WATERVILLE — Award-winning producer and writer David E. Kelley, a Waterville native and husband of actress Michelle Pfeiffer, will be the Colby College commencement speaker May 26.

Kelley, 63, the son of former Colby hockey coach Jack Kelley, created and wrote television shows including “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice” and “Chicago Hope.”

Before becoming involved in television, Kelley attended Princeton University and Boston University Law School and practiced law in Boston. He recently adapted the novel “Big Little Lies” as a hit HBO series.

Kelley applies his legal education to the craft of writing compelling dialogue and challenging audiences with provocative story lines and creating complex female characters who illuminate issues related to women’s lives, according to a Colby press release.

The winner of 11 Emmy Awards, Kelley is one of five distinguished people to be honored at commencement, where 460 Colby seniors from 38 states and 32 countries are expected to receive degrees. The others to be honored are Mary L. Bonauto, civil rights attorney; Bill and Joan Alfond, education philanthropists; and John W. Rogers Jr., a groundbreaking business leader, according to a Colby press release.

“This distinguished group represents so much of what we as an institution teach our students and aspire to as they set out to make a difference in the world,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the release. “The lessons of these individuals’ lives — supporting important causes with vigor, exposing and finding solutions to injustice, excelling at one’s craft, and giving back to the communities that matter to us — are exactly the lessons we want to convey to our graduates. We are thrilled to be honoring these remarkable individuals and to have the opportunity to benefit from their wisdom.”


Commencement is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting, and is open to the public. Attendees who are not family members of graduates are asked to bring their own chairs. Any notice of weather-related location change will be posted at colby.edu.

Bonauto, who on May 25 will deliver the baccalaureate address to graduates, successfully litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our times, according to the news release. One of her cases, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, was Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same-sex couples nationwide the right to marry.

Joan Loring Alfond has had a longtime commitment to youth education, starting as a child in Eastport, according to the release. She earned a degree in elementary education from the University of Cincinnati. In 1990 she co-founded Concierge Services for Students, which provides support services to international students from more than 40 countries and helps them navigate the educational system and broader culture in America. She was a former director with the Red Sox Foundation and, along with her husband, supports educational, health care and charitable institutions in Maine and Massachusetts through the William and Joan Alfond Foundation, which the couple created in 1986.

A 1972 Colby graduate, William L. Alfond is a successful businessman and philanthropist and son of Colby graduates Harold Alfond and Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond. Born in Waterville, he became a senior executive in the family-owned Dexter Shoe Co., where he was an expert in areas of business management such as production, finance, inventory management and marketing. Alfond is a member of the Boston Red Sox board,  is co-chairman of the U.S. Biathlon Association and serves on the boards of the YMCA in Maine, the Governor’s Academy and Carrabassett Valley Academy. A Colby trustee, he is co-chairman of the college’s campaign, Dare Northward.

Rogers is chairman, chief executive officer, and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based firm he founded in 1983 that offers no-load mutual funds for individual investors as well as separately managed accounts for institutions and high net-worth investors.

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