The 33rd annual Brown School Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented March 1 in the Clark-Fox Forum of Hillman Hall. Six awardees were honored for their exceptional commitments to the fields of social work and public health.
“These individuals are emblematic of the mission and values of the Brown School,” said Courtney Berg, MSW ’05, who chairs the Distinguished Alumni Awards Steering Committee.
“The alumni honorees have very different careers,” she said. “But their commitment – like that of our faculty honoree and our Dean’s Medalist, is firmly rooted in a desire to do good work for the benefit of others. There is no more noble calling than this.”
In addition to celebrating the awardees, attendees gave Dean Edward F. Lawlor and his wife, Betsy, a standing ovation in honor of their tremendous dedication to the School. Lawlor, who concludes his deanship on June 30, will continue as the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the Brown School.
“One of the perks of being a dean is that I often have the opportunity to see the work of our alumni firsthand in the field, locally, nationally, and globally,” Lawlor said. “Their leadership, practice and service is a major impact, a major force for good. Our alumni and our students are a reason to be optimistic and a great source of inspiration.”
Distinguished Alumni Award
Sarah Kastelic, MSW ’97, PhD ’08
Executive Director, National Indian Child Welfare Association
Sarah Kastelic has dedicated her career to improving the welfare of American Indian populations. She previously served as the founding director of the Policy Research Center at the National Congress of American Indians. Her leadership advanced the center’s core research values of tribally driven goals and capacity building.
Kastelic continues to advocate for tribal capacity in her current role as the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association—the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on tribal capacity to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Kastelic, who is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie, also testifies before U.S. Congress and state legislative committees to advocate for American Indian child welfare.
Andrea J. Palm, MSW ’96
Senior Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Andrea Palm serves as a part of the senior leadership team at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working on a wide range of cross-cutting strategic initiatives, key policy challenges, and the implementation of a variety of Administration priorities. Palm has served HHS as Chief of Staff, Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation, and Counselor to the Secretary for Public Health and Science. She also served on the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Palm previously served as the Senior Health Policy Advisor to former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, working on healthcare financing and public health issues. In addition, Palm has undertaken a variety of low-income policy and direct service work for both non-profits and local government.
Graduates of the Last Decade
Jaime Bodden, MSW/MPH ’12
Director, Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department
Jaime Bodden serves as the director of the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department in northeastern Wisconsin. She oversees the operations of the department, with emphasis on communicable disease investigation and control, environmental health, and community preparedness. She is also a board member for the Wisconsin Public Health Association as well as Community Action for Healthy Living, a tobacco prevention coalition in northeast Wisconsin.
As a student, Bodden worked as a research assistant to several professors, examining issues from gender and health in South Asia, to methods for promoting healthy behaviors in cities. After graduation, Bodden worked as a program monitor for the USDA School Snack project in northern Haiti, the results of which were published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Sherrill Wayland, MSW ’08
Manager of National Projects, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
St. Louis, Missouri
Sherrill Wayland serves as the manager of national projects for SAGE. In this role, she manages the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and works with the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative. A nationally recognized public speaker and trainer on LGBT older adult cultural competency and LGBT health access, Wayland’s career has spanned issues related to education, disability, and LGBT older adult advocacy.
Prior to transitioning to national-level work, Wayland was the founding executive director of SAGE Metro St. Louis. There, she developed the regional LGBT Referral Network of Aging Providers and the Missouri LGBT Health Access Training Network. Wayland is currently serving her second term on the Missouri AARP Executive Council Board.
Distinguished Faculty Award
Carolyn K. Lesorogol, MA ’00, PhD ’02
Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Global Strategy, Brown School
St. Louis, Missouri
Prior to joining the Brown School faculty, Lesorogol began her career in international social development working with livestock-herding communities in northern Kenya. She spent a decade facilitating programs to improve livelihoods of those with limited external resources by building on local capacities and resilience. As an Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Global Strategy and Programs at the Brown School, she continues this work through long-term, field-based research on the dynamics of social change processes.
Specifically, her applied research involves designing initiatives to enhance quality of life for social development in rural Kenyan communities. In addition, she uses ethnographic approaches and mixed methods to investigate the impetus for, and impacts of, social change. Lesorogol’s research and community work inform her teaching and leadership roles at the Brown School, through which she trains students in the complexities of global development and prepares them for careers in this field.
Washington University Board of Trustees Member
Brown School National Council Chair
Institute for Public Health National Council Member
St. Louis, Missouri
Gene Kahn is a former Chief Executive Officer of Claire’s Stores, Inc. and a former Chairman and CEO of the May Department Stores Company. The Kahn Family recently established the Eugene S. and Constance Kahn Family Professorship in Public Health. This leadership gift follows on the heels of their five-year challenge grant to increase scholarship support for Brown School students, as well as a new annual fund challenge for the Brown School.
Kahn’s philanthropic commitments reflect a deep investment in the School, and the gifts of his time and expertise have been tremendous. His leadership at the Brown School has included chairing the Brown School National Council and the Brown School Campaign Committee for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University. For the university, Kahn serves on the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Danforth Circle Membership Committee for the William Greenleaf Eliot Society. Kahn also serves on the boards of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Goldfarb School of Nursing.