Prominent Public Health Psychologist & Esteemed Superintendent To Receive Howard University’s Highest Postgraduate Honor

The honorees will be presented with their awards at the 100th Charter Day Dinner on Saturday, March 2 at the Marriott Marquis.

Howard's 2024 Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Honorees |Suzanne Marie Randolph Cunningham and Andrae Townsel
Howard's 2024 Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Honorees |Suzanne Marie Randolph Cunningham and Andrae Townsel

WASHINGTON – Howard University announced Suzanne Marie Randolph Cunningham, Ph.D., and Andrae Townsel, Ed.D. as the recipients of the 2024 Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement. The honorees will be presented with their awards at the 100th Charter Day Dinner on Saturday, March 2 at the Marriott Marquis.

First presented in 1943, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement has been presented to 344 alumni in a variety of fields for their exemplary professional achievements and exceptional contributions to society.

Past honorees include Vice President Kamala Harris (B.A. ‘86), Pulitzer Prize winning writer Isabel Wilkerson (B.A. ‘84), philanthropists Eddie (B.A. ‘61) and Sylvia (B.A. 62) Brown, and the late LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., MD (‘52). Nominees for the Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Award are selected by a committee that includes alumni and University staff. The names are presented to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

This year’s honorees are true examples of how Howard University alumni embody the University’s values of excellence in truth and service, said President Ben Vinson III, Ph.D.

“I am looking forward to attending my first Charter Day Dinner and hearing from our dynamic honorees,” President Vinson said. “Both Dr. Randolph Cunningham and Dr. Townsel have made profound contributions to society in the fields of public health research and education, respectively. We are extremely excited to welcome them back and show not just our admiration of their accomplishments, but our appreciation for the ways in which they represent the very best of Howard University.”

2024 Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Honorees

Suzanne Marie Randolph Cunningham (BA ’74) is Chief Science Officer with the MayaTech Corporation, a Silver Spring, MD-based firm that focuses on addressing existing and emerging public health challenges. Over the course of her career, Randolph Cunningham has been recognized as a renowned researcher on the maternal health of Black women and the health of their children.

In 2018, she was named the recipient of the Association of Black Psychologists’ Distinguished Psychologist Award and, in 2015, the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program presented her with the James E. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to psychological and family science research on Black children and families. Randolph Cunningham was also the recipient of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s National Fellowship through which she conducted international research on nutrition and pregnancy outcomes for women of color.

Randolph Cunningham is also a Golden Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an international public service organization into which she was initiated in 1972 while a student at Howard. Randolph Cunningham, whose first professional job was as a pediatric researcher with the Howard University College of Medicine in the 1980s, said she is thrilled to receive this award.

“Oftentimes, we receive a great number and variety of accolades and distinguished honors in other ways, but there’s something wonderful about the fact that the institution that nurtured me, groomed me, and set me up for success in the world after college would look at my career and honor me in this way,” said Randolph Cunningham, whose sister and nephew are also Howard alumni.

“These recognitions by institutions like ours are an important signal to future generations that everything you do matters, allowing for the way you live your life, your morals, your values, and the contributions you make to be recognized in such a way.”

A three-time son of Howard, Andrae Townsel (BA ‘07, M.Ed. ‘09, Ed.D. ‘15) is an accomplished educator who was named superintendent of the Calvert County Public Schools in July 2022.

There, Townsel leads a school district with four high schools, six middle schools and 13 elementary schools serving approximately 15,000 students in southern Maryland. Before taking his current role, Townsel was the superintendent of the Benton Harbor (MI) Area School District where he led the work to eliminate a budget deficit and increase teacher salaries frozen for over 10 years.

In 2021, The United Way of Southwest Michigan named Townsel as Education Innovator of the Year, celebrating his work of reducing out-of-school suspension by nearly 25% throughout the district. Townsel also spent time with the District of Columbia Public Schools where he served as specialist of Student Discipline and School Climate with the Office of Chief of Schools and as vice principal of culture and instruction at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.

Throughout his career, Townsel has championed the work of climate, culture, and social emotional learning, generating grant funding to support the work of restorative practices and social emotional learning (SEL) for students.

This year, Howard University will hold its 100th Charter Day Dinner, an event that serves as the University premier fundraising event for student scholarships while also commemorating the anniversary of the University’s founding on March 2, 1867.

For sponsorship and ticket information, please visit the 2024 Charter Day Dinner site.