Nichols School is thrilled to announce Ms. Piper A. Campbell '84 as our 2019 Distinguished Alumna award recipient, Mr. Edwin M. (Tim) Johnston III '78 as our 2019 Distinguished Alumnus award recipient and Mr. Philip Celniker as our 2019 Honorary Alumnus award recipient. They will be honored at Nichols School's 127th Commencement on June 7:
PIPER CAMPBELL '84 – Distinguished Alumna
Ms. Campbell retired from the State Department in April 2019, after a distinguished 30-year career. She served as the 9th U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia from 2012-2015, and as Head of the United States Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations from June-December 2018.
A native of Buffalo and a 1984 graduate of Nichols School, Piper earned her BA from Georgetown University in 1988 and joined the Foreign Service in 1989. After serving in the Philippines and Belgium, she held roles in the State Department's Operations Center and the International Organizations Bureau before departing for the civil affairs section of a United Nations peacekeeping mission from 1996-1998. Ms. Campbell later assisted the US Agency for International Development (USAID) establish an office in Eastern Slavonia, Croatia.
She took leave from the State Department to earn an MPA at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in 1999, with a focus on conflict resolution and then went on to work at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York from 1999-2002 and as a counselor for Humanitarian Affairs at the US Mission to the UN in Geneva (2002-2006). She served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and as Chief of Staff to the first and second Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources before being named by President Barack Obama as US Ambassador to Mongolia. Piper has also held roles as an assistant professor for National Security Studies at the National War College and in the recruitment and examination of new Foreign Service Officers.
TIM JOHNSTON '78 – Distinguished Alumnus
Mr. Johnston founded Sandhill Investment Management in 2004 and currently serves as managing partner where he directs $1.4 billion in client capital. Consistently recognized for his investment expertise in publications like Barron's, Tim's work has led Sandhill to be known nationwide as a top wealth management firm.
Born in New York City, Tim attended Nichols for eight years and graduated with honors. He treasures his memories of playing right halfback on Fritz Zeller's soccer team. After earning his BA from Yale University and an MBA with highest honors from Boston University, Tim worked in New York City and London, England in the global fixed income markets. Tim returned to Buffalo in 1995 and worked at Harold C. Brown & Co. as director of research and later as a portfolio manager before founding Sandhill.
Together with his wife Alexandra, Tim has three children Alison, Elliot '10, and Leyton '16. He currently serves as Dean of the Saturn Club and co-chair of the Westminster Church capital campaign. He served as a trustee of the Nichols School from 2008 to 2015 – two years as vice chair and three years as chair of the Nichols endowment. He has previously served on the board of the Elmwood Franklin School, Westminster Church, the Buffalo Tennis and Squash Club, and the Buffalo Zoological Society.
PHIL CELNIKER – Honorary Alumnus
Mr. Celniker was born and raised in Buffalo, attending School 64 and Bennet High School before earning his bachelor's degree from the University at Buffalo and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. The father of four sons, three of whom graduated from Nichols, and an accomplished masters tennis player, Phil has served as an attorney in Buffalo for over 50 years.
When Phil's son Keith, a successful student-athlete and treasured member of the Nichols Class of 1984 was tragically killed in a car accident shortly after his graduation, a scholarship was created in his memory by family and friends, classmates, and the Nichols community. The Keith Celniker '84 Memorial Scholarship is awarded every four years to a rising ninth grade student who embodies many of Keith's outstanding qualities. In addition to serving as faithful benefactors of the scholarship fund, Phil and his wife Joyce have long enjoyed supportive relationships with Celniker Scholarship recipients and are a shining example of our vibrant Nichols community.