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The Distinguished Alumni Award


The WMU Alumni Association awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award in 1963. Since then, we have honored more than 150 WMU alumni for their prestigious accomplishments within their careers and communities. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the University’s highest honor for alumni who have risen to a level of distinction throughout their professional lives and is awarded during Homecoming Week.

Eligible individuals will meet the following criteria:

  • Nominees must have received at least one degree from WMU.
  • Nominees must have achieved a high level of stature within their chosen field of endeavor, which is exemplified by having attained increasing responsibility throughout their career in their company/organization and having been recognized by their peers.
  • Nominees shall have participated in activities that support their community and WMU, and have given distinguished service to their profession, WMU, and their community.


Nominations for the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award are due January 28, 2022.

To nominate an alumnus or alumna, please submit the following:

  1.  Nomination form
  2.  Two letters of support from non-family members that specifically address the following criteria:
    • Nominee professional responsibilities
    • Nominee awards and honors
    • Nominee involvement in a professional organization
    • Nominee involvement at WMU
    • Other pertinent information


Letters may be sent via email to

Do you know an alumnus or alumna who should be honored? Submit your nomination below.

Submit Your Nomination


Charles Zhang, M.A.’91, Economics

Charles Zhang, M.A.’91, Economics

Charles Zhang is founder and CEO of Zhang Financial in Portage, Mich. With more than $4.5 billion in assets under his management, Zhang Financial works with more than 1,500 high net worth clients focusing on the preservation of wealth, investment growth, and maintenance of income during retirement years.

Of his many accolades, Charles was named the #1 Financial Advisor in Michigan by Barron's nine years in a row, has been ranked #1 on Barron’s list of the nation’s Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors, has been ranked #6 in the nation on Forbes' list of America’s Top Wealth Advisors, and is the highest ranked NAPFA-Registered fee-only financial advisor and the highest ranked independent advisor on the list. He authored “Make Yourself a Millionaire,” and is regularly interviewed and quoted in numerous national media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, the New York Times, Forbes, and the Washington Post, to name only a few. Charles also holds an MBA from Northwestern University and an M.S. in Financial Services from the Institute of Business and Finance, and has completed Executive Education from Harvard Business School.

Daniel Witt, B.B.A.’83, Public Administration; MBA ’84

Daniel Witt, B.B.A.’83, Public Administration; MBA ’84

Daniel Witt is president and director of the International Tax and Investment Center, based in Washington, DC, which he helped found in 1993. The nonprofit research and education organization promotes tax reform and public-private initiatives to improve the climate in transition and developing nations. Having worked with 85 countries, Daniel has co-developed a unique neutral table to bring together the public sector, private sector, and academics to advance pro-investment economic policy reforms.

Prior to co-founding the International Tax and Investment Center, Daniel was Executive Director of the Tax Foundation, the oldest tax and budget research organization in the United States; and Vice President and Director of Membership with Citizens for a Sound Economy, a 250,000-member Washington-based public interest group.

He has traveled extensively as a Rotary International Foundation Fellow, speaking about international tax and trade policy and has served as a visiting economist with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and Victoria University of Wellington. Daniel was elected an Honorary Professor of Economics of the Kazakh State Academy of Management in 1999, and in 2011, the President of Kazakhstan presented him with the Order of Dostyk (Friendship)-- the highest honor bestowed to a foreigner. Additionally, he served as a consultant to President Reagan’s Commission on Privatization.

Diana Sieger B.A.’73, Sociology; M.S.W. ’78

Diana Sieger B.A.’73, Sociology; M.S.W. ’78

Diana Sieger is President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation where she is responsible for its leadership, management, strategic planning, and development. Under her skillful direction, the foundation has experienced tremendous growth and support from a variety of individuals and organizations in the community, executing six strategic campaigns and growing assets from $35 million to $400 million since 1987. She previously held positions with the State of Michigan in the Michigan Department of Labor and the Office of the Governor, United Way of Kent County, and the American Red Cross in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Among her many accolades, Diana has been inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame -- Michigan Women Forward (October 2021), received the 2014 Athena Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan six times by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and was named one of Crain’s Detroit 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. Diana has been recognized with honorary doctoral degrees of Humane Letters from Aquinas College and Grand Valley State University.