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Alumni Achievement Awards

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Alumni Engagement, Office of Advancement

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2020 Knox College Alumni Achievement Award Recipients
Knox celebrated the 183rd anniversary of its founding with the presentation of Alumni Achievement Awards at the annual Founders Day Convocation on Friday, February 14, 2020, in the Muelder Room, Seymour Library.

Stefano Viglietti '91, entrepreneur, nationally recognized chef, and owner of four restaurants; Denise Roza '83, advocate for disabled individuals and founder of Perspectiva and Best Buddies Russia; and William Hiatt '72, board-certified cardiologist and professor of medicine at University of Colorado.

2020 Recipients 

William Hiatt '72
Citation presented by Andrew Mehl, Professor of Chemistry and Chair of Biochemistry

In true Knox fashion, English—not science—was Dr. William Hiatt's major at Knox. However, after graduating in 1972, he enrolled at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he says medicine "just clicked." Dr. Hiatt received his medical degree cum laude in 1976 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha medical society. He completed his residency at Boston University Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1979. He was a fellow in internal medicine and vascular medicine at the University of Colorado from 1979 to 1981 then joined the University of Colorado faculty in 1981.

Currently, Dr. Hiatt serves as a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology with a clinical practice and research focus in vascular medicine. He is the chief science officer for Colorado Prevention Center (CPC), a university-affiliated, nonprofit cardiovascular and clinical trial research organization. His research at the CPC has pioneered new methods to control endpoint variability in clinical trials.

Dr. Hiatt’s research has been focused on the pathophysiology, epidemiology, and treatment of peripheral artery disease, or PAD. He and his colleagues developed and validated the Walking Impairment Questionnaire, the most widely used PAD diagnostic tool in the field. His research trials and associated publications have evaluated the role of drugs, biologics, and devices in treating all clinical stages of PAD. He also serves as the international principal investigator and executive committee chair for two international mega-trials in vascular disease, and he has over 300 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and reviews to his credit.

Dr. Hiatt works closely with the United States Food and Drug Administration. He served as chair of the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee and is a member of the FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolism Advisory Committee. His work in these positions have led to the design of cardiovascular clinical trials where his observations have been published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and Circulation.

The American Heart Association awarded Dr. Hiatt with their most prestigious research honor, the Distinguished Scientist Award, in 2014. This same organization recognized him with the Clinical Research Prize for outstanding achievement in clinical cardiovascular science, in 2018. The Association’s president, Dr. Ivor Benjamin said of Hiatt, "Few individuals have had as much impact on our ability to understand and overcome the adversities of peripheral artery disease as Will Hiatt."

Dr. Hiatt continues to be active in his Denver community and is an avid mountain climber. He has climbed all 54, 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and done major climbs in Wyoming, Aconcagua in Argentina—the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere—and Kilimanjaro. In 2018, he was honored with the Denver Athletic Club Master Male Athlete of the Year Award.


Denise Roza '83
Citation presented by Michael Schneider, Provost and Dean of the College

Denise Roza, who lettered in women's varsity tennis, basketball, and softball, also studied French and Russian at Knox. The latter likely convinced her that she needed to go to Russia. So, after earning her degree in Modern Languages at Knox in 1983 and then taking graduate-level classes in Slavic Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, she moved to Russia.

Once there, Denise coordinated student exchange programs and was hired by the World Institute on Disability to serve as the director of their Moscow office. When funding ran out, Denise worked with some of her Russian colleagues to form a new nonprofit called Perspektiva, where she currently serves as the executive director. Perspektiva is a Russian non-governmental organization that promotes independence and improved quality of life for persons with disabilities living in Russia. Her staff of 80, nearly half of whom are people with disabilities, has developed programs for thousands of people.

At Perspektiva, Denise works tirelessly to raise awareness for those with disabilities. She believes that all people deserve equal access to employment, sports, and education, especially for school-age children with disabilities to have access to education in mainstream schools.

In 2009, she founded Best Buddies Russia. This organization is a member of the global volunteer movement Best Buddies International, which creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In addition to Perspektiva and Best Buddies, Denise founded the international disability film festival, Breaking Down Barriers, because she believes that movies help to change the attitudes of society by allowing us to see what we usually do not see.

Denise and Perspektiva have been honored with many awards over the years. In 2018, Denise was recognized with an award from the International Human Rights Film Festival Stalker for her work with Breaking Down Barriers. She was presented with a medal from the International Women's Congress and was a featured speaker at the Women of Influence forum in Moscow in 2017. Perspektiva received honors from the Moscow Paralympic Committee and from the Foundation of the First President of Kazakhstan.

In addition, she and her team have raised over $30 million for Perspektiva and Best Buddies Russia since Denise founded them. She has been on the board of Inclusion Europe for five years and she has presented widely at many international conferences about disability issues in Russia.

Of her work, Denise is very humble. Her former classmate and nominator Kate Willcutts '84 said that Denise's first response at being nominated for this award was that maybe this recognition would help increase awareness and funding for her programs.


Stefano Viglietti '91
Citation presented by John Spittell, Joseph E. and Judith B. Wagner Distinguished Professor in Business and Executive in Residence

From a young age, Stefano Viglietti had a deep appreciation for food and cooking. Though he studied history and economics at Knox and strongly considered pursuing graduate studies in history, he realized that what he really enjoyed most was cooking—and decided to become a chef.

This self-taught, James Beard-nominated chef now owns and operates four restaurants with his wife, Whitney Witt Viglietti '92, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Trattoria Stefano, a regional Italian trattoria, opened in 1994 followed by Il Ritrovo, a certified Neapolitan pizzeria in 2000. The Duke of Devon, an English-style gastropub opened in 2006, followed by Field to Fork, which features a café and grocery store. In 2020, they plan to open their newest venture—a downtown, old-world butcher, bakery, and grocery operation featuring a commissary, kitchen, a cold-press juicery, coffee roasting, grab and go grocery, and in-house butcher shop and bakery.

Trattoria Stefano and Il Ritrovo have been featured in Food & Wine, Madison Magazine, Wisconsin Trails, Milwaukee Magazine, Bon Appetit, and Chicago Sun-Times. Field to Fork was featured in Saveur and The New York Times Magazine. The Vigliettis have also been featured on America’s Best Bites on the Cooking Channel and on PBS Wisconsin.

Beyond the acclaim for his food, the Vigliettis have also created literally hundreds of opportunities for the people of Sheboygan. Their businesses employ more than 120 people, and Stefano has worked hard to create a workplace culture that inspires loyalty, teamwork, and enthusiasm. Stefano often travels to Italy and New York in the summer months, where he eats, cooks, and learns new techniques and recipes. On many of these trips, he closes his restaurants and takes his staff along so that they can experience Italian life firsthand and gain an appreciation for authentic cuisine. He and his team then return to Sheboygan and share their new skills and recipes with happy diners.

His investment in the community also extends to his neighbors. In a show of support for veterans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, Stefano and his family established a tradition of inviting soldiers who were home to dinner at the Trattoria. With little fanfare and no publicity, he and Whitney treat the soldiers and their families to dinner—all expenses paid. One thankful soldier came to the restaurant in full uniform and presented Stefano and Whitney with an American flag that had flown over the embassy in Afghanistan.

This nationally recognized chef, successful entrepreneur, and philanthropic member of his community received an honorary degree from Ripon College in 2017.

A true lifelong learner, Stefano says, "I'm always looking for new information … reading cookbooks and magazines … I'm always learning . . ."

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Printed on Wednesday, May 27, 2020