Lynn University today announced Ron D. Cordes will headline its 2018 Commencement ceremonies Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12. Lynn will confer 419 bachelor’s, 370 master’s and 17 doctoral degrees this academic year.
Cordes is a board member of Lynn’s new Social Impact Lab. He established the Cordes Foundation with his wife and daughter to support social entrepreneurs, backing microfinance and other poverty-alleviation initiatives as well as efforts that empower women and girls in developing nations. Today, it has investments in over 50 countries, including Haiti, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Uganda. Cordes told Forbes, “I went from trying to build the best business in the world to building the best businesses for the world.”
In 2011, Cordes helped create the donor-advised fund platform ImpactAssets, which now has $350 million of assets, and his foundation owns a significant interest in the $400 million microfinance-based fund manager MicroVest. He is also on its board as well as that of Fair Trade USA.
“I am passionate about helping students and young people find their purpose in the world,” said Cordes. “We just committed to help fund Lynn’s summer Ambassador Corps program at the Social Impact Lab, and we’re looking for other ways to support the work of the lab.”
In addition, Lauren Cecchi ’11, ’12, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for her early career achievements and devotion to her alma mater, and student speakers Ka Lynn Robinson and Michael Grondin ’17, will address classmates.
Cecchi, a 29-year-old from Connecticut, is the chief executive officer and creative director of Lauren Cecchi New York, the luxury Italian leather handbag and accessories company she launched in 2013. Her classic designs, made in New York’s Garment District, have graced runways and fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue. One of only 11 entrepreneurs tapped from 2,000 applicants for The Workshop at Macy’s program in 2017, Cecchi debuted her first exclusive Macy’s Collection at Macy’s Herald Square in December, and has a second line due in 2018.
As a student, Cecchi spent January Terms in Uruguay and Argentina; attended fashion weeks in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York; and studied abroad in Greece, Italy and Turkey. Now Cecchi mentors Lynn students via internships at her company, is active in the New York alumni group, and even welcomes new students with personal notes.
Representing the 2018 undergraduate class, Robinson will receive a Bachelor of Science in fashion and retail. Originally from Plantation, Florida, Robinson made the dean’s list and President’s Honor Society. She received the dean’s scholarship and the Shining Star Award for campus involvement, was a peer leader and resident assistant, and president of the Black Student Union. She has held public relations and photography internships and most recently co-founded Feminist Fridays, a discussion group at the Lynn Women’s Center. Now applying for marketing jobs and considering graduate school, Robinson says she’d love to work in the beauty industry one day.
Grondin, Friday evening’s student speaker, will receive an MBA in finance valuation and investment management. Grondin, originally from Stamford, Connecticut, accepted a position at Statewide Windows and Doors, Incorporated soon after beginning his graduate degree. Grondin completed his degree requirements in December 2017 and earned several promotions before landing his current role as director of operations at the fast-growing startup. He insists the tools he gained at Lynn are propelling his career advancement and are enabling him “to strategically solve complex problems in real-life situations at work.”
Lynn’s 2018 Commencement ceremonies can be watched on Facebook Live.