Eugene McCarthy Public Service Award
"The award recognizes Bennies and Johnnies who are recognized for their leadership, contributions to public policy and foster an environment that understands and works the public good" - Gene Ranieri, Director of Intergovernmental Relations, City of Minneapolis; Board Member of the SJU Alumni Politics & Public Policy Chapter
"The award was created to recognize alumni and alumnae who have made exceptional contributions to public policy development and civic discourse." -Alyssa Schlander, Director of Government Affairs at MN Auto Dealers Association; Board Member of the CSB Alumni Politics & Public Policy Chapter
The 2012 recipients of the Eugene J. McCarthy Distinguished Public Service Award are:
Susan Vento '76 became a teacher of first- and third-graders in Willmar, Minn. with her elementary education degree after graduating from the College of Saint Benedict. She then worked 27 years for Education Minnesota and the former Minnesota Education Association as a field representative, political organizer and lobbyist representing K-12 educators, technical college faculty and state-employed educators. Vento recently became the Director of Outreach for the Church of the Assumption in downtown St. Paul. Since her late husband, U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento, passed away in 2000 from mesothelioma, Vento has co-authored the book, 100 Questions and Answers about Mesothelioma with Dr. Harvey Pass. She also lobbied to prevent passage of federal legislation that would have stripped patients and families of legal rights, and has spoken at press conferences with national news organizations. She has worked as a volunteer to help others, including serving on the board of several nonprofits such as Neighborhood House, the Carmen Pampa Fund, and the National Park Trust.
George Sinner '50 graduated with a degree in philosophy from Saint John's. Sinner served as the 29th Governor of North Dakota from 1985 through 1992. He served two four-year terms as governor. He served in the United States Air National Guard from 1950 to 1951 before beginning pursuit of a career in politics in the late 1950s. He was elected to the North Dakota Senate in 1962. He served one four-year term until 1966. Sinner served as president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Board from 1975 to 1979. He served as a member of many other boards and organizations, including the North Dakota Broadcasting Council, the State Board of Higher Education and more. During his time on the State Board of Higher Education, he helped craft the "Tri-college" system currently used by NDSU, MSUM and Concordia College, Moorhead.
Previous recipients of the Eugene McCarthy Distinguished Public Service Award include:
Rep. Ann Lenczewski '83 is a Minnesota public servant and politician and has served in the Minnesota House of Representatives since 1998. She is currently the DFL Lead of the House Taxes Committee, and is a member of the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Lenczewski also serves on the Taxes Subcommittee for the Property and Local Sales Tax Division. Rep. Ann Lenczewski, a native of Bloomington, Minn., graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1983 and attended graduate school at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She served on the Bloomington Planning and Parks Commission, and was elected to the Bloomington City Council in 1993, serving from 1994-1998.
Al Eisele '58 is editor-at-large of The Hill, a nonpartisan newspaper covering Congress, which he helped start in 1994. He stepped down as editor in 2005. He has been involved in journalism, government, academia, and business for four decades. Eisele was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication during the 2007 fall semester, and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in early 2007. A former Fellow of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he has reported from more than 70 countries, most recently Iraq and Kuwait in 2005 and Japan and Turkey in 2006. He is the winner of the American Political Science Association Award for Distinguished Reporting of Public Affairs for the coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, and was nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize.
John Brandl '59 graduated cum laude from Saint John's University with a degree in economics and went on to earn master's and doctorate degrees in economics from Harvard University. He served as a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Saint John's University and the College of Saint Benedict, and was a professor and former dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He had his highest profile jobs in the administration of President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, first as an analyst with the Defense Department and later as a deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
- Gerald Christenson '53, a native of Litchfield Minn., helped design Minnesota's school funding system. It was called the "Minnesota Miracle" because it shifted most of the responsibility of funding public education to the state. He also helped create a federal youth employment program during the 1960s, thanks to an appointment from then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey. His long public service career included being chancellor of the Minnesota Community College system. He was also the first commissioner of the state's Department of Finance, where Christenson instituted the revenue forecast, which is now the basis for state budget preparations.