H. Kris Ronnow '59

2009 Distinguished Citizen Award

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When Kris Ronnow graduated from Macalester, his several jobs and his frugal choice to live at home enabled him to go directly to McCormick Seminary in Chicago where he earned master’s degrees in divinity and social work. Upon his graduation a mentor encouraged him to consider the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, where he could help many churches to collaborate on their social work goals. Ronnow trained with pioneer community organizer Saul Alinsky, who became a lifelong friend. He also organized civil rights marches when a fellow pastor, Martin Luther King Jr., came to town.

Ronnow later worked as director of community relations in Oak Park, Illinois, and as vice president of public affairs for Harris Trust and Savings Bank. In 1988 he became vice president of McCormick Theological Seminary. Regardless of the sector—be it church, government, business, or education—Ronnow has worked to fulfill the charge in Micah 6:8 to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

"As he has done for the last 50 years, Kris also mentors younger people to look at the possibilities in the world, not just the challenges," wrote Nancy Slaughter ’58 in nominating Ronnow.

Since retiring in 1996, Ronnow has served on the Habitat for Humanity board, traveled with the Presbyterian Peace Delegation to Colombia, and worked with the National Conference for Community and Justice, which awarded him their Founders Award for his fair housing work in Oak Park. Ronnow has generously served Macalester as well, serving on the Alumni Board and chairing the gift committee for his class’s 50-year reunion.