CSB and SJU graduates to receive Eugene McCarthy Distinguished Public Service Award

September 7, 2012

Two graduates from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University will receive the Eugene McCarthy Distinguished Public Service Award on Tuesday, Sept. 11, for their outstanding public service.

Sue Vento, a 1976 graduate of CSB, and George Sinner, a 1950 graduate of SJU, will be honored during the sixth annual McCarthy Lecture and dinner. The CSB and SJU Politics and Public Policy Alumnae/i Chapters are sponsoring the award.

"The award honors Bennies and Johnnies who are recognized for their leadership, contributions to public policy and foster an environment that understands and works the public good," said Gene Ranieri, board member of the SJU Alumni Politics and Public Policy Chapter.

"The award was created to recognize alumni and alumnae who have made exceptional contributions to public policy development and civic discourse," said Alyssa Schlander, board member of the CSB Alumnae Politics and Public Policy Chapter.

Vento became a teacher of first- and third-graders in Willmar, Minn., with her elementary education degree after graduation. She then worked more than 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. In 2011, Vento became the director of outreach for the Church of the Assumption in downtown St. Paul. After her late husband, U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento, passed away in 2000 from mesothelioma, Vento co-authored the book, "100 Questions and Answers about Mesothelioma," with Dr. Harvey Pass. She has also lobbied to prevent passage of federal legislation that would have stripped patients and families of legal rights, and she spoke 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.

After graduating from SJU, Sinner served in the U.S. Air Force. He has been a partner in the Sinner Brothers and Bresnahan diversified farm in Casselton, N.D., since 1952. Sinner served in the North Dakota State Senate from 1962-66, the North Dakota State House of Representatives in 1982 and as governor of North Dakota from 1985-92. During his career as a political leader and farmer, Sinner has served as a member of various professional, educational and civic boards and groups, including the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, North Dakota Public Broadcasting Council, Greater North Dakota Association Board, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Board (served as president from 1975-1979), North Dakota Wheat Growers Association, North Dakota Stockmen's Association, American Soybean Association, North Dakota Farmers' Union and the North Dakota Farm Bureau.