Gina McElfish Damberg ’53

2003 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Gina McElfish taught school in Great Falls, Mont., and at Edison High School in Minneapolis following her graduation. She and John Damberg were married in 1955 and returned to their hometown, Eveleth, Minn., the following year. They raised three children, Bill ’81, Paul ’87 and Kathryn (Carleton ’81). They have six grandchildren.

Gina Damberg was active in scouting and youth groups and served as a Sunday school teacher. She has served on various community boards, including the Iron Range Rehabilitation Center and the Mesabi YMCA, as well as the Macalester Alumni Board. In 1979, she returned to school, earning a master’s in counseling with women. She then worked with battered women as a volunteer with Range Women’s Advocates. In 1985, she was recognized by the Minnesota Division of the American Association for University Women as an "Agent of Change." In 1998, Gina and John, an active Rotarian, attended a meeting in New Delhi, India, where they were privileged to take part in a polio immunization day.

Damberg is a past elder of her church and president of Presbyterian Women, and currently serves on the church membership committee. She is a member of the community relations committee at Virginia Regional Municipal Hospital, which sponsors a yearly Wellness Luncheon series. She and the hospital’s therapy dog Thor make weekly visits to a nursing home, adult daycare center and convalescent care center.

Prudence Lanegran Cameron ’56, who nominated Damberg for this award, wrote: "Her work with battered women has been inspiring. Her compassion, determination and dedication to helping those who so desperately need it is amazing. She has worked with every facet of their problems. Her ability to work with those who batter, to help them break the cycle of abuse, takes courage and a great strength of purpose. When she believes in something, she puts her whole heart in it."