St. Paul, Minn. – What do two professors, a retired foreign service officer, a pastor, an artist and entrepreneur, a Spanish teacher, an early stage technology company advisor, a women’s rights and health promoter, and a health care administrator have in common?  They are all Macalester alumni who will be honored at Reunion 2016, June 3-5. 

“Macalester alumni are an extremely accomplished and diverse group of people,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement.  “Each year as we put together the list of those to be honored at Reunion, I’m still in awe of those we choose and very humbled to be one of those among you,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement.

Here are the nine awardees:

Lisa Peterson ’81, Woodbury, Minn., Alumni Service Award is presented to an alumnus or alumna of Macalester whose significant service and consistent loyalty to the college has set an outstanding example of volunteerism.

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. The work, funded by 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. The kind of early research opportunities that gave Peterson a leg up in her career, she now provides for Macalester students. Peterson has opened her lab to Macalester students at all stages of their research careers, from those just getting into the lab to those looking for more experience after graduation. Some have now completed their own PhDs. According to the science faculty who nominated Peterson, “Every one of them emerged from her laboratory enriched, challenged, and mentored, and with newfound confidence.”

Betsy Collins Demiray ’66, Stuart, Va., 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 an alumnus or alumna who has 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.” 

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 in 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 Kiev, 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 Kiev. Now at home in Virginia, Demiray chairs both the regional library board and the county Democratic Party.

Jorge Salas ’91, Davis, Calif., Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award is given to an alumnus or alumna of color who has used his or her education to distinguish themselves in service to community.

One of eight children of Mexican immigrants, Jorge Salas was determined to take advantage of the sacrifices his parents 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 Macalester 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 past two decades giving back to his community. Salas is a longtime Spanish teacher in Fairfield, Calif., 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.

Anna Min ’09, Minneapolis, Minn., 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 community in which they live, or moving forward rapidly in their career, and living the kind of unselfish, caring life for which their Macalester education prepared them.

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.

The following will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award that recognizes alumni who have exercised leadership in civic, social, religious, and professional activities. It is given because the Alumni Association, the Board of Trustees, and the faculty of Macalester believe 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.

James G. Anderson ’66, Fountain Hills, Ariz. Part of Macalester's powerhouse 1960s swim teams, Jim Anderson 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.

Darrel Gubrud ’56, North Oaks, Minn. “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 start-ups. He also worked in other senior executive 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 co­founded 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, having served 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.”

Beverly Robinson Allen ’51, McKinleyville, Calif. Beverly Robinson Allen is one of those irreplaceable women who keep communities going. In the words of her granddaughter, 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 Allen truly shone. In her northern California community Allen 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 bilingual 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 Allen’s international volunteer work. She traveled to Nairobi in 1985 to attend the United Nations Decade for Women conference, and in 1986 went to the U.S.S.R, Germany, Finland, 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.

Louise Kloos Comfort ’56, Pittsburgh, Pa.  Before Louise Kloos Comfort graduated in 1956, Macalester 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. Comfort’s teaching career spans 50 years—and counting. An internationally renowned expert in crisis management and disaster preparedness, Comfort 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 Macalester student during her SPAN (Student Project for amity Among Nations) trip to Italy, Comfort began exploring 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?” Comfort 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 Comfort’s words: “I gradually discovered that he was right. Engaging students in discovery and exploring questions from multiple perspectives has been fascinating.”

Donald Mackenzie ’66, Minneapolis, Minn. 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. 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 July. 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.

May 16 2016

Back to top