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Volunteer Service Award Recipients

Affectionately known as ALFies, volunteer service awards are given for many different types of service, such as special accomplishment in the Class Agent Program, completion of Board service, a particularly successful fund-raising or other new engagement effort, or other volunteer efforts. ALFies honor innovative, forward-looking, or extraordinary service.

To submit a name for nomination consideration, contact the Director of Alumni Relations.

St. John’s College ALFie Recipient List

2017

  • Sharon Fitzpatrick (A93) After submitting her Junior essay on Rousseau, Sharon Fitzpatrick withdrew from classes in order to seek the savage life. This took the form of professional server, landscaper, and confectioner in Annapolis, MD, while she wrote a memoir about bizarre circumstances. In pursuit of a climate more suited to her interests, she moved to Sarasota, FL, in 2001 with an agenda of learning to grow food organically, becoming a performance poet, and setting roots in spiritual community. Since then, the ecstatic has been her focus, as a Quaker, Sufi, peace and environmental activist, with a landscape business that sustains her pursuits in shell art, recycling tactics, and a publications/manufacturing business that has produced 4 of her 5 books, including the memoirs of Dr. Mary Lindsay Elmendorf. When providing the spoken version of her work, she performs as Share Fauxhair, which involves adding a wig and gloves while on stage. Her work spans several genres, with a central theme of awareness within a singular consciousness and features only true occurrences.

    After years of suggesting an open mic during homecoming, she agreed to organize and host Komos, a format for performance artists during ALF 2016. It was especially rewarding to meet and hear alumni share their music and other work in the Great Hall. Johnnies are ideal audience and entertainment for other Johnnies. As expected, although unplanned, there was a request by currently enrolled students for Sicut Cervus, a multi-generational version was the finale.

  • Beth Martin (A94) Real Show writer, dance party DJ, music library assistant, coxswain – Beth Martin graduated from Annapolis in 1994. Unable to leave the SJC community behind, Beth then established a Johnnie Colony in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with 6 other classmates. There, Beth put her St. John’s degree to good use working in a bowling alley, various restaurants, and a gourmet cheese shop before settling for a “real job”, first in the museum field and eventually moving into her career working for an international humanitarian aid agency in Baltimore, MD.

    As an alumna, Beth has supported the college by participating in career panels for current students and recent graduates, providing an alumni perspective at events for prospective students, and serving as a class chair for the Class of ’94 during their reunion years. Most significantly, Beth has served as the President of the Annapolis Alumni Chapter since 2001. Over the 16 years of her service with the Annapolis Chapter, Beth has hosted 183 seminars. She considers the fact that retired and current tutors regularly join alumni for the Annapolis Chapter meetings to be a testament to the quality of the conversations.

    Beth’s greatest accomplishment, however, is raising a future Johnnie with her husband and A’94 classmate Alex Gammon. Their son Theodore plans to be a member of the class of 2028.

  • Elizabeth Powers (A89) Elizabeth Powers has been a strategy consultant for over 15 years and is currently a Senior Principal in QuintilesIMS’ Real-World Insights Group. Elizabeth has been an early innovator in building new engagement models between pharma and payers and pharma and hospital systems, primarily through real world evidence, for over 10 years. Driving this transformation is a passion and core to her career.

    Elizabeth’s clients often say that working with her is unlike working with any other consultant due to her deep ability to listen, the originality and creativity of her thinking, and the courage to build something new. While business school opened the door to this phase in her career, it is her St. John’s education that makes her successful every day. She views her role as a business leader and mentor as merely being the “most advanced student” in the room.

    Among her roles at QuintilesIMS, Elizabeth currently serves editor-in-chief of the bi-annual publication AccessPoint. She has authored or coauthored many articles, including "The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution" in Harvard Business Review, one of HBR’s most downloaded articles. Prior to joining QuintilesIMS, Elizabeth was a partner at Booz & Co. She is the recipient of a Hammer Award for Reinventing Government and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Professional Excellence Award. Elizabeth has been married to Andy Wagner for over 20 years, with whom she attempts to parent a 13-year-old child. Outside of work, she has two significant personal pursuits: she, her husband and 13-year-old are all training and pursuing black belts in hapkido, a Korean martial art. She is also an active Quaker. She holds a BA from St. John’s College and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Siofra Rucker (SF92) For me St. John’s was my only choice for college. My Dad recommended St. John’s to me when I was a junior in high school. I immediately dismissed it, and him, as absurd. However, we visited on a college tour and after my prospective visit I knew this is where I wanted to go. I didn’t apply anywhere else. Which made my parents crazy. I started out on the Annapolis campus, met a middie I eventually married, and transferred to Santa Fe for my sophomore year. I fell in love with this place and stayed through graduation. Since graduating from Santa Fe in 1992 I worked for environmental non-profits in Seattle, San Francisco, and London. Returning to the US in 1997 to San Diego where I switch career paths to education. I trained to be a teacher with Delphi Schools in La Jolla and eventually was the Head of School by the time I moved back to KY, without said middie, but with my daughters in 2011. I’ve been with St. Francis School in Advancement since then. I’m mid, well, early on really, in a Master’s Degree in Humanities through the University of Louisville. I’m still in touch with Johnnies, in fact, I recently had a group come in town to join me at the KY Derby last May, and my niece, Mary Quinn, is an incoming Johnnie this year at Annapolis Campus.

2016

  • Melvin Bender (AGI05) Melvin is well known, highly regarded, and universally beloved both within in our St. John’s community and in the community at large. He personifies St. John’s values of lifelong learning, civic leadership, and faithful friendship. For many years, Melvin has served (and is still serving) on the board of the Mitchell Gallery. He has worked on many committees for the Mitchell Gallery and played a leadership role in setting up the educational outreach program of the gallery.

    Melvin regularly attends weekend seminars, alumni readings, and fundraising events at the College, in the process becoming well known to many alumni. Most recently, Melvin co-hosted the 10th anniversary reception for the G.I. Class of 2005. Melvin has built friendships that connect and unite the alumni.

    Bringing what he has learned at St. John’s, Melvin is active in the Peer Learning Partnership (PLP) at the Anne Arundel County Community College. He has co-taught classes with another St. John’s alumnus on poetry, economics, and history. He is head of the PLP Outreach Committee and arranges trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore for his students. For a number of years, Melvin has volunteered with Touchstones Discussions Project prison program. Touchstones Discussions was founded by tutors at St. John’s College (Howard Zeiderman, Nicholas Maistrellis, and Geoffrey Comber; David Townsend served on the founding board of Touchstones). Each week for many years, Melvin went to the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, where he brought St. John’s-style seminar learning to the inmates.

    At the time of the 2016 meeting of the Annapolis Leadership Forum, Melvin will be 90 years of age. He is as much a troublemaker (gadfly?) as ever. I believe it would speak well of our St. John’s community if we recognized Melvin Bender’s long-time dedication to St. John’s College and its alumni.

  • Kelly Bradford (SF79) and Jeff McElroy (SF79) (team nomination) Both served as reunion class chairs during Homecoming 2014 and set the bar outreach efforts for a single class. Jeff and Kelly wrote numerous letters to classmates that resulted in high levels of nostalgia. Then, the two of them created an additional slate of events both before and after Homecoming and encouraged classmates to turn their Homecoming weekend into a weeklong vacation. Jeff and Kelly were able to get the inn keeper at the old Witter Bynner house (now the Inn of the Turquoise Bear) to reserve the entire Inn for the Class of 1979. As such, the majority of the class stayed together the entire weekend and then traveled to Taos after Homecoming for additional class activities hosted by Jeff. The Class of 1979 had one of the highest attendances at Homecoming because of the outreach efforts by Kelly and Jeff.

  • Deirdre Crosse (A93) Deirdre started the “Riley Fund Raffle,” a New Year’s Day prize drawing to support the Gregory Riley Scholarship Fund. The inaugural raffle was held on New Year’s Day 2015, and tickets were given to those who had made a gift to the Fund. Deirdre solicited a prize donation of a homemade scarf from Michael Camper (A’93), a “croquet match survival kit” (complete with croquet set) from an anonymous donor, and donated a handmade necklace from India herself. The drawing was advertised in real-time on Facebook, and helped to raise thousands of dollars for the College. Another New Year’s raffle is going to be held on January 1, 2016. A gemologist, Deirdre works for Elegance by Eighternity.

  • Beth Kuper (SF69) Beth served as a reunion class chair during Homecoming 2014 and she did an outstanding job with her outreach to members of the founding classes here in Santa Fe (1968-1971). As a result of her numerous outreach letters, phone calls, Facebook group postings, and emails, she was able to get approximately 50 alumni from these classes to attend (the largest ever from this group that has historically been very disconnected). In addition, Beth reached out to two retired tutors from that era, Tom Slakey and Don Cook, and convinced them to return for Homecoming and lead the seminar for the founding classes. Since we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the campus during Homecoming 2014, Beth’s outreach efforts and attention to detail for this particular cohort made a significant difference in the campus celebration.

  • Mark Parenti (AGI92) Mark was one of our early high school adopters. He came forward with enthusiasm, creativity and tenacity. Our office sent him a box of promotional materials including an older SJC table banner. This was all for a college promotion project his son’s high school was doing in early August, before the school year officially begun. It would have been enough for him to simply share the poster and t-shirt we sent with the college guidance counselor, but he made the extra effort of having a sleeve sewn into the back of the table cloth so that it could be hung in the school’s cafeteria with other college banners.

    Mr. Parenti met with the school’s guidance counselor in person and found out valuable information about their college night program as well as large college recruitment efforts in Houston. Through our email exchanges he also informed us about an alum who sits on the Great Books Council of Houston. We sent Kent Guida a box of material and swag for an upcoming Great Books conference. This was a particularly good relationship for us to develop since this audience is well primed for info on Summer Classics, Summer Academy, and The Graduate Institute.

    In mid-October, Mr. Parenti also arrange a chapter meeting with visiting Admissions Representative, Randall Hollensbee. At this event he was able to pull in a handful of other Houston alumni to inform them about potential volunteer opportunities through the admissions office.

    Presently, Mr. Parenti is working with the St. John’s Office of Advancement Services to coordinate a spring reception to raise money for Summer Academy.

  • Hardison Wood (A98) Hardison was an avid croquet player back in his day (A98). He became one of our Imperial Wickets. He has served on the Croquet Advisory Committee since its inception three years ago. He has been a big advocate for finding sponsors for the match to help defray the cost of the event, and to even make some money at the event that can then help with college’s annual operating budget. He has been a sponsor himself for the past three years. And we are now moving more boldly down this path.

    After our second consecutive loss to Navy two years ago, and after having watched the declining level of play among the team over the past few years, he broached the idea of bringing a number of alumni croquet all-star has beens back to campus, meet with the current team, do some chalk talk instruction, and then do a lot of one on one play over the course of a long weekend. He called this The Croquet Strategery. The first Strategery took place early last spring before the match. He brought back to campus 6-8 alumni that he invited for the weekend. They did their instructional thing with the students. There was a lot of talking about life after SJC to boot. It brought back to campus a few alumni we haven’t seen since they graduated. It was a great alumni-student engagement activity. And, the team won their match. (Hard to know what influence the Strategery had on the outcome, and that is really beside the point.)

    Building on this success, we decided to move the Strategery to the fall, over Homecoming weekend. Once again, Hardison led the way, coming back to this past Homecoming and organizing the event. it was a great success as a student-alumni engagement activity, and added yet another fun new wrinkle to Homecoming. Given its success, we are planning on holding an alumni-student tournament over the course of next year’s Homecoming. Hardison will be doing all the organizing of the event, working in concert with me and the Imperial Wicket. And from my point of view, this is a way to have a croquet match that is ‘just for us’ which some alumni have been clamoring for since the match has become so large.

    Charles Nelson (Class of 1945) for a Lifetime Service Award Charles has done so much for the College as a valued BVG member for many years and its Chair as well during very difficult times for the College. When he lived in Westchester County, NY he was an active member of the NY Chapter and often opened his home for the summer meetings. Chuck must be in his early 90s. While a student he had a special relationship and assignment with Stringfellow Barr. Chuck also wrote and published three books about Barr and Buchanan. He is the father of Chris Nelson. There are very few alumni who have cared for and contributed so much of their time and expertise in behalf of the College as Chuck Nelson.

2015

Amy Parakkat and Nick Gazzolo accept their ALFies at ALF 2015

Starting in 2011, and each year thereafter, the Alumni Association has given volunteer service awards (“ALFies”) to alumni who have provided innovative, forward-looking or extraordinary volunteer service. The following 12 winners were honored at the 2015 Alumni Leadership Forum in Santa Fe.

  • Paul Frank (SF82) Paul received an ALFie for his longtime support and leadership of the Chicago Chapter and for building relationships that keep St. John’s College alumni tied to our beloved college and to each other. Since the early 1980s, Paul has held various leadership positions in the chapter, including president, treasurer, and officer. He has hosted planning meetings, helped with chapter mailings, organized and led seminars, and secured meeting spaces. He also helped organize social events and prospective student receptions.
  • Rachel Dudik (A02) Rachel received an ALFie for her assistance with career services efforts. In her seven-year tenure at US Naval Observatory, Rachel has hosted a dozen St. John’s undergraduates as summer interns and placed others at institutions across the country. She has also participated in multiple panels to help further Johnnie participation in the sciences.
  • Cindy Lutz (A98) Cindy received an ALFie for her efforts in identifying (and engaging others to help identify) significant errors (typos, dead links, etc.) in the College website in the weeks after it was launched. Cindy also served as class chair for her 10th reunion year.
  • Juniper Lovato (SFGI13) Juniper received an ALFie for establishing a “Guest Program” at the Santa Fe Institute which allows St. John’s College students to have unique access to the Institute’s researchers and summer internship opportunities.
  • Nick Gazzolo (A93) Nick and Amy Hoffman (below) received ALFies for their collaborative efforts in establishing and maintaining the Johnnie Quote page on Facebook.
  • Amy Hoffman Parakkat (A93) Amy and Nick Gazzolo (above) received ALFies for their collaborative efforts in establishing and maintaining the Johnnie Quote page on Facebook.
  • Barbara McClay (A12) Barbara received an ALFie for her series of interviews with recent alumni featured in “the johnnie chair” a student run blog about life at St. John’s College.
  • Larry Davis (SFGI87) Larry received an ALFie for his yearly volunteer efforts in finding a complete set of encyclopedia Britannica Great Books and donating them to a 1st or 2nd year student from Texas. For several years the Austin/San Antonio chapter has donated one or more sets of Great Books to rising sophomores or to freshmen. Larry has been the “point man” for this project, finding, buying, and storing the books until such time as they can be presented.
  • Sabina Sulat (A87) Sabina received an ALFie for her volunteer efforts in assisting the Career Services office in coordinating mock interviews for students, participating in networking events and coordinating the first alumni career services webinar on how to explain the St. John’s degree to employers. Since 2013, Sabina has worked with current St. John’s students to help them write resumes and hone interview skills for future employment.
  • Annette Prapasiri (SF04; SFGIE07) Annette received an ALFie for her efforts, in collaboration with other members of the Class of 2004, in engaging classmates to complete their senior legacy project: the Armillary Sphere Project. Through these efforts, the Class of 2004 raised a significant amount of money toward the project and they have one of the highest participation giving rates amongst all classes.
  • Harry Zolkower (A82) Harry received an ALFie for his work--in collaboration with Nicole Levy (below)--developing the Virtual Alumni Chapter Seminars. Harry was the Class of ‘82(A) leader for several years. For the class’s 30th reunion in 2012, Harry asked Leo Pickens if they could set up an online seminar so that classmates who lived far away (as far as Greece, etc.) could participate. At the time it wasn't logistically feasible, but, thanks to Leo's tenacity and leadership, his idea became the virtual seminar.
  • Nicole Levy (SF92) Nicole received an ALFie for her work--in collaboration with Harry Zolkower (above)--developing the Virtual Alumni Chapter Seminars.

2014

  • Jack Armstrong (SF83)
  • Chris Denny (A93)
  • Sunny Hills (SF74)
  • Gloria McGillen (SF08)
  • Tia Pausic (A86)
  • Joshua Rogers (A98)
  • Clarke Saylor (A08)
  • Michael Schneider (SF01)
  • Marin Skokandic (A12)
  • Michael Sullivan (A02)

2013

  • Kelly Bradford (SF79)
  • Richard O. Lightburn (SF76)
  • Paul B. Martin (SF80)
  • Patricia J. Sollars (A80)

2012

  • Richard J. Cowles (SFGI95)
  • Edward F. Grandi (A77)
  • Allan P. Hoffman (A49)
  • David A. Marquez (SF90)
  • Deborah Papier (A72)
  • Sanjay Poovadan (SF83)
  • Elizabeth J. Travis (SF84)

2011

  • Eva T. Brann (H89)
  • Diane J. Cowan (A91)
  • William H. Fant (A79)
  • Mary N. Fisher (AGI92)
  • Carol J. Freeman (AGI94)
  • Robert A. George (A85)
  • David P. Heimann (A87)
  • Samuel S. Kutler (Class of 1954)
  • Ymelda T. Martinez (A74)
  • Lee J. Mendelson (A89)
  • Joanne L. Murray (A70)
  • Daniel Van Doren (A81)
  • Jason T. Walsh (A85)
  • Helen Zartarian (AGI86)