This award, established in 2011, is given to an individual who has worked to bring diverse alumni together to make a positive contribution to the University community. The award is named in memory of late Brown Alumni Association President Joe Fernandez ’85, whose leadership was characterized by integrity, selfless dedication, optimism for the future, and a commitment to diversity.

2023 Recipients

Elias Wolff ’00 (awarded posthumously) & Jonathan Mooney ’00

Eli Wolff headshot photoEli Wolff and Jonathan Mooney are being honored for their work in helping to establish the Disability and Neurodivergence Alumni Collective (DNAC) in 2023. This alumni affinity group creates opportunities for all members of the Brown community to learn about and engage on issues of disability justice and neurodivergence, and works with partners on and off campus to ensure that our community is centered and thriving.

A former Paralympian and member of the Brown men's soccer team, Eli Wolff dedicated his life to being a prominent global advocate for disability justice—a commitment that blossomed during his student years on College Hill. At the time of his passing, Wolff held the role of co-chair of the DNAC, showcasing his ongoing dedication to the University.

Wolff's unwavering commitment to ensuring inclusivity in sports traces back to his time at Brown. In 1998, as the recipient of the Swearer Center's Royce Fellowship, he embarked on a research journey to explore the scope and effectiveness of seven sports organizations for individuals with disabilities in the U.S. This Royce project became his life's work, with Brown's educational ethos serving as its foundational inspiration.

A distinguished athlete, Wolff played for the U.S. Men’s Cerebral Palsy National Team from 1995 to 2004, making appearances in the 1996 and 2004 Paralympic Games, various Pan American Games, and World Championships. His contributions also extended to the Brown men’s soccer team.

From 2001 to 2010, Wolff served as the manager of research and advocacy at the Center for Sport in Society at Northeastern University. He co-founded significant initiatives like Disability in Sport International, Athletes for Human Rights, and the Olympism Project. His collaborative efforts spanned various organizations focused on inclusion and the unifying power of sports, including the Power of Sport Lab and the Inclusive Sports Initiative at the Institute for Human-Centered Design. In more recent times, Wolff served as a sport management instructor at the University of Connecticut.

Jonathan Mooney poses for a photo.Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic neurodivergent writer, speaker, and social entrepreneur who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old. He holds an honors degree from Brown in English literature and is a Harry S. Truman Scholar for Public Service.  He is the author of three books, “Learning Outside the Lines”, “The Short Bus”, and “Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Line”. 

A lifelong social entrepreneur, Mooney has created and co-founded a number of social ventures, including Eye-To-Eye National, a movement building organization for students with learning and attention differences, which had its roots in the basement of MoChamp and with the support of Barrett Hazeltine. He is currently the co-founder of The Divergent Fund, a venture philanthropy investing in high impact social ventures that support and empower neurodivergent individuals and their families, and speaks across the nation about neurodiversity and disability justice, inspiring those who live with differences and advocating for change.


Previous Award Recipients

  • Eldridge H. Gilbert III ’05
  • Anthony S.W. Cheng ’95
  • Karen McLaurin Chesson ’74
  • Felipe M. Floresca '73
  • Javette Pinkney Laremont '80
  • Kenneth H. McDaniel ’69, P’13 
  • Hannelore B. Rodriguez-Farrar '87 AM'90 PhD'09
  • Sean J. Siperstein ‘05
  • Preston Tisdale ’73, P’10, P’10 MPH’16 MD’16, P’12
  • Augustus A. White III '57 DMS'97 hon., P'98