Award, co-sponsored by the Brown Alumni Association (BAA) and the Swearer Center for Public Service, is named for the 1894 African American alumnus who dedicated his life to education and community service. With this award, the BAA honors a graduate whose commitment to public service exemplifies leadership, innovation, and a direct impact on the community. The honoree may be a professional whose career is dedicated to public service or a volunteer devoted to public service or social action.

2023 Recipient

Maria (Mari) I. Riddle ’80

Mari Riddle posing for a photoMari Riddle has dedicated much of the past several decades to community development in southern California, promoting adult literacy, cultural arts, and economic development with a focus on low-income communities, women, immigrants, and people of color.

From 2017 to 2022, Riddle served as the president and CEO of Grand Performances (GP)—a nationally recognized performing arts organization with a mission to inspire community, celebrate diversity, and unite Los Angeles through free access to global performing arts. 

She led GP through a two-year venue remodel, followed by the two-year COVID-19 pandemic. GP continued to present free performances by local and international musicians at Los Angeles World Airports and community-based venues throughout Los Angeles County. During COVID, GP streamed performances, a practice that continues today. GP created professional and visually stunning videos of Los Angeles-based artists, offering a platform for these artists to perform and receive compensation while at the same time providing comfort during our collective isolation.

Riddle boasts more than 34 years of public and nonprofit experience. She has spent more than 15 years working in community economic development, including her work as executive director of Coalition for Women’s Economic Development and TELACU Community Capital, and Los Angeles regional director of Pacific Community Ventures. She also has expertise in adult education and literacy while serving as president and CEO of Centro Latino for Literacy, for which she received the 2014 James Irvine Leadership Award in recognition of her work in bringing thousands of non-literate Spanish speakers online. As a performer, Riddle co-founded two music groups; the first, SABIÁ, began at Brown in 1977 with fellow Brown students. She toured North America and recorded four albums. As a performing arts organization professional, she was the executive director of the first traditional Latin American music festival in Los Angeles and the second executive director of the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion-MacArthur Park.

She holds a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from Brown University. Riddle received recognition for her community service at both universities.


Previous Award Recipients

  • Jeff Feingold ’92
  • Greg Asbed ’84 
  • John Bonifaz ’87
  • Sheryl Brissett-Chapman ’71 LHD'19 hon.
  • Sonja Brookins Santileses ’89
  • Thomas J. Brown ’50
  • Katherine Chon ’02
  • Daniel P. Corley ’75
  • Edward E. Cornwell III ’78
  • Derek Ellerman ’02 
  • Earle W. Fisher ’42, P’88
  • Laura D. Germino ’84
  • Stephanie L. Grace ’87
  • Paul G. Heck ’89
  • Jeffrey R. Keitelman ’82
  • Donald W. King ’93
  • Peter A. Kovacs ’78, P’10 
  • George Lima ’48, GP’92 
  • Marcia Loebenstein McBeath ’45, P’77 
  • Deacon Patrick J. Moynihan '87
  • Mary Louise Hinckley Record ’37, P’65 
  • David E. Saltzman ’84 
  • Jeffrey Swartz ’82 
  • Mary K.  Swerczek ’98 
  • Bryant Toth MD’76, P’08
  • Patricia Walker Walsh ’65, P’93 
  • W. Terence Walsh ’65, P’93 
  • Jason Warwin ’95 
  • Khary Lazarre-White ’95

* in the words of Brown's charter