Riverwood International Charter School recognized five distinguished alumni as part of its 50th anniversary celebration this year, inducting them virtually and in-person at the school on March 4.

These alumni include Becky Albertalli, Joe Alterman, Kate Bedingfield, Lieutenant Commander Cary Rickoff, and Wintta Woldemariam.

The Distinguished Alumni Program committee began formulating this inaugural program one year ago, led by Riverwood parent and staff member Elizabeth Hodges. Honorees are recognized nationally as leaders in their respective fields and represent a variety of sectors, including government or public service, business, and the arts.

“We felt it was time to bring much-deserved attention to these outstanding individuals and their contributions not only to our community but to our country,” Riverwood Principal Kindra Smith, a founding member of the Distinguished Alumni Program, said. “I think people will agree that this inaugural class is an awe-inspiring group of alumni of whom we are most proud.” 

The five Riverwood Distinguished Alumni include:

Becky Albertalli (2001 graduate) is an author of young adult fiction known for “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” adapted into the 2018 film “Love, Simon.” A sequel titled “Leah on the Offbeat” was released in 2018 and won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. Albertalli earned her Doctor of Psychology degree from George Washington University. 

Joe Alterman (2007 graduate) is a nationally recognized jazz pianist. He studied music at New York University. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Jazz Piano Performance followed by performances with Houston Person, Les McCann, Dick Gregory, and Ramsey Lewis. Visit his website to hear his music.

Kate Bedingfield (2000 graduate) serves as the White House Communications Director for President Joe Biden and as his deputy campaign manager for the 2020 presidential campaign. Bedingfield served in the Obama administration as the communications director for then Vice President Biden. Bedingfield earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia.

Lieutenant Commander Cary Rickoff (2005 graduate) serves as a Blue Angel for the U.S. Navy. Cary graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy in 2009 and earned his commission in the U.S. Navy. He joined the Blue Angels in September. Read more about Cary and his fellow Blue Angels.

Wintta Woldemariam (2002 graduate) serves as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Justice Department. She was formerly Policy Director to James E. Clyburn, U.S. House Majority Whip and Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. She is a graduate of Duke University and The University of Texas at Austin Law School. Read more about her.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.