Annual Celebration of Distinction honors alumni leaders


The George Mason University Alumni Association’s annual Celebration of Distinction recognizes outstanding alumni, faculty members, and students. This year’s celebration was held October 20 at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner.

Here are this year’s five honorees:


Shaza L. Andersen

Shaza L. Andersen, BA Area Studies ’89, is Alumna of the Year. She is the founder and CEO of Trustar Bank. In 2018 as CEO of WashingtonFirst Bank, Andersen completed the largest banking deal in the Mid-Atlantic region with the company’s $489 million sale to Sandy Spring Bancorp. She has been named among the Top 25 Women to Watch by American Banker and is a two-time Top Banker honoree by SmartCEO magazine. She has been named twice to the Top 100 Powerful Women list by Washingtonian magazine, designated as one of the Power 100 by the Washington Business Journal, and chosen as a March of Dimes Corporate Heroine. Andersen received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during Mason’s 2021 Winter Graduation, where she was the featured speaker.



Brandon Thompson
Brandon O. Thompson

Brandon O. Thompson, BS Administration of Justice ’08, received the Alumni Service Award. He is the executive officer in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, where he is an advisor to executives overseeing more than 1,100 employees across 60 divisions. A dedicated volunteer, Thompson has provided students with career advice through Mason’s University Career Services since 2016. He also mentors College of Humanities and Social Sciences students through LinkUp, professional networking events that connect students with alumni. He is also a youth instructor at his church and volunteers with his homeowners’ association.




Cordelia Cranshaw Skeete

Cordelia Cranshaw Skeete, BSW ’14, received the Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award. Skeete is a licensed clinical social worker and the founder of the nonprofit Acts of Random Kindness, which provides resources for children and families facing such challenges as incarcerated parents, housing insecurity, and foster care. A former foster care youth herself, she practices cognitive behavioral therapy with clients who have experienced trauma, anxiety, or depression. In 2019, Skeete was named Miss District of Columbia and placed in the top 10 during that year’s Miss USA Pageant. She is a motivational speaker and has created the guide Survivor to Thriver to help others overcome trauma through healing and relationship building.



keith renshaw
Keith Renshaw

Keith Renshaw is Faculty Member of the Year. In August, he was appointed associate provost of undergraduate education. He was previously chair of the Psychology Department and director of Mason’s Military, Veterans, and Families Initiative, which he founded in 2020. The winner of multiple teaching and mentorship awards, he was named a fellow of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in 2021. Renshaw has also served as Faculty Senate chair and as the faculty representative to the Board of Visitors.




Hannah Adamson
Hannah Adamson

Hannah Adamson, BA Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’23, is Senior of the Year. She is currently a student in the accelerated master’s program in conflict analysis and resolution. As treasurer of the Student Environmental Justice Alliance, Adamson co-created the first Virginia Environmental Justice Summit in 2020. She works at the Carter School’s Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation and is also a program manager at the Think Peace Learning and Support Hub for a project in the Horn of Africa focused on mental health, psychosocial support, and peacebuilding. Adamson has completed fieldwork in Finland and Kenya and plans to pursue a career focused on community-led environmental and social healing programs.



In addition to the five honorees, 16 alumni received Distinguished Alumni Awards from their school, college, or affinity alumni chapter at this year’s October event.

For the full list, please visit the Alumni Association website.