The 2014 Alumni Awards took place June 21 and the event drew a record crowd, more than 250 people in attendance.
The weekend also included reunion events for Jubilarians and the Class of 1989, The Art & Science of Aging Seminar, a memorial service for Mildred (Stachowski) Tryba, '52, campus and University Archives tours, and the Wolf Pack Open golf outing.
Through the awards program, Stritch annually honors individuals for their professional and personal achievements, which have made a significant impact in their field, and whose life and character have earned the respect and admiration of their peers and professional colleagues.
Showcasing the best of Stritch, this signature alumni event began with a cocktail reception with President Dr. James P. Loftus and his wife, Irene Prior Loftus. A dinner and the presentation of the awards followed in the Nancy Kendall Theater.
The 2014 winners are:
Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.)
Sarah Marie Berndt, B.S. Education, ’04
Sarah Marie Berndt, ’04, began her teaching career at Milwaukee’s Golda Meir School in 2004. In 2007, she was acknowledged as the Teacher of the Year by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Alliance of Black School Educators for her work strengthening youth leadership while bringing diverse cultures together. In 2010, she became the Spanish and technology teacher at Ronald W. Reagan College Preparatory International Baccalaureate High School in Milwaukee, where she engages in motivational activities to meet the needs of diverse learners. Berndt has transformed learning into fun yet challenging activities, resulting in outstanding student achievement and national recognition.
See a video about Berndt here.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement
Brian King, B.A. Communication, ’88
While a student at Stritch, Brian King, ’88, worked the front desk at the Glendale Residence Inn by Marriott, blocks from campus. Little did he know, this would eventually lead to a career in international business. King now serves as global brand officer for Marriott Endorsed Brands at Marriott International where he is responsible for brand positioning, long range strategy, marketing communications and product development for Marriott’s diverse portfolio of brands. He describes his task as "making Marriott the most sought after hotel brand in the world."
See a video about King here.
Spirit of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service
James Lindenberg, M.B.A., ’93
James “Jim” Lindenberg, ’93, is one of southeastern Wisconsin’s best-known and successful entrepreneurs. In 1994, he launched a wire, cable and tubing manufacturing company, World Class Wire and Cable, building it into an industry leader within the first five years of operation. In 2008, Lindenberg sold World Class Wire and Cable to Anixter Inc. for $62 million. The following year, he purchased the Milwaukee Wave to keep the team in Milwaukee, and then created the Wave of Hope, a non-profit organization that supports local charities. His accomplished career has also included leadership and ownership positions with JML Holdings, Lindy Enterprises, and Legends of the
See a video about Lindenberg here.
Spirit of St. Francis Service Award: Alumni Service
Gerald Coon, Ph.D. Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service, ’08, M.B.A., ’11
Dr. Gerald “Gerry” Coon, ’08, ’11, has dedicated his career to improving the quality of life for those with disabilities. Coon has served as the executive director of the St. Francis Children’s Center since 1999, where his commitment to children with special needs has led to expanded services in Milwaukee, as well as two additional counties. In 2013, the center received the Best Workplace Award from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His colleagues attribute this to his leadership and commitment to collaboration and inclusion. Prior to 1999, all of Coon’s professional positions focused on providing services for adults with disabilities, including his role as vice president of Ranch Community Services.
See a video about Coon here.
Spirit of St. Francis Service Award: University Supporter
Marlene Lauwasser began serving Stritch in 1982 as an administrator for the Institute for Professional Development (IPD). She helped develop Stritch's first adult degree programs, planting the seeds for what became the College of Business and Management. Lauwasser oversaw accounting, curriculum formatting, advertising, and marketing. Under her leadership, Stritch's adult programs enrolled 400 students in the first eight months. The programs not only achieved record enrollment, they also earned national visibility for the University’s innovative higher education formats for working adults.
See a video about Lauwasser here.
The Mother Bartholomew, OSF Lifetime Achievement Award
Jeanette Mitchell, Ed.D. Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service, ’01
Dr. Jeanette Mitchell, ’01, has spent her life serving Milwaukee and its residents. A dedicated community advocate, she is committed to the education and empowerment of youth, women and minorities. Her work and service encompass politics, education, philanthropy, business and non-profits. She currently serves as program director for Stritch’s Leadership Center, which she co-founded in 2001 and served as its first executive director. Mitchell has led efforts to develop highly successful management, diversity, leadership coaching, and advocacy programs.
See a video about Mitchell here.
This year, the association added two new awards and revised award criteria in the previous categories of Professional Achievement and Graduate of the Last Decade. Added award categories include a new lifetime achievement award, named after Stritch’s founding president, Mother Bartholomew, OSF. The previous Spirit of St. Francis Award for Community Service was split into two categories, one honoring alumni service (to Stritch and the community) and the other, a non-graduate award to recognize service to Stritch.
For additional information about this year's recipients and a list of past award winners, visit the Alumni Association online.