AnnaMaria Cardinalli '04 Ph.D. and Marlene L. Daut '09 Ph.D. among Alumni Association winter award winners

Author: Allie Griffith

A photo of the Golden Dome of the University of Notre Dame's Main Building.

The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association recognized a number of distinguished alumni during its annual winter board meeting in January. The Alumni Association presents awards three times per year. The awards fall into six categories where the University encourages excellence: the arts, athletics, service to the Alumni Association, service to country, service to humanity and service to the University.

Four awards were presented to honorees on campus Jan. 27:

The William D. Reynolds Award

In recognition of her outstanding commitment to providing school-aged children in America the nourishment they need to learn and grow, Erin Kerr, class of 2001, was presented with the William D. Reynolds Award.

Kerr is the national chief executive officer of Blessings in a Backpack, the only national organization solely dedicated to feeding school-aged children across America on the weekends. This school year, Blessings in a Backpack has provided more than 3.1 million hunger-free weekends for children.

Prior to her role as chief executive officer, Kerr served as the organization’s chief development officer, leading Blessing in a Backpack’s national fund development team to raise support to make more hunger-free weekends possible for children. Her past roles include president of Kerr Consulting, corporate and foundation relations manager with Girl Scouts of Chicago, and assistant director of resource development at Christopher House. Kerr serves as president of the advisory board of Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts and volunteered with Welles Park Parent Association. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in finance from Notre Dame and a certificate in nonprofit management from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management's Center for Nonprofit Management. She also participated in the Allstate Foundation’s Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders program.

Kerr and her husband, Ross, class of 2000, have two teenage sons.

The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey, C.S.C., Award

In recognition of her advocacy for a Catholic vision of social justice through her outstanding musical achievement and public service to our country, AnnaMaria Cardinalli, class of 2004, was presented with the Rev. Arthur S. Harvey, C.S.C., Award.

A proud 18th-generation New Mexican, Cardinalli earned a doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame in theology with a concentration in liturgical studies and an emphasis in Latino studies. She is most noted for her extraordinary achievement as an operatic contralto and Spanish guitarist. Making her solo recital debut at the Kennedy Center as a teen, Cardinalli has also performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and for personages from St. John Paul II to Spain’s King Felipe. She has more than 15 successful albums to her credit, many as a soloist and one as a collaborator on a CD including John Legend, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine.

Cardinalli places her art fully at the service of her Catholic faith. Her most recent book, “Music and Meaning in the Mass,” links her artistic expertise and theological background at their most critical point of emphasis and calls upon the power of music to draw souls anew to Christ in the Eucharist. She aims to both evangelize through beauty and channel the notoriety of her music toward her community, Familia Victricis, which seeks to open a home for children at risk for human trafficking.

She is also a veteran whose groundbreaking intelligence work in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed human rights abuses that Familia Victricis works to combat wherever they occur, especially on her home soil near the U.S.-Mexico border. She asks for prayers and support for their mission at

The Rev. Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C., Award

In recognition of her outstanding public scholarship on behalf of Haitian culture, Marlene L. Daut, class of 2009, was presented with The Rev. Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C., Award.

Daut is an author, scholar, editor and professor. Her books include “Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World,” “Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism” and the forthcoming “Awakening the Ashes: An Intellectual History of the Haitian Revolution.” Daut’s articles on Haitian history and culture have appeared in more than a dozen publications including The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Essence, The Nation and the LA Review of Books.

Daut has won numerous awards and fellowships for her contributions to historical and cultural understandings of the Caribbean, notably from the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Haitian Studies Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Most recently, she won a grant from the Robert Silvers Foundation for a biography she is writing, “The First and Last King of Haiti,” about the Haitian revolutionary turned monarch Gen. Henry Christophe.

Daut graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French and went on to teach in Rouen, France, as an Assistante d’Anglais before enrolling at Notre Dame, where she earned a doctorate in English in 2009. Since graduating, Daut has taught Haitian and French colonial history and culture at the University of Miami, the Claremont Graduate University and the University of Virginia, where she also became series editor of “New World Studies” at UVA Press.

In July 2022, she was appointed professor of French and African American studies at Yale University.

The Rev. Anthony J. Lauck, C.S.C., Award

In recognition of his award-winning work in film, television and theater, including writing screenplays for two of the top five highest-grossing films of all time, Stephen McFeely, class of 1991, was presented with The Rev. Anthony J. Lauck, C.S.C., Award.

Graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in English and government and international studies, McFeely went on to earn a master’s in writing at the University of California, Davis. Since then, he has worked as a screenwriter for more than 20 years with feature credits including “The Chronicles of Narnia” franchise, the “Captain America” franchise, “You Kill Me,” “Pain & Gain,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Gray Man.” His work for television includes creating the series “Agent Carter” and co-writing the made-for-television movie “The Life And Death of Peter Sellers,” for which he won an Emmy. McFeely’s next feature, “The Electric State,” is filming now.

He and his writing partner, Chris Markus, are the highest-grossing screenwriters in history.

Originally published by Allie Griffith at on February 10, 2023.