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April 18: Hood announces speakers for 2017 Commencement

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

FREDERICK, Md.— Former policy director to the first lady and the chairman and CEO of Spotluck will be the speakers during the 120th Commencement exercises at Hood College May 20.

Krishanti Vignarajah, former policy director to First Lady Michelle Obama, will deliver the 2017 undergraduate commencement address. At the White House, Vignarajah led the Let Girls Learn initiative, which brings together a number of government agencies to address the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attaining a quality education. Before the White House, Vignarajah served as senior advisor at the State Department under Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry. She currently serves as founder and CEO of Generation Impact, a company that helps nonprofits and advocacy organizations achieve sustainable impact. 

Vignarajah graduated from Yale College, where she earned a master’s degree in political science and a B.S. in molecular biology, then studied as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, before returning to Yale Law School. “Krishanti’s career path is very impressive; she has accomplished much in a very short time. Her passion for women education and empowerment initiatives align so well with the founding of this institution nearly 125 years ago,” said Hood President Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Ph.D. “I know her message will be inspiring to our students and their guests.”

Cherian Thomas MBA ’12, chairman and CEO of Spotluck, Inc., will deliver the 2017 Graduate School commencement address later that day. The Spotluck mobile app provides real-time incentives to the best local restaurants in the community. Thomas took the app from a Georgetown University master’s deliverable to a monetized business.

After earning his MBA from Hood, Thomas earned an Executive Master of Leadership from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. In 2013, he co-founded Georgetown’s WASTENOT Initiative in Cape Town, South Africa. WASTENOT is a Georgetown legacy project that links poverty-prone areas to local manufacturers through recycling buy-back centers.

“Cherian has made the Graduate School proud in all that he has accomplished since graduating from Hood,” said April Boulton, Ph.D., Dean of the Hood College Graduate School. “His dining app has become very popular in a variety of large cities, and we are all eager to hear his ‘secrets for success’ as both an accomplished entrepreneur and an alumnus.”

The 2017 undergraduate commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.; the graduate commencement ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place on the residential quadrangle.

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