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The Alumnus/Alumna of the Year awards recognize graduates who have exhibited exceptional volunteer or career leadership and personal character. Nominees must be a Metropolitan State graduate.

Alumni of the Year Recipients

2015: Mona Dohman

Mona Dohman

Metropolitan State University is honored to recognize Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman as the 2015 Alumna of the Year. Dohman graduated from Metropolitan State in 1998 with an individualized bachelor’s degree focusing in criminal justice administration. She later received a master’s degree in educational administration with a focus in police leadership from the University of St. Thomas, and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Dohman was appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety by Gov. Mark Dayton in January 2011. She oversees a $600 million budget, 2,100 employees and 14 divisions, including Driver and Vehicle Services, Minnesota State Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Prior to her appointment, Dohman served 10 years as chief of the Maple Grove Police Department. She joined the department in 1984 and served as an investigator, patrol officer, sergeant and captain before her promotion to chief in 2001. Dohman’s nearly 33 years of law enforcement experience also includes serving as a patrol officer in Glencoe and Marshall.

2014: Gary Cunningham

Gary Cunningham

Gary Cunningham ('91) graduated from Metropolitan State with a degree in public policy and later received a master's in public administration from Harvard University. He is the president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), following seven years as vice president of programs and chief program officer for the Northwest Area Foundation.



2013: Frank Grass
General Frank GrassGeneral Frank Grass (’85) serves as the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he serves as a military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and is the Department of Defense's official channel of communication to the Governors and State Adjutants General on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. He was nominated by President Obama in June 2012 to serve as Chief of the National Guard Bureau and appointment to the ranks of general in the reserve active duty of the Army. The appointment and promotion were confirmed by the United States Senate on July 26, 2012.


2012: Caroline Lowe
Caroline LoweCaroline Lowe (’02) is a veteran Twin Cities crime reporter, who last year left her 35-year career at WCCO-TV to become the Newsroom Manager at the San Luis Obispo, California, based KSBY-TV.

Caroline has reported on several high-profile cases, including the disappearance of Iowa news anchor Jodi Huisentruit, and the October 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Her extensive work on these and other stories have received national attention. Her work has been seen on ABC’s 20/20, Oprah, Court TV, and Forensic Files.

Lowe’s work has been recognized with a number of awards, including: two Regional Emmy Awards, the Alfred I. DuPont Columbia Award, a Sweepstakes Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, two Associated Press Awards and an UPI Award. Her work featuring crime victims was recognized in 1986 with the Minnesota Association of Crime Victims Media Attention Service Award.

Caroline returned to college after two decades of reporting to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She graduated from Metropolitan State University in 2002 with a B.S. in Law Enforcement, and completed her M.A. in Police Leadership at St. Thomas University. She also completed law enforcement Skills Training to become a licensed Minnesota peace officer.

Caroline served on the Metropolitan State University Alumni Board from 2007 to 2013.


2011: 40 Alumni Who've Made a Difference - Anniversary Year

2010: Monte Bute

Monte ButeMonte Bute ('91) is an associate professor of sociology at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. His opinion essays appear on the editorial pages of daily newspapers in the Twin Cities. Bute also frequently testifies on higher education issues before the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives.

Bute began teaching at Metropolitan State as a community faculty member in 1984. He finally finished a long-delayed B.A. at the university in 1991. After a 20-year career as a community organizer, he realized that his next mission in life was teaching. To fulfill that calling, Bute began graduate school rather late in life. Professor Bute has been a prolific writer over the years, publishing 65 articles in scholarly publications and the popular press. Bute is also regularly invited to give public talks, having made over 75 presentations at academic conferences and community events.

Monte Bute is, first and foremost, a master teacher. As a social scientist, he has taught thousands of students and delights in the challenge of reaching each student. At times, he employs a provocative teaching style in his interactive classes. His passion for teaching extends to all levels of university students, from freshmen to graduate students.

Sociologists of Minnesota (SOM) gave Bute the Distinguished Sociologist award in 2004. Bute has received Metropolitan State University's Outstanding Teacher award and the Excellence in Teaching award. He has also been given awards by Minneapolis Community and Technical College, the Jobs Now Coalition, and the Job Training Partnership Association.

Professor Bute is a past president of both Sociologists of Minnesota and the National Council of State Sociological Associations (NCSSA). Bute has been the editor of Sociograph, associate editor of the Sociological Imagination, and is currently on the editorial board of Contexts, a journal of the American Sociological Association. He has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

Like many of his students, Bute came to both academic life and sociology by a rather circuitous route. Majoring in American studies and European humanities, he dropped out of college in 1967 and landed in Berkeley and the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Bute then spent the next two decades on the barricades of social change, working as a grassroots organizer and independent scholar for organizations representing the unemployed, tenants, welfare recipients, union members, and students. He served on the Governor's Poverty Commission in 1986-87 and was the lead author of A Poverty of Opportunity: Restoring the Minnesota Dream.

Having become a social scientist by the seat of his pants, Bute adheres to Alfred Schutz's distinction between scholarship aimed at the "expert" and scholarship directed to the "well-informed citizen." Bute's intellectual activities for the past 40 years have been devoted to communicating with the well-informed citizen. 

2009: Margaret Lovejoy

Margaret LovejoyMargaret Lovejoy ('90) is the founder and executive director of The Family Place - Ramsey County's only day shelter for homeless families with children. 

As an employee of the St. Paul Council of Churches in the late 1990s, Lovejoy interacted with homeless families on a regular basis.  It was clear to her that during the daytime, their needs weren't being met.  Lovejoy envisioned a place where these families could spend their days and receive the support needed to bring stability to their lives.

Lovejoy began the project with her own money and was then able to secure funding and support from Ramsey County and numerous other agencies to open The Family Place in October 2001.  Since that time, The Family Place has functioned as a central hub for homeless families needing services in Ramsey County.

Lovejoy is a former member of the St. Paul Area Coalition for the Homeless and former Trustee of the Jeremiah Program.  A highly-sought after speaker, she has given workshop presentations at the 2007 Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless Conference and the 2008 Invisible Child Conference.

She has earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Metropolitan State University, a master of arts, religion and theology from the United Theological Seminary and is a doctoral student at the University of St. Thomas studying educational leadership.

Lovejoy is an innovator, a visionary, and an advocate and was named a General Mills "Local Legend" in January 2009 for her active involvement in the community.


2008: Jesse Bethke Gomez

Jess Bethke GomezJesse Bethke Gomez ('87) is the Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the Metropolitan State University Foundation. Bethke Gomez served from 1995 through 2011 as President and CEO of Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), a highly successful nonprofit organization located in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Under Bethke Gomez's leadership, CLUES has been recognized as one of the Top 25 Hispanic Nonprofit Agencies in America and one of the 140 Top Workplaces in the Twin Cities. In 2011, he was among 100 national leaders who participated in The White House Hispanic Policy Summit, and in 2008 he was listed among "The 100 Most Influential Healthcare Leaders in Minnesota." Bethke Gomez has received special awards from the Ramsey County Bar Association (2011), the MN Hispanic Bar Association (2005), La Prensa de Minnesota (2005), and the Country of Mexico (2006).


2007: Jim Lukaszewski

Jim LukaszewskiJim Lukaszewski('74) is considered to be among the founders of modern American crisis communication management techniques, and is the author of several books and hundreds of articles on crisis management and leadership.  He is profiled in the publication, Contemporary Legends of Public Relations.  His monographs and newsletters are available at his Web site, www.e911.com.

Lukaszewski servd on the Metropolitan State University Alumni Board from 1974 to 1976 and from 2007 to 2013. He has been involved as an alumnus of Metropolitan State in many ways, and, in May of 2010, along with President Sue Hammersmith and Professor Susan Rydell, he hosted the second gathering of Metropolitan State alumni and friends in New York City.

2006: Yusef Mgeni

Yusef MgeniYusef Mgeni ('74) and Metropolitan State share a rich and colorful history together. He was one of the university's first enrolled students, taught classes at the institution, and helped Metropolitan State with recruitment, fundraising, promotion and other efforts.

But his long-time association with and support for the university is not the sole reason the Saint Paul Public School's equity chief was selected the university's 2006 "Alumni of the Year". It's also his mile-long and soul-deep commitment to community service and social justice.

A member of the superintendent's cabinet, Mgeni directs equity and inter-district programs, multicultural activities and acts as a bridge between the district and community groups, communities of color and others. Previous to his position with the Saint Paul Schools, Mgeni was president and CEO of the Twin Cities Urban Coalition for 12 years. Mgeni's passion for community service is also evident in his prior work at the Northwest Area Foundation in Saint Paul and the Sabathani Community Center, Inc. in Minneapolis. He was also an award-winning community journalist in radio, television and in the print media.

2005: Victoria Reinhardt

Victoria ReinhardtVictoria Reinhardt ('96 and '99) began her life in public service as a president of her local Parent Teacher Organization. In 1996, she was elected to the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners and in the same year she earned her B.A. from Metropolitan State University. Victoria used her experience working to decrease departmental boundaries and shifting Ramsey County's focus to reward long-term outcomes as the basis for her 1999 MBA thesis at Metropolitan State. In 2000, she received the Bruce Vento Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and was named one of the 25 Most Innovative Women in the Twin Cities by CityBusiness. Victoria was elected Chair of the Ramsey County Board in January 2004. She earned her doctorate in public administration from Hamline University in 2007.

Victoria has been on the Metropolitan State University Alumni Board since 2011.


2004: Jean Hart

Jean HartJean Hart, a long-time executive with the Saint Paul Foundation, was selected the university's 2004 Alumni of the Year. A 1979 Metropolitan State graduate, Hart was with the foundation 22 years, working as grants and programs vice president, senior vice present and deputy director and last serving as special assignments director before retiring in March 2003. She also served as assistant secretary/treasurer for the Bigelow foundation and assistant secretary for Mardag Foundation. Among other Saint Paul Foundation activities, Hart was involved in adult literacy, promoting diversity, AIDS research and education, evaluating family sexual abuse programs, enhancing elementary school libraries and developing a community-owned grant-making program in the Summit-University area. Hart also served in a variety of leadership positions with the Metropolitan State Foundation, the Minnesota Children's Museum, Twin Cities Public Television, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and other community organizations.


2003: State Senator Sandra Pappas

Sandy PappasState Senator Sandra Pappas ('86). Pappas has served the state of Minnesota with 27 years of public service. She was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she served three terms. In 1990 she was elected to the Minnesota State Senate, where is still serves District 65. She is an activist and is involved in the environmental and women's movements.



2002: John Owens

John OwensJohn Owens ('94), president and CEO of Owens Companies, Inc., a heating and air conditioning company. Owens was recognized for his corporate and volunteer leadership, working to improve the health, welfare and qualify of life for all Minnesotans. Owens raised more than $20,000 for people with AIDS and a significant amount for cancer research.


2001: Bernice Sisson

Bernice SissonBernice Sisson ('86) was a pioneer in the international battered women's movement. She is a longtime community activist and lifelong learner. She was a cofounder of the first battered women's shelter in the country. She worked in the trenches, offering information to battered women on their legal right plus food, clothing and housing availability. Sisson was out in public, educating people about the dynamics of domestic violence and lobbying legislators, foundations and others for more shelter funding.

2000: Segundo Velasquez

Segundo VelasquezSegundo Velasquez ('92) was selected because of his outstanding leadership and his contributions to both local and international communities. Velasquez and his wife, Joan, formed the "Mano a Mano Medical Resources". This nonprofit, all-volunteer organization collects, packages and ships surplus medical equipment and supplies from the Twin Cities to Bolivia, South American's poorest nation. Mano a Mano has upgraded exam, operating and delivery rooms, and dental and x-ray facilities. The organization constructed, equipped and supplied clinics in four poor communities, funded medical staff in two clinics and contributed medical inventory to over 50 hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities throughout Bolivia.

1999: Sam Rock

Sam RockSam Rock ('88) was recognized for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the Native American populations. He has received many awards citing his training activities in diversity, language and culture. He has held prestigious positions at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and at the White Earth Reservation. His love for children and expanding knowledge has been praised. Rock exhibited exceptional leadership, service and personal character.

Past Alumni Award Recipients


1996 25th Anniversary Award:

Peter Bell ('76), Nancy Blanchard ('81), Julie DeCosse ('96), Cheryl Dickson ('76), Joanne Englund ('74), Brian Goodroad ('92), James Griffin ('74), Gloria Haines ('91), Clarence Harris ('74), Terri Hawthorne ('77), Ange Hwang ('92), John Laux ('90), Juan Lopez ('83), Clarice "Chris" Matteson ('76), Vince McGraw ('76), Yusef Mgeni ('74), Rosalia "Sally" Olsen ('73), Elsa Vega-Perez ('93), Victoria Reinhardt ('96, '99), Charlotte Samuelson ('77), Arvid Schwartz ('79), John Sipe ('91), Linda White-Anderson ('83) and Marcia Yugend ('90).

1987 Volunteer Services Award, Carolyn Ring ('78)

1987 Alumni Volunteer Service Award, Linda White-Anderson ('85)

1987 Public Service Award, James Griffin ('74)

1985 Association Volunteer Award, Thomas Ransom ('77)

1985 Public Service Award, Rep., Rosalie "Sally" Olsen ('73)

1982 Association Service Award: Virginia "Ginny" (Johnson) McCain ('74)


For questions or more information: contact Alumni Relations Office at 651-793-1808 or e-mail: alumni.relations@metrostate.edu.

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