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May 14: Commencement 2016

FREDERICK, Md.—An award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author and a former National Security Agency chief of staff will be the speakers during the 119th Commencement exercises at Hood College when nearly 600 students graduate May 14.

Writer Wil Haygood will be the featured speaker during the 10 a.m. undergraduate ceremony, and Hood Class of 1978 alumna Deborah A. Bonanni will deliver the Commencement address during the 3 p.m. graduate ceremony. More than 320 seniors are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees, and more than 260 graduate students are expected to receive master’s degrees.

Haygood is the Boadway Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Miami University of Ohio. He previously wrote for the Boston Globe, then the Washington Post. While he was a national and foreign correspondent at the Boston Globe, he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He joined the Washington Post in 2002, where in 2008 he wrote, “A Butler Well Served by this Election,” a story about Eugene Allen, a butler who worked for eight U.S. presidents, from Truman through Reagan, over 34 years. The story was the basis for the award-winning film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Haygood was an associate producer of the film. He also wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Butler: A Witness to History” about how the story and film came to be.

Haygood has written seven nonfiction books. His latest, “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America,” was awarded the 2016 Scribe Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers, given annually since 1961 to the best book about American law. He previously visited Hood College in March 2014 to discuss his thoughts on the books he’s written and the people behind them.

Haygood is also a Fellow of the Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities and Alicia Patterson foundations.

Bonanni is the vice president for strategic relations at Intelligent Decisions, Inc. and a member of the Hood College Board of Associates and Graduate School Advisory Council. She retired from public service in January 2013. From 2006 to 2013 she served as the chief of staff of the NSA. In that role she was responsible for the strategic direction, leadership and oversight of the corporate functions that enable and support the agency’s missions. Her span of control included human capital services, education and training, physical and personnel security, policy and records management, corporate communications, legislative affairs, occupational health and wellness and registry and protocol services.

Building upon her prior professional reputation and experience in addressing strategic human capital issues, she created a framework and led a culture of direct accountability for the agency’s highest-level executive leaders and technical experts. Bonanni received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award, the NSA’s highest honorary award, as well as the national Distinguished Service Medal from the director of national intelligence. She is the recipient of three presidential rank awards including one at the distinguished executive level.

A cancer survivor and enthusiastic mentor, Bonanni is devoted to assisting a new generation of leaders to manage successful organizations.

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