St. Paul, Minn. – What do a world-class educator, a medical doctor, a University of Minnesota chemist, an invaluable volunteer, a London-based venture philanthropist, an executive director of a children’s dental service, an EPA administrator, and a senior chef instructor at a Chicago community kitchen have in common? They are all Macalester alumni who will be honored in June during reunion weekend.

“My favorite time of year at Macalester is when we begin the process of choosing the alumni who will be honored at reunion,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, Director of Alumni Relations.  “This year was no exception as we recognize the following alumni for the amazing work that they do.”

Here are the eight awardees:

Richard Johanson ’63, Flint Hill, Va., Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award which recognizes an alumnus who has advanced the cause of the internationalist spirit by providing inspirational leadership and promoting global understanding, peace and justice. The award honors former Macalester President Charles J. Turck who championed internationalism.  A program in Nigeria the summer before his senior year at Macalester set the course for Richard Johanson’s career. Johanson took part in a Student Project for Amity Among Nations (SPAN) project studying the social consequences of Hansen’s disease, then called leprosy. Then one day a Nigerian teacher told him about problems caused by rural-urban migration, and how education was a key solution.  That conversation changed Johanson’s life. Soon he joined a program at Harvard, one of the first students to enter the new field of educational planning for developing countries.  Johanson’s first job in educational development was in Jamaica for USAID.  Since then, he has worked in 70 mostly low-income countries, helping design educational investment programs. From Indonesia to Eritrea and from Uganda to Cambodia, he has strived to bring education to the world’s people. He is proud of contributing to many educational investment projects, including pushing the World Bank to include support for primary education and helping plan major educational reforms in Korea and Hungary. Now in his 70s, Johanson’s work continues to take him on half a dozen international trips a year; recently he traveled to Gaza, China, and the Philippines for the World Bank and UNICEF. He has also written about skills development in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  International education’s three major goals—getting all eligible children in school, keeping them there, and seeing that they learn something useful—are as compelling today as they were when Johanson set off for Jamaica 48 years ago.  So he continues to work around the globe, because even as Johanson takes satisfaction in past achievements, he knows this: There’s much left to be done in the world.

Minerva Perez-Lopez ’92, Salinas, Calif., Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award which is given to an alumnus or alumna of color who has used his or her education to distinguish themselves in service to community.   Physicians can easily earn big incomes for their work. But Minerva Perez-Lopez wasn’t motivated by money when she chose to practice medicine in the place where she grew up. Perez-Lopez, raised in California’s Salinas Valley, returned to that farming area for her residency and then joined the staff of the medical center there.  For more a decade now she’s been working at the very hospital in which she was born, Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, Calif. The challenges are legion.  She’s working with a largely Latino population of immigrant seasonal farm laborers, most of whom have no insurance and limited resources. Teen pregnancy rates are high, as are rates of gang violence. And then there’s the ongoing stress of families separated because of immigration issues.  Despite the difficulties, Perez-Lopez has persevered, spending much of her time as a family practice doctor working in obstetrics, delivering babies. Besides her more than full-time work, Perez-Lopez regularly has teenagers shadow her at the hospital and frequently returns to her old high school as a guest speaker.  In acknowledgement of the vital work she’s doing to provide direct patient care in a region short of health-care professionals, Perez-Lopez was last year given a Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Award to repay most of her medical school loans.  It was just recognition for a woman who has chosen to spend her career giving back, reaching out and trying to make a difference in the community.

Christy L. Haynes ’98, Minneapolis, Minn., Young Alumni Award which recognizes an alumnus who has graduated within the past 15 years and demonstrated outstanding involvement and achievement in their post-graduate education, community contributions, career advancement and their service to Macalester.  Chemistry professor Christy Haynes is an oft-honored researcher whose Haynes Research Group at the University of Minnesota applies new methods in analytical chemistry to the fields of toxicology and immunology. Haynes has helped develop the field of nanotoxicology, in which she investigates the environmental and biological impacts of newly engineered nanomaterials.  Little study has been done on nanomaterials, which are used in thousands of products from electronics to suntan lotion to stain-resistant clothing.  Haynes began her research career in Prof. Becky Hoye’s lab. She earned a PhD at Northwestern University, where she published 27 articles from her graduate work with chemist Richard Van Duyne. In 2005 Haynes began her independent research career at the University of Minnesota, where her research group now includes 16 graduate and undergraduate coworkers.  In 2012, Popular Science magazine named Haynes one of its “Brilliant 10” young scientists. She also received the American Chemical Society’s Nobel Laureate Signature Award, presented for the country’s most outstanding PhD thesis. Only one is given each year, and the citation is signed by every living Nobel laureate in chemistry. Her other awards include the National Science Foundation’s CAREER grant; a National Institute of Health’s New Innovator Award; the Joseph Black Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry; and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. Haynes has appeared on PBS’s Dragonfly TV science education program for kids. She organizes an annual Chemistry Day for urban families in St. Paul and has presented “Energy and U” shows to more than 9,000 children per year, encouraging them to consider science careers.

Nancy Slaughter ’58, Minneapolis, Minn., Alumni Service Award which recognizes an alumnus whose significant service and consistent loyalty to the college has set an outstanding example of volunteerism. Nominations for this award are made by Macalester staff.  When Nancy Slaughter graduated in 1958, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to predict that she’d be an active Macalester alumna—after all, The Mac Weekly archives from her time on campus frequently mention her leadership roles on behalf of commissions, clubs, and campus events. But it would’ve been hard to imagine the range and depth of her involvement. By the time she was honored with Macalester’s Distinguished Citizen Award in 1983, she had already served as a trustee, Alumni Board president, Annual Fund chair, and interim alumni director.  Since then, Slaughter has continued to be an invaluable asset to Mac in roles from 50th Reunion chair to Annual Fund letter-signer and phonathon caller to trustees emeriti chair. In addition, she has generously supported the college’s campaigns, renovation projects, and scholarships. As a longtime Annual Fund donor, she has made a gift nearly every year since graduation.  Slaughter learned the importance of volunteerism at an early age. “My father was involved in community activities his entire life,” she says. When she transferred to Macalester as a sophomore, she saw the same spirit of activism.  She studied elementary education and social science and went on to earn a master’s degree in education, working first as a teacher for 20 years and then as a publicist and development consultant.  In the decades since college, Slaughter’s service has touched nearly every sector of the state’s nonprofit network. She has volunteered on numerous boards, including the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Minnesota Humanities Commission, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library, Dale Warland Singers, and Presbyterian Homes and Services.  Our communities—at 1600 Grand and beyond—are stronger because of her leadership and support.

The following will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award, which recognizes alumni who have exercised leadership in civic, social, religious and professional activities.

Nat Sloane ’75, London, England. By applying his financial expertise to venture philanthropy, Nat Sloane cofounded a company that in just a decade has raised 20 million pounds for UK charities, reaching more than 300,000 people each year.  After two decades as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, management consultant, and social investor, Sloane cofounded Impetus Trust in 2002. The UK’s venture philanthropy pioneer, Impetus funds carefully selected charities to accelerate their growth—rather than supporting specific projects—by building a sustainable infrastructure for long-term growth and impact. “I didn’t want to just write checks,” Sloane told the Christian Science Monitor in a 2012 profile of eight innovative philanthropists. “I wanted to find a way to get involved and use my business skills.”  Sloane’s groundbreaking work at Impetus isn’t surprising. After growing up with a global outlook and commitment to social responsibility (thanks to his parents), Macalester was a natural next step. He majored in anthropology and linguistics before attending graduate school in Boston and Geneva. His successful banking and business career included a role at First Chicago Bank that sent him to Mexico City and Athens and then to Bain & Company in London.  Eventually Sloane worked at Accenture in venture capital with early stage technology companies. All these experiences jumpstarted his ability to think creatively about venture philanthropy.  Sloane was recently appointed England Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, the UK’s largest distributor of lottery money to social causes. “He is recognized in the UK as being one of the country’s foremost thinkers on philanthropy and social innovation,” writes Dave Deno ’79, who nominated Sloane. “His unique vision for combining business skills and philanthropy is helping to change the face of charity in the UK.”

Sarah Wovcha ’89, St. Paul, Minn.  Growing up in Michigan, Sarah Wovcha didn’t have to think twice about her college decision. “I knew since eighth grade that I wanted to go to Macalester and be in a place where community involvement mattered,” says Wovcha, who studied international studies and political science.  Wovcha still cares deeply about that. She’s active in several Twin Cities organizations, serving on the board at Native American youth shelter Ain Dah Yung and as the Wedge Community Co-op’s board president.  A breast cancer survivor, she has also mentored young women with cancer.  Wovcha has blended education with real-world experience, first as a social worker and later, after graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School, as a legal services attorney focusing on family and Indian law. She worked with the Twin Cities Native American community on a range of public health issues, which motivated her to pursue a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government in 1999. In 2001 she became executive director of the Minnesota nonprofit Children’s Dental Services.  Today Wovcha pushes for reform through her work at CDS, which provides dental care and advocacy for low-income and uninsured children and pregnant women. A shortage of dentists and lack of access to basic preventive dental services ratchet up costly emergency room visits, she says. Wovcha was a key player in 2009 legislation that made Minnesota the first state to license mid-level dental providers, dentistry’s corollary to the nurse practitioner. “We’re seeing the impact of dental disease, and we need to move toward integrating oral health and general health,” she says. “Systemic change gives us the most hope for expanding access.”

Holly Elwood ’90, Bethesda, Md.  If you’ve advocated so much for sustainable technology purchasing policies that The Washington Post nicknames you “the green electronics lady,” something’s working. Making IT products more environmentally preferable is Holly Elwood’s mission—and last year alone, her team’s work at the Environmental Protection Agency was projected to prevent 36 million tons of air emissions.  Now one of the global Green IT movement’s leaders, Elwood began thinking creatively about sustainability back in St. Paul, when she wrote about the ozone layer for one of Prof. Chuck Green’s assignments. A political science major, she credits two internships—including one in which she helped pass the first municipal plastic-packaging ban in the nation—with guiding her career.  “Looking for innovative solutions has been one of the most important things I’ve done at the EPA, and Macalester really helped me prepare for that,” Elwood told Macalester Today in 2007. She went on to earn a master’s degree in environmental sciences and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. At the EPA, Elwood helped create the most extensive rating system for sustainable electronics. Federal purchasers must now buy computers, imaging equipment, and televisions listed on a global registry based on standards she helped develop. Elwood has been honored by the EPA and the White House, and was nominated for a Service to America medal, the highest-ranking federal civilian award.  “Millions of consumers and thousands of corporations and institutions can thank Holly for making IT products more environmentally safe,” writes nominator Jeff Eagan, leader of electronics stewardship work at the Department of Energy. “She is an inspiration to all of us in the movement fighting to prevent global warming and save the planet.”

Karmela Galicia ’98, Chicago, Ill.  As senior chef instructor of the award-winning Chicago’s Community Kitchen, Karmela Galicia combines her longtime interests in the culinary arts and helping others. In 1999 she joined the Greater Chicago Food Depository as associate director of agency relations, fostering collaboration among the agency and more than 650 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Galicia was nominated by Kate Maehr ’89, executive director of the Depository and herself a Macalester Distinguished Citizen. After five years, Galicia left to pursue a culinary arts degree at Kendall College, but her goal wasn’t to work in Chicago’s elite eateries. “Rather than four-star restaurants or high-end catering companies,” wrote Maehr, “Karmela returned to a life of public service, first at Chicago’s renowned Inspiration Café, where she worked with homeless individuals, and in 2009 back at the Food Depository, where she joined our award-winning Chicago’s Community Kitchens program.”  CCK is a 14-week workforce development program that provides food service training for unemployed and underemployed adults, many of whom have checkered pasts. As one man put it, before CCK, “The only thing I had ever completed was a prison sentence.”  Galicia is responsible for all aspects of their training, from making a vinaigrette to performing culinary math. While learning, students produce meals for up to 2,000 low-income children every weekday. If students struggle, CCK will tirelessly tutor them—but they don’t bend the rules. “They leave the program with pride in what they’ve accomplished because they did it,” says Galicia, “not because someone changed the rules to make it easier.”  Wrote Maehr, “Karmela is an inspiration to me and all those who have the honor of working with her.”

View past Macalester alumni award winners here:

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,035 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at

May 16 2013

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