The 2023 Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards will be presented on Saturday, Oct. 14.
2023 Distinguished Alumni Award: Jim Morris ’73
President of Pixar Animation Studios since 2014, Jim Morris oversees all of the company’s productions and operations. Jim began working at Pixar in 2005. Films under his supervision include Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, Cars 3, Coco and Incredibles 2. As a producer, Jim most recently made the live-action Disney feature John Carter with director Andrew Stanton. He also produced Pixar’s WALL•E, which won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. Jim was also awarded Producer of the Year in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures from the Producers Guild of America, the AFI Award, the Golden Globe and the Visual Effects Society Best Animated Feature Award for WALL•E.
Prior to joining Pixar, Jim held a range of key positions for 17 years in various divisions of Lucasfilm Ltd. He served as President of Lucas Digital Ltd., and managed its three divisions, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm Animation. As ILM’s General Manager for more than 13 years, he supervised a staff of over 1,400 artists and technicians, and guided the largest visual effects facility in the entertainment industry.
During his tenure, Jim oversaw the visual effects work in 160 films, including The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, Mission Impossible, the Men In Black films, Terminator 2, Titanic, the Harry Potter films and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Prior to his executive role, Jim produced the effects for Steven Spielberg on Always, and Jim Cameron on The Abyss, which won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Having arrived at Tower Hill as a seventh grader, Jim quickly developed a love for photography and film. After his English teacher Mr. Jim Wood encouraged him to pursue film school, Jim went on to attend the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Film and a Master of Science degree in Television/Radio. Jim's mother, Jean Lewis ’47; his uncle, Bill H. Jamieson ’45; and his cousin, Doug R. Jamieson ’73, also graduated from Tower Hill.
2023 Young Alumni Award: Tom Villalón ’02
Tom Villalón is the co-founder of Rescue Afghan Women Now (RAWN), a group that rescues extremely high-risk Afghan women and children from Taliban capture/execution. Tom’s team liaises with individuals from the United States special forces, veteran, and intelligence communities, and they have coordinated operations that have successfully rescued more than 23 high-risk individuals to date (including individuals personally targeted by Taliban intelligence). His group is keeping alive 100+ high risk Afghan female soldiers and their dependents, all of whom are on Taliban kill lists, and who are in deep hiding throughout the country.
Tom began his career as an international arbitration lawyer at Covington & Burling LLP in New York City, and Bae, Kim & Lee in Seoul, South Korea. While he was working in New York in early 2021, a colleague asked him to represent an Afghan combat interpreter who was seeking a special visa. For several months, the task involved routine paperwork; however, as the U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan in August 2021, everything changed. At once, thousands of Afghan citizens who had worked with the U.S. were unable to escape. While his law firm and others donated their time to help some on a pro bono basis, Tom wanted to do more. He left his position at the firm to establish RAWN and continue his work with the group on a full time basis.
Tom came to Tower Hill in second grade, after spending several years in Chile, where his father was raised. He went on to receive his B.A. with High Honors from Dartmouth College in 2006, and J.D. cum laude from the University of Hawaii (2013) where he was also one of two U.S. scholars awarded the Graduate Degree Fellowship from the East-West Center (2013). He speaks Chinese, Spanish, Korean and English, and is conversational in Arabic, German and Farsi. Tom's brothers, Nick Villalón ’00 and Dan Villalón ’99 also graduated from Tower Hill.