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2015 Alumni Awards Recipients

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School of Public Affairs (SPA) graduates Claiborne D. Haughton Jr. and Erin Fuller have been named winners of American University’s 2015 Alumni Award.

The American University Alumni Board and the Office of Alumni Relations announced the awards, which are given out each year to accomplished alumni. Winners are selected based on nominations from faculty, staff and alumni from around the world.

Haughton, SPA/MPA ’80, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. He is president and CEO of The Haughton Group, LLC, a diversity consulting and motivational speaking company in Arlington, Va. He retired as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Equal Opportunity, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on June 6, 2002, after 35 years of service with the Department of Defense.

At DOD, Haughton managed the development and coordination of equal opportunity, affirmative action and diversity laws and regulations. He also oversaw Executive Orders affecting virtually all DOD military and civilian personnel worldwide as well as DOD contractors and DOD Federally Assisted Programs. 

Haughton was a charter member of the Senior Executive Service and the ranking career equal opportunity executive at the Pentagon for 23 years.

Haughtonis the most decorated equal opportunity official in the history of the Defense Department. His awards include:

  • The 1985 National Public Service Award from the American Society for Public Administration/National Academy of Public Affairs 
  • The 1995 Making of the King Holiday Award from Coretta Scott King and the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission
  • The 1995 Presidential Rank of Meritorious Senior Executive from President Bill Clinton
  • The 1998 Secretary of Defense Citation for Outstanding Mentor in the DOD Executive Leadership Development Program
  • The Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award and Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Service Award from the NAACP
  • And the DOD Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service with Bronze Palm—the highest DOD career award

In May 2015, Haughton received the Dillard University Alumni Dave Dennis Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Haughton was born with cerebral palsy and blindness in one eye on a plantation in Thibodaux, La. He was a ward of the Blundon Home in Baton Rouge, La., for 12 years before being successfully reunited with his family in Thibodaux. 

"The School of Public Affairs has given me a magnificent graduate education of the entire person that established the groundwork for any future contributions and achievements. Someone said, 'If you see a turtle sitting upon a fence, she did not get there by herself.' Those of us who are so-called making it, must never forget where we came from and reach back and pull others up, because no bird soars so high it cannot fall."

Fuller, SPA/BA ’93; SPA/MPA ’94, is the recipient of the Alumni Eagle Award, which recognizes alumni who have rendered outstanding service to the university and/or the Alumni Association.

She is president of Coulter, a management, events, consulting and marketing firm in the Tysons Corner area of McLean, Va. She joined Coulter in 2002 and was named president in 2009.

Fuller leads Coulter’s team of more than 100 professionals, who focus on nonprofit management and assess business development and partnership opportunities. She is a noted expert on nonprofit management and women’s issues, and has appeared on programs including the NBC Nightly News, CBS’s MarketWatch, ABC News, Fox News, NPR’s Marketplace, and BBC’s America. 

Fuller served as the president of the American University Alumni Association Board, and previously served on the board of directors of the ASAE Foundation as well as the editorial board of the Journal of Association Leadership. She currently serves on the board of directors for American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation organization. In addition, she is a featured guest lecturer within SPA.

An active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Fuller was named an ASAE Fellow in 2011 – a distinction earned by less than 1 percent of its membership. She received the 2011 Alice Paul Award from American University’s Women and Politics Institute for her work advancing women’s causes.

Fuller was named one of Association Trends Leading Young Association Executives in 2000. She lives in Arlington with her two sons.

“AU was founded on the principles of service – to be given an award for my service to AU is an absolute honor. I have received so much as a result of my alumni engagement in AU, and appreciate all of the opportunities I have received to see the university, faculty, staff and of course students in a variety of experiences.”