Christopher P. Martin '78 P'13, A. Christine Baker G'88, Michael G. Long '04 and Alexandra E. Ellis '05 received Elon's highest alumni awards.
The Elon Alumni Association recognized four graduates for professional achievement, community service and contributions to Elon during an Oct. 20 ceremony in Whitley Auditorium.
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year: Christopher P. Martin ’78 P’13
One of New Jersey’s most prominent banking executives, Christopher P. Martin serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Provident Financial Services, Inc. and The Provident Bank., – the oldest state-chartered bank in New Jersey.
Martin, a proud alumnus of Elon’s chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity, graduated from Elon in 1978 with a degree in accounting and business and went on to work in inventory control and financial analysis with Johnson & Johnson. Upon completing a master’s degree at Monmouth University, Martin moved into the banking sector in 1984 with First Sentinel Bancorp. Over the next 20 years, he steadily earned promotions on the ladder of leadership and, after First Sentinel was purchased by Provident in 2003, Martin was asked to stay on as chief operating officer. In 2009, he became the organization’s chairman, president and CEO.
Dedicated to giving back to his community, Martin serves as president of The Provident Bank Foundation, which provides millions of dollars in grants to local agencies. He generously gives of his time and expertise to The 200 Club of Middlesex County, N.J.; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & MIddlesex Counties; local schools and food pantries; and many more worthy causes.
Equally devoted to Elon, Martin recently completed a term as president of the Elon Alumni Board, playing an instrumental in strengthening the university’s plan to build a vibrant network among Elon graduates worldwide. Martin and his wife, Nicolette, also have been longtime Elon benefactors. In 2010, they created the Martin Family Scholarship to benefit students with financial need and are members of several of Elon’s most prestigious philanthropic societies including the Order of the Oak, Aesculus Society and The Elon Society Founder’s Circle. The Martins’ son, Nicholas, is an Elon student in the Class of 2013.
Distinguished Alumna of the Year: A. Christine Baker G’88
Though A. Christine Baker attended NC State University as an undergraduate student, Elon has long been part of her life. As a graduate student, faculty member, adviser and trustee, Christine has made a lasting impact on Elon while building an impressive career in the North Carolina banking industry.
Christine received her bachelor’s degree in accounting, cum laude, from NC State in May 1975. She worked as an auditor for two years before entering the banking sector with First Federal Savings and Loan Association. In 1985, she moved to Burlington, where she joined 1st State Bancorp, with which she would remain for 20 years. During this time, she earned her Master of Business Administration, summa cum laude, from Elon.
Christine joined the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business advisory board in 1995 and the university’s board of trustees in 2003. Since then, she has served in leadership roles for the board’s audit, business and finance, and investment committees, helping the board protect Elon’s financial stability during the recent economic downturn. As an executive-in-residence and adjunct faculty member since 2008, Christine has played a valuable role in the classroom supporting Elon’s top-50 undergraduate business program.
Passionate about giving back to the Alamance County community, Christine volunteers with Burlington Rotary, serves as an elder in Burlington’s First Presbyterian Church and sits on the boards of several local agencies. An equally generous Elon benefactor, Christine made an endowment gift in 2005 to name the north terrace of McMichael Science Center for her friend and mentor, C.A. “Mon” McIver ’36. In 2008, she created the Christine Baker Scholarship to benefit students with financial need. are members of several of Elon’s most prestigious philanthropic societies, including the Aesculus Society and The Elon Society’s Leadership Circle.
Young Alumnus of the Year: Michael G. Long ’04
When Michael Long graduated from Elon in 2004 with degrees in public administration and political science, he had his sights clearly set on Capitol Hill. Within three years, he was working in the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).
At Elon, Michael’s aptitude for public service and applied inquiry was apparent, as he served as a student researcher in Elon’s Department of Public Administration, operations assistant for the Town of Elon, representative to the North Carolina Student Legislature and valuable member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Days after Commencement in 2004, Michael moved to Washington, D.C., where he took advantage of key opportunities to prepare himself for success as a congressional staffer. He worked as a legislative intern for Jefferson Government Relations LLC, research assistant for the Association of American Medical Colleges and associate with Metcalf Federal Relations.
In 2007, he accepted the offer to join Rep. Pelosi’s office shortly after she became Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 2011, when Pelosi transitioned to the role of Democratic Leader of the House, Michael joined her in his current role as deputy director of member services, where his duties include enhancing Rep. Pelosi’s outreach to the Congressional Black Caucus and the African-American community in her native California and nationwide. Recognizing Michael’s outstanding accomplishments and influence, Loop 21 named him one of Capitol Hill’s 40 under 40 Influential People of Color in 2012. Loop 21 is a national website that offers insight, resources and opinions on African-American issues.
Young Alumna of the Year: Alexandra E. Ellis ’05
For Alexandra Ellis, stardom on Broadway was never a question of “if.” It was “when.” At age 4, she visited New York City, took in a matinee of “Cats” and shortly afterward embarked on her remarkable dancing, singing and acting career.
By the time she considered which college she should attend, Alexandra was an acting veteran with more than 10 regional productions, a national tour and four national commercials to her credit. On the advice of a close family friend, she decided to attend Elon over a larger conservatory and thrived under the tutelage of Elon faculty including Cathy McNeela and Richard Gang. She also kept active outside the Center for the Arts, playing for Elon’s club soccer team and joining Elon’s Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter. Immediately after graduating from Elon in 2005 with a degree in music theater, Alexandra captured the lead role in the national tour of the popular musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
After a number of other opportunities, Alexandra’s Broadway dreams became reality when she was cast in the chorus of “Catch Me If You Can.” She partnered with fellow Elon alumna Amanda Taylor ’06 to star in a Web video series called “Diary of a Chorus Girl,” which followed Alexandra from the initial rehearsals of the show through press performances, photo shoots and opening night.
In early 2012, Alexandra took another major step in her performing career, appearing as Hannah in the Broadway production of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” alongside Harry Connick, Jr.