Reunion Awards

Each year, the CSB Alumnae Board, on behalf of College of Saint Benedict, present Reunion Awards to four outstanding alumnae from reunion years whose daily lives reflect and honor the Benedictine tradition and mission of our alma mater. The four awards - S. Emmanuel Renner Service Award, Distinguished Alumna Award, Decade Award and the Benedictine Service Award - will be presented this year to alums from the reunion classes ending in "4" or "9".

Congratulations to the award winners who were honored at this past summer's Centennial All-School Reunion!

Read our award winner stories below, and watch videos from the Gala Awards Dinner.

2013 Reunion Award Recipients:

Distinguished | Decade | Benedictine | S. Emmanuel Renner

2013 Centennial Awards:

Presidents' | Legacy | Circle of Sisters

Barbara Torborg Melsen '78, Sister Emmanuel Renner Service Award

Barbara Torborg Melsen ’78

Barb has dedicated her life to tireless volunteerism, and she has put her finance degree to good use in countless chair of the Benilde-Saint Margaret School's Board of Directors and numerous other boards including an affordable housing non-profit and the League of Catholic Women. Today, she is a member of the College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees, and she is chair of the trusteeship committee as well as the co-chair of the centennial campaign steering committee. She serves on the executive committee, buildings and grounds committee and the coordinate relationship committee. She is also a former president of the College of Saint Benedict Alumnae Board.

Kenzie Kraemer '08, Benedictine Service Award

Denise DeVaan

After graduation, Kenzie joined the Peace Corps and worked in the Dominican Republic. She fell in love with her work and extended her stay. The community asked her if she could do anything about the lack of clean water. Three water taps provided water for only 20 of the 200 homes. Kenzie immediately sprang into action.

After a few months of walking through mountains, she identified sources that could flow to the community using gravity. Kenzie then collaborated with local residents to build the aqueduct system so they could learn how it worked in order to sustain it in the future.

This is only the beginning of Kenzie's mission, which is to build relationships and form trust with low-income communities all over the globe. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Global Health at Emory University.

Laura Hauff '03, Decade Award

Laura Hauff ’03

She has devoted her career to women's health - specifically maternal and infant health. She is a biological anthropologist and a faculty member in the Anthropology and Public Health Science departments at Santa Clara University. Laura explores how maternal characteristics, such as nutritional status, affect breastfeeding outcomes. Her research to-date sheds light on obstacles to breastfeeding and finding ways to alleviate those challenges.

She received a grant from the National Science Foundation to complete her research and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. She also received a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. She has been recognized by her peers as a role model and leader for young alumnae through outstanding achievements, global consciousness and community involvement in her profession.

Kari Erpelding Bunkers '83, Distinguished Alumna Award

Kari Erpelding Bunkers '83

Kari is one of the key influencers and strategists behind one of the world's top medical institutions. She is a practicing physician, and the chief medical information officer at the Mayo Clinic. Kari is in charge of bringing Mayo into the digital future. She also lends her expertise to numerous boards and councils both at Mayo and throughout the greater medical community. Her goal: to create a sustainable model of healthcare for the community and regional practices of Mayo Clinic.

Kari has not only made a huge contribution in the medical field, she also effortlessly combines work with family life and is a great role model to all who know her.

Betty Schneider '39, Presidents' Award

Betty Schneider ’39

When Betty Schneider was a student at Saint Ben's, activist Catherine de Hueck {Dee - Hue-ek} visited the college and spoke about the work she was doing in the poorest neighborhoods of New York City. Harlem was a long way from the Minnesota farm Betty grew up on, but Betty was inspired to make a difference and wrote to Catherine to ask if she could come and work with her that summer. This was 1937, long before the civil rights movement beckoned a segregated nation to march and dream and mend.

Betty worked with New York's poor, beginning her long life of service with the Friendship House apostolate in Harlem and later in Chicago. Betty would eventually succeed Catherine as national director of Friendship House.

Mary Kay Braus Hunt '56, Presidents' Award

Mary Kay Braus Hunt '56

After working as a dietician, Mary Kay decided a career in public health would allow her to broaden her influence on the individuals and families she was working with. At the age of 47, she enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a master's degree in public health nutrition.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Mary Kay began her second career at the University of Minnesota where new methodologies in disease prevention were taking shape. Mary Kay reveled in the opportunity to take the reins and lead in the evolution of public health research. She took those strategies east and conducted research at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. From her findings, she published nearly 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

S. Mara Faulkner '62, Presidents' Award

S. Mara Faulkner '62

Time and again, S. Mara's former students tell us that her classes were the most inspiring and formative experiences of their college career, with the life lessons learned staying with them and guiding them to this day. She taught with passion, kindness and tremendous dedication to her students for more than 50 years.

She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota, and she has authored three books. One of which was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. She recently won America magazine's Foley Poetry Contest. In 2001, she received the S. Mary Grell Teacher of Distinction Award.

Joan Strom Riebel '64, Presidents' Award

Joan Strom Riebel '64

Joan graduated with a social science degree and got her first job at the Home of the Good Shepherd, a residential facility for "wayward" girls. The experience fit her like a glove.

While working on her master's degree, Joan saw the need for supplemental training in her field. She wrote and was awarded a federal grant to train human services professionals working with families struggling with sex abuse issues. As a result, she was the first foster care trainer in the country for a public agency. She also planned, coordinated and conducted the first National Symposium on Family Sexuality.

In 1984, she became executive director of Family Alternatives, a licensed foster care and adoption agency. Under Joan's leadership, the non-profit organization grew from $120,000 to $3.5 million annually.

Judge Elizabeth Hayden '68, Presidents' Award

Judge Elizabeth Hayden '68

While working various jobs in social work in the public sector, a chance meeting in court gave Liz an idea. Underwhelmed by the "blustery" performance of the ill-prepared attorney who was cross-examining the case, Liz believed she could do a better job than the county attorney, so she enrolled in Oklahoma City University where she received her Juris Doctorate. 

She moved back to Minnesota and became the first female assistant county attorney in Stearns County. After six years in the county attorney's office, she was appointed the first female district court judge by Governor Rudy Perpich. While breaking new ground as a woman attorney and judge brought her immense satisfaction, it also brought constant scrutiny from male counterparts who fully anticipated her failure. She proved them wrong and resided successfully on the bench for 23 years before retiring in 2009.

Diana Lam '69, Presidents' Award

Joan Strom Riebel '64

Diana came to Saint Ben's as a foreign exchange student from Peru in 1965 and graduated with a degree in sociology. She taught social studies in St. Cloud and Peru before moving to Boston to teach and, later, manage the bilingual programs throughout Boston's public schools. She served as principal of two schools before becoming superintendent in Dubuque, Iowa; San Antonio, Texas; and Chelsea, Massachusetts. 

As the first female superintendent in San Antonio, she won national acclaim for dramatic accomplishments in student achievement. Prior to her arrival, San Antonio was the worst performing school district in Texas, with 42 schools rated as "low-performing" by the state. By 1999, none received that rating and student scores increased dramatically in all subject areas. To critics who believed she moved too quickly on reform, she says, "a child is only in the third grade one year."

Mary Dombovy '77, Presidents' Award

Mary Dombovy ’77

After graduating from Saint Ben's, Mary went to medical school and completed a neurology program at the Mayo Clinic. She then completed a rehabilitation residency and conducted research on stroke and brain injuries. She also completed a fellowship in executive leadership in academic medicine and a graduate degree in health systems administration.

During her residency, she learned about an opportunity to develop a new Brain Injury and Stroke Program at Unity Health System in Rochester, New York. In 1989, Mary packed up her husband and two small children and moved east. Shortly after arriving in New York, she realized the resources hired to help her get the program off the ground were a no-show.

Nearly 25 years later, the program has grown into one of the nation's top neurosciences clinics with 220 full-time employees, including 10 physicians, three neuropsychologists and a large staff of physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Judy Forstner Poferl '82, Presidents' Award

Judy Forstner Poferl '82

During graduate school at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, an internship Judy her into the energy field. Eventually, this turned into a job at a state agency where she received national exposure working with the commissioner on a highly contentious policy involving the storage of nuclear waste.

Today, Judy is a vice president and Corporate Secretary for Xcel Energy having most recently served as president and CEO at Northern States Power. During her tenure at NSP, Judy was instrumental in converting a number of coal-fired plants to be more environmentally responsive. She also helped craft plans for the "Energy Innovation Corridor."

Karin Remington '85, Presidents' Award

Judy Forstner Poferl '82

Although she holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, Karin is not a typical mathematician. Her entire career has focused on using data and technology as tools to conduct research and make new discoveries. 

A turning point in her career occurred when she left the security of a government job and joined Celera Genomics - a start-up company formed to sequence the human genome within a timescale and budget thought outrageous by experts. At the end of the pilot, the Celera team had met their goal of determining the genome sequence of the fruit fly.

She has also worked at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences' Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and served as co-chair of the White House Big Data Initiative and the federal government's Big Data Senior Steering Group. Today, her success continues as the chief technology and science officer at Arjuna Solutions, based in Washington, D.C.

Irma Mayorga '88, Presidents' Award

Irma Mayorga '88

To describe Irma Mayorga as an artist, scholar and activist is technically accurate, but belies the depth and significance of her contributions to her field. The Dartmouth professor and award-winning playwright nimbly balances the academic, nonprofit and community-based sectors of the arts, always with a driving mission of social change and empowerment of women. 

Irma received a joint Ph.D. in drama and humanities from Stanford. She holds the distinction of attaining the first Ph.D. by a Latina in the drama department's history.

Shari Lamecker Rogalski '89, Presidents' Award

Shari Lamecker Rogalski '89

Shari had a 20-year career at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. She founded and led a new global business: Accenture Information Management Services, which focused on providing strategic counsel in the areas of data analysis, reporting and analytics for companies around the world.

Shari was also the Accenture representative for Best Buy, leading their global business intelligence efforts, working with their on- and off-shore teams. She worked specifically with colleagues in India to understand how they could use the data they were collecting to improve their business. Shari achieved partner during her tenure. She currently works at

United Health Group as vice president of enterprise information management.

She is a member of the College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees.  

Colette Peters '93, Presidents' Award 

lette Peters '93

Colette is the first female to lead the Oregon Department of Corrections. She's responsible for managing 14,000 prisoners, more than 31,500 offenders on probation and parole, 4,500 employees and an annual budget of $1.4 billion.

Colette has earned respect in her field as a leader who champions rehabilitation and reformation. She is also known nationally for using research and data to drive smart decision-making, improving outcomes for youth and increasing agency efficiency and effectiveness.

Glennis Werner Roseboom '93, Presidents' Award

Glennis Werner Roseboom '93

After a long stint as director of the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, Glenn is tackling a new playing field as an executive at the VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa.

During her tenure with the Olympic Training Center, Glenn was selected for staff assignments at five consecutive Olympic Paralympic Games, both summer and winter. She also served as an adjunct professor in the sport management graduate program for the University of Alabama as well as in the undergraduate program for the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.

She also completed a two-year Olympic Sport Leadership Certification Program with the Kellogg Center for Non-Profit Management at Northwestern University. And she started a competitive women's hockey team.

Krista Cleary Carroll '00, Presidents' Award

Krista Cleary Carroll '00

For Krista and her husband, a trip to Haiti 3 1/2 years ago changed the entire course of their lives.

After teaching first grade in Minnesota for six years, she became a stay-at-home-mom in New York City, helping with her husband's thriving business. Then they witnessed extreme poverty on that trip to Haiti, and they felt an undeniable calling.

Within three weeks of returning home, Krista's husband had quit his job, and together they launched a new company called Latitude, focused on seeking social justice and peace for those living in extreme poverty. Fifty percent of their profits are donated back to the cause, providing water, food, shelter and education.

Today they have 21 employees and are close to celebrating their millionth dollar given. Their focus remains strong: inspire people to make small changes in business in order to make positive changes in the world.

Welle Family, Legacy Award

Welle Family

The Welle family knows firsthand what it means to celebrate A Century of Connection. There are four generations of Welle women who have attended Saint Benedict's Academy and College of Saint Benedict - from 1912 to 2014.

For more than 100 years, Welle family members have not only upheld the Saint Ben's tradition as students, but they continue to provide support for student scholarships, they are and have been involved in various generations of our alumnae board, and they were instrumental in the creation of the Welle Book Arts Studio.

Maria Hunt O'Phelen, Molly McGlynn Varley and their 1978 classmates, Circle of Sisters Award

Maria Hunt O’Phelen, Molly McGlynn Varley and their 1978 classmates

In October 2011, when Molly McGlynn Varley '78 found herself in need, her classmate, Maria Hunt O'Phelan did not hesitate to give her a kidney.

Molly's health had been deteriorating, and she learned she would need a transplant to save her life. When Maria and a group of ten other Bennies who have always remained close found out, they each began testing to learn if any of them was a match.

Amazingly, two of them were matches and classmate Jane Regenscheid Erickson proudly called dibs on the honor of donating a kidney to their lifelong friend. Unfortunately, further testing revealed that Jane wasn't a completely compatible match. She wouldn't be able to donate. Maria, however, didn't miss a beat.

It's now been over a year and a half since the transplant and Molly is healthy and happy, thanks in part to the kindness of ten friends she made more than 35 years ago.

The Circle of Sisters Award honors Molly McGlynn Varley, Maria Hunt O'Phelan, Marie Berendt, Speltz, Anne Budroe Benda, Katie Barry Felicelli, Cathy McKenzie O'Brien, Nancy Jo Dunn McDermott, Joan Rahlf, Mary Bachmeier Gann Dodd, Michelle Swenson-Drury and Joan Thebado Beltis.

Bahamian Alumnae, Circle of Sisters Award

Bahamian Alumnae, Circle of Sisters Award

Saint Ben's has a long-standing relationship with the Bahamas that stems back to a Bahamian monastery and St. Augustine's College High School in Nassau, Bahamas. The first Bahamian students enrolled at Saint Ben's and Saint John's in the 1920s, and more than 650 students from the Bahamas have made CSB and SJU their home away from home since those early days.

Our Bahamian Bennie sisters are fine examples of alumnae who take their Benedictine liberal arts education out into the world and build better communities, workplaces and homes. They are business leaders, educators, community volunteers and entrepreneurs primarily in the Bahamas and contribute significantly to the prosperity of their country.