Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

This year's alumni award winners: Can you say technology?

Each year, a group of volunteers from the Willamette University Alumni Association (WUAA) board of directors makes the call on who our alumni award winners are. After receiving many nominations from you, we're happy to announce this year's winners, who will be recognized at events through the spring (and about whom we will write more in the future).

If there's a pattern here, it's relevance -- all of these alumni are forward-lookers whose impact on the world around them has been as tangible as their impact on their alma mater. Congratulations to our winners.

Young Alumni Leadership Award

Noah Horton '02

Recognized by Inc Magazine as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, Noah Horton ‘02 is the CTO and co-founder of Involver. He is a seasoned software architect known for his expertise in marketing, social networking, online video, advertising, and massively distributed systems.

Involver (involver.com) is an “audience management platform” that helps companies keep track of their overall social media presence. Clients include Nike, General Mills, United Airlines and Facebook.

Distinguished Alumni Citation

Steve Sloop '87

Steve Sloop has collected a handful of patents along the way toward developing an innovative recycling process for lithium-ion batteries — the rechargeable variety found in laptops, cell phones and all sorts of gadgets. Millions of these are discarded each year, and Sloop, starting with a seed grant from the Oregon Department of Energy, has built his own market niche for dealing with them.

Sloop founded OnTo Technology in 2004, and the company is currently expanding its reach as a pioneer in extracting viable raw materials (100 percent of them, in many cases) from old products. One potential area for future growth comes from hybrid car batteries, which stand to begin expiring en masse in the near future.

Adam Messinger '94

Following stints as an angel investor and private equity investor -- not to mention as vice president at Oracle -- Adam Messinger recently became vice president for infrastructure engineering at Twitter.

Messinger made a name for himself as a “technology mentor and leader” by taking leading-edge services through various stages of their commercial life cycle. He has specialized in Java development and performance, distributed systems and clustering, and server architecture — but his greatest skill might be synthesis. His contributions have always extended into business development and strategy.

Lestle J. Sparks Medallion

Julie Branford '67

As much as just about anyone in recent memory, Julie Branford ’67 has had a continual and effectual presence at Willamette. A member of the Board of Trustees and former alumni board president, Branford is involved in both formal and informal capacities; she frequents events, shares in the big decisions that make Willamette run smoothly, and is always a key advocate for her alma mater.

Branford completed a varied and fruitful career, starting with a master’s in organizational development and culminating with stints in human resources and management at companies throughout the Northwest.