Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tribeca Films Founder Jane Rosenthal to Speak at Washington College Commencement May 20

TV journalist Harris Whitbeck ’87, banker Seetharaman and Mount Vernon CEO Rees also to be honored at 229th graduation ceremony

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Renowned film producer Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Festival, will address the graduates at Washington College’s 229th Commencement on Sunday, May 20. She also will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree during the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Campus Lawn.
            The College will bestow honorary degrees on two other special guests that morning: international banker Raghavan Seetharaman, and James C. Rees IV, President and Chief Executive Officer of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  In addition, CNN  journalist and reality-show host Harris Whitbeck ’87 will receive the Alumni Citation for excellence in journalism and television broadcasting.
            A graduate of Brown and New York Universities, Jane Rosenthal was working as a vice president of production at Disney’s film group in 1988 when actor Robert DeNiro lured her back to the East Coast to help him create and run Tribeca Productions. In partnership with Rosenthal’s husband, real estate investor and philanthropist Craig Hatkoff, the company has steadily expanded its influence in the film industry through the creation of Tribeca Enterprises (which Rosenthal serves as CEO), the non-profit Tribeca Film Institute, and the wildly successful Tribeca Film Festivals.             
            Rosenthal, DeNiro and Hatkoff co-organized the first Tribeca Film Festival in the wake of the September 11 attacks as a way to help revive the economic and cultural conditions of lower Manhattan. Since that first festival in 2002, the event has become one of the largest film celebrations in the world. Because of their work, Rosenthal, Hatkoff and DeNiro received the inaugural September 11 National Museum and Memorial Foundation “Notes of Hope Award” for Distinction in Rebuilding.
Doha Bank Group CEO Seetharaman
As a producer, Rosenthal has enjoyed boundless commercial and critical success with dozens of films. Her comedies include Meet the Fockers and Analyze This, both  starring DeNiro, and her production Meet the Parents, also starring DeNiro, is one of the highest-grossing comedic franchises in history. In the drama category, her many films include the Matt Damon spy film The Good Shepherd and the crime drama A Bronx Tale. She won a 1997 Christopher Award, which recognizes media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” for Marvin’s Room, a family drama with Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Diane Keaton.
            Also being honored by the College is influential banker Raghavan Seetharaman, Group CEO of Qatar-based Doha Bank. Seetharaman, who was on campus in February to deliver a lecture in the George Washington Leadership Series, will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. A native of India, Seetharaman applied a strong work ethic and a welcoming attitude toward globalization and new technologies to transform Doha Bank into the fastest growing bank in the Middle East.  London-based EMEA Finance magazine, which covers the financial industry in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, has twice named him CEO of the Year. He has shared his expertise as a guest of major news outlets that include the BBC, CNBC, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera.
Mount Vernon CEO James Rees
            Honoree James Rees has served George Washington’s Mount Vernon, America’s most visited historic home, for nearly 30 years, the past 18 as president and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, more than a quarter-billion dollars have been raised for projects designed to renew national attention and emphasis on George Washington. Rees also has been an active partner with Washington College in strengthening students’ connections to George Washington as the school’s founding patron. He visited the Chestertown campus in 2007 to deliver a lecture based on his just-published book, George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character. Rees will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters.
Alumni Citation recipient Harris Whitbeck ’87 is a multi-faceted journalist and television producer who has earned high accolades for his coverage of war, disaster, the environment and issues of social justice.  A native of Guatemala who is fluent in English, Spanish and French, he earned his undergraduate degree in International Studies from Washington College and his master’s in journalism from Columbia University before starting his career with CNN’s Spanish-Language network Telemundo. He later served as  an international correspondent for all of CNN’s networks and was Bureau Chief in Mexico City.
Whitbeck has made major contributions to coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the September 11 attacks, the 2004 Haitian coup d’etat, and various political, economic and social developments throughout Latin America. He has been recognized with a number of journalism awards, including a 1999 National Headliner Award for his coverage of the Ciudad Juarez killings, and a DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton Award for his coverage of the Tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka.
Award-winning journalist Harris Whitbeck.
            Whitbeck’s Zodiak Latino production company was nominated for an International Emmy in 2011 for a reality program he wrote and produced about 11 physically disabled people testing themselves with a challenging expedition. In Guatemala, he co-founded Atitlan Producciones, a television production company that produces socially-minded content.  For the past several years, the busy Whitbeck also has hosted the reality-television series The Amazing Race: Latinoamerica.  
            General seating for the Commencement exercises will be available on the lawn. In case of rain, the event will move to the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center and admission will be by ticket only. For more information, please visit: