Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award was created by the Maret Alumni Council in 2011 to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our former students.
This award shares with the entire Maret community, especially our current students, the noteworthy achievements of our alumni. The Award Committee selects alumni who, true to our mission, are taking an active role in improving the world and are making significant contributions in the arts, sciences, medicine, business, government, academia, or service to humanity. Through this award, Maret seeks to recognize outstanding leadership and accomplishments at the local, national, or global level.
Congratulations to Maret's 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners!
Dominique DeLeon ’00
Dominique DeLeon ’00 is the global creative director at Google Creative Works in Los Angeles, CA. DeLeon is an exceptionally creative professional who has used his many talents to write, direct, and produce award-winning film and television projects and develop meaningful content reaching over 30 million viewers.
DeLeon earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University where he studied government. Realizing that he was more interested in storytelling than politics, he began a journey that started in music and continued with an MFA in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He now manages production teams, working with multiple stakeholders within agency and production frameworks and overseeing on-set operations to deliver ambitious products with tight deadlines and budgets.
DeLeon directed the 2014 narrative Rez, a film about life on the Leech Lake Ojibwe reservation. It caught the eye of Spike Lee and was distributed by FNX and Seed & Spark. His 2010 film, Tags, was a finalist at the Shadow and Act Digital Filmmaker Showcase. In serving as creative director and owner of Special Boy Films, he produced the VMA-winning music video for Surefire, as well as directed music videos for John Legend’s Penthouse Floor and Preach. RollingStone called DeLeon’s video for Preach both “powerful” and “a harrowing look at a handful of issues taking root in America: school shootings, children being separated from parents at the border, law enforcement’s aggressive tactics toward African-Americans during traffic stops and more.”
Since graduating in 2000, DeLeon has regularly made himself available to current students and fellow alumni for professional insight and guidance. Sensitive to and thoughtful about systemic barriers to the entertainment and art industries, he loyally participates in Maret’s annual Alumni Career Panels and never turns down a request from teachers to visit classrooms and share his journey with students.
Catie Lazarus ’94
Maret posthumously honors Catie Lazarus ’94, a writer and comedian who created the longstanding, self-produced live talk show, Employee of the Month. Lazuras passed away on December 13, 2020 in New York City after courageously fighting cancer for several years while continuing to make waves with her critically acclaimed talk show.
A decade ago, Lazarus left a prestigious doctoral program to become a struggling comic in New York City. Experiencing the harsh realities of establishing herself on the NYC stand-up circuit while seeking full-time employment, Catie began hosting her interview-based talk show about work and labor.
In 2015, she told the New York Times: “I wanted to hear from people who, for the most part, love what they do and have carved out a niche for themselves. It wasn’t just about how they broke in, but what they continue to find worth struggling for, worth the heartache and the rejection and the economic toil and other types of losses that go along with it.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, a frequent audience member and past guest on the show, said “It was sort of a crime she didn’t have her own TV show.” Lazarus was vocal about the gender disparity among late-night television hosts, and in 2018 told Out magazine: “If and when Hollywood is ready for a talk show host with chops, chutzpah, humor, no cavities, and a genuine moral compass, will you tell them where to find me?”
Lazarus was awarded Best Comedy Writer at the ECNY Awards and named one of New York’s “Top 100 New Yorkers.” Theater Mania called her a “comedy darling” and Lewis Black described her as “more brilliant than she’ll ever know.” Lazarus attended Wesleyan University, where she received a BA and an MA in psychology. She is survived by her parents, Simon Lazarus and Ros Lazarus, two brothers, Ned Lazarus and Ben Lazarus ’99, and extended family. Members of the Class of ’94, many of whom had remained in close contact, organized a virtual gathering to celebrate her life and comfort one another. Her loss was felt deeply by this community, but we will continue to share and honor her extraordinary story and legacy at Maret.