Colette Peters, a 1993 College of Saint Benedict alumna who is director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, will deliver the College of Saint Benedict commencement address at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, in Clemens Field House on the CSB campus.
Peters will address the 2023 CSB graduating class of 395 undergraduate women.
Julia Geller, a graduating communication major and sociology minor from St. Cloud, Minnesota, will be the student commencement speaker.
Peters was sworn in by Attorney General Merrick Garland on August 2, 2022, and assumed responsibility for the operation of 122 Bureau of Prisons' facilities, six regional offices, two staff training centers and 22 residential reentry management offices. She is also responsible for the oversight and management of approximately 35,000 staff and 160,000 federal inmates.
Prior to being selected as director, Peters served as director of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) for 10 years and provided oversight of 4,700 employees; a biennial budget of $2 billion; and had the responsibility for managing 14,700 incarcerated adults in 14 prisons across the state. Peters has 30 years of experience in public safety and is the first woman to serve as the ODOC director. She was also the chair of the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board and a past vice president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.
Peters began her career working with justice involved youth as a youth counselor in Johnston, Iowa. She served in positions of increasing responsibility, including as a victim advocate and crisis mediator with the Denver Police Department. In 2004, she became the director of public affairs for the ODOC, and in 2006 she was selected as the ODOC assistant director for Public Services and Inspector General. She was appointed director of the Oregon Youth Authority, the state agency responsible for providing custody, rehabilitation and treatment services to youth who committed crimes prior to their 18th birthday, in 2009.
Peters holds a master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Colorado in Denver, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Saint Ben’s.
Geller, whose mother, Mary, is the associate provost for student success at CSB and Saint John's University, transferred from DePaul University to Saint Ben’s at the start of her sophomore year. She took her first step into leadership with CSB Campus Ministry as a founding member of the Interfaith Leadership Team. Her leadership continued into her junior and senior year when she served as the student director of the Institute for Women's Leadership.
After graduation, Geller plans to explore a career in the non-profit sector. From participating in senior events as a young child through her mother's connection to the college, to celebrating her own senior year with her class, Geller is looking forward to graduating and making an impact through her future endeavors.