2018 Alumni Awards

The Grinnell College Alumni Council annually selects ten alumni to receive Alumni Awards at Reunion. These individuals were honored during the Alumni Assembly at Reunion on Saturday, June 2. The Alumni Award recognizes individuals who embody Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service. Recipients have distinguished themselves by their service to their careers, their community, and/or the College.

The 2018 recipients are:

Peter Kranz ’63
Deborah Feir ’68
Catherine Gage ’73
Barry Huff ’73
P. Carter Newton ’77
Douglas Spitz ’78
Rachel Bly ’93
Margaret Tandoh ’93
Kirpal Singh ’97
Adrienne Enriquez ’98

Peter Kranz '63Alumni Award winner Peter Kranz with presenter Cameo Carlson ’93

Presented by Cameo Carlson '93 (pictured right)

The first award recipient has shaped national and international conversations about race relations and racial confrontation for a half century.

He was 32 when he started teaching “Human Conflict: Black and White” at the University of North Florida, presenting a new way to openly discuss race relations in an educational setting. The class was risky, innovative, and, above all…effective.

There was plenty of anger at first when students shared their race perceptions, but over time they began to form bonds with those whom they initially felt they had little or nothing in common. That class was just one example of how this alumnus has integrated teaching, scholarship, and practice to improve lives and build communities.

His teaching career took him to Florida, Utah, and currently Texas where he is an education psychology professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He has presented race relations work, group dynamics, and psychodrama at numerous psychology conferences and universities around world.

His teaching of race relations received awards and national media attention. He’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered on National Public Radio, and, on PBS, the Lehrer News Hour, to name just a few.

In 2012, obviously inspired by his original degree in psychology from Grinnell, he approached the College and helped to initiate the first reunion of Grinnell College psychology graduates, which took place in 2013.

For embodying so many of the core principles that create and guide Grinnellians, we are pleased to honor Peter Kranz ’63.

Deborah Feir '68Deborah Feir ’68

Presented by Fritz Schwaller '69 (pictured right)

A vocal advocate of the value of learning to think, our next recipient has not stopped learning in the 50 years since she graduated from Grinnell College.

Case in point are her two master’s degrees in Latin American Studies and Applied Linguistics – the latest she earned at Georgia State in 2008 after retiring from BellSouth. Then there’s her incredible array of community service — mentoring a teen girl, fostering a guide pup, then training him to be a therapy dog; starting a Neighborhood Watch Program; volunteering at the 1996 Olympics and Paralympics; studying American Sign Language and later serving on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired.

Like a true Grinnellian, with many interests and skills, it’s hard to pin this recipient’s life to a single career. She started as a scholar researching playwrights in South America on a Fulbright Scholarship. In 1971, she taught English in Puerto Rico. She served a number of different roles at BellSouth from 1978 to 2006, including writing training manuals and working as a manager in sales and marketing. Today, she teaches in the MBA program for international students at Mercer University.

Through all of that, she has given back to the College as a regional volunteer, externship host, reunion planner and, of course, Class Agent, a role she had expertly held for 30 years. Few people have done so much to build and maintain community spirit among her class.

It’s fitting that we honor class of 1968 alumna Deborah Feir.

Catherine Gage '73Catherine Gage ’73

Presented by Brigham Hoegh '08 (pictured left)

Social justice is something we Grinnellians take seriously, and that is unquestionably the case for our next award recipient. She has worked to bring diverse – and sometimes unlikely – communities together to work for the common good. She models inclusion, using research and reason to promote social values and social change.

Her 40-year career is filled with many fights and triumphs. It started at the Commission for the Advancement of Public Interest Organizations and continued in 1979 as the Southern organizer of the National Lawyers Guild, where she was named Legal Worker of the Year. A job with the Guatemala Human Rights Commission and position with the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation followed. In 1998, she became national director of the Defending Dissent Foundation.

In 2006, this alumna turned her energies to a new set of activities involving horticulture and conservation. She focused on native plants and storm water management by becoming a Master Watershed Steward. She also founded the National Capital Watershed Stewards Academy, which provided community leaders with tools and resources to address pollution problems and restore their local waterways. Today she advocates on a county and state level for strong environmental and storm water regulations and enforcement.

If that weren’t enough, this recipient also serves as a Grinnell College co-class fund director for her class. She has returned to Grinnell many times to speak at classes and events, and has remained involved with the Grinnell community throughout her life.

It’s my pleasure to present the alumni award to 1973 graduate, Kit Gage.

Barry Huff '73Barry Huff ’73

Presented by Chris Meyer '70 (pictured left)

This recipient has always demonstrated a keen sense of self. At the same time, he understood team dynamics – knowing that building good teams generates a sense of belonging and supports the community.

As a student, this alumnus set the Grinnell College record for longest throw in the discus, and to do this day, he still holds the school record in the shot put. He also played two-way football, while majoring in theatre.

In 1975, he returned to Grinnell to work as a resident adviser. In 1977, he was named assistant dean of students, and helped coach and mentor the football and track teams.

Although he moved on to an illustrious career in marketing and business management, he has remained a dedicated Pioneer, supporting the school through his volunteer service and generosity, even serving on Alumni Council from 1996 to 2002.

His experiences and education were put to good use most recently as senior vice president of marketing and communications for the National Marrow Donor Program (also known as Be The Match). From 2008-2015, the organization facilitated over 6,200 transplants per year and improved the national registry to better connect donors to the people who need them. This registry has become the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.

In 2007, he was inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. For his many efforts to create better teams and better communities, one student, one athlete, one donor, one person at a time, we present this Alumni Award to G. Barry Huff ’73.

P. Carter Newton '77P. Carter Newton ’77

Presented by Hester Newton ’49 (pictured left) and Claudia Beckwith '77 (pictured right)

The next award recipient hails from a long line of Grinnellians. A total of 14 of his family members have attended Grinnell, spanning four generations, including one of his own children.

Over 100 years ago his great-grandparents moved to Grinnell so their daughters could attend Grinnell College. This alumnus has embraced that extensive family history by demonstrating his commitment to – and appreciation for – Grinnell College in almost every way possible.

He serves as a Class Agent, regularly hosts externships for Grinnell students, serves on reunion planning committees and was a dedicated Alumni Council member, including a stint as Alumni Council president.

His service and commitment to the community of Grinnell is just part of the story. Since 1985, he has been publisher of the Galena Gazette newspaper and, for the past 18 years has proudly served his profession on the board of directors of the Illinois Press Association and now the Illinois Press Foundation.

He is also an active member of his community with an infectious pride in his town. As club president of the Rotary Club in Galena, he developed a twin club partnership with the Rotary Club in Combarbala, Chile. This partnership has resulted in many different projects and a strong sense of neighborly cooperation between the two towns. He continues to travel to Chile, almost every year, to foster the relationship between the two communities.

For his tireless devotion to Grinnell, and his generous capacity to create community here and around the world, we present this Alumni Award to P. Carter Newton ’77.

Douglas Spitz '78Douglas Spitz ’78

Presented by Ed Senn '79 (pictured right)

The next honoree lives every day in accordance with the College’s motto, Veritas et Humanitas – Truth and Humanity. This alumnus cares deeply about his classmates, his colleagues, his neighbors, and his work. As he often says, his life’s work is not just to study cancer biology but to truly find a cure.

An internationally recognized leader in the field of oxidative stress in cancer biology and toxicology, he is on the cutting edge of cancer research. This alumnus is a professor of radiation oncology at the University of Iowa, where he directs the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program and the Free Radical Metabolism and Imaging Program in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. His work strives to improve the longevity and quality of life for cancer patients everywhere.

He also is actively involved training the next generation of leaders in the field of cancer researcher.

On his way to degrees in biology and sociology at Grinnell, he refereed many intramural sports events, participated in student government and organized campuswide communal dinners. He still regularly cooks group meals on a volunteer basis for the residents of Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge and for Iowa City’s free lunch program. He is also fond of hosting large group meals at his house for students, volunteers, and classmates passing through.

For his deep passion for innovative inquiry and human interest, and for his generous spirit and welcoming nature, it’s my privilege to present the alumni award to Douglas Spitz ’78.

Rachel Bly '93Rachel Bly ’93

Presented by Cameo Carlson '93 (pictured left)

It’s not often that a dining room table gets brought up during Alumni Assembly, but this particular table is known to Grinnell students and alums from all over the world.

This table resides in a loft here in Grinnell that is in the home of our next award recipient. The table is a place for lively discussion, political engagement, listening to and helping solve the concerns of students, talking with alumni about the College, and sharing memories.

After a few years working in Washington D.C. and Des Moines, this alumna returned to the College for a job in alumni relations. In 2005, she moved into her current role as director of Grinnell College Conference Operations and Events. She led the task of centralizing and standardizing many operations that were once scattered around campus, including the centralization of calendars and room reservations.

This alumna is also devoted to the town of Grinnell and is involved in a broad range of organizations and activities. Now in her third term serving on the Grinnell City Council, she often takes on initiatives that help draw the College and its home community closer together. She is a broad member for the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, and a loud proponent and advocate for the College’s host family program for international students, including being a proud host parent herself.

For touching so many alumni, faculty, and students with kindness and caring, every single day with that infectious smile and laugh, we present this award to Rachel Bly ‘93.

Margaret Tandoh '93Margaret Tandoh ’93

Presented by Ryann Haines Cheung '93 (pictured right)

The next honoree represents the best of what Grinnell trains us to be.

When Ebola was afflicting citizens in her home country of Liberia, this alumna was eager to lend a hand. She traveled from Vermont to Liberia to provide medical care for Ebola patients. She was among the Ebola doctors chosen as the 2014 Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

As an international student, this recipient was very close with her host family here in Grinnell who helped her adjust to life in the United States. She has remained in touch with that family ever since. While at Grinnell, she played soccer, sang, and was involved in many organizations. Medical school and years of training followed.

Today, this alumna is a trauma surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Vermont. She also serves as medical director of the burn program at UVM Medical Center. She is an American College of Surgeons fellow and a member of the American Burn Association.

As associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, she is training more doctors and medical staff from underrepresented backgrounds. She has recently been very active with Grinnell students, Skyping in to classrooms to share her world health experiences, and working with faculty and staff on other opportunities to share her experiences and knowledge.

Described by her friends as humble, genuine and down-to-earth, this alumna works hard for humanity. That’s why we are honored to recognize Margaret Tandoh ‘93 with this alumni award.

Kirpal Singh '97Kirpal Singh ’97

Presented by Fritz Schwaller (pictured left)

Selflessly serving as a pillar of support to recently graduated Grinnell College students, our next award recipient has gone out of his way to help Grinnellians while making a huge impact in his community and his state.

This alumnus’ professional life has been dedicated to improving the lives of others. Working for Public Interest Research Group, the Sierra Club, America Votes, Electrification Coalition, and most recently, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, he has done everything from knock on doors and staff phone banks to lobbying legislatures and governors. He helped raise Colorado’s minimum wage, successfully fought for job protection legislation, and played in a role in national legislation designed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

This honoree has been integral in helping many new Grinnell alumni gain employment and internships. At one point, he arranged for summer paid internships for 34 Grinnell students at the Public Interest Research Group. Former and current students supporting his nomination for the alumni award praised his mentorship, guidance, and approachability.

In addition, this alumnus has served his class as a class fund director since 2008. There likely is no one in the class of 1997 who has not received a personal call or an email from him. He also served on the Alumni Council from 2008 to 2014, chairing the Pioneer and Stewardship Committee and the Election and Membership Committee.

This alumnus has also raised money for the American Cancer Society by running marathons.

I’m thrilled to present this alumni award to Kirpal Singh ‘97.

Adrienne Enriquez '98Adrienne Enriquez ’98

Presented by Ryann Haines Cheung '93 (pictured right)

The final honoree is a change maker and a community builder. Ask any refugee who has moved to Portland in the past year, and they will tell you what an amazing difference this alumna has made.

A former assistant dean of admission at Grinnell College, much of this alumna’s community involvement has centered on an unwavering belief that access to quality education for all children is critical. As a project manager for Oregon GEAR UP, she finds opportunities for low-income and other underrepresented students to pursue higher education. She initiated, developed, and continues to run the state’s three major initiatives to help students apply, pay, and go to college.

About four years ago, this alumna decided to start a family project to provide and deliver clothing, shoes, food and other essential items to a refugee family. The number of friends who asked how they could help and the sheer volume of refugees arriving to Oregon, made this recipient realize more could be done. So she and her sister-in-law founded Butterfly Boxes in 2016.

In just nine months, Butterfly Boxes supplied more than 500 welcome bags full of donated items to arriving families. Many refugees are coming from war-torn countries and refugee camps with few possessions, so the generosity of essential items is truly needed and appreciated.

As a way to allow established community members and recently arrived refugees to meet and share stories, this alumna has hosted monthly community potlucks.

We are pleased to present an alumni award to 1998 change-maker, Adrienne Enriquez.

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