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2024 Alumni Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2024 Alumni Award Recipients. These eleven alumni were honored by the Macalester community at the Grand Celebration: An All Alumni Celebration at Reunion 2024 June 8, 2024.

Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have graduated in the past 15 years. This award pays tribute to those who are making an effective contribution to the communities in which they live, or moving forward rapidly in their careers, and living the kind of unselfish, caring life for which their Macalester education prepared them.

Allan Martinez Venegas ’14

While interpreting a meeting between an asylum seeker and a lawyer, Allan Martinez Venegas ’14 learned a defining lesson about balancing a clear mind and a caring heart. 

“The tools of the heart, like empathy and deep listening, combined with the tools of the mind, like logical frameworks and impact evaluations, can drive innovation and a better future for all,” he says.

This philosophy has guided Martinez as a human-centered design specialist during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, COVID-19 school closures in Uganda and Kenya, and in exploring the role of trust in health interventions in Nigeria.

As a first-year student, Martinez recalls asking Jimm Crowder, the late director of international admissions, how he could fulfill his scholarship of over $200,000. 

Crowder replied, “Just be yourself. Do what you plan to do now and after Mac. That’s all we ask.”

Leveraging his Macalester education to tackle critical issues worldwide, Martinez is living up to the charge. 

Catharine Lealtad, Class of 1915, Service to Society Award

The Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award is given to alumni of color who have used their education to distinguish themselves in service to the community.

Larry Chatmon ’74

San Francisco owes much to Larry Chatmon ’74. Rarely does one find an individual with a more multifaceted influence on the health and well-being of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Chatmon created programs for workforce development, food stamp expansion, and improved housing access. A longstanding Permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, he has held multiple leadership roles supporting the Black community, often serving on boards of civil rights and social action organizations. 

“I owe as much to San Francisco for providing me the opportunities to improve the quality of life for all residents, especially the marginalized,” Chatmon says. 

At Mac, Chatmon excelled in basketball and was involved in the Black Liberation Affairs Committee and the Sounds of Blackness, committed to uplifting Black students on campus and in the community.

“My work is so rewarding,” he says. “What brings me joy is that many people are able to live better and fuller lives by the close relationships that serve as living examples of how to get there.”

Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award

The Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award honors the legacy of Charles J. Turck, president of Macalester College from 1939 to 1958. Lawyer, educator, social activist, internationalist, and churchman, President Turck championed internationalism throughout his tenure. This award recognizes alumni who have advanced the spirit of internationalism and lived up to the exhortation, “to be a worthy son or daughter of Macalester, you must listen to your hopes and not your fears.”

Henryka Manes ’74

For thirty-five years, Henryka Manès ’74 has partnered with rural communities worldwide in efforts to collaborate on regional economic growth, strengthen the social fabric, and protect the environment. She also responds to natural disasters and supports victims of genocide.   

In 2009, Manès founded EcoWorks International to work in Haiti. She launched Talia Farms, a regional development initiative to help farming families earn a living wage through training subsistence farmers to become agri-entrepreneurs in agricultural cooperatives farmers own and manage.

Recently, local leaders in northern Haiti invited her to start a regional program that prioritizes farmers’ needs to increase production, adopt new technologies, retain young people in rural areas, and build regional capital to increase entrepreneurship.

Manès has collaborated with renewable energy firms and advised Fortune 500 companies on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Writes her nominator, “Henryka Manès is the most extraordinary person I know. The daughter of concentration camp survivors, she was raised with a passion for social justice, a profound commitment to defend the voiceless, and the staunch belief in the overwhelming power of the indomitable human spirit.”

Distinguished Citizen Award

The Distinguished Citizen Award recognizes alumni who have exercised leadership in civic, social, religious, and professional activities. It is given because the Macalester community believes that a college education should be the training and inspiration for unselfish and effective service to the community, the nation, and the world. Recipients demonstrate a practical acceptance of these obligations in their lives and work.

Gerri Ego Allen ’69

For decades, Gerri (Ego) Allen ’69 has shaped the lives of tennis players of all ages. “It is not just teaching and coaching tennis,” Allen says. “It is teaching life lessons, values, and how to deal with challenges through sport.From beginners to the most skilled, she ensures every player feels valued. 

In Alaska, she transformed tennis by establishing and coordinating USTA Adult Leagues for many years. As a high school coach, her no-cut policy meant coaching 4 ½ hours daily to work with all 57 players. For her contributions to Alaska tennis, she was inducted into the Alaska Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

In Oregon, Allen’s passion became coaching Special Olympians. For 19 years, the program has thrived under her innovative leadership. She recruits and trains volunteer coaches and creates lessons that focus on the needs of each athlete by honoring their abilities, not their disabilities. It has become a model for Oregon Special Olympics.

Allen shares, “Macalester was the only college I wanted to attend. I knew I would get a great education that would serve me well throughout my life. It has.”

Desmond Kimo Runyan ’72

Desmond Kimo Runyan ’72 has changed the prospects for children around the world. His research transformed the study of child abuse, most notably through LONGSCAN, a 20-year longitudinal study of abused or neglected children across multiple states to study longterm outcomes. He led the development of tools to measure abuse now being used in 80 countries. Runyan’s work has shaped more informed interventions and improved outcomes for victims. 

“My patients have a great prognosis,” Runyan said. “Child abuse victims can heal and prosper; most do.”

Today, he is one of the most cited researchers in his field. At the prominent Kempe Center at the University of Colorado, he strengthened the center’s focus on research and created a national training program on child abuse and neglect research.

His colleagues write: “Des’s diverse contributions have been essential in transforming child abuse pediatrics from a small, niche field into a robust pediatric subspecialty, with a full seat at the table in the house of medicine.”

Kimberley Brown ’74

How can learning a language help you understand those who speak it? This question fuels Kim Brown ’74. Her career began as an English as a Second Language instructor at Macalester and later in Tehran. Since the 1980s, she has taught at Portland State University in Oregon, with roles in Applied Linguistics, the Middle East Studies Center, and International and Global Studies.

Brown co-authored the popular textbook Introduction to International and Global Studies, hailed as “a blueprint for gaining a global mindset.” She also helped develop the Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE Rubric, a widely-used assessment tool around the world.

Married to Ahmad, whom she met in Tehran, they raised a bilingual daughter while maintaining strong ties to Iran.  

Guiding more than 3,000 students throughout her career, Brown has been recognized for her outstanding teaching in both her departments on five different occasions.

One nominator writes, “Her efforts have ensured that students leave with a solid understanding of what it means to be a global citizen in a diverse and changing world.”

Marie Zemler Wu ’99

Sparked by her background as an adoptee, Marie Zemler Wu ’99 has dedicated her career to enacting wide-scale change benefiting children in foster care and their families, among the most vulnerable groups in the nation. 

“Scrutiny by child protective services is far more pervasive and racially biased than many people realize,” Zemler Wu says. 

The effects of investigation and family separation—which Black and Indigenous families are twice as likely to experience as white families—are traumatic, multigenerational, and preventable. Zemler Wu co-founded Foster America in 2016 to ensure families receive the support they need before encountering child services. Through fellowships and collaborations nationwide, Foster America works alongside state and local governments to drive transformational change.

Participating in mock trial at Macalester boosted Zemler Wu’s confidence in public speaking, rigorous preparation, and quick thinking—skills she now uses daily. 

She says, “Ultimately, Foster America works to make the wonderful but very challenging job of raising children—and of being a child—a little easier.”

Rinal Ray ’04

Rinal Ray ’04 works to improve the lives of Minnesotans facing housing instability and homelessness. The key to advancing better solutions? Active listening, curiosity, and a willingness to change, Ray says. 

With a career rooted in justice and equity, Ray leads Minnesota Housing’s new Housing Stability Division, aiming to prevent homelessness and elevate housing stability for vulnerable populations. Previously, Ray served as CEO at People Serving People, an organization that works with families experiencing homelessness. Whether addressing budget or human resources issues, she considers the impact on the people involved and extends respect to everyone. 

Writes her nominator, “I will always admire Rinal for unfailingly staying true to herself, especially in rooms, organizations, and situations where she is one of the only women, one of the only people of color, and one of the only people listening to community. Being our unique selves is an important lesson fostered at Mac and Rinal continues to foster that in others by modeling the way.”

Alumni Service Award

The Alumni Service Award is presented to alumni of Macalester whose significant service and consistent loyalty to the college has set an outstanding example of volunteerism. Awardees were nominated and selected by Macalester staff.

Dr. Karen Kaufman-Codjoe ’74

Dr. Karen Codjoe ’74 is an adaptive and curious student of the world who has contributed her service to a variety of alumni initiatives. Since joining the Alumni Board in 2018, she has chaired the diversity working group, served on a college committee on naming policies, and currently chairs the Virtual Programs Task Force. 

During the pandemic, Dr. Codjoe helped organize Zoom panels on topics that provoke conversation and engagement. Even after alumni activities could resume in person, Dr. Codjoe recognized the reach and potential of virtual programming and has continued to organize speakers, current students, professors, and other alumni to bring conversation and connection to alums around the world. 

Dr. Codjoe—a longtime pediatrician currently working in western Tennessee—has also served as a Mac in Your City host and is part of the Class of 1974’s 50th Reunion Planning Committee. 

“Staying connected is important in order to continually look at ourselves and see how we can best address the issues that the college is facing, and how alumni can be assets for the college,” she says.

Dan Rippy ’89

The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship has driven Dan Rippy ’89 throughout his career in life-science technology companies and in his service to the college as a mentor and volunteer. 

Rippy, an Alumni Board member from 2011–17 and current Boston alumni chapter leader, has contributed to Reunion and admissions initiatives, and holds alumni events in his hometown. His belief that entrepreneurial skills are crucial across career paths has motivated his steadfast support of the Department of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, including participating as a judge in Macathon and as a member of the newly formed Macalester Entrepreneurship Task Force.

Currently the executive director of business development at University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and a former CEO of several life science companies, Rippy’s desire to help patients through medical and technological innovation has steered his over-thirty years of experience in the life sciences. He brings that same dedication to fostering the lives and careers of Macalester students, always saying “yes” to opportunities to support the college. 

“Macalester helps facilitate the American dream,” he says. “It gives opportunities to those who might not otherwise have it, and its alumni—who are amazing people—pay it forward.”

Niloy Ray ’99

Niloy Ray ’99 has been a devoted and deeply effective champion of both Macalester and its forensics program for nearly three decades, returning as a volunteer coach in 2014 to help lead the team to championships. He is a zealous advocate for Macalester students, always ready to offer mentorship and encouraging fellow alumni to support the continued success of forensics. 

Beyond his forensics involvement, Niloy has been a member of the Alumni Board, first as a student and then as an alum. He has served as chair of the Alumni Board Macalester Career Connections Working Group and on the Executive Board. Niloy is also a member of the High Winds Board and was a strategic planning champion proposing innovative ideas to connect with international alumni. He has hosted webinars, spoken at Commencement, and been a part of the 150th Advisory Taskforce. 

“Niloy is a dedicated volunteer that wears Macalester orange and blue inside and out,” writes his nominator. His infectious passion encourages others to get involved. Niloy’s generosity, service, and commitment epitomize the spirit of Macalester pride.