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Emerson Alumni Weekend to Honor Distinguished Alumni for Achievements in Communication and the Arts

Media contact: Michelle Gaseau, 617-824-3547,

BOSTON (May 26, 2017)—On Saturday, June 3, Emerson College will honor alumni with its Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Achievement Award at the school’s Alumni Weekend festivities. The award presentation takes place at Emerson’s Robert J. Orchard Stage at the Paramount Theater. This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are award-winning producer of feature films including Patriots Day, The Finest Hours and The Fighter Dorothy Aufiero ’80; director of the Educational Outreach Program at the Marcus Autism Center Emily Rubin, MS ’97; and New York Times best-selling author of The Tourist and The Cairo Affair and screenwriter Olen Steinhauer, MFA ’99. The College’s Young Alumni Achievement Award will be presented to Barry Pousman ’06, co-founder and CEO of Variable Labs, an immersive media company focused on fostering empathy for positive behavior change, and Jae Williams ’08, MA ’16, award-winning filmmaker and founder of Culture Key Agency, LLC, focusing on social media management and digital marketing.

Each year, Emerson College honors alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Achievement Award—celebrating those who have excelled in their fields and also share a commitment to students, programs, and initiatives. The award honorees return to the campus, located in the heart of Boston’s Theatre District, to accept their individual awards among fellow Emerson alumni.

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award include Naketha Mattocks, vice president of Original Movies at Disney Channels Worldwide, Emmy Award–winning Host and Executive Arts Editor at WGBH Jared Bowen ’98, and Grammy Award–winning composer (Hairspray, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Scott Wittman. Past recipients of the Young Alumni Achievement Award include Opus Moreschi, Emmy–winning head writer and supervising producer of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and journalist Brendan McCarthy ’04. 

Biographical Information

Dorothy Aufiero ’80
Dorothy Aufiero has a wide range of television and feature film experience spanning 25 years and has most recently produced Patriots Day with Peter Berg directing and Mark Wahlberg in the leading role. The story, partly based on the book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge, follows the accounts of the Boston Marathon bombing and the events that led to the capture of the terrorists. Prior to that, Aufiero produced Walt Disney Pictures’ The Finest Hours, based on a true story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s most daring small boat sea rescue, and Paramount Pictures’ highly acclaimed feature film The Fighter, based on the life stories of boxing brothers Dicky Eklund and Irish Micky Ward. Some of Aufiero’s latest producing projects in development include: Animals, based on Casey Sherman’s true crime thriller Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob’s Most Feared Assassin; A Simple Thrill, an original thriller penned by Dennis Lehane; and Spymistress, based on the book by William Stevenson. Aufiero was one of the co-founders of Scout and, with her former partners Michael Williams and David Collins, built one of the most successful production companies on the East Coast, creating Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Aufiero has also held key production roles in such high-profile films as David Mamet’s Spartan and State and Main, Brad Silberling’s Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. Aufiero is a recipient of the 2006 Women in Film and Video Image Award for Vision and Excellence, 2010 Imaginaire Award for Vision and Excellence, and 2011 Pirandello Lyceum Award. She is also an active supporter of the disabled community.

Emily Rubin, MS ’97
Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP, is the director of the Educational Outreach Program at the Marcus Autism Center, an academic affiliate of Emory University and an NIH Autism Center of Excellence. In this position, she serves the role of translating developments in social neuroscience into practical solutions for educators, school systems, and community-based providers. She is also the director of Communication Crossroads, which is a private practice specialized in supporting individuals with autism, their families, teachers, and therapists. Rubin’s publications and guest-edited journals have focused on early identification of autism, contemporary educational models, and the application of a developmental approach for selecting evidence-based practices. As a co-author of the SCERTS Model, a multidisciplinary framework for children with autism, she lectures internationally both in person and through distance learning. She has supported schools and service providers throughout the United States, the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, Portugal, Italy, and Mexico. As a former adjunct faculty member and lecturer at Yale University, she served as a member of its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic. She also served as an instructor in Emerson’s Communication Sciences and Disorders Department, where she developed courses to prepare graduate students for addressing the needs of children with autism and their families. Currently, the focus of Rubin’s work is on supporting community-based educational systems to build capacity for supporting social emotional engagement within classroom instruction for all students. Utilizing a more universal approach, she is focused on extending the impact of her work on diverse learners. She is a co-chair of a committee hosted by the Georgia Department of Education that is seeking to define professional learning strategy for social emotional development for school systems throughout the state.

Olen Steinhauer, MFA ’99
Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia and has lived throughout the U.S. and Europe; he now splits his time between Hungary and New York with his wife and daughter. His first novel, The Bridge of Sighs (2003), began a five-book sequence chronicling Cold War Eastern Europe, one book per decade. It was nominated for five awards. The rest of the sequence includes: The Confession36 Yalta Boulevard (The Vienna Assignment in the UK), Liberation Movements (The Istanbul Variations in the UK)—this one was nominated for an Edgar Award for best novel of the year—and Victory Square, a New York Times editor’s choice. With The Tourist (2009), he began an espionage trilogy focused on international deception in the post 9/11 world. The Tourist reached the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 25 languages. The second volume, The Nearest Exit, was published in 2010 and won the Hammett Prize for best literary crime novel of the year. An American Spy (2012) spent three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as the LA Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. The Cairo Affair (2014), which begins in Budapest and moves to post-Mubarak Cairo and Libya in the midst of the Arab Spring, was published to wide-ranging acclaim and reached a number of bestseller lists, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly. His most recent novel, All the Old Knives (2015), deals with terrorism, love, and revenge, split between a restaurant in California and the American embassy in Vienna. He penned the screenplay, which is being produced by Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions. He spent much of the last few years creating, writing, and executive producing Berlin Station, a drama series on the channel Epix, which stars Richard Jenkins, Leland Orser, Richard Armitage, Michelle Forbes, and Rhys Ifans.

Barry Pousman ’06
Barry Pousman is co-founder and CEO of Variable Labs, an immersive media company focused on fostering empathy for positive behavior change. For his clients, which include Google, XPRIZE, the U.N., and other top-tier organizations and companies, he creates Virtual Reality content, platforms, and activations around the globe. Prior to starting Variable Labs, Pousman was a chief digital strategist at the U.N., helping to implement new media initiatives around the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals. His work with the U.N. has taken him to Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia to create content that ranges from Virtual Reality films to viral videos. His work has screened at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the White House, and Sundance; has won the Interactive Award at Sheffield Doc Fest; and has been written about in the New York Times, Vice, the BBC, and more. Formerly the director of programming at Discovery Digital Networks and a founding member of Discovery VR, Pousman’s focus was on science, education, and global awareness. He oversaw multiple production teams and four digital networks (TestTube, Seeker, Animalist, and Revision3), garnering millions of views each week. He studied Visual Media at Emerson and he served with the U.S. Peace Corps in Senegal, receiving two Fulbright Hays grants from the U.S. Embassy for his documentary work.

Jae Williams ’08, MA ’16
Jae Williams is an award-winning filmmaker (Kay Borne Emerging Filmmaker award, Brother Thomas Artist Fellowship Award) and arts advocate. Born in Southside Chicago and raised in West Medford, Massachusetts, he graduated from Emerson with a bachelor’s degree in Media Production and master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication. Williams is fortunate to be able to use his experience to act as a mentor for film and media production students who have hopes of building a successful film career in the future. In 2008, he founded Forever Ink Productions, which produces short films and executes a monthly film series called the Reel Life Experience as well as an annual charity event called the Celebration of the Arts Red Carpet Experience. He has also developed Forever Ink Foundation, a nonprofit showcasing the arts and film industry in Boston, educating youth in the community, and supporting the endeavors of young artists of all kinds. Williams has recently launched Culture Key Agency, LLC, a social media management and digital marketing agency that helps small businesses increase their profits by developing the connection between authentic social insight and brand aspiration.

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