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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

H. Kris Ronnow Named Macalester Distinguished Citizen

June 9, 2009 - H. Kris Ronnow of River Forest, Ill., has been named one of Macalester College’s 2009 Distinguished Citizens. Ronnow graduated from Macalester in 1959.

The Distinguished Citizen Citation 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.

After Ronnow graduated from Macalester, he earned his master’s degrees in divinity and social work from McCormick Seminary in Chicago.  He worked at the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, where he helped many churches collaborate on their social work goals.  He also organized civil rights marches when a fellow pastor, Martin Luther King Jr., came to town.

As director of community relations in Oak Park, Ill., Ronnow developed and directed enforcement of ordinances pertaining to fair housing, public accommodations, and fair employment.  When he became vice president of public affairs for Harris Trust and Savings Bank, he developed the first Employee Assistance program, positioning Harris as a public affairs leader.  In 1988 he became vice president of McCormick Theological Seminary.

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.

Last year Ronnow celebrated the 45th anniversary of the March on Washington. The minister and Chicago civil rights activist had organized a bus trip to bring Chicago organizers to hear what would become iconic words of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

David Bebb Jones, Class of 1956, wrote, “Kris has always been a consistent voice for justice, fairness, and human dignity.” He added that Kris and his wife and classmate, Constance Youngberg Ronnow, “are a unique partnership, always on the growing and cutting edge of issues of importance.” Kris has served on the Alumni Board and as chair of his reunion gift committee and two of the Ronnows’ three daughters are also Mac alumnae.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,858 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.