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  • Distinguished Alumni Awards

    The MSUM Alumni Foundation seeks to recognize and honor accomplished alumni. We are proud of your success, and in turn, proud of the role MSUM has played in your lives. While many are deserving of recognition, only a select few are chosen each year. Each recipient exemplifies the high standards we have come to expect from graduates of Minnesota State University Moorhead and each has made significant contributions to the communities where they reside and work.

    Nominations may be submitted throughout the year, with review and selection occurring in the early spring. Nomination deadline for 2017 is Feb. 1. Recipients are honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony, an integral part of Homecoming festivities.

    Nominations are accepted for the following categories of recognition:

    Distinguished Alumni Award - recipients are typically at the peak of their professional careers. More than one alumnus may be selected.

    Outstanding Young Alumni – recipients are graduates of the past decade with notable career or community impact.

    Outstanding Service Award - recipients have given a significant contribution of time and talent to MSUM.

    To nominate an MSUM alumnus for a Distinguished Alumni Award, please complete the online form. For more information feel free to email or call 218.477.2143.

  • 2016 Alumni Awards

    Minnesota State University Moorhead will recognize outstanding alumni at the Distinguished Alumni & Outstanding Service Celebration Thursday, October 6, 2016 in the Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom.

    Ellen Diederich

    Ellen Diederich ’83 (fine art, art education) is a professional artist, author, publisher and entrepreneur. Diederich has been a professional painter since 1985. She specializes in watercolor, being a member in the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, The Red River Watercolor Society, The Watercolor Society of Alabama and Watercolor West. She also enjoys teaching watercolor workshops to clubs, teacher groups and at career fair seminars. Aside from painting, she’s also an established author, having written and illustrated three books. 

    David Joerger

    David Joerger ’97 (mass communications) is a professional basketball coach for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Prior to coaching on basketball’s biggest stage, Joerger coached in the International Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Association, and the NBA Development League. Throughout his time prior to joining the NBA, he led teams to five championships. In 2013, he was hired as the head coach for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, coaching them for three years before moving to the Sacramento Kings.

     Joseph Porwoll

    Joseph Porwoll ’76 (chemistry) was a chemist for the Sigma-Aldrich worldwide organization prior to his retirement in 2013. Porwoll’s dedication and passion for chemistry contributed to the successful growth of the company, leading it to be the world’s most important chemical producer supporting academics, biotechnology and pharmaceutical research. 

    Outstanding Young Alumni
     Amber Johnson

    Amber Johnson ’09 (film studies) is a media production specialist at Cargill and a video producer at Twin Cities Film Fest. She more broadly defines herself as a cinematographer and director. Johnson started her career as a freelance filmmaker where she gained experience working on commercials, films and television. Since leaving MSUM, she has found success in film working for the National Sports Center, and being executive director of the non-profit filmmaking collective, Persistence of Vision.

     Melanie Nordhougen

    Melanie Nordhougen ’06 (construction management) works for Mortenson as an assistant project manger on the Sanford Fargo Medical Center. She moved to California within a month after graduating to pursue her career in construction, prior to returning to Fargo. There, she worked for Performance Contracting Group, specializing in interior and exterior framing. She worked on a variety of projects where she gained construction experience in education, healthcare and correctional facilities.

     Service Award
    Marvel Froemming

    Marvel Froemming ’57 (mathematics, history) is a retired MSUM mathematics professor. As a student, she was involved with Gamma Nu Sorority. She was also a writer for the school’s newspaper, formally known as The MiSTiC. Four short years after graduating from then-Moorhead State Teachers College in 1959, she returned to teach in the math department where she remained for 36 years, educating hundreds of students along the way. 

    Past Alumni Awards

  • 2015 Alumni Awards

    Minnesota State University Moorhead will recognize outstanding alumni at the Distinguished Alumni & Outstanding Service Celebration Thursday, October 15th 2015 at the Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom.

    David Plakos

    David Plakos ’75 (Mass Communications) is a freelance camera operator and director in Los Angeles, Calif. Plakos has had the opportunity to work on hundreds of music and variety television specials, has shot many talented artists’ concert specials and has operated on multiple TV series. Plakos is the winner of nine National Primetime Emmy Awards. He has previously worked at WDAY-TV in Fargo and at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis.

    Mark Knutson

    Mark Knutson ’92 (Finance) is the president and founder of Go Far Events, which organizes the Fargo Marathon and multiple other road races every year. The Fargo Marathon is held every May and attracts 20,000 runners from around the world and brings a $1 million economic impact to the community. Prior to Go Far Events, Knutson worked for Community First National Bank, now Bank of the West, Tharaldson Enterprises and Ottertail Corporation.

    Vincent Williams

    Vincent Williams ’03 (Social Studies/History) is the assistant principal intern at Lincoln Elementary School in Fargo, N.D. Williams has served on several committees including the North High Leadership Team, the Fargo Public Schools Social Studies Committee and the Fargo Public Schools Summer School Task Force. Previously, Williams has taught social studies at Fargo North High School for 10 years where he also served as the football assistant coach for two seasons.

    Billi Jo Zielinski

    Billi Jo Zielinski ’95 (Political Science) is the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish North Dakota. Zielinski started her career in politics when she was a senior in high school when she served as a page for the South Dakota state senate. After her time at MSUM, she moved to Turkmenistan where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Zielinski worked in our nation’s capital for Congressman Jim Ramstad and Governor Tim Pawlenty, where she covered issues from health to education to military affairs.

    Tami Reller

    Tami Reller ’87 (Mathematics) is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Optum UnitedHealth Group in Eden Prairie, Minn. Previously Reller has worked for Great Plains Software where she served as the chief financial officer. When Microsoft Corporation acquired Great Plains Software, Reller transferred to Redmond, Wash. where she worked her way up to executive vice president of marketing. Reller received her master’s in marketing and finance from St. Mary’s College of California.

    Outstanding Young Alum
    Sherryse Corrow

    Sherryse Corrow ’08 (Psychology) is a postdoctoral research fellow in neurology/ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of British Columbia. To help fund her work and research, Corrow received a grant from the National Institute of Health. At the UBC, Corrow is implementing a training program to improve face recognition in adults with prosopagnosia, a cognitive disorder where the ability to recognize faces is impaired. Corrow received her PhD in child psychology with a minor in visual cognitive neuroscience from the University of Minnesota.

    Service Award
    Larry Scott

    Larry Scott ’67 (English) was the first sports information director at MSUM and served in this position for 40 years. During that time he also worked as the NIC sports publicity director and as a broadcaster for Dragon football games. Today, Scott teaches Sports in the Media as an adjunct professor and assists in the Dragon Hall of Fame selection.

    Eva Vraspir Excellence in Nursing Alumni Award
    Ann Malmberg

    Ann Malmberg ’87 (Nursing) is the regional director of community health at Essentia Health in the west region where she is set with the task of collaborating with other partners to improve the health of our communities. Malmberg graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1997 with a master’s degree. She has also worked at Essentia as the vice president of Patient Care Services, Hospice of the Red River Valley as the director of patient care and at Dakota Clinic as the director of nursing.

    Past Alumni Awards

    2014 Alumni Awards

    Minnesota State University Moorhead recognizes outstanding alumni at the Distinguished Alumni & Outstanding Service Celebration Friday, Sept. 26th 2014 at the Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom.

    David Daugherty

    David Daugherty ’73 (mass communications) is associate director and director of research at Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Arizona State University. Previously, Daugherty spent 10 years as vice president for research and seven years and director of research services at the Gannett Company, the nation’s largest news and information organization. He also spent seven years serving in a variety of positions at Frank N. Magid Associates, a media research and consultation company. Daugherty holds a masters and doctorate degree from North Dakota State University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively.


    Timothy Sayler ’79 (management) is the chief operating officer for Essentia Health’s West Region, overseeing facilities in North Dakota and western Minnesota. Sayler received a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Colorado, Denver after his time at MSUM. He served as chief executive officer and president of the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho and as chief operating officer at Altru Health System in Grand Forks, N.D., prior to his current appointment.

    Scott Staska

    Scott Staska ’94 (educational administration) is superintendent of the ROCORI school district in Cold Springs, Minn. Staska has had an eventful tenure, leading the school through a shooting in 2003, dealing with the first case of H1N1 in 2009, and spearheading a $30 million construction project. For 2011, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators named Staska “Minnesota Superintendent of the Year.”

    Lisa Borgen

    Lisa Borgen ’93 (criminal justice) is Vice President at American Crystal Sugar Co. Borgen began her legal career in 1997 as a solo practitioner with Minnesota’s 7th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office. In 1999, she then became a Clay County attorney, where she worked until her judicial appointment in 2006. Prior to her most recent appointment, Lisa worked as a trial lawyer at Vogel Law Firm in Moorhead, Minn.

    Ken Jaeger

    Ken Jaeger ’83 (community health) is the founder and chief executive officer of Morning Star Senior Living in Denver, Colo. After graduating from MSUM, Jaeger settled in Denver and began a career in health and human services. While working in the senior living industry, Jaeger grew adept in mentoring teams to profitability while providing outstanding quality care. He is just as committed to serving poor around the world, with a special focus on building orphanages in Latin America.

    Outstanding Young Alum
    Kristin Jacobson Halvarson

    Kristin Jacobson Halvarson ’05 (biology, Spanish) is the executive director at Community Health Service, Inc., formerly Migrant Health Service, in Moorhead, Minn. Halvarson began her career at Community Health Service as a seasonal interpreter and has moved up the ladder to her current position.

    Service Award
    Larry and Marcella MacLeod

    Larry & Marcella MacLeod
    Larry is a retired health and physical education faculty member. During his tenure at MSUM, Larry coached basketball for 27 years, baseball, and later served as athletic director. Larry and Marcella continue to volunteer and provide excellent historical information and support to student scholarships through the MSUM Alumni Foundation.

    Eva Vraspir Excellence in Nursing Alumni Award
    Nancy Stock

    Nancy Stock ’86 (nursing) is a rural nurse practitioner for Sanford Health, working in the Mahnomen area. Stock is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in ’96 with a master’s degree. Nursing runs in the family, as Stock’s daughter also attended MSUM for the nursing program.

    Past Alumni Awards

    2013 Alumni Awards

    Bob Bowlsby

    Bob Bowlsby ’75 (Health and Physical education) is the Commissioner of the Big 12. Prior to his role at the Big 12, he spent six years directing the Stanford University athletics department that sponsors 35 varsity sports and claimed an unprecedented 17 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors Cups, emblematic of the top overall athletics program in the country. Bowlsby arrived at Stanford after a 15-year stint as the chief administrator for the University of Iowa Department of Athletics, where he guided and supervised the merger of the Hawkeye men’s and women’s athletic departments. In 2002, President George W. Bush chose Bowlsby to be a member of the Commission on Opportunities in Athletics. He was appointed to the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors in 2007 and will complete that term at the 2014 Winter Olympiad in Sochi, Russia. Bowlsby serves on the Alumni Foundation Board of Directors.

    Christina Broadwell

    Christina Broadwell ’00 (Biology) is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is board certified in obstetrics, gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Broadwell has received numerous awards and has been recognized for excellence in research and teaching at each of her training positions including, Medical School at the University of North Dakota, Residency at the University of Iowa, and her Fellowship at the University of Vermont.

    Robert Mikkleson

    Robert Mikkleson ’72 (Mass Communications) is the owner of Winged Vision, his Maryland based company, and the pioneering leader in aerial sports broadcasting since the early 1980’s. Mikkelson brought together military gyro-stabilized camera mounts and large broadcast telephoto lenses, enabling aerial play action coverage of sports for the first time. The state of the art coverage is now common throughout the world. He has won two primetime and four sports Emmys and was featured in the 2008 CBS Sports special “The Best Shot in Golf,” the story of the MetLife Blimp’s coverage of the PGA golf tour. Mikkelson’s current credits include PGA golf, Sunday Night NFL Football, Olympics, and major college sports. Mikkelson finds time to mentor and share his experiences and connections with MSUM faculty and students and is working to create partnerships with MSUM and the sports broadcast industry. Winged Vision covers about 150 events a year with Mikkelson traveling close to 150 days a year. He enjoys summers with his family at their lake home near Walker, Minn.

    Greg Smogard

    Greg Smogard ’72 (History) is founder and CEO of 4catalysts consulting and author of the new book, A World of Opportunities for Aspiring Entrepreneurs—Creating Your Own Job in the “New Normal.” He specializes in helping companies and startups quickly and profitably improve their operations by enhancing customer relationships, improving processes, launching new businesses, and identifying new trends and opportunities. Smogard spent much of his career as an international business executive working with American Express, Blockbuster/Viacom and global brands in over 40 countries. Smogard is currently an advisor to a private equity firm, an investor, a speaker, mentor, trend watcher and entrepreneur. He is also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society and various technology, business and entrepreneurial organizations. Smogard has lived and traveled extensively abroad and speaks Spanish. He and his family currently reside in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    Outstanding Young Alum
    Emily Beck

    Emily Beck ’06 (Film Studies) is the executive director of the Fargo Theatre Management Corp. Beck has worked as the executive director for more than a year, but began working at the Fargo Theatre three years ago As a young professional in the F-M area, she has become a visible leader of the iconic Fargo landmark. Open every day of the year, Beck’s responsibilities include giving tours of the theatre, writing grants, marketing the membership program and booking films. Beck recently helped complete a capital campaign in order to buy digital equipment for the Fargo Theatre. Beck, the Board of Directors and volunteers raised $200,000 in less than a year. Beck is now the director and programmer of the Fargo Film Festival.

    Outstanding Service to the University
    George and Marlane Sanderson

    George & Marlane '77 & '81
    Marlane Sanderson ’77 & ’81 (Accounting and Master’s in Business Administration) worked in public accounting for Eide Helmeke and taught two years at the University of Nebraska Lincoln before teaching and advising MSUM students for 24 years. She was involved in the National Association of Accountants, the North Dakota CPA Society as well as other professional organizations. After a 26-year teaching career, she retired in 2007. George Sanderson earned a degree in math and a master’s in accounting, both from UND. He completed his Ph.D. in business at the University of Nebraska in 1985. George dedicated more than four years on active duty with the Air Force and worked as a staff auditor at an accounting firm in Minneapolis before joining MSUM in 1976 to teach accounting. He served as the Accounting Department Chair for nine years. George was active in the North Dakota CPA Society and served a term as Chair of the Minnesota Council of Accounting Educators. After a 31-year teaching career, he retired in 2009. Teachers and mentors, George and Marlane have been student supporters in numerous capacities: MSUM faculty athletic representative, Lutheran Campus Ministry Board, assisting in financial reviews, MBA program coordinator, New Rivers Press financial advisor, accounting internship coordinator and much more. “Giving is one of the most rewarding things we do,” they said. “We support students because college education opened up opportunities for us.”

    Eva Vraspir Excellence in Nursing Alumni Award
    Evelyn Quigley

     Evelyn Quigley ’82 (Nursing) was a senior executive with Sanford Health for 23 years and was named Chief Nursing Officer Emeritus. Quigley was the principal for a grant that brought one million dollars to Meritcare from Robert Wood Johnson to “Strengthen Hospital Nursing: Improve Patient Care.” She also served as a national nurse appraiser for the Magnet Recognition Program through the American Nurses Association, and was inducted into Xi-Kappa At-Large Chapter –International Nursing Honor Society established through MSUM Nursing. Quigley has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni by MSUM for her leadership in establishing the Upper Division BSN Program and the Externals Degree Program. She served two terms on President Barden’s Advisory Board and two years on President Szymanski’s Visioning Task Force & Strategic Planning for MSUM. Quigley was a consultant to the Master’s Program in public, human services, and health administration. She most recently served on the MSUM Founder’s Scholarship Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and the Golden Dragon Retiree Group. Quigley has also served on the Alumni Foundation Board of Directors, and she is completing her past president term. Locally, Quigley serves on the United Way Board of Directors, Sanford Health Partners Organization, First Lutheran Church of Fargo Foundation Board of Directors, YWCA, Heart Association, Diabetes Association, and numerous nursing organizations. Quigley is in the North Dakota Nurses Association Hall of Fame.

    2012 Alumni Awards

    Deb Dawson

    Deb Dawson ’99 Deb Dawson worked a variety of jobs before returning to her native Fargo to take over the family business, Dawson Hail Insurance Co., first as vice president then president and CEO. She retired from the company in 1996. She completed her master of fine arts in creative writing in 1999, and used her creative skills to complete four short films, a novel manuscript and the beginning of a memoir. She said her MSUM education helped her circle back and revive her early dreams in which the expression and focus on creativity was nurtured and valued. Deb produced, directed and wrote the award-winning documentary African Soul, American Heart, which tells the story of orphans in Duk Payeul in South Sudan, and inspired her to form African Soul, American Heart in 2007. As its founder and president, she has led the development of the ASAH Boarding School for Orphan Girls, which opened in February. They shelter, feed and educate 50 orphan girls, teaching them practical life skills, protecting them from marriage at puberty and training them as leaders. She recently returned from her seventh visit to Duk, always returning with beautiful images of the people and work that’s being accomplished. Her photographic stories, Faces of South Sudan, have exhibited at regional art galleries and will be on display November-December at St. Croix Galleries in Stillwater, Minn. Deb has always had a soft spot for MSUM, speaking to classes and serving on advisory committees for New Rivers Press and the College of Arts and Humanities. She and her husband, Norm, have seven children and make their home in Fargo.

    David Carlson

    Captain David Carlson ’66 Captain David S. Carlson graduated with a music degree in 1996, but the Navy curtailed his high school teaching career. He received his naval aviator wings in 1968 and then directed the Naval Air Training Command Choir, traveling around the country and performing on the Johnny Carson, Andy Williams and Mike Douglas television shows. After leaving the Command Choir, he spent most of his time flying in the Vietnam combat zone. He spent the next 25 years deployed aboard a variety of ships filling leadership positions, including the aircraft carriers Constellation and Tripoli. He commanded the largest aircraft squadron in the Navy in 1981, training and deploying the first female naval aviator. He is a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He was selected for a special assistant position to General Colin Powell, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to help develop the successful Desert Storm war plan. His last assignment was director of operations for the Navy Foreign Military Sales program, where he traveled to Asia, Europe and the Middle East to sell U.S. manufactured military hardware and services. After 34 years and 5,500 flight hours in 23 different aircraft, Dave retired in 1994 and was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal (the fifth highest in precedence). He joined SIGCOM in 1996, which was later acquired by MicroTech. He is the senior vice president of Unified Communications and Collaboration Sales. He and his wife, Marlene, have three children and four grandchildren. They live in Alexandria, Va., and on Lake Ida in Alexandria, Minn.

    Alice Richter

    Alice Richter ’76 Alice Richter graduated in 1975 with an accounting degree and immediately began a 26-year career with KPMG, a global financial and accounting services firm. She was quickly promoted to manager, and in 1980 was selected for a three-year assignment in Dusseldorf, Germany. She was admitted to KPMG partnership in 1987 and has served multinational clients both privately owned and publicly traded. She served on the KPMG Foundation board of trustees and oversaw the company’s recruiting program. As a leader-mentor, she has chaired and served on the Business Economics Education Foundation and the Career Advisory Council of Students in Free Enterprise. She also mentored businesswomen through Menttium’s Minnesota 100 program. She received MSUM’s first Paseka School of Business Outstanding Alumni Award, and served a three-year term on the National Advisory Forum of Beta Alpha Psi. She has spoken to MSUM classes, mentored our grads working in the Twin Cities, and delivered the university’s December 2000 commencement address on the 25th anniversary of her graduation. Alice is a on the boards of Bluestem Brands, Inc.; G&K Services, Inc.; West Marine, Inc.; and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. She said, “I’ve gained personally from all this experience, and I’m using the skills I developed over the years at MSUM and KPMG to give back to others.” She holds membership in the American Institute of CPAs, The Minnesota Society of CPAs, and the National Association of Corporate Directors, where she recently received Board Leadership Fellow status. She lives in Prior Lake, Minn., and has two grown children.

    Beth Haseltine

    Beth Haseltine ’79 Beth Haseltine, nee Thompson, graduated in 1979 with the first group of MSUM students to earn a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She worked in MSUM’s student affairs office with faculty who were “so nice and nurturing. I was in the know about a lot!” she said. They encouraged her to study abroad at Nansenskolen in Lillehammer, Norway, for a year. “It was a turning point in my life, making me a more independent and self reliant person.” Beth is manager of clinical development–bereavement for Hospice of the Red River Valley. The bereavement team provides support to families after the death of a loved one. They also do community programming, including a grief support group at MSUM. For 22 years prior, she was victim services coordinator and then executive director of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. During her 22-year tenure, she helped pass sexual assault, domestic violence and child sexual abuse legislation in North Dakota and Minnesota. She also helped establish the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center. Beth has been a leader and advocate for women and children at the local and state levels, serving on numerous boards and coalitions. Her honors include MSUM Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1991, Temple Beth El’s Humanitarian Award and the Commissioner’s Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a national award recognizing her contributions to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Beth is actively involved in the local theatre arts community. She and her husband, Rob, have one daughter and live in Fargo.

    George Vinson

    George Vinson ’03 George Vinson, a 2003 criminal justice and sociology graduate, joined the Fargo Police Department in 2004, continuing a family tradition of working in law enforcement. During his tenure, he’s been a crime scene investigator, police-training officer and narcotics detective. He was promoted to sergeant last year. In 2007, George was selected to be a canine handler with his partner Earl, a Belgian Malinois, trained to find drugs and track people. The pair has earned three dozen medals and four “Case of the Quarter” in the U.S. Police K-9 Association (USPCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to training police dogs. They received the top honor from USPCA in 2010, “National Case of the Year,” for their impressive performance in real casework. They also placed 10th nationally at the USPCA National Drug Detection competition in 2010. George said, “I’ve never had to kick, punch, tase or shoot anybody; I attribute that, in part, to the social skills I learned at Moorhead State.” George is a two-time cancer survivor and Eagle Scout, and he is an advocate for both the American Cancer Society and Boy Scouts. He and his wife, Danielle, live in Moorhead.

    Outstanding Young Alum
    Kathleen Mitchell

    Kathleen Mitchell ’06 was most recently a field researcher with Southern Sierra Research Station in Weldon, Calif., studying an endangered songbird, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. After graduating with a biology degree in 2006, she was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching science in Tanzania. Upon completing her two-year commitment, she accepted a yearlong science teaching position with an NGO serving underprivileged Masai students. Kit’s work experience includes being a girl’s basketball coach, chemistry teacher, environment and energy policy coordinator and freelance writer/editor. She’s published articles on hiking, backpacking and rock-climbing, as well as science abstracts at the National Institutes of Health and University of Minnesota. In 2011, Kit and her husband, Jacob Gallagher, hiked continuously from Mexico to Canada along the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, traveling through California, Oregon and Washington. Their five-month excursion averaged 20 miles daily with resupply stops every five to seven days. “I learned about forces that are much stronger than me,” Kit said. Their next adventure: bicycling from their home in Mountain View, Calif., to Patagonia, the southernmost portion of South America.

    Outstanding Service to the University
    Shelda Warren

    Shelda Warren '77 & '81 graduated from Borup High School, and earned two degrees at Moorhead State Teachers College—in mathematics and physical education. She taught English, math and physical education at Waubun and Ada High Schools and directed an occasional school play and taught tap dancing as well. In 1955, she was one of three members of the first class of students to earn a master of science degree in education from MSTC. She later earned an educational specialist degree from Vanderbilt University. Shelda joined MSTC’s Campus School in 1955 and worked her way into teaching college classes. She joined the college’s math department full time in 1968. After a 38-year teaching career, she retired in 1993, but continued teaching some Saturday courses. A teacher through and through, Shelda volunteers at Moorhead Adult Education, where she spends much of her time working on conversational English with ESL learners. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I do,” she said. “I learn so much from them.” Other volunteer activities include Churches United for the Homeless, Forum Readers Board, area nursing homes as an advocate, escort, friend and activity coordinator, and Zippity Zingers, a singing group that performs to nursing home residents. Shelda survives her husbands, Everett “Red” Warren and Warren Kelly. She lives in Moorhead and has one daughter.

    2011 Alumni Awards

    Gregory Lof

    Gregory L. Lof is a professor and the chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, Mass., a graduate school founded by the Massachusetts General Hospital. His department is one of the largest speech-language pathology graduate programs in the country. Lof graduated with his B.S. in speech pathology and audiology in 1979 and received his M.S. in speech-language pathology in 1981, both from MSUM. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin Madison in communication disorders. Lof has published 17 peer-reviewed articles. His research, teaching and clinical interests primarily are with children who have speech sound disorders, and he recently studied the lack of efficacy for using nonspeech oral motor exercises to change speech sound productions. Lof has presented over 40 peer-reviewed and 35 invited presentations and workshops at universities, school districts, and national, state and international association conventions. He has been an editorial consultant for the journals American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology; Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders; and Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. He has coordinated and served on numerous ASHA convention planning committees, and is a selected member on ASHA’s Center for Evidence-Based Practice in Communication Disorders. He serves on the Communications Committee of the Council on Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and was elected for a three-year term as Massachusetts’s representative on the ASHA Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Board. Lof resides with his partner, Thomas Mutschler, in Boston, Mass.

    Sharon Werner

    Sharon M. Werner started her own design firm 20 years ago and since then it has been recognized nationally and internationally. Werner Design Werks, Inc. is based out of St. Paul, Minn., and focuses on combining strong visual language with sound design solutions to impact commerce and culture. Werner started at MSUM as an accounting major, but switched when she realized she was more interested in a dorm-mate’s art homework than her own. “I found myself lying awake at night wondering how I’d answer her assignment. The second semester of my freshman year, I took a drawing class-the hardest class of my life-but I was hooked,” Werner said. Werner credits her success in part to professor Phil Mousseau. She said his teaching style created an environment that is similar to working in a design office today, healthy competitiveness that fosters creativity. After starting as an intern and working her way up to creative director at Duffy & Partners, Werner set out on her own to start Werner Design Werks. The firm has had clients, such as Target Corporation, Mohawk Paper, Chronicle Books, Mrs. Meyer’s-Clean Day, Blu Dot Design and Manufacturing, Nick at Nite, VH-1 Networks, Levi’s, Minnesota Public Radio, Ogilvy, Comedy Central and Urban Outfitters. Werner Design Werks was named Target’s Vendor of the Year in 2002, and their work is included in the 100 World’s Best Posters and is part of the permanent collection of The Library of Congress, The Rumpus Room of Ernest and Viola Werner, Musée De La Poste, Victoria and Albert Museum, Musée des Arts Decoratifs and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Werner is married to Chuck Hanna, and they have a six-year-old son, Ernest. They love going to the beach, playing kickball, climbing trees and making up games.

    Diana Divecha

    Diana Divecha promotes developmental science through writing, consulting and activism. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology from MSUM, she attended Cornell University to earn her master’s and Ph.D. in developmental psychology. Divecha said MSUM helped prepare her for an Ivy League doctoral program. Divecha was a consultant at Yale University for a one-year research project that studied cultural influences on the development of children’s thinking. In 1990, Divecha became an assistant professor of psychology at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. Four years later she served as chair of the interdisciplinary studies in human development. “I internalized the student-faculty relationships I’d experienced at MSUM as a model of how to orient myself to students,” Divecha said. In 1997, she left teaching to parent full time and write about children, teens and cross-cultural family life. She is working on her book, Kids Do Better When...: A Developmental Psychologist Shares her Favorite Research on Parenting and Child Development. Divecha has consulted for Family Violence Prevention Fund, Women Donors Network and TEDx Golden Gate: Compassion in Education, and published Paranteen, a publication on parenting teens. Divecha’s professional agenda is to push the science of children and adolescents’ development into the world to positively impact the quality of human development. She has presented academic papers for the American Psychological Association, National Council on Family Relations, Society for Research in Child Development, Eastern Psychological Association and more. Divecha is immersed in yoga philosophy, mediation and Hinduism. She is married and has two daughters.

    Mary Jo Richard

    Mary Jo Richard is a certified public accountant with more than 20 years public accounting experience, providing audit and accounting services. Richard was promoted to partner at Eide Bailly in May 2000—the first female partner in Fargo’s home office and the third in the firm. She is the firm’s director of service organization reports, where she manages consulting and auditing engagements, and specializes in serving SEC registrants, dealerships, wholesale and retail companies, manufacturers and non-profit entities. She also provides outsourced internal audit departments. Richard earned an accounting degree and minor in management in 1986, and she remains connected to the Paseka School of Business. “I have been a member of the Paseka School of Business Advisory Board for over 10 years. During this time, the School of Business received their accreditation. The commitment of the accreditation team turned a vision into reality,” Richard said. Volunteering is an important part of Richard’s life. She served on the local Girl Scout council board for nine years and was on the YWCA Cass Clay Women of the Year banquet planning committee until 2010. In 2005, she was the Volunteer Service award recipient. Richard was a member of the United Way of Cass Clay Women’s Leadership Council for six years. She serves on the board and finance committee of Minn-Kota Red Cross in order to give back to an organization that helped her family during the ’97 flood. Richard is the chair for the North Dakota Society of CPAs peer review committee. Richard enjoys reading, scrapbooking and photography. She has been married to her husband, Paul, for 24 years. They live in Fargo and have three children and two grandchildren.

    Outstanding Young Alum
    Ryan Sylvester

    Ryan Sylvester: This fall, Ryan Sylvester will pursue his interest in law and international affairs as he begins as an officer in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps. Sylvester’s interest in international affairs began as an undergraduate at MSUM when he took a class from professor Andrew Conteh. He said Conteh’s in-depth teaching style with heavy emphasis on historical and philosophical perspectives prepared him for his graduate studies in law and global affairs. At MSUM, Sylvester was immersed in student activities. He was a resident assistant, student orientation counselor, tour guide and The Advocate advertising manager, to name a few. One of Sylvester’s greatest contributions to the university is the annual Student Academic Conference, which he initiated, along with Conteh, as part of his educational leadership master’s practicum. “I really felt like I was able to engage and contribute to the development of programs and traditions at MSUM during my time there, and those experiences served as the best learning laboratory one could ask for,” Sylvester said. In 2003, Sylvester moved to New York to work as an administrator at NYU and while there completed his M.S. in global affairs. It was in New York that he started to develop international connections. Sylvester interned for the Sierra Leone Mission to the United Nations, and the U.S. Department of State for the Foreign Service Institute. Sylvester attended Fordham University School of Law and received his J.D. Fall 2010, he studied at the American University in Cairo as David L. Boren: National Security Education Program fellowship recipient, and was a legal intern for the Resettlement Legal Aid Project assisting refugees. In spring 2009, as part of an international human rights project, Sylvester was able to travel to Conteh’s homeland of Sierra Leone. Sylvester met his wife Kristen at NYU where they both worked for the Department of Residential Education. They have been married four years.

    Eva Vraspir Excellence in Nursing Alumni Award
    Lori Wightman

    Lori Wightman inherited an attraction to the health care industry from her parents. Wightman’s father was a hospital administrator and her mother was a nurse, coincidentally Wightman has done both. Wightman is the president of Unity Hospital in Fridley, Minn., which is part of Allina Hospitals and Clinics. She is responsible for the operation of a 221-staffed bed acute care hospital with 1,400 employees. The hospital has a net operating revenue of $187M. Wightman was President of New Ulm Medical Center for eight years before taking her position at Unity Hospital. She is also licensed as a registered nurse in Minnesota. Wightman was elected as the Minnesota Regent in the American College of Health Care Executives from 2008 to 2010, and now serves on the Board of Governors. She is a Blaine/Ham Lake rotary member, TPC Rose member and a board member for the Twins Cities North Metro Chamber. Wightman said the experiences she gained as a student at MSUM impacted her professional development, such as her infection control preceptorship, exposure to public health and assessment skills. “Of course Sr. Callista Roy’s Adaptation Model will be with me forever!” Wightman graduated from Fargo South High School, received her BSN from MSUM and her masters in health administration from the University of Colorado. Going to school full time, working part time and planning a wedding taught Wightman the busier a person is, the more organization life requires. Wightman resides in Blaine, Minn., and has a Great Dane named Synda.