2013 Alumni Association Award Recipients

Yvonne Connolly Martin  Yvonne Connolly Martin ’58 • Distinguished Achievement

Already proving her willingness to stand out from the crowd as the only female chemistry/zoology major in the Carleton Class of ’58, Yvonne Connolly Martin went on to become a pioneer in computer assisted drug design.

Aided by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship in chemistry, Martin earned a PhD in chemistry at Northwestern University in 1964. That same year she began working on drug discovery at Abbott Laboratories, interrupting her work briefly to become a visiting scientist in the chemistry department of Pomona College.

Upon resuming her work at Abbott Laboratories, she began what she describes as the most exciting phase of her career, experimenting with using computing to develop mathematical models that could aid in the design of new drug molecules. Rather than focusing on the chemical structure, Martin worked to calculate the properties of molecules that might be relevant to biological activity. Her methods were applied to drug discovery programs on hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, ulcers, bacterial infections, arthritis, and angina.

Martin’s significant contributions to her profession go beyond the lab. She has written 23 review articles and more than 100 research publications, edited six books, and registered eight patents. She published the widely used textbook Quantitative Drug Design, was a visiting professor for five years at the University of Virginia College of Pharmacy, served on the editorial advisory board for 11 scientific journals, and organized numerous conferences on computer-assisted drug design.

Throughout her career Martin has supported study sections for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In 1985 she was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 2000 a fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). She is a lifetime member of the Molecular Modeling and Graphics Society, and from 2009–13 she was a titular member of the Division of Chemistry and Human Health for IUPAC.

Other professional citations include the Accomplishment Award from the Society for Biomolecular Sciences and the Herman Skolnik Award from the American Chemical Society. For more than 20 years, Martin has been associated with the International Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship & Modeling Society, serving as both a board member and as its chair.

Although she retired in 2006, as a Senior Research Fellow with Abbott Laboratories’ Volwiler Society, she continues her research as a contractor for Abbott Laboratories/AbbVie.

Martin is married to William Brady Martin; the couple has two daughters and lives in Waukegan, Illinois. 

Elaine Johnson Tatham  Elaine Johnson Tatham
’58 Distinguished Achievement

Elaine Johnson Tatham is a pioneer recognized for founding and growing a successful business in a time when, in the words of one nominator, “women simply didn’t do things like that.” Tatham built ETC Institute—a national public opinion polling company based in Olathe, Kansas—from the ground up and currently serves as president and owner.

Starting with a mere $1,000 investment in 1982, Tatham’s company has grown into a nationally respected research firm that obtains input from people on issues affecting their communities.

During the past five years, ETC Institute’s market research results have led to significant funding initiatives by state, municipal, and county governments as well as numerous educational and nonprofit organizations, with projects ranging from improvements to schools and health care institutions to neighborhood and downtown revitalization projects to the development of community centers, aquatics centers, and sports facilities.

A Carleton mathematics major, Tatham earned an MA in mathematics in 1960 and an EdD in educational and psychological research in 1971, both at the University of Kansas (KU). From 1958 to 1971 she was a college mathematics instructor at several institutions.

From 1971 to 1981 Tatham was the founding director of institutional research at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and from 1981 to 1982 she was vice president of Padgett-Thompson. Tatham began a 10-year stint on the City of Olathe Planning Commission in 1982, serving as its chair in 1987–88. She was president of the Mathematics Section, State of Kansas, Mathematical Association of America (1979–80) and chair of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee to the Kansas City Power & Light Company from 1982 to 1990.

Since 1984 Tatham has served on the board of the Olathe Health System, and from 1983 to 2001 she was an adjunct lecturer in the KU graduate engineering management program, with specialties

Tatham, have two children and five grandchildren. Her son, Christopher, works with her at ETC Institute. The Tathams live in Olathe, Kansas. 

Michael Tuck  Michael Tuck ’58 Distinguished Achievement 

Michael Tuck is an internationally esteemed expert and researcher in the fields of diabetes and hypertension. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 2006, Dr. Tuck has enjoyed a remarkable career in the field of medicine, publishing more than 400 research and clinical trial articles and is one of the world’s experts on diabetes. A Carleton biology major, Dr. Tuck earned an MD degree at the University of Minnesota. After a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, he served for two years as a U.S. Air Force Captain in Turkey and Germany during the Vietnam conflict. Following his discharge, he embarked on a research fellowship in endocrinology, metabolism, and hypertension at Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Tuck became an instructor of medicine at Harvard and remained there until 1974, when he accepted a faculty research position at the UCLA School of Medicine, eventually being promoted to professor of medicine in 1983. There he received the Golden Apple Award in Teaching and served as vice-chair for academic affairs at the School of Medicine from 1989 to 1992.

Recognized as an exceptional teacher and mentor to young physicians, Dr. Tuck has trained dozens of postdoctoral research and clinical fellows in his laboratories and clinics and delivered more than 700 lectures throughout the world. Through the course of his career, Dr. Tuck received more than 20 competitive research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is a permanent member of numerous NIH study sections. He has also provided leadership on key UCLA committees, been involved in a number of professional associations, and served on the boards of eleven medical journals. Now a  Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Tuck has been professionally associated with that institution for a remarkable 40 years. He continues to practice medicine part-time in California. Dr. Tuck has been listed as a Best Doctor in America in Who’s Who in America since 2008. Dr. Tuck has been married to Rita Dehn Tuck since 1964; they have two children and live in Sherman Oaks, California. 

Will Bracken  Will Bracken ’63 Exceptional Service

Will Bracken’s extraordinary 29-year tenure as a Carleton trustee (1979–2008) was marked by his thoughtfulness, trusted judgment, leadership, modesty, high standards, and consistency. During  those decades, Bracken was a seasoned and valued member of the Executive Committee, chair of both the Buildings & Grounds and Audit committees, and part of virtually every standing trustee committee at one time or another. Notably, he was Audit Committee chair when the Sarbanes-Oxley Bill became law, and Bracken helped the College prudently navigate its way through what a fellow trustee called “new and complex legal obligations that affected all profit and not-for-profit organizations.”Known for his careful preparation and probing questions during trustee meetings, Bracken’s guiding hand helped shape the campus. Twice chair of the Buildings & Grounds committee (1980–1983 and 1986–1995), he was responsible for helping the College oversee more than $5 million annually in capital improvements. Hulings Hall, the Recreation Center, the Language and Dining Center, and the townhouses were all built during his tenure as chair. In addition to serving as a “model trustee” (he was elected Trustee Emeritus in 2009) Bracken’s long-held associations with Carleton include service as an Alumni Annual Fund class agent, reunion committee member, and co-chair of his 25th Reunion fundraising efforts. Bracken served for eight years on the Alumni Adventures committee and has been a strong supporter of Carleton’s Career Center.After graduating with a degree in economics and receiving a MBA from the University of Michigan in 1965, Bracken served as a U.S. Army medic in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968.

Upon returning to the United States, Bracken launched a successful career in real estate development, financing, and long-range planning, and he currently is chair/CEO of Northco Corporation—one of three businesses he founded. He and his wife Margee (Moss) Bracken ’64, received the William Carleton Medal in 2008 for their exceptional loyalty and generosity to the College. Bracken shares his Carleton roots with his late father, Dr. Alexander M. Bracken (trustee emeritus) and his brothers (Frank ’56, Tom ’58, and Sandy ’69). He and Margee have three children and live in Minneapolis. 

John Cairns  John Cairns ’63 Distinguished Achievement

Minnesota attorney John Cairns is a nationally recognized expert in charter schools and public education law. For more than 40 years, Cairns has been at the forefront of significant public policy developments in education, serving as a dynamic force for innovation in schools and community life.

A Carleton government major, Cairns became interested in alternative education in the 1960s while serving on the Minneapolis City Council. A past council president and former board member of the Twin Cities Citizens League, Cairns was, in the words of one nominator, a “bright light leading the way for reform efforts designed to strengthen community involvement.”

From 1979 to 1984 Cairns served as executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership (MBP), an association of CEOs from major Minnesota corporations. Under Cairns’s leadership, MBP became the first business organization in the United States to seriously consider how to improve educational quality for public school students. The MBP established an Educational Quality Task Force and produced a seminal report calling for profound structural change in education, paving the way to make Minnesota a model for open enrollment and charter schools.

Since 1988 Cairns has been one of the charter school movement’s strongest and most effective advocates, working with educators, legislators, and community members to recommend improvements to  public education and charter school initiatives. Through the non-profit Public School Incentives (PSI) Cairns developed innovative ideas for K–12 public education and played a key role in demonstrating the viability of Community Learning Centers as a model for alternative education.

The first U.S. attorney to represent a charter school, Cairns has seen the charter movement grow from just one school in Minnesota in 1992 to nearly 6,000 today in more than 40 states. His pioneering work has had a profound and lasting impact on public education, and, in the words of a former Minnesota governor, “all Minnesotans are deeply in debt” to the creative force that Cairns and a handful of others brought to their public work.

Today Cairns is a practicing attorney at John Cairns Law, PA, a Twin Cities firm specializing in assisting educational  tax-exempt organizations. With his wife, Sonia, Cairns has four children and lives in Minneapolis. 


Alan Fiala  Alan Dale Fiala ’63 Distinguished Achievement (posthumous)

Alan Fiala was such a star in the field of astronomy that upon his retirement in 2000 an asteroid was named in his honor—3695 Fiala.

Fiala is considered one of the world’s experts on solar eclipse calculations. Early in his career he prepared a visual chart of the navigational stars to be used for backup navigation on Apollo 8 and several subsequent space missions. He later developed the software for calculating eclipses and plotting eclipse maps.

Fiala graduated from Carleton in 1963 as a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Pi Mu Epsilon astronomy major (with physics and mathematics minors) in only three years, having started with the Class of ’64. He went on to earn a PhD in astronomy at Yale University in 1968. During his college years, he held several summer appointments at the U.S. Naval Observatory and became a permanent staff member there in 1968.

In 1996 Fiala was appointed chief of the Nautical Almanac Office (NAO), which is responsible for four annual publications that set the international standard for accuracy for positional astronomy and celestial navigation. Fiala co-edited the proceedings of the Nautical Almanac Office Sesquicentennial Symposium.

Fiala was the lead author of the chapter on eclipse calculations in the 1992 Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, and co-author of Canon of Lunar Eclipses 1500 B.C.–A.D. 3000 with Bao-Lin Liu, the foremost Chinese expert on the subject.

In addition, Fiala pioneered the use of portable video cameras to record the disappearance and reappearance of the Sun from behind the Moon’s limb during an eclipse, as viewed from the edges of the central eclipse paths. He was the leader or co-organizer of expeditions to 10 solar eclipses around the world and co-author of several articles on those projects.

Fiala was elected to the International Astronomical Union in 1976; he was also a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the Institute of Navigation, and several other professional societies. He served as chair of the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy. Fiala received many other awards during his career, including the Captain James Melville Gilliss Award for service.

Although childhood polio affected Fiala’s mobility, he pursued many activities and interests, including sports car racing, genealogy, photography, travel, gardening, and beekeeping. He was also active in Post-Polio Health International.

Fiala died May 26, 2010. His survivors include two brothers, John and Kent Fiala.


Carolyn Williamson Nelson  Carolyn Williamson Nelson ’63 • Distinguished Achievement

Carolyn Williamson Nelson is a literary bibliographer known internationally for her outstanding scholarship and indexing of Renaissance poetry.Nelson completed the indexing of all the poems in the Osborn Collection at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the 2005 First-Line Index of English Poetry, 1500–1800. She is credited in that volume’s introduction for her “skill, tenacity, and sheer determination” in making the project possible.

In addition, Nelson recorded more than 28,000 first-line records from Margaret Crum’s First-Line Index of English Poetry 1500–1800 in Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library and added them to Yale’s index spreadsheet. Following those efforts, the Folger Shakespeare Library agreed to merge its index, as well as those of several other research institutions, with her collection, and began in 2003 to mount the entire database on its website as the Union First-Line Index of English Verse. This initiative, free online since 2009, is reported to be of “inestimable value” to students of Renaissance poetry, according to one nominator.

In all, Nelson has submitted more than 300,000 records to the Folger database to date, and her work as a compiler for the Folger Library continues.

Recognizing Nelson’s work and achievements, Carleton awarded her a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2008. She was cited at that time for being co-editor of the second edition of Donald Wing’s classic reference work Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England . . . 1641–1700 and co-editor of British Newspapers and Periodicals, 1641–1700.

“Quite simply, her contribution not just to bibliography but to wider scholarship is almost incalculable and has been both direct and indirect,” said nominator Dr. Jason Peacey of University College London.

Nelson was a Phi Beta Kappa English literature major at Carleton, thereafter earning an MA (1964) and PhD (1967) in the same field at the University of Chicago. She is a retired editor of Wing Short  Title Catalogue Revision at Yale University Library.

A co-chair of the Class of 1963’s 50th reunion program committee and a frequent Carleton reunion and club event attendee, Nelson has also served Carleton in the past as an Alumni Annual Fund assistant class agent.

Nelson and her husband, Carleton trustee Robert Nelson ’62, have three children, including Eric Nelson ’89 and Melissa Nelson ’91. They live in Wayzata, Minnesota, and Boca Raton, Florida. 


Barbara J. Thomsen Sample  Barbara J. Thomsen Sample ’63 • Distinguished Achievement

A master teacher and co-founder of the non-profit Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, Barbara Sample has a sterling reputation as a curriculum specialist and innovative educator in cross-cultural communication and English as a second language (ESL) programs.

Shortly after graduating from Carleton with a sociology degree, Sample joined the Peace Corps where she discovered her passion for teaching English as a second language. Through experiences as a Peace Corps teacher trainer in Malaysian Borneo and later as an English as a Foreign Language Instructor at the American University of Beirut and the University of Denver, Sample observed the need to better support international students in their adjustment to American culture. She received an MA in languages and literature and taught ESL at Columbia University (1967). For the next ten years she taught ESL to adults and teenagers in Lebanon, Maryland, and Colorado. Soon after moving to Denver, she helped found and became first president of Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CoTESOL) in 1977. Two years later she and her husband and two other educators co-founded the Spring Institute, a Denver-based non-profit. Both organizations continue to thrive today.

The Spring Institute has grown to employ 45 paid staff members and 100 volunteers, with an annual budget of nearly $3 million. The organization’s signature language and cultural programs have over the years served more than 22,500 newcomers to the United States. Sample and her colleagues have taught thousands of students, and she also has trained hundreds of teachers across the United States and internationally, improving programs and skills and increasing cultural knowledge about newly emerging refugee communities in the United States.

Until her recent retirement, Sample was the Spring Institute’s vice president and director of educational services, and she continues to serve as secretary of the board of directors.

Her professional dedication and commitment to excellence have been recognized through several major awards, including the Virginia French Allen Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990 and the Gladys Doty Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession in 2009.

Sample is author or co-author of numerous books and publications on ESL, cross-cultural training, and refugee mental health, and she has presented across the globe since 1979. She served as a national English language teacher trainer for the Office of Refugee Resettlement for nearly 20 years.

Sample and her husband, Bob, have hosted more than 50 international students. They have two children and three grandchildren and live in Denver, Colorado. 

Bob Seddig '63  Robert Seddig ’63 • Exceptional Service

Bob Seddig, known for appreciating the importance of incorporating a personal touch into College communications, ranks among Carleton’s most devoted volunteers with more than 34 years of service.

As the Class of 1963’s Alumni Annual Fund class agent since 1979, Seddig “went well beyond the normal expectations of being a class agent,” says one nominator. He has spent countless hours connecting with classmates through personal notes and, according to College staff members, has been largely responsible for maintaining an average class giving participation rate of more than 60 percent over the past 10 years.

“Bob has communicated with us, cajoled us, and praised us for our efforts at supporting Carleton,” wrote one classmate in nomination of Seddig.

With Seddig’s class agent leadership, the Class of ’63 has brought in over $2.6 million for Carleton since 1991.

Seddig hasn’t limited his Carleton volunteerism to class agent duties, however; he has been involved in plans for each class reunion since the 25th (currently co-chair of his 50th reunion gift committee), with Carleton’s staff appreciating his calm and determined approach to committee work.

In addition, Seddig served a four-year term on the Carleton Alumni Council beginning in 2003 and  chaired the Awards and Nominations Committee for two years of that tenure.

A cum laude Carleton government major, Seddig also was a KARL board member and managing editor of the Carletonian during his undergraduate years. He earned a PhD in constitutional law at Princeton University in 1971 and retired in 2011 after working as a professor of political science at Allegheny College since 1967. In 2009 Seddig received the Julian Ross Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Robert G. Seddig Chair in Constitutional Law at Allegheny has been endowed in his honor.

Additionally, Seddig is an oblate of Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania, a volunteer at the Emmaus Ministries soup kitchen, and a deacon at the Somesville Union Meeting House in Maine. His writings have been published in the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society’s journal, and he counts his family and his lifelong commitment to liberal arts education his most significant accomplishments.

Seddig lives in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and Southwest Harbor, Maine, with his wife, the Rev. Lyta G. Seddig. They have two daughters—Dr. Elspeth Seddig and Erica Seddig Carter ’98—and two grandchildren. 


Herb Fritch  Herb Fritch ’73 • Distinguished Achievement

Herb Fritch is a veteran healthcare executive and pioneer of quality-based health care whose vision and innovation have made significant inroads in improving the effectiveness of health care delivery.

The turn of the 21st century was a time of unprecedented challenges for Medicare and the delivery of health care in the United States. Fritch took ownership of a struggling Nashville-based health plan in 2000 and founded HealthSpring with a two-pronged strategy: to focus intently on the needs of patients and to engage physicians in innovative ways to improve the quality of care for members. He committed to this course at a time when most health plans were leaving the Medicare market and had given up attempting meaningful partnerships with physicians. Few investors shared Fritch’s foresight, and to raise sufficient capital he personally carried 15 percent of the original funding.

Through Fritch’s leadership, HealthSpring emerged as a highly regarded U.S. health plan focused on delivering care to seniors, mainly through Medicare Advantage and other Medicare and Medicaid products. It is one of the largest and fastest growing coordinated care plans serving the Medicare and Medicaid communities and ranks among the nation’s Fortune 500 companies.

The Nashville Business Journal named Fritch the Most Admired CEO in its inaugural award in December 2012. The  previous year, HealthSpring was a finalist in Nashville’s Market Mover category for the health care sector, and Fritch was named Health Care Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also chosen Ernst & Young’s 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year for the Tennessee/Alabama/Georgia region. 

Born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, Fritch graduated from Carleton with a degree in mathematics and began his career as a consulting actuary at Milliman and Robertson. There he developed expertise analyzing the feasibility of Health Maintenance Organizations, a managed care arrangement bolstered by the HMO Act of 1973.

In 1982 Fritch founded the regional managed care company Sanus Corporation and began to experiment with incentives and new models of partnering with doctors to improve health care delivery. He held a number of leadership positions at major managed care and physician management companies before founding HealthSpring in September 2000.

Fritch is known for his passion for hockey and is a part-owner of the NHL’s Nashville Predators team. He and his wife, Barbara, also share a desire to give back, and in 2012 established the Fritch Endowed Scholars Program at Carleton to provide financial aid to middle class students from rural and non-metro areas. Herb and Barbara Fritch live in Nashville, Tennessee. 


Candace Larson William  Candace Larson Williams 73 • Exceptional Service

In the Carleton Class of 1973, Candace Larson Williams shines as a dedicated volunteer who has helped lead and unite her class for the past 15 years.

Williams led her class’s 25th reunion planning committee in 1997–98 and has been an integral part of each reunion planning effort since then. Her energy and enthusiasm helped the Class of ’73 jump from a 10 percent reunion attendance in 1993 to an impressive 26 percent in 1998, and that figure grew into a Carleton 30th reunion attendance record in 2003.

“What makes Candace stand out among many great Carleton volunteers is the impact she has had both on her class and on her overall reunion cohort of ’3s and ’8s classes,” said Becky Zrimsek ’89, assistant vice president for alumni and parent relations. As a reunion volunteer, Williams led the way by infusing the program with a vibrant sense of fun and spirit reflected in ’73’s signature tie-dye garb.

Beyond her reunion planning achievements, Williams has embraced a broad scope of Carleton volunteer involvement. From 1998 to 2002 she served as a 25th Reunion Trustee, working as part of the Buildings & Grounds and Academic Affairs committees. She has spent time as an assistant class agent for the Alumni Annual Fund and as a Reunion gift committee member, and  she has hosted several Carleton Admissions events over the years.

Not only has Williams been a frequent attendee at Carleton Club events in Houston, Texas, and London, she has also planned numerous club events in both locales.

Williams was a philosophy major at Carleton and went on to earn a JD at the Santa Clara School of Law in 1978. She practiced law, beginning at Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston, and later in solo practice and with other firms, from 1979 to 1999. In 2001 Williams and her family moved to England for her husband’s work assignment.

Williams also has been a volunteer organizer of antique and art history events for Kensington & Chelsea International Women’s Club and the London Petroleum Women’s Club.

Williams is married to her high school—and Carleton—sweetheart, trustee Mark Williams ’73. Their two children, David ’06 and Megan ’11 (along with David’s wife, Kristine Kuntz Williams ’05), carried on the family’s Carleton tradition. Williams and her husband currently reside in Austin, Texas. 

Douglas L. Wood  Douglas L. Wood
’73 • Distinguished Achievement

Douglas Wood is a national leader in the health care arena, having provided an expert and respected voice on the issues of health policy, payment policy, and regulatory affairs for more than 25 years.

A founding member of the Institute for Clinical Systems Integration in Minnesota, Wood seeks to discover whether an integrated health care system can improve the health of an entire southeast Minnesota town and perhaps provide a model for a successful future direction in national health care. He is also a founding member of the Cooperative Cardiovascular Project to improve cardiac care in the Medicare program.

The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Wood in 2010, recognizing his leadership in the national health care reform debate and his lasting contributions to health care reform in Minnesota.

Wood, a Carleton biology major, is a consultant in cardiovascular diseases at Mayo Clinic and the director for strategy and policy at Mayo’s Center for Innovation. A cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Wood is also a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and the director of the value program for the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

In 1977, Wood earned an MD at the University of Missouri and thereafter completed fellowships in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular diseases, and internal medicine, all at Mayo Clinic. 

Wood chaired the Secretary of Health and Human Services’s Advisory Committee on Regulatory Reform in 2002, and in 2003 Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed him to the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs. Wood is also a former chair of the Coding and Nomenclature Committee of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), has edited the ACC’s Guide to Reporting Physician Services, and was a member of the CPT editorial panel of the American Medical Association from 1994 to 2000.

In addition, Wood was chair of the Medical Planning and Policy Committee of the MMA (2007–2012) and of the Care Coordination and Payment Reform Work Group, Governor’s Health Reform Task Force (2011–12), and he has been an MMA trustee since 2008.

Other distinctions include the Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Cardiology, the Burgess Gordon Award from the American Medical Association, and a Citation of Merit from the University of Missouri School of Medicine Alumni Association.

Wood and his wife, Julia, have five children and live in Rochester, Minnesota. 


  Michael C. Connelly  Michael C. Connelly ’83 • Distinguished Achievement

With respect to advancing diversity and inclusivity in the legal profession and affecting change in this critical area, Michael Connelly, in the words of his nominators, is a “pioneer,” “hero,” “champion,” and “mentor” who “changes lives” and “walks the walk” on a corporate, regional, and national scale.

Michael Connelly is a proven authority in diversity inclusion and development in both the legal profession and energy industry. “Because of Mike’s leadership, Center for Legal Inclusiveness [for which he is a board member] is now emerging on a national stage as a thought-leader and source of real solutions for the legal industry’s diversity problems,” writes one nominator.

In his roles from 1990 to 2012 with Xcel Energy—vice president of human resources, vice president and general counsel, and later senior vice president of strategy and planning—Connelly used his leadership and influence to guarantee the law firms with which Xcel did business paid “more than ‘lip service’ to the notion of diversity and inclusion, and, where deficient, had concrete plans for improvement,” wrote another nominator.

Valerie Jensen ’87, Executive Director of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, praised Connelly for establishing an outside counsel program that “ensured lawyers of color, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) lawyers were included in and worked on any case in which Xcel was involved.”

Connelly earned a BA in economics with a concentration in science, technology, and public policy from Carleton before completing a JD degree at the University of Chicago in 1986. From 1986 to 1990 he was an associate attorney at Oppenheimer, Wolff, and Donnelly in St. Paul. Recently he started a business consulting practice, JBL Consulting.

Since 2004, Connelly has been a director and now chair of the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation; he is also a trustee for Friends of the St. Paul Public Library (2008–present), a board member of the Greater Twin Cities United Way (2008–2012), and a board member and chair of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (2010–2012). In 2011, Governor Mark Dayton appointed Connelly to the Governor’s Health Care Reform Task Force.

In 2010 Connelly received the Qwest Diversity Trailblazer Award. That year he was also a panelist on the topic of social  responsibility in corporate governance for the Society of Corporate Secretaries & Governance Professionals and on best practices for women’s advancement in the legal profession at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP.

Connelly and his wife, Leslie Bingham Connelly ’86, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and have two children. 

Don J. Frost, Jr.  Don J. Frost, Jr. ’83 • Exceptional Service

“I am told that Don has a day job, but am puzzled as to how he works anywhere other than at Carleton,” wrote a young alumnus who collaborated with Don Frost on a recent fundraising project for Carleton.

Frost, an attorney and partner at Washington, D.C.’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, does indeed have a considerable day job, but Carleton has been the fortunate recipient of his abundant energy, skills, and enthusiasm for more than a decade.

From 2008 to 2012, Frost was a 25th Reunion Trustee, serving on the External Relations and Development Committee and supporting a successful fund drive for the renovation and repair of Laird Stadium. He also assisted with fundraising for the Weitz Center for Creativity, coordinating a major gift effort that involved past and present Carleton Student Association (CSA) presidents (of which he is one).

With Paul Van Valkenburg ’82, Frost co-founded the Carleton Athletic Initiative (CAI), creating a new model for the College to reach out to former Carleton athletes and encourage their participation in the Alumni Annual Fund (AAF) and support of on-campus athletics at all levels.

Since 1990 Frost has served as an AAF volunteer and class agent. Known for his handwritten personal notes, Frost has helped his class maintain its above-average AAF participation in recent years and enabled a 25th reunion gift of over $300,000—triple the class’s previous largest gift.

Frost has been a gift committee co-chair for his 25th and 30th reunions, an Alumni Admissions Representative, a guest lecturer in two Carleton academic departments, and a host of many “Life Path” discussions with current students and recent alumni.

During 2012–13, Frost served on the Career Center’s director search committee, and he has been a regular host and mentor for the Career Center’s Scholars Program in Washington, D.C. and the Carleton D.C. political science off-campus study program. He also served as a trustee representative for the Career Preparation Working Group during Carleton’s recent strategic planning efforts. College staff and fellow volunteers alike praise Frost as an idea guy, a leader, a networker, and a worker who “bursts with smiles.”

In 1988 Frost earned both a JD and an MA in resource economics and policy from Duke University. He received a Rock the Law Award in 2009 for excellence in pro bono representation on behalf of the disabled.

Frost and his wife, Carolyn Ferrari ’83, have three daughters, including Sarah ’13. Frost says his family and Carleton trustee service are among his most significant life accomplishments. The Frost-Ferraris live in Germantown, Maryland. 

Steve Six Steve Six
’88 • Distinguished Achievement

Celebrating his 25th reunion at Carleton this year, Steve Six already has risen to levels of distinction in his legal and judicial career that many attorneys might not achieve in a lifetime.

As a recognized expert in trial work and persuasion, Six’s career has taken him from prosecuting capital murder cases in remote areas of western Kansas to arguing before the United States Supreme Court.

Beginning as a law clerk for the Honorable Deanell R. Tacha of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 1993–94, Six thereafter was in private practice from 1994 to 2005. During that time, he obtained the largest product-liability verdict ever delivered in Johnson County, Kansas.

Just 11 years out of law school, Six became a state district court judge in his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, presiding over several landmark cases in that role. Six “established a reputation as a lawyer of tremendous talent with integrity that was beyond question” said one nominator.

In January 2008 Six was appointed attorney general of Kansas by then-governor Kathleen Sibelius. As Attorney General through 2011, Six exercised his passion for consumer protection and ensuring Internet safety for children; his office’s Consumer Protection Division recovered more money for Kansas consumers in two years than in the previous 13 years combined. Under his direction, the office improved Kansas’s Medicaid fraud recovery efficiency from 34th to 3rd nationally. Six also became the first Kansas attorney general in modern times to personally prosecute a murder case. He is credited for reestablishing the integrity of the office and skillfully building trust in a politically charged environment.

In 2011 Six was nominated by President Obama to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. While Six had bipartisan support, “ultimately even Steve was not spared the roughest edges of our politics,” notes one nominator. Through a procedural maneuver, Six’s nomination was not brought forward for a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.

A Carleton economics major, Six earned a JD at the University of Kansas School of Law in 1993, winning the William Burdick Award in Law as the most exceptional first-year law student there, serving as law review editor, and receiving Order of the Coif honors upon his graduation.

Since 2011 Six has been a partner at Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP in Kansas City, primarily practicing  commercial litigation. In 2013, Six became an adjunct professor of antitrust law at the University of Kansas Law School.

He and his wife, Betsy, have four children and live in Lawrence, Kansas.


Rob Spence  Rob Spence ’88 • Exceptional Service

Crusader, missionary, visionary, catalyst, and transformational force: this is how nominators describe Rob Spence and his zeal for promoting Carleton over the past 25 years.

Beginning his decades of volunteerism as an Alumni Admissions Representative shortly after his graduation as an English major, Spence was a four-year member of the first Alumni Admissions Board—and its first chair—in the late 1990s.

As admissions board chair, Spence is credited with guiding the group to define its mission and paving the way for a major increase in the number of applications received. At that time, 3,000 was the record; Spence’s efforts at involving more alumni helped increase that figure to 4,000—a 33 percent increase. Dean of admissions Paul Thiboutot calls Spence’s admissions work “indefatigable,” and estimates that Spence—an Alumni Admissions team leader for 16 years—may have logged more personal visits to high schools than any other volunteer in the Bay Area.

Spence has also served for five years as the San Francisco Carleton Club Chair, coordinating dozens of alumni events (social, sports-related, volunteer-focused, and admissions-driven) in that role. He invented the Day of Carleton, drawing together more than 150 people annually for the past few years to celebrate different aspects of the Carleton experience—all in the Bay Area, and in one 24-hour period.

He served for three years on the Carleton Club’s leadership board (including one year as chair) and continues to strengthen the business and networking community among Bay Area Carls. Spence also founded the Northern California Entrepreneurial Collaborative to connect Carleton-affiliated professionals with others  dedicated to starting, supporting, and/or growing highly successful businesses with Carleton connections.

Spence has been involved in reunion planning, serving on his 10th reunion gift committee and participating on both the gift and program committees for his 25th reunion this year.

When not volunteering for Carleton or dreaming up new ways to effectively raise the College’s profile, Spence has logged 19 years as an agent for Farmers Insurance Group of Companies;  previously he was a Citigold executive with Citibank.

Spence and his wife, Bernadette Breen, have three children—Connor, Jack, and Caroline. They live in Corte Madera, California. 

Arijit Guha '03 Arijit Guha
’03 • In the Spirit of Carleton (posthumous)

By all accounts, Arijit Guha’s life was filled with love, optimism, joy, humor, compassion—and the will to make a difference.

Following his diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer in 2011, Guha, an environmental studies PhD student at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, was dismayed to learn his insurance company, Aetna, would not cover his significant medical expenses beyond the $300,000 cap on his student health insurance policy.

Guha employed his creativity and humor to launch a web site called PoopStrong.org, on which he sold t-shirts, bracelets, and other items and pledging to donate all proceeds beyond his own expenses to other cancer charities. Many Carleton alumni became involved, designing t-shirts, helping with the website, coordinating fundraising, and building publicity for Guha’s efforts.

After Guha engaged in a bold and heated Twitter exchange with the CEO of Aetna over his frustration about the company’s practices, Aetna ultimately agreed to cover all of Guha’s medical expenses. Guha promptly donated the more than $130,000 PoopStrong.org had raised to the Patient Assistance Fund at the University of Arizona Cancer Center where he had been receiving treatment, as well as to other entities benefiting cancer patients.

Heather Ehlers, Guha’s wife, wrote, “In every interview he gave, he turned the conversation away from the human-interest angle to one that discussed the millions of under- and uninsured people in this country….The money raised was, in Arijit’s mind, second in importance to the awareness raised and the conversation that ensued.” Guha’s unique combination of humor, effective advocacy, energy, and intelligence ensure his legacy as an advocate for patients’ rights, health care reform, and cancer awareness.

A history major at Carleton, Guha was heavily involved in KRLX and was a Carleton student senator, Cave manager, and Late Night Trivia overlord. He also helped found the Gender Neutral Cheerboys and the Honking Knights. He earned an MA in geography at Clark University and met Heather while working at an academic journal in the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Guha’s enthusiasm for Carleton continued following his graduation; he was a class reunion program committee member, a class agent for the Alumni Annual Fund, a Carleton Club steering committee member, and an Alumni Admissions Representative.

Guha lost his life to colon cancer on March 22, 2013. His survivors include his wife, Heather Ehlers of Phoenix, Arizona; his parents, Manoj and Sipra; and his brother, Sourav. 


Elizabeth Krebs '03  Elizabeth Krebs ’03 • In the Spirit of Carleton

A native of tiny Breckenridge, Minnesota, Elizabeth Krebs found a way to make a positive impact on the life and health of Rwandans as CEO of the Physicians Ultrasound in Rwanda Education Initiative (PURE).

Krebs co-founded PURE, a 501(c)(3) organization, in the fall of 2010 after learning about the significant lack of Rwandans trained in the acquisition and interpretation of ultrasound images, despite ultrasound being a rapid and effective medical diagnostic tool. PURE’s work aims to enhance ultrasound education, improving public health and increasing the diagnostic and procedural skills of Rwandan medical professionals.

Krebs was instrumental in nearly all aspects of PURE’s early success: fundraising, establishing relationships with Rwandan government medical organizations, creating a curriculum for training and recruiting volunteers internationally, and establishing the non-profit’s social media presence.

In true liberal arts fashion, Krebs majored in studio art at Carleton. She began working in Emergency Medical  Services (EMS) and became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) while still a high school student. Her first experience with global health issues came the summer after she graduated from Carleton, when she lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, and worked with two ambulance services there.

In 2004 Krebs earned a diploma in paramedic technology from Century College. She continued working as an EMT during medical school and graduated from Jefferson Medical College,  Philadelphia, with an MD in 2009. She completed her emergency medicine residency at St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

As she worked toward her MD degree, Krebs spent time studying public health in Costa Rica and gained grassroots development work experience in Rwanda, a country still recovering from its 1994 civil war.

Krebs’s passion for social justice and her desire to pursue equity in healthcare access and opportunity led her back to Rwanda and to the founding of PURE.

Krebs is currently an emergency medicine physician at Duke University, a junior faculty member in the emergency department there. She is involved with Duke’s Global Health Fellowship Pathway and is engaged in multiple research and development projects at Duke.

While her other duties led her to resign as PURE’s CEO in November 2012, the organization’s work continues to thrive.

Krebs lives in Durham, North Carolina. 

Garret Mabbitt Westlake  Garret Mabbitt Westlake ’03 • In the Spirit of Carleton

An expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and student development in higher education, Garret Mabbitt Westlake has worked tirelessly to change attitudes about the role of diversity and disability in society.

In early 2011 Westlake founded a for-profit social impact company, STEM Force Technology, to improve employment outcomes for people on the autism spectrum. The organization is dedicated to the idea that traits such as Asperger’s Syndrome should be viewed as positives rather than negatives, and that they in fact may make individuals superior candidates for certain positions. STEM Force seeks to help those with ASD identify their strengths and connect them with companies needing their particular skill sets.

Westlake credits Carleton’s liberal arts curriculum, and his ability to design a unique major—cognitive studies—with giving him the tools to collaborate, create, and proceed with confidence in solving problems.

Currently Westlake is the assistant dean of students at Arizona State University as well as CEO of STEM Force Technology.

After earning an MEd degree at Vanderbilt University in 2005, Westlake worked as the Coordinator of Disability Services for Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, where he received the President’s Exemplary Service Award in 2006. In 2008 he became the director of the Disability Resource Center at Arizona State University (ASU), where he is now in the process of earning a PhD.

Support of and recognition for Westlake’s bold, thoughtful efforts is significant; he received ASU’s Outstanding Support of Student Leadership Award in 2012, two awards from NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) in 2011—the Outstanding Service to the Disability Knowledge Community Award and the Outstanding Support of Student Leadership Programs Award, and the President’s Award for Individual Excellence from ASU in 2012.

Westlake is a NASPA Knowledge Community Representative, a member of the Association on Higher Education and Disability, a founder and board member of the Arizona Autism Coalition, a board member of New Way Learning Academy, and a USA Ultimate College Eligibility board member. In addition, Westlake is an active supporter of the Carleton Ultimate Team.

Westlake and his wife, Amanda Mabbitt Westlake ’03, welcomed their first child, son Griffin Mabbitt Westlake, in January 2013. The family lives in Tempe, Arizona. 

Yanjing Claire Du  Yanjing Claire Du ’08 • In the Spirit of Carleton

Because Yanjing Claire Du was so enthusiastic about the many opportunities a Carleton College liberal arts education afforded her, she returned to her native China with the desire and drive to make a similar education a more realistic possibility for other ambitious Chinese students.

In 2009 Du founded China Liberal Arts College Tour, a non-profit organization based in Beijing, to promote the spirit of colleges like Carleton and advance liberal arts education in China. The tour annually brings representatives from more than a dozen top U.S. liberal arts schools to major Chinese cities, introducing thousands of Chinese students and their parents to the liberal arts concept and values. She has  personally raised $60,000 annually for the organization.

Du, a native of the central Chinese city of Changsha, was a double major in history and international relations at Carleton. In the years following her graduation, she has worked passionately to introduce the experiences she loved at Carleton to a community where “such freedom, intellectual engagement, and creativity is rarely experienced in higher education,”observes one nominator.

Since 2012 Du has worked as the senior manager/executive assistant to the president of New Alliance Consulting International, helping to build a communication platform between China and the United States. Her work has focused specifically on expanding communication channels between Chinese business and political leaders and other prominent global leaders including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Peggy Rockefeller.

While many Americans might not think promoting the liberal arts is a bold activity, in China, a recent article in Time magazine explains that even the phrase “liberal arts” is discouraged for its support and suggestions of freedom and democracy. Du says in the article, “Chinese students are dying for a nonconventional, more liberal approach to education.” It was only in 1998 that the Chinese Ministry of Education allowed Chinese universities to begin small liberal arts programs on their campuses, the article reported.

“Most Chinese students direct their applications to national research universities where they seek an education more similar to the opportunities they are familiar with in China,” wrote one of Du’s nominators. “She is committing her life to sharing with other Chinese students the values Carleton instilled in her, hoping to create a culture that encourages curiosity and intellectual adventure similar to the one she will forever be a part of at Carleton.”

Du lives in Beijing. 

Peter V. Varnum  Peter V. Varnum ’08 • In the Spirit of Carleton

“His readiness to devote his vast talent and energy to others, with no pay and little recognition, is a testament to Carleton’s goal of developing the qualities of mind and character in its students, capable of finding inventive solutions to local and global problems,” wrote one nominator of Peter Varnum and his initiative to support an orphanage and school in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. 

A Carleton English major, Varnum studied and traveled in Kenya following his graduation. Inspired by his time there, he returned a year later and became acquainted with Pastor James Onyango Owuor, founder of the St. Catherine Children’s Home and School. Varnum was motivated to assist Pastor Owuor in his efforts to feed and educate the school’s 200+ students and helped launch the St. Catherine Greenhouse Project in July 2011.

Varnum embarked on 18 months of fundraising to garner support for the project’s vision of  purchasing a plot of land, building a greenhouse, and raising crops to both feed the children of St. Catherine and sell in the community. He organized two charity tennis tournaments in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and helped organize avenues of charitable giving for the project. As a result, St. Catherine has since purchased a three-acre plot of land; constructed one greenhouse, a caretaker’s house, and a fish farm; installed a water well—and is on its way to self-sustainability. Additional greenhouses and a recreation center for the children will soon follow.

Maize and bean crops planted during construction are now ready for harvest. Varnum notes that because “partnerships and well-wishers can be sporadic and unpredictable, and more than that, the dependence on another community or organization to secure one’s own livelihood takes a toll on one’s emotional state … this first harvest … is about more than just food. It’s about future. It says, ‘This idea was ours, and it’s working.’ ”

Besides his initiative with the Nairobi school, Varnum worked following graduation for Tenacity, a Boston non-profit organization that focuses on promoting mentoring relationships, literacy enhancement, high school support, and tennis instruction for urban youth. He also was an assistant coach for the MIT women’s tennis team and served as a Carleton Alumni Admissions Representative while in Boston.

In fall 2011 Varnum returned to Carleton to work as an admissions counselor. Following a fourth trip to Kenya this summer to review the St. Catherine Greenhouse Project, he plans to pursue graduate study in international education.

Varnum lives in Northfield, Minnesota.