2017 CEHD Distinguished Alumni Awards

Meet the 2017 CEHD Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Each year, the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) honors the exemplary work of our former students in their respective fields. Working in fields like education, social work, health inequality and minority advocacy, they all share one goal: improving lives. Let us introduce you to the people making a difference in Minnesota and around the world – CEHD alumni.

All photos by Jayme Halbritter


Alumni Society Award of Excellence

Karen Filla

Karen is our awardee representing work within Pre-K through 20 education. She has a Master’s in educational psychology, and a half century of service to the special education community as a teacher, administrator and consultant. Her work demonstrates the vision for an inclusive society that serves all children in equitable systems. Karen spent her career with Hopkins Public Schools, and had a statewide impact by implementing professional development programs, creating a scholarship to cultivate future leaders, and lobbying for a governance entity to oversee administrative licensing. She dedicates herself to collaborating across school staff, building community partnerships and nurturing the next generation of special education professionals – all to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Last year, she was recognized with the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education Legacy Award for her commitment to mentoring and leadership development.

Beth Bowman

Beth is being honored for her work outside Pre-K through 20 institutions. She earned a Master’s degree in art education and dedicated her career to non-profits, particularly in the fields of arts and culture education. Beth is currently the Executive Director of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, a 77-year-old organization dedicated to preserving and advancing the arts of weaving, spinning and dyeing. She previously held roles with Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, The Soap Factory, and Artspace Projects, among many other nonprofits. She is currently President-Elect of the University of Mminnesota Goldstein Museum of Design advisory board, and her previous board service includes the university’s College of Design, the College of Visual Arts and the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. An accomplished painter herself, Beth has exhibited her visual work internationally. She is a wonderful example of the diverse roles our graduates can pursue.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth has packed a lot in her 90-plus years since leaving Norseland, Minnesota, (population: 27) to attend college. She interrupted her education at the University of Minnesota to enlist in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. She returned to the school as one of the first women veterans, along with her toddler son – who is now grown up and here today. Beth lived frugally; she won a bread baking contest and used the $100 prize to help pay for books. After graduating with a home economics degree in 1955, Beth taught family living in Minnesota for almost 40 years. After she retired, she founded and ran an organization to help victims of domestic violence in rural areas. Beth also served on the statewide Governor’s Council for Domestic Violence and worked on raising public awareness of the problem. Today, Beth lives in Las Vegas and keeps a slightly slower pace by knitting caps for veterans.

Laura Bloomberg

Laura receives her award for her leadership at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She became dean of the Humphrey School in June 2017 and previously had served as associate dean and faculty member in the school. Some of her accomplishments there include launching a Master’s of Human Rights degree, creating a national pipeline for underrepresented students, and launching an online program to develop leaders in democratic election administration – the first of its kind in the nation. Laura previously served in leadership positions at the Center for Integrative Leadership and Institute on Community Integration, both affiliated with CEHD. In the community, Laura’s board service includes Pillsbury United Communities and United Way. She earned a Ph.D. in educational policy and administration in 1997. As Humphrey’s dean, she wants to “bring a relentless drive toward excellence and justice in pursuit of our common good.”

Mary Jo Czaplewski

Award recipient Mary Jo is being recognized for her work in education and public policy related to families. She is Executive Director Emerita of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), which she’s led for 15 years with an emphasis on professional leadership and family policy. She was a speaker at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, and served on the United Nations planning committee in Vienna for the 1994 International Year of the Family. Prior to joining NCFR, she served as Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Mary Jo was assistant to the dean of the University of Minnesota College of Human Ecology from 1979 to 1981, while she was earning a Ph.D. in educational administration. While in that role, she was appointed Interim Department Chair of the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel. Prior to attending the University of Minnesota, she taught at Viterbo University; while there, she introduced the first coordinated undergraduate program in dietetics in the nation. Today, Mary Jo consults with nonprofit organizations, volunteers and travels the world.

Constance Dawson

If you’re worried about spoiling your children, Constance may be able to help. Her professional career began with teaching fifth and sixth grades in the Robbinsdale Area schools. She later served as school programs consultant for the Johnson Institute, helping to establish student assistance programs across the country. Constance researched and wrote parenting books with CEHD’s own Jean Illsley Clarke, including How Much is too Much?, about the long-term effects of overindulging children. She taught classroom management to pre-service teachers at Portland State University, and worked as a therapist in private practice. Most recently, she has been researching human dignity, writing a book called Life Beyond Shame, and a textbook chapter on systemic humiliation in families. She has two degrees from CEHD: recreation leadership and elementary education.

Norena Hale

Norena is being honored for her commitment to the public education of children with disabilities. She has a Ph.D. in educational administration and special education, and her career encompasses a 45-year history in special education in three states: Missouri, South Dakota and Minnesota. Norena was Assistant Director and then State Director of Special Education at the Minnesota Department of Education for more than 20 years. During that time, Nora worked with Alumni Society awardee Karen Filla to implement leadership development and training for special education administrators. Her accomplishments were recognized on two separate occasions by the Minnesota Administrators of Special Education. After retirement, Norena joined the North Central Regional Resource Center as an educational consultant. Since 2011, she has been researching and documenting how the state educated – or did not educate – children with disabilities from the 1840s until today.

Bernadeia Johnson

Bernadeia served as superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools from February 2010 to January 2015. In that role, she oversaw academic achievement for 36,000 Minneapolis district students and 7,000 staff members. As the leader of Minnesota’s most diverse student population, her focus was to improve educational outcomes, especially for low-income and underrepresented students. She initiated the office of Black Male Student Achievement, halted nonviolent suspensions for children in first grade or younger, addressed racial disparities in suspensions, and developed policy and budgets that created more autonomy for schools. Bernadeia held deputy superintendent and other administrative roles in Minneapolis and Memphis. She began her education career as a fifth grade teacher, and holds a Ph.D. in educational policy and administration. Bernadeia continues to add her voice to community issues; currently, she teaches at Minnesota State University-Mankato, and manages graduate admissions for its Edina campus. She frequently does educational consulting and is a coach for the Northside Achievement Zone.

Joyce Kloncz

Joyce is a Gopher turned snowbird. She has a Master’s in elementary education, and spent 26 years as an elementary teacher and science specialist for Mounds View Public Schools, with additional service as a curriculum writer and math resource teacher. Joyce raised funds to support use of a Starlab portable planetarium, and trained teachers how to use it with their classes. In retirement, she continues her commitment to capturing and celebrating the history of New Brighton, having co-founded its historical society and the Stockyard Days celebration. She also wrote a musical drama for New Brighton’s centennial and has written three books about the area’s history. Joyce has brought her love of Minnesota to her winter home in Arizona, holding many leadership roles in the University of Minnesota Alumni Arizona West Valley Chapter and promoting its programs over the last 13 years.

Noel Larson

Noel earned a Bachelor’s in social welfare back when it was a part of the College of Liberal Arts, as well as a Master’s and Ph.D. in social work. She has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than four decades, and is being honored for her field-shaping research in human sexuality. Licensed as a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and clinical social worker, Noel founded Meta Resources in 1981 with her husband, James Maddock. She is the former director of the Family Sexual Abuse Training Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School and has taught in several departments at the university. Noel’s research encompasses self-injurious behavior; therapist compassion for victims; and family sexual abuse. She designed and implemented the first treatment program for incarcerated female sex offenders; and consults with prisons, hospital psychiatric units and out-patient mental health agencies. Noel also runs therapist training in Denmark and Greenland, with a special focus on families with incest issues.

David Legvold

You’d think 35 years in Richfield schools would lead to a well-deserved retirement – not for David. His passion for experiential education and conservation – and his childhood filled with hard work on a dairy farm – motivated him to un-retire several times. After his middle school teaching career, Dave held positions at John Deere, as Director of Education for Eagle Bluff Environmental Center, and as Executive Director of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership. Since 1976, Dave and his wife Ruth have operated an 800-acre family farm outside Northfield, which is a living demonstration of best practices to protect water and improve productivity. He started working that farm two years after earning his Master’s in educational administration, which must have come in handy. Currently, he mentors college students doing thesis research and, as “Dr. Gross,” works with community organizations to promote restorative farming. Dave was recognized by Governor Mark Dayton as a Minnesota Water Hero in 2016.

Kenneth Pedersen

Kenneth worked as a history and science teacher, coach and athletic director, and principal in several secondary schools in rural Minnesota. He has a Master’s in educational administration and a specialist certificate in secondary school administration. His talents led him to a role with a regional association for principals, and he later spent more than two decades as the assistant superintendent for the Stillwater school system. Ken held leadership roles with the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals and the Minnesota Association of Student Councils. Ken also worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense, evaluating military and private schools across the world. His accomplishments as an educational leader were recognized with a Bush Fellowship and an IDEA Fellowship.

Verna Cornelia Price

Verna was once described by a reporter as “a reservoir of happiness, ready to overflow in your direction.” She is CEO of the Power of People Consulting Group, a firm specializing in personal excellence, leadership, team-building and change. She works with clients across the world and across sectors to bring out the best in their employees, including the International Association of Women Police, Target, and the Federal Reserve. Power of People was selected for inclusion in the Super Bowl 52 Business Connect Program Resource Guide for the NFL and its partners. Verna has written three books, and shares her expertise through motivational speaking and executive coaching. She co-founded the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Leadership Minor, the largest program of its kind in the nation, and founded Girls in Action, a mentoring and empowerment program. She has a Master’s and Ph.D. in educational administration.

Carrie Sampson Moore

Carrie has worked in higher education sport and fitness for 25 years at the University of Minnesota, Miami University, and currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Her past roles have included opening new sport facilities, program development, system improvement, national event hosting, and instruction. Today, she is M.I.T.’s Director of Physical Education, and is charged with implementing a required activity and health and wellness curriculum for more than 4,000 undergraduate students annually. Carrie provides leadership and development, curricular guidance and builds academic partnerships. Some of her accomplishments include launching a wellness course featuring stress management and nutrition, and starting a new outdoor education program with opportunities to scuba, kayak and ski. While at the University of Minnesota, Carrie participated on the crew team that won the Head of the Charles in 1986. She has a Bachelor’s in physical education and a Master’s in kinesiology.

Lewis Stern

Lewis has more than 35 years of experience in leadership and organizational improvement. He is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and management consultant focused on skills development and organizational change. He has worked with various sectors around the world, including biotechnology, higher education, retail and healthcare. A pioneer in organizational psychology, Lewis developed ways to use technology for personality assessment and therapist training. He founded academic programs in executive coaching at Harvard Medical School and William James College, and helped establish professional standards for the field by founding the Executive Coaching Forum. Lewis has several publications on leadership, communication and the social impact of coaching. He earned a Master’s and Ph.D. in educational psychology.

Bo Thao-Urabe

Bo is the founder and network director of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders. She has had a long career building teams and organizations toward meaningful outcomes for communities, and we are honoring her efforts to empower refugee women and girls and work for gender justice in Hmong communities. Her organization brings together emerging and experienced leaders to create and advance shared agendas, and was developed through her role at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Bo has co-founded several groups, including Hmong Women Achieving Together and Building More Philanthropy with Purpose, and founded a social enterprise that aims to increase the economic status of women in poorest regions in Southeast Asia. Bo worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis to ensure that traditionally underserved markets could access credit and capital. She served on the White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for two years, and in 2015, November 1st was declared “Bo Thao-Urabe Day” for the City of Saint Paul and State of Minnesota in recognition of her achievements.

Wendy Watson

Wendy has a long career of advocacy on behalf of vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities. She has a Master’s in educational psychology from CEHD, and has worked at The Arc Greater Twin Cities since 1999 in a variety of roles, most recently as Education Coordinator. She leads programs for transition-aged students and for employment services, works on systemic issues around special education, establishes community collaborations and helps build The Arc’s grassroots network. Prior to joining The Arc, Wendy taught in a developmental achievement center. She is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, and provides pro bono legal assistance to the Children’s Law Center. She is a charter member of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law board of trustees, as well as on several other community boards.

Farrell Webb

Farrell is Dean of the College of Health and Human Development at California State University, Northridge. His diverse academic credentials include degrees in film production, public administration, and statistics, as well as a Ph.D. in family social science from CEHD. His research focuses on health disparities, race, and inequality related to well-being. He previously held the positions of associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Cal State University, Los Angeles; and as Professor of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State. While at Kansas State, Farrell also directed the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, and is applying that experience to Cal State Northridge to improve student success and close the opportunity gap. He previously held a position as a Post-Doctoral Scholar and Visiting Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, Center for Human Development and Family Research in Diverse Contexts where he studied ethnography, geostatistics and epidemiology.

Eddie Williams

Eddie spent more than 40 years as a clinical psychologist working with veterans. When he retired, he was the Psychology Executive at the Veterans Affairs Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. In that role, Eddie oversaw internship training, a drug treatment program, the homeless veterans program, and psychiatry wards. He also worked with vocational rehabilitation, the minority veterans program, and was the equal employment opportunity coordinator. In addition, he provided individual and group psychotherapy. He has a Ph.D. in educational psychology, and holds an academic appointment with Rosalind Franklin University. Eddie has served on several community boards, including Lake County Community Action Project, from which he received a volunteer award.

Rachel Adler

Rachel is the David Ellenson Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Feminist Studies at Hebrew Union College of Los Angeles. She is considered one of the preeminent “mothers” of modern Jewish feminism, responsible for moving feminist concerns and sensibilities from the margins to the center of modern Jewish life and thought. At Hebrew Union, Rachel teaches both Modern Jewish Thought and Liturgy as well as several electives on contemporary Judaism and issues of ethics and gender. She was one of the first theologian-ethicists to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics. Her essay “The Jew Who Wasn’t There,” first published in 1971, is generally considered the first piece of Jewish feminist theology. She also is the author of Engendering Judaism, the first work by a female theologian to win the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Jewish Thought. Rachel has a Master’s in social work.

Martha Andersen Wilder

Martha is Professor of English Emerita at Pomona College. She is a specialist in Shakespearean scholarship and teaching, and the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including seven Distinguished Teaching Awards and a Lifetime Teaching Award from Pomona College. Outside the academy she has engaged professional, corporate, university, theatre and community audiences through her publications, seminars, public television presentations and dramaturgy. Since 2010, she has expanded her outreach to fellow patients and their caregivers at a cancer care center, where she offers Shakespearean perspectives on the journey through illness to healing. In 2012, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles honored her with a Crystal Quill Award. Martha has a Bachelor’s degree from CEHD.

Jane Lillestol

Jane earned a Bachelor’s in education, a Master’s in family social science and a Ph.D. in educational administration. She is professor emerita of Syracuse University, where she also served as Vice President of Alumni Relations and Dean of the College for Human Development. Jane started her career as a family life educator in Saint Paul. While in graduate school, she served as Director of Placement and assistant to the dean in the College of Human Ecology. Today, Jane is an independent consultant for a variety of arts and nonprofit organizations.

Thomas Wilson

Thomas has a unique career combining educational administration, technology and law enforcement. He began as a mathematics teacher and assistant professor in Iowa, and served as assistant principal and principal of New Ulm, Rosemount and Eagan High Schools. Tom’s interest in and experience with technology motivated him to explore its use in the management of schools and in instruction, and he was recognized with a National Milken Educator Award for his innovative way of incorporating technology. After retirement, Tom started a second career as a private investigator and special deputy sheriff in Dakota County. He also founded Mentor Mate, a custom software development company. Tom has a Ph.D. in school administration.

Ann Dingman

About the Author

Ann Dingman

  • Stewardship and Donor Relations Manager
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • University of Minnesota

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