Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award was established by the Alumni Association in 2005 to recognize a distinguished graduate from one of the nine full-time programs. The award is presented at Graduation.

Recipients of the award

2016 - Janet Collins, CF '97
2015 - Kevin Kelly, VM '92
2014 - Jeffrey Refinati, LK '02
2013 - Brandon Gordon, PC '02
2012 - Brent Hull, PC '93
2011 - Barbara Hebard, BB '90
2010 - Eva Martin, JM ‘03
2009 - Jock Gifford, JM ’97 & CF ‘01
2008 - Peter Feinmann, CA ‘83
2007 - David Stanwood, Piano ‘79
2006 - James Reid-Cunningham, BB ‘90
2005 - Brian Kelly, CF ‘84 

janet Collins, CF '97

While a student at NBSS, Janet worked for our Workshop Program. Upon graduating, she became the Workshop Program Director (now known as Continuing Education Director), where she grew the program in number of courses and enrollments. In 2003, she secured the donation of a dozen lathes, which led to her launching woodturning workshops at the School. Her passion for education and woodworking deepened while working with the School, impacting hundreds of students.

Janet is currently a Continuing Education instructor at NBSS, and a teacher at the Dartmouth College Student Woodshop. She previously taught at Vermont Woodworking School, Snow Farm Craft School, WoodenBoat School, Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, and The Furniture Institute. Janet has participated in woodturning symposia and demonstrations for schools, museums, and organizations in New England. In 2006, she was awarded Furniture Maker of the Year by the Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association. Janet continues to make furniture and turn wood at her shop in Vermont. Her portfolio of work can be seen at www.greenmountainwoodturning.com.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award
Kevin Kelly, VM '92

After graduating from North Bennet Street School in 1992, Kevin Kelly did violin repair work in San Francisco and Boston. In 1998, he returned to NBSS as a teacher in the Violin Making and Repair program.

Since 2002, he has run his own studio in Boston, making new instruments, performing repairs and restorations of historic instruments, and maintaining and adjusting instruments for musicians.

Kevin has researched and investigated the original system of design of the violin family and has published articles on the subject in The Strad magazine and presented his research at the Violin Society of America’s annual meetings and the Oberlin Violin Makers’ Workshop.

Kevin is an advisor to the NBSS Violin Making and Repair program and a consultant for the Department of Musical Instruments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Fine Musical Instrument division of Skinner Auctioneers.

2014 Distinguished Alumni Award
Jeffrey Refinati, LK '02

Jeffrey Refinati began his career in locksmithing after high school and has been active in the profession for more than a decade. In 2004, after graduating from the North Bennet Street School (NBSS) Locksmithing program in Boston, Jeff became the institutional locksmith for Massachusetts College of Art & Design.
Jeff is a substitute teacher for the NBSS Locksmithing and Security Technology program, engaged NBSS students as interns and has hired NBSS alumni. In addition, Jeff established a hardware donation program for NBSS from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. He is a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America, Safe and Vault Technicians Association, American Society for Information Science and ClearStar, and holds an Axis Certified Professional designation, a Silver Certification for Lenel OnGuard access control systems and a Massachusetts low-voltage Systems Technician “D” license. Jeff takes classes in art and design and dabbles in web design in his spare time.

The former department head of the NBSS Locksmithing and Security Technology program, Dave Troiano, praises Jeff: “He is outstanding as a professional locksmith and security specialist and all an around great person. Jeff is most deserving of this award.”

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award
Brandon Gordon, PC '02

At the 2013 graduation ceremony at Old North Church, Alumni Association president Ken Gilbert, BB '10 presented the Distinguished Alumni Award to Brandon Gordon, PC '02. 

Brandon Gordon, PC ‘02 worked for a custom home builder for five years before enrolling in the Preservation Carpentry program at NBSS. His passion for the craft began while working on his grandmother’s second empire Victorian home built in 1885. Brandon’s interest in architectural details and the significance of historic homes and buildings started him on the path to a successful career in the preservation carpentry field. 

Brandon’s interests and NBSS experience serve him well in his current position as a project leader and supervisor of the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) in Frederick, Maryland where he works on a wide range of structures including the White House.  “I have used the knowledge and skills gained from NBSS to accomplish work on a variety of historic structures. My (NBSS) education has allowed me to direct highly-skilled preservation professionals in the use of special tools and techniques needed to accomplish preservation projects.” 

The HPTC is dedicated to the safe preservation and maintenance of national parks and partner facilities and uses historic preservation projects as its main vehicle for teaching preservation philosophy, building crafts, building technology and project management skills. 

2012 Distinguished Alumni Award
Brent Hull, PC '93

At the 2012 graduation at Old North Church, Alumni Association president Denise Fenoglio, JM' 06 presented the Distinguished Alumni Award to Brent Hull, PC '93. Brent is a 1993 graduate of the Preservation Carpentry program where he studied under Robert Adam. After graduating, he returned to his native Texas and started a company. From a modest beginning, working in his brother’s garage, and a lot of hard work, Brent went on to build the Brent Hull Companies, which now employs over 50 artisans and related staff. He runs a successful construction and consulting firm, is the exclusive millwork provider for the Winterthur Museum, has restored historic courthouses in Texas and worked on many private residences including that of Barbara Streisand. Beyond the commercial success, Brent is a prolific writer in the field of traditional interior designs and moldings and has publishing several books. Brent enjoys sharing his knowledge with his customers and the general public on the merits of traditional design and craftsmanship. Story and photo by Bill Rainford, PC '11. More on Brent's visit to NBSS is on Bill's blog here.

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award
Barbara Adams Hebard, BB ’90


At the 2011 graduation ceremony, Ken Gilbert, BB ’10 and a member of the Alumni Council, presented the annual Distinguished Alumni Award to Barbara Hebard. Gilbert’s comments and the acceptance remarks made by Hebard’s husband (Barbara was at a bookbinding conference and unable to attend), painted a picture of a warm and generous professional who has enriched the bookbinding community for decades.

Upon graduation from NBSS in 1990, Barbara was employed by the Boston Athenaeum as a book conservator.  During her 18 years at the Athenaeum, she worked on books once owned by many luminaries including George Washington and John Quincy Adams as well as hundreds of other 18th and 19th century imprints and manuscripts. In 2009, she became the conservator of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College. In this special collection library, she is in charge of the preservation and conservation of two hundred and sixty thousand rare books and sixteen million archival items. These are exceptional achievements and any individual who accomplished them is worthy of this award.

But Barbara is known to her colleagues for much more.  She is a Fellow of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a Professional Associate of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a Board Member of The New England Conservation Association and a member of The Guild of Bookworkers and The Association of College and Research Libraries.

Barbara regularly displays her work at shows, lectures, and writes for publications.  She has served as an exhibition curator and volunteers her time in many ways in the bookbinding community including as an active member of the North Bennet Street School community where she has served as an Overseer, Chair of the Alumni Steering Committee and a Bookbinding Program Advisor.  Barbara maintains a contact list of bookbinding graduates and an email broadcast list.  NBSS Bookbinding graduates regularly receive emails from her with relevant information ranging from job opportunities to educational opportunities to items for sale.  Each year, she stops by the classroom to make new entries in her work-bench genealogy – a document that traces the occupants of every workbench in Bookbinding.  For students and graduates, it’s both interesting to learn who preceded you at that bench and a wonderful reminder of the rich legacy of Bookbinding graduates. 

Barbara’s warmth, thoughtfulness and generosity shape in big and small ways the bookbinding community at NBSS, in Boston and beyond.

Photo: Kerry Burke, Boston College

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award

Eva Martin, JM ‘03

In 2010, Eva Martin moved back to the United States after working for several years in Queensland, Australia where she distinguished herself with her exceptional jewelry designs and fabrication. In the years since her graduation, Eva has won several major awards including the 2006 Saul Bell Design Award Grand Prize for her Carousseling Cufflinks and she was a finalist for the same award in 2009. Eva was the recipient of the 2008 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Arts Award and her sterling silver Queensland Sugar Spoon was designated “Best Memento” in the Tourism Queensland memento competition in 2006.

Unable to attend the presentation, Martin expressed her indebtedness to NBSS in remarks read by Alumni Council Chair, Dennis McCarten, (VM ’06): “At NBSS I began to understand just how deeply satisfying and meaningful a career in craftsmanship could be… I still imagine my pieces will be scrutinized by Ro with her eagle eye and loupe before they leave my bench. It keeps me from producing anything but my best work. I am greatly indebted to both Ro and Jock and to NBSS for a career which is so deeply satisfying —one that makes me smile from ear to ear.”

Rosemary (Ro) Trainor, NBSS Jewelry Instructor remarked, “there are times when we interview candidates for the Jewelry program who say “I’m coming here because I want to be like Eva Martin” and I say “Well then move your bed in here, because as a student she was at her bench ALL the time. She was in early and stayed late every single day… she was motivated and focused on what she wanted to achieve and I do believe she would have moved her bed in here if she could have. It was a pleasure to be her instructor.”





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