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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

U.S. Attorney and College President two of nine to be honored at Annual Macalester Reunion Weekend in June

April 1, 2010 – St. Paul, Minn.– They are a U.S. attorney and college president and a former lieutenant governor and CIA analyst.  But one thing they all have in common is that they are all Macalester alumni who will be honored in June during reunion weekend.

“Macalester’s alumni make measurable differences in their communities and in the world,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, director, Alumni Relations. “This year’s award recipients truly embody Macalester’s values of internationalism, multiculturalism and service to society.”

Here are the nine awardees:

B. Todd Jones ’79, St. Paul, Minn., Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award which honors a Macalester College alumnus of color who has used their Macalester education to distinguish themselves in service to community.  Jones earned his J.D. at the University of Minnesota and served on active duty with the Marines from 1983 to 1989, and with the reserves until 1997.  In 2009, he was nominated by President Obama to serve as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. He also served 1998 to 2001 under the Clinton administration.  Prior to his recent nomination he was partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Minneapolis.

Steven Laible ’67, New Brighton, Minn., 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.  Laible has spent his 30-year career with accounting & consulting firm KPMG, where he was admitted as a partner in 1983.  The Macalester course, “Man and His World,” provided the foundation for his interest in developing economies. As a volunteer with St. Paul-based Compatible Technology International he brought hand-powered grinders, (beginning a peanut butter business) to rural Bangladesh, and helped start an enterprise which converts waste rice hulls into cooking fuel logs that burn cleaner than fire wood and help slow deforestation.  Laible and his wife Nancy began supporting 10 Bengali girls through elementary school, adding a scholarship for graduate students.  In 2005 he received Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Public Service Award. 

Dr. Raymond Runyan ‘72, Tucson, Ariz., 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. After graduating with his twin brother from Macalester, Runyan received his Master’s degree from Florida State University and his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University Sciences Center. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Connecticut Health Center and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  He is currently professor of cell biology and anatomy at the University of Arizona where he teaches and maintains a highly productive research program focusing on the biochemical mechanisms of tissue interaction and cellular transformation in the developing embryonic heart.  Each summer for the past four years, he has mentored Macalester science students in his laboratory for 10 – 12 weeks, thus launching their careers and providing them with outstanding opportunities to explore the world of biomedical research.  Some have gone on to medical school, others to graduate school. 

Nicole Palasz ’96, Milwaukee, Wis., 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.  Palasz has had a longtime interest in international affairs.  She received her Master’s degree in human rights and conflict resolution from Tufts University and another Master’s degree in public policy from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She works with educators, organizations, and students to promote interest in and knowledge of human rights issues as outreach coordinator for Institute of World Affairs at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

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

Judith Pearcy Christianson ’60, Red Wing, Minn.  A former CIA Southeast Asia analyst on the Vietnam desk in the 1960s, Christianson spent 12 years on the Red Wing School Board and also served on boards of Red Wing/Winona Technical College and on an advisory council to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU).  She co-founded the Rocking Horse Academy preschool and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, the largest residential center for artists in the upper Midwest.  Christianson served 15 years on the board of Sheldon Theatre of Performing Arts, restored in 1988, which hosts theater, plays, film and comedy.  In 2007, the area Kiwanis Clubs named her Red Wing Neighbor of the Year.

Scott McCallum ’72, Lodi, Wis.  McCallum earned a master’s degree in international economics from the Johns Hopkins University in 1974 and two years later won a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate.  He served as Governor of Wisconsin from 2001–2002, completing Governor Tommy Thompson’s final term as governor when George W. Bush appointed Thompson to be U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. McCallum had served as Wisconsin lieutenant governor for 14 years under Governor Thompson (1986–2000).  He won the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat from Wisconsin in 1982, but lost in the general election to incumbent William Proxmire. In 2004, McCallum became CEO of Aidmatrix Foundation, a nonprofit that uses advanced information technology to match resources with needs in response to crises and natural disasters. In four years as CEO, McCallum has taken the Aidmatrix Foundation from a start-up to a global NGO than transacts $1.5 billion annually with operations on six continents.

Sarah Craven ’85, Cabin John, Md.  For the past 11 years, Craven has been a leader of the United Nations Population Fund, serving as the chief of the Washington, D.C. office.  The United Nations Population Fund works to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.  After leaving Macalester, Craven attended Cambridge University and earned an MPhil. She received her law degree at Georgetown University Law Center.  In her role at the United Nations, she’s responsible for educating policy makers and takes members of Congress and other policy makers to see UN programs around the world where they meet women who are leaders in their communities, despite overcoming great odds.

Rev. David Bloom ’65, Seattle, Wash.  As a minister who ran the urban ministry program at the Church Council of Greater Seattle for 19 years, Bloom was a teacher and organizer, a tireless advocate for social justice, a leader to end homelessness and, most recently, a candidate for public office. After graduating, Bloom received his Master of Divinity at the American Baptist Seminary and a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.  He has led numerous successful community-based initiatives to end homelessness. He was the architect of a ballot measure to fund low-income housing, which has supported the construction of 10,000 new low-income housing units in Seattle over the past 20 years.  While Bloom explains that the roots of his commitment to social justice are multifaceted—from his family culture to his faith traditions—he acknowledges that his time at Macalester was transformational.

David Hodge ’70, Oxford, Ohio. In 1975, Hodge joined the University of Washington as an assistant professor after earning a master’s and doctorate in geography from Pennsylvania State University. He won the distinguished teaching award from the University of Washington.  In 2006, he became president of Miami University of Ohio, which he describes as a cross between Macalester and the University of Washington—two institutions that have shaped his life. As a researcher, Hodge has been a leader in his field with hundreds of publications, consulting with local and state agencies, serving as a program director for the National Science Foundation and being engaged with local civic issues.

This year’s award ceremony, an all-class alumni celebration and breakfast, will be at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 5, in the Leonard Center Alumni Gymnasium.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,958 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.