These nine alumni were nominated by their peers, selected by the Alumni Board, and honored by the Macalester community with Alumni Awards on June 4, 2016
Distinguished Citizen Award
Beverly Robinson Allen is one of those irreplaceable women who keep communities going. In the words of her granddaughter and fellow Macite Hannah Stasia Buffenbarger, Class of 2016, Allen “has spent more than half a century promoting women’s rights and health, international peace, and community enrichment and development programs.”
Although her paid employment was as a medical technologist, it was through her unpaid work that Beverly truly shone. In her northern California community, Beverly has been a 4‐H leader, a board member on the Humboldt County General Hospital, the League of Women Voters, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. She was a founding mother of the Northcountry Clinic in Humboldt County, one of a group of clinics serving more than 50,000 low‐income women and children each year. She also helped the local school district start a bi‐language kindergarten immersion program, to promote easier access for immigrant children and second language learning for English speakers. Finally, she is co‐director of the Andree Wagner Peace Fund, a pacifism and peace trust that manages several hundred thousand dollars a year.
Peace building was also the theme of Beverly’s international volunteer work. She traveled to Nairobi in 1985 to attend the United Nation’s Decade for Women conference, and in 1986 went to Moscow, Germany, Helsinki, and England with the international organization Women of Peace to protest nuclear cruise missile storage.
According to her granddaughter, “Beverly was inspired by the global worldview of equality that Macalester instilled upon her.” She in turn has undoubtedly inspired many others.
Part of Macalester's powerhouse 1960s swim teams, Jim Anderson ’66 was a two-time national champion and four-time All-American swimmer. The lessons the M Club Hall of Famer learned from athletics were formative, and so were teammates who became lifelong friends. Other Mac highlights include his work as a residence counselor and a SWAP trip to Berlin. Most importantly to Anderson, he met his wife, Barbara (Bobbi) Rudberg '67 in college. "Of all my experiences," he says, "Macalester always stands out in terms of reinforcing values and attitudes that have guided my life.”
Those values shaped his career, too. As graduation neared, Anderson searched for a path that utilized his economics major and broader Macalester experience. Health care emerged as the solution, and he completed a master's degree in health care administration at the University of Minnesota. Anderson worked at a hospital that merged with Mayo Clinic, which resulted in a 40-year career at the Mayo Clinic that paralleled the organization's tremendous growth. He helped create and develop Mayo's nationwide network of hospitals and clinics, including in Arizona, where he retired as chief administrative officer.All along, Jim and Bobbi's priority was building a strong family. "You ask yourself: Why are you working? What's your end goal?" Anderson says. "Bobbi and I have always focused on family and see a capable, self-reliant family as our contribution to the community.” In retirement, the couple is just as dedicated to that commitment, with frequent trips to visit and support the families of their four children. At the University of Minnesota, Anderson still serves on the Board of Medical Overseers and recently concluded a term as the School of Public Health's alumni board chair—the latest examples of the remarkable leadership woven throughout his career.
All along, Jim and Bobbi's priority was building a strong family. "You ask yourself: Why are you working? What's your end goal?" Anderson says. "Bobbi and I have always focused on family and see a capable, self-reliant family as our contribution to the community.” In retirement, the couple is just as dedicated to that commitment, with frequent trips to visit and support the families of their four children. At the University of Minnesota, Anderson still serves on the Board of Medical Overseers and recently concluded a term as the School of Public Health's alumni board chair—the latest examples of the remarkable leadership woven throughout his career.
Before Louise Comfort graduated in 1956, Mac professor and dean J. Huntley Dupre suggested that she consider university teaching and research. Professors shape young people's lives, he told the philosophy and political science major and handed her an application for a graduate fellowship. With Dean Dupre’s support, she received the fellowship, and never looked back. Louise's teaching career spans 50 years—and counting.
An internationally renowned expert in crisis management and disaster preparedness, Louise teaches at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She also directs the Center for Disaster Management and is a principal investigator for several large-scale research projects. She has received many grants to support her research, including fieldwork following 23 earthquake disasters in 15 countries.
Beginning as a Mac student during her SPAN trip to Italy, Louise honed in what happens when people witness the same event but respond very differently. She focused on studying decision making under uncertainty, which led to disaster planning. In that field, she grapples with complex questions: "How does the government make decisions to protect populations from harm? When public personnel have a legal responsibility to protect the public good, how do they decide what to do in a situation they've never seen before? How can we improve the likelihood of making more informed decisions?"
Louise earned a master's degree in political science and, in the midst of teaching and raising two children, a PhD from Yale University. Today she teaches public policy analysis, information policy, and organizational theory.
And that advice 60 years ago from Dean Dupre? In Louise's words: "I gradually discovered that he was right. Engaging students in discovery and exploring questions from multiple perspectives has been fascinating."
"What are you doing to make the world a better place?"
Darrel Gubrud thought often about that question at Macalester, and it still guides him 60 years later. During that time, Gubrud has shaped information technology in Minnesota and beyond.
A business administration major, Gubrud thrived at Macalester thanks to opportunities to learn by doing. He sold ads as The Mac Weekly's business manager, led the Toastmasters Club's revitalization, and was vice president of the student governing body. Those lessons in taking action served him well after college, beginning in his first job at IBM in 1956. An early adopter and entrepreneur, Gubrud was CEO or general manager of five IT-related firms, including three startups. He also worked in other senior roles throughout his career, including at Blue Cross Blue Shield. In 1997 he founded Gubrud Consulting, where he continues advising early stage technology companies.
Gubrud delved into nanotechnology in 2006, when he co-founded MN NANO with the Dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and others. MN NANO fostered connections among academic institutions and local industry for nanotechnology research and development. He says, "My overriding interest is in how Minnesota can grow and prosper, and nanotechnology is one way to help maintain the state's competitive edge."
Passionate about public policy and community involvement, Gubrud is an engaged citizen, serving on Macalester's Alumni Board and his 50th Reunion committee. He's a leader in the House of Hope Presbyterian Church and active in numerous civic organizations.
True to the question that guided him as a student, Gubrud has strengthened the world around him in many ways. Writes one of six nominators, "Darrel has had an amazing career in innovation, entrepreneurship, expanding technology, and advancement of information technology. He is a model of creative activity at age 81."
Don and Judy Petterson Mackenzie ’66 were married the day after Commencement. They were then teachers in Lebanon until the Six-Day War forced their evacuation. Back in the states, Don enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary. After graduating, he worked in field education at Princeton while pursuing a PhD at New York University. He has served pastorates in Princeton, at Dartmouth College, and at University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle.
The events of 9/11 resulted in a new dimension of ministry. Together with Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman, he formed what became known as the Interfaith Amigos. They have met weekly for 14 years, becoming friends while seeking to better understand each other’s faith traditions, never shying away from examining controversial passages in the sacred texts.
The three have presented at events around the country and abroad including Israel and, soon, Turkey. Humor figures prominently in their presentations, which have been featured in two TEDx talks. As Mackenzie explained to CBS News, “We laugh to keep from crying, but we also laugh because it gives us hope.” The Amigos hosted a radio show for a year, and they have written three books together. Of their second, Religion Gone Astray, author Karen Armstrong wrote, “This exuberant and courageous book is an inspiration.” Their latest, Finding Peace through Spiritual Practice, will be available in 2016.
Mackenzie credits Macalester with nurturing his openness to the new and to the needs of others. Co-chair of the 1966 Reunion Committee, he has often entertained at reunions as part of Dewey Decimal and the Librarians, and his country band, Life’s Other Side, has performed at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.
Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award
One of eight children of Mexican immigrants, Jorge Salas was determined to take advantage of the sacrifices his parents had made. After graduating from Salinas High School in California, he traveled east to Macalester, an experience he calls “the best thing that ever happened to me—besides my family.”
While at Mac studying Spanish and studio art, Salas belonged to the Organization of Latin Americans and the Hispanic Student Organization. He also made many friends, both American and international, whom he still considers extended family today.
After Macalester and several years of graduate school, Salas returned to California, where he has spent the last two decades giving back to his community.
Salas is a longtime Spanish teacher in Fairfield, California, and the executive director of a Latino Support Program called LUCE (Latinos Unidos Club for Education). LUCE’s mission is to socially and academically support Latino, Chicano, and Hispanic students and to guide them to post-high school education.
As one former student put it, “Mr. Salas inspired me to pursue higher education. He has taught many students to help out in our communities and to return to where we came from to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Another former student called him “a great example to students…that if you set your mind to what you want, you can accomplish it.”
Salas has won the Cesar Chavez Human Rights Award and has presented at the California Teachers Association’s Equity and Human Rights Conference. He calls himself “most passionate about teaching and creating opportunities for my students.”
Based on the many testimonials of his past students, he has succeeded mightily in doing just that.
Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award
Janet Collins Demiray, known as Betsy during her college years, credits Macalester with putting her on the road to her 35-year career with the Department of State. She served in Turkey, Kenya, the U.S.S.R, Poland, Romania, Zaire, Canada, Belarus and Ukraine, as well as Washington, D.C.
As part of the Student Project for Amity among Nations (SPAN), Demiray went to then-Yugoslavia, which further whetted her appetite for diplomacy. As part of the United States Information Agency (USIA), later folded into the State Department, Demiray organized English-learning opportunities and cultural exchanges involving students, judges, lawyers and others. A key focus was supporting the development of independent media, particularly in Africa and countries of the former Soviet Union.
Serving in Moscow during the Cold War, Demiray and her late husband were followed wherever they traveled. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there was a new openness and an immediate need for assistance in developing democratic, civil society. Demiray says she worked with many bright, idealistic, dedicated people in Belarus, and later Ukraine, in their move to independence.
Demiray was Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the Orange Revolution, a series of citizen protests. She has frequently served as an official election observer in Ukraine since her retirement in 2005.
At that time, she was presented with the Department of State’s Secretary’s Career Achievement Award. Other acknowledgments of her accomplishments include the naming of the Janet C. Demiray English Teaching Resource Center in Kyiv.
Now at home in Virginia, Demiray chairs both the regional library board and the county Democratic Party.
Young Alumni Award
Anna Min exemplifies the Macalester spirit. Anna is an artist and entrepreneur, running a growing photography business. Anna is a philanthropist, shooting high-quality photos for nonprofits, many of which could not otherwise afford such professional work. Anna is a volunteer, giving time over the past decade to organizations such as Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Rainbow Health Initiative, and the PFund Foundation.
And finally, Anna is a dedicated Macalester volunteer, having co-chaired the most recent Scots Pride Reunion Planning Committee, and returning to campus several times a year to speak to students. “When I read the criteria for this Young Alumni Award, I immediately thought of Anna,” said Macalester’s Dean of Multicultural Life Chris MacDonald-Dennis.
A first-generation college student whose parents were Korean immigrants, Anna’s Macalester education was a major turning point in life. Although Anna interned twice at Wells Fargo and graduated with distinction in economics, Anna soon found a true passion for social and civic engagement, particularly supporting organizations promoting women, people of color, and LGBTQ groups.
Until recently, Anna also worked as a constituent engagement coordinator for the Loft Literary Center, just across the highway from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood that was once home.
Today Anna is working as a photographer focusing on advocacy, politics, and the arts. Last fall another goal was realized when Anna held a solo photography exhibit, featuring pictures of local and national arts heroes working to make the world a better place.
Meanwhile, Anna’s dedicated community work continues. As a PFund Foundation staffer put it, “Anna is an enthusiastic, high-energy volunteer who can go from big picture strategic thinking to crunching numbers. Anna’s hunger to learn and contribute is palpable.”
In other words, Anna is the consummate Macalester alum.
Alumni Service Award
An 18-year faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Lisa Peterson teaches graduate students in toxicology as part of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health.
Peterson is also a leading scientist in the quest to understand chemical carcinogens, how they affect DNA, and what can be done to prevent the initiation of cancer. In 2015, she was named program leader of the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program at the University’s Masonic Cancer Center. The program, with 27 members from 12 departments, is dedicated to elucidating the chemical and molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to using this knowledge to develop practical methods for cancer prevention.
The National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration support Peterson’s work in investigating the harm caused by chemicals in tobacco products. A second grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will collect and disseminate data from researchers investigating environmental factors that may affect children’s health.
In gratitude for her educational and research experiences at Macalester, Peterson returns to campus to lecture and participate in panel discussions, and she has mentored Mac students in her lab for full-time summer research experiences. The kind of early experience Peterson says gave her a leg up in her career, she now provides for current Mac students.
Peterson has opened her lab to Macalester students at all stages of their research careers, those just getting into the lab as well as those looking for more experience after graduation. Some have now completed their own PhD’s. According to the science faculty who nominated Peterson, “Every one of them emerged from her laboratory enriched, challenged, and mentored, and with newfound confidence.”