This year's winners (from left): Karen Verlinden, Judy Drake, Susan Kelly and Mark DiPietro with SHU President Sister Peg Albert (middle). To view a photo album of the event, click on the photo above.
Alumni Awards Day 2008
Meet This Year's Winners
The Siena Heights Alumni Association recognized four alumni at the University’s 2008 Alumni Awards celebration March 19 on the Siena Heights campus in Adrian.
Brief bios of the four award winners are included below:
Saint Dominic Award: Mark DiPietro ’83
An accomplished theater professional deeply rooted in the mission and Dominican values of Siena Heights, DiPietro is a Siena theater graduate with an M.F.A. in acting from Brandeis University. He is also a certified stage combatant “proficient in rapier and dagger, unarmed, quarterstaff, and short sword.” A member of the SHU theater faculty since 1994, he is a past recipient of the Sister Eileen Rice Outstanding Teaching Award and current chair of the Division of Visual and Performing Arts and Education. He performed in and/or directed numerous productions around New England before joining the SHU faculty, and has been featured regularly at the Croswell Opera House for over a decade, both as an actor and a director.
Recent Graduate Award: Judy Drake ’00
After 20 years assisting the director of religious education at Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Jackson, Drake enrolled at Siena Heights, completing SHU’s Theological Studies Program with Lansing Diocese and earning a B.A. in humanities and theological studies. Today, she coordinates senior adult ministry for the Parish, and serves on the Parish Worship Commission as well as the Jackson Area Catholic Council on Aging. Her “full-time, life-time” volunteer ministry also includes active involvement with Arbor Manor Care Center in Spring Arbor, the Lingap Children’s Foundation and Lingap Center orphanage in the Philippines, Junior Achievement in Jackson, and a Prayer Shawl Ministry supporting the sick of the parish.
Outstanding Alumni Award: Susan Kelly ’69
A national leader in child welfare and family preservation, Kelly has been widely honored for pioneering new approaches to family empowerment and foster care. An English major who started out as a teacher, she earned master’s degrees in religious education (Catholic U.) and social work (U. of Michigan). As director of Community Supportive Services for the Michigan Family Independence Agency, she developed the Families First program that became a model for human services agencies nationally. As senior associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, she focused on child welfare reform. This month, she began a new job as senior director for strategic consulting with Casey Family Programs in Seattle, WA, working on national efforts to reduce foster care.
Sister Ann Joachim Award: Karen Verlinden ’68
Verlinden has been a hands-on problem solver throughout her diverse career. She majored in chemistry at Siena Heights and was an innovative junior high math and science teacher for 25 years before becoming a teacher of a different kind with Families First. As a family preservation case for 14 years, she working with families in crisis, teaching parenting, communication, child development, even home repair — whatever would empower the family to remain whole and healthy — and winning Michigan’s Family Preservation Award in 2002. Today, she continues that work as a passionate advocate for (and provider of) safe and affordable low-income housing in Lenawee County, where she is also a founding member of Habitat for Humanity.