2021 Alumni Awards Citations

The Grinnell College Alumni Council has selected five exceptional Grinnellians to receive the 2021 Alumni Awards.

The Alumni Award recognizes individuals who embody Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service. Nominated by their classmates and peers, recipients have distinguished themselves by their service to their careers, their community, and/or the College.

The recipients are traditionally celebrated during Alumni Assembly at Reunion. Since Reunion will be in a virtual format this year, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations is working on a virtual event that will honor the recipients and pay tribute to their good work. More details about the event will be forthcoming this spring.

The 2021 Alumni Award recipients are:

• Frances Gray ’71
• Sheena Brown Thomas ’71
• Sally Campbell-Galman ’96
• Sabrina Eagan ’96
• Rev. Jake Joseph ’11

Frances Gray ’71Frances Gray ’71

Imagine your pediatrician was not only smart and caring, but she also had a master’s degree in elementary education and taught kindergarten for four years. Imagine how your child looks forward to visiting the doctor. Imagine her ability to genuinely listen to your child. For 30 years, an inner-city clinic in Indianapolis had such a doctor.

In 1967, Frances arrived on the Grinnell College campus to study music. She listened to Martin Luther King Jr. speak on campus that fall, and during her sophomore year she lived in the newly created Interracial House. Six Black and six white women lived together, read Black literature, and discussed the books and issues of the day.

After graduation, Frances taught kindergarten. She realized entering into a child’s life at age five was sometimes too late, so she went into pediatrics.

Frances Gray was a general pediatrician at Indiana University, then Eskenazi Medical Group from 1986 to 2019. She provided care to an underserved population that often faced language, cultural, and financial barriers. Her patients frequently included newly arrived immigrants and refugees from central and South America, the Middle East, and western Africa. Frances hired a private tutor to become more fluent in Spanish to better meet the needs of her patients.

Frances also was on the clinical teaching faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine. She was chosen to represent the state of Indiana in evaluating pre-pubertal sexual abuse, which required collaboration with social workers, law enforcement, and the judicial system. In addition, Frances participated in a national project to coordinate community services to improve care of abused children. She also regularly mentored girls who were interested in medicine as a career.

For her devoted service to her community, Grinnell College is proud to present an Alumni Award to Frances Gray ’71.

Sheena Brown Thomas ’71Sheena Brown Thomas ’71

When Grinnellians are recognized by the College, often they receive a lovely symbol of achievement in the form of a medal. Since 1993, Sheena Brown Thomas has made well over 100 individual medals for Grinnell College students, faculty honored with endowed professorships, and winners of the Grinnell Prize.

Sheena makes the medals by having the original designed models duplicated and cast, and then does all the finishing work – sandblasting first, then filling, sanding, and polishing by hand. She either textures the medallions or fills them with a colored epoxy, engraves the honorees’ name on the reverse side, and finishes by placing them in unique boxes to be bestowed in ceremonial splendor.

This devotion to her craft, community, and alma mater is a signature trait of Sheena’s.
“It is not only the creativity and artistry that go into the medal itself that I am thankful for, but for the care and love that Sheena gives these prizes each year,” said Rachel Bly ’93, director of conference operations and events.

Sheena was co-owner and goldsmith at Elements, Ltd., a jewelry store in the Shops at Roosevelt of Des Moines from 1995 to 2020. This year she has transitioned to a space in Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines to continue her work.

To ensure that the Roosevelt neighborhood thrived as an educational, arts, entertainment and commerce center, Sheena gathered leaders in the area to create The Roosevelt Cultural District, which was a certified in 2005 by the State of Iowa as one of the early Arts and Entertainment Cultural Districts. That’s just one example of the numerous civic and social justice initiatives she’s spearheaded over the years.

Through AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organization Strategy), Sheena also helped initiate Let’s Talk, a school mediation program that supports students in learning how to resolve conflicts peacefully before escalation. During the pandemic she joined AMOS partners to help raise awareness of the problematic issue of essential workers driving in crowded carpools to and from work in distant plans; and she helped to organize nonpartisan Get Out the Vote walks in low turnout areas of Des Moines. Following the August 2020 derecho, she helped call for food, grills, tents, and supplies for houseless immigrants in Cedar Rapids.

For sharing her exceptional artistic creativity with Grinnell and for being a citizen in action, the College is delighted to present an Alumni Award to Sheena Brown Thomas ’71.

Sally Campbell-Galman ’96Sally Campbell-Galman ’96

Instead of an admissions essay, Sally Campbell-Galman sent in cartoons she drew with her application to Grinnell College. Her comics continue to capture her scholarly interests today while often putting a smile on the face of her readers.

As professor of child and family studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Sally is committed to improving the lives of children and their caregivers. As an anthropologist and visual artist, her academic work centers on ethnographic and arts-based study of young children’s experiences with gender diversity. She combines art and social science to capture a more nuanced understanding of children’s diverse gendered lives across school, home, family and community contexts, and uses visual research as a vehicle for outreach and advocacy. She has led workshops teaching how different forms of art (comics, graphic novels, zines) can be used by qualitative researchers to explore gender diversity and other social issues of importance in ways that engage the public beyond the usual academic article.

Sally also is the principal investigator of the Gender Moxie Project, a research group studying gender diversity in childhood. The project has followed hundreds of children and their families from 2015 to the present, as they have navigated policy changes and social tumult. These stories are the subject of a forthcoming graphic novel that will bridge academic and popular press genres.

An English major at Grinnell, Sally was a cartoonist for the Scarlet & Black and the Grinnell Underground Magazine (GUM). She published a book of her cartoons, with the proceeds going to buy playground equipment for the College preschool where she worked at the time. Sally said at Grinnell she “learned how to fight the good fight and leave the world better than you found it.”

Through her art, Sally can express even the most difficult ideas and painful experiences in a heartwarming manner. Her latest comic series, Looking for the Helpers, was inspired by the late Fred Rogers. The series has brought residents of Western Massachusetts a message of hope during difficult times.

For her ability to inspire and lift others up, Grinnell College is honored to present an Alumni Award to Sally Campbell Galman ’96.

Sabrina Eagan ’96Sabrina Eagan ’96

Designing and implementing quality public health programs is something Sabrina Eagan never gets tired of.

In 18 years as a public health nurse, Sabrina has worked with government, academic and implementing partners in 15 countries to develop health networks and provide technical support. For example, she has supported work in Madagascar during the past ten years to improve health in remote communities by training, equipping, and supporting community health volunteers and strengthening the community health system to address reproductive health and childhood diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

As a senior technical advisor at the JSI Research & Training Institute, Sabrina works with teams to improve performance on service delivery and management of patients, in coordination with domestic and international government and policy officials. As part of the team for the AIDSFree (Strengthening High Impact Interventions for an AIDS-free Generation) Project,
Sabrina helped produced three peer-reviewed journal articles on HIV, youth, and novel treatment delivery systems in South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

She also serves as co-lead of the Tuberculosis Working Group within the Center for HIV and Infectious Diseases at JSI.

Sabrina majored in English at Grinnell and earned a MSN/MPH in community health nursing from Case Western Reserve University in 2003. That same year she was the recipient of the Grinnell College Wall Service Award for a project devoted to improving adolescent health services and education in Uganda. She later worked in Uganda as a research nurse community outreach coordinator for the CWRU-Uganda Tuberculosis Research Collaboration.

For embodying Grinnell’s commitment to inquiry and promoting equity and access, the College is pleased to present an Alumni Award to Sabrina Eagan ’96.

Pioneer Award

The Alumni Council also selected one Pioneer Award recipient. The Pioneer Award is a distinctive Alumni Award, which recognizes noteworthy alumni who have graduated from Grinnell College within the past ten years. Honorees offer inspiration as models for their demonstrated commitment to the values and mission of Grinnell in such a short time.

Rev. Jake Joseph ’11Rev. Jake Joseph ’11

Jake Miles Joseph is committed to social responsibility and celebrates diversity – two core Grinnellian values.

A minister at First Congregational Church of Guilford, Connecticut, Jake is a specialist in leadership, fundraising, teaching, and community organizing. During the pandemic, he has organized virtual engagement opportunities, such as Facebook Live theological discussions. He also is working with the New Haven Habitat for Humanity’s Raise the Roof Community Build to establish a faith relations program to further the organization’s fundraising goals.

Prior to moving to Connecticut in 2019, Jake was involved in numerous community housing and volunteer efforts in Colorado. He was the youngest person ever appointed as commissioner for Housing Catalyst (formerly called The Fort Collins Housing Authority). As part of this role, he served on the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials National Commissioners’ Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force where he was one of the writers of a new framework for inclusion within the housing authority world. He has also served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Fort Collins. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; Jake has also served on an additional half-dozen task forces and boards dedicated to social justice and LGBTQ issues.

Jake earned his degree in French at Grinnell and spent a year studying in France. He graduated early but elected to stay in Grinnell to become an intern with Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s hospice program. Jake attended graduate school at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where he received the Dr. Adame Leadership Award, a prestigious honor bestowed on Emory students who are significantly and actively engaged in the life of the university on behalf of the inclusion and rights of the LGBTQ community.

As an alumnus, he was a long-time GRASP volunteer and co-chair of Grinnell-on-the-Front Range. In 2019, he co-founded the Grinnell-in-Southern New England regional network.

For his tireless work to create change through an equity lens, Grinnell College is pleased to present a Pioneer Award to Rev. Jake Joseph ’11.