New York Yankees Great Bernie Williams, Alumna Valerie Paverd ’03, née Gross, and Gallo to be Honored During William Paterson University’s 33rd Annual Legacy Award Dinner on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Bernie Williams, the New York Yankees great and Latin Grammy-nominated guitarist and composer; alumna Valerie Paverd ’03, née Gross, a New York City-based technology, digital transformation, and outsourcing attorney; and Gallo, a global leader in wine and spirits, will be honored as the William Paterson University Foundation hosts its 33rd Annual Legacy Award Gala on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at The Grove in Cedar Grove.

Williams, who spoke and performed as part of the University’s Distinguished Lecturer Series in 2010, will be honored as Distinguished Friend, Paverd will be honored as Distinguished Alumna, and Gallo will be honored as Distinguished Organization. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate leadership in the community and are dedicated to the success of students at William Paterson University.

The Legacy Award Gala is the Foundation’s largest event to raise funds to support the University’s mission of promoting student success and academic excellence through student scholarships. All proceeds from the Gala directly fund academic scholarships at William Paterson University, thereby directly affecting the lives of students—most of whom rely on scholarships to complete their education.

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Valerie Paverd ‘03, née Gross, Bernie Williams, and Gallo will be honored at the 2024 Legacy Award Gala.

“I am excited to celebrate this year’s honorees, who represent the best of William Paterson’s spirit of excellence and service,” says WP President Richard J. Helldobler. “We are grateful for their participation in what promises to again be a wonderful event. Together with the support of so many from across the University community, their involvement with the Gala will greatly benefit our students, supporting them on their paths to earning their degrees and building great futures.”   

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to highlight our loyal and supportive alumni, friends, faculty and corporate partners,” says Pam Ferguson, president of the William Paterson University Foundation and vice president for institutional advancement.  “On behalf of the entire University community, I thank them for their partnership, leadership, and friendship — and for supporting our students.”

Williams spent his entire 16-year Major League Baseball career as a centerfielder for the New York Yankees, during which he was a four-time World Series Champion and a five-time All Star. He has more post-season RBIs to his credit than any other player in Major League history and his resume also boasts four Gold Glove awards, six American League pennants, the 1996 ALCS MVP award, and the 1998 American League batting title. His uniform number 51 was retired by the Yankees in 2015, and a plaque was dedicated and placed in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.

He discovered his love for baseball and music at roughly the same time and began playing the guitar at age eight. Williams has released two albums; his second, Moving Forward, was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album in 2009. He has performed at concert venues, music festivals, and special events and is an active crusader for arts and music education. He is a national spokesman for the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation’s SupportMusic Coalition and in 2015 was appointed a Turnaround Arts artist by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. Williams is the author of Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Music and Athletic Performance. He is also the national spokesperson for Breathless, and now currently Tune into Lung Health, an educational awareness campaign for Interstitial Lung Disease and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a lung disease that took the life of his father, Bernabe Sr., and still has no cure.

Williams first connected with William Paterson’s Jazz Studies Program in 2010, when he performed on campus with the William Paterson Jazz Orchestra as part of a unique Distinguished Lecturer Series program. During the event, Williams performed six of his own contemporary jazz compositions, which were arranged by William Paterson graduate music students; discussed his 16-year baseball career; and performed his own arrangement of the classic baseball tune Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He also joined the WP Jazz Orchestra as a special guest performer at the University’s 2011 Collage! concert, an event that showcases the talents of William Paterson’s music faculty and students.

Paverd is a partner in the Technology, Commercial and Government practice of the international law firm BCLP. She serves as a strategic advocate for clients undertaking extensive technology transformation programs that optimize customer experiences, improve organizational functioning, and establish strong vendor partnerships. Since 2006, Paverd has practiced at large international and national law firms and advised global and national clients across industries such as consumer packaged goods, financial services, healthcare, automotive, entertainment, and agriculture. A 2003 graduate of William Paterson with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance, magna cum laude, Paverd is co-chair of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council at the University, and frequently speaks to students in the University’s pre-law program. Paverd established the Dr. Michael L. Principe Legal Studies Endowed Scholarship in honor of Professor Emeritus Michael Principe, retired professor of political science, who administered the pre-law program during her time on campus.

Gallo is a family-owned company and global leader in wine and spirits with a deep commitment to providing the highest-quality, sustainable products for every occasion, and a goal of serving joy in moments that matter. The company has been an advocate for William Paterson University for more than five years and has been an active supporter of the University’s mission and its students. In addition to contributing to scholarships for William Paterson students, the company has sponsored key events in the University’s Cotsakos College of Business including COIN (Career Outlook and Industry Networking), a professional enrichment program, and the National Sales Challenge, the premier collegiate sales challenge sponsored by the University’s Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales, which draws students from across the country and abroad. 

Tickets for the gala begin at $500; tables of 10 can be purchased for $5,000 and $10,000. Congratulatory ads are also available for purchase beginning at $250.

For ticket reservations, contact the office for special events at 973-720-2478 or visit Discounted tickets for current William Paterson faculty and staff members are available by selecting the faculty and staff ticket option.