Augsburg Hosts Bruce Shoemaker ’82 Book Launch for “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos”

Dead in the Water coverSponsored by the McKnight Foundation and the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, a book launch for the release of “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos,” by Bruce Shoemaker ’82 will be held on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Art Gallery in the Christensen Center.

The book “offers a new understanding of Laos in a difficult period of nation building and development [and] a vital lesson to policy planners, scholars, and INGOs encountering the illusory success of a globalizing economy,” according to the forward by Yos Santasombat.

About the Author

Bruce ShoemakerBruce Shoemaker is an independent researcher based in far northern California who focuses on natural resource conflict issues in the Mekong Region. Among his current projects is the preparation of an edited volume on the World Bank’s involvement in the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos, to be published by University of Wisconsin Press. He has lived in Laos for eight years and Thailand for three while working for a number of NGOs and subsequently was employed, for more than ten years, as the program advisor for the Southeast Asia Grants Program of The McKnight Foundation, helping the foundation focus its grant making around natural resource rights issues as well as support for Indigenous Peoples organizations and other grassroots community organizing. He has a particular interest in the impacts of large hydropower projects on the lives and livelihoods of local communities in the Mekong Region and has authored or co-authored numerous articles and reports in this field.

Meet Distinguished Alumni Award Winner David J. Melby ‘68

David Melby '68David J. Melby ’68, Ph.D., is a psychologist, executive leader, professional volunteer, and advocate who embodies faithful service in true Augsburg University form.  Melby attended Augsburg, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and philosophy. Following his graduation, Melby attended graduate school in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, receiving both MA and Ph.D. degrees.

Melby’s career centered around providing and promoting the development of outpatient community mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities services for people of all ages, as well as adult residential services. In 1974, he joined Mental Health Services of Franklin and Williamson Counties, Inc. (now known as Centerstone of Illinois) as a clinical psychologist. His role expanded the following year to include that of division director of mental health services; he served as CEO of that agency from 1996 until his retirement in 2006. Prior to his retirement, Melby served six years on the board and one year as president of the Illinois Association of Community Mental Health Agencies.

One of Melby’s nominators says, “His professional leadership in community mental health has made the lives of many who struggle with these issues brighter and more hopeful because of his nearly 50 years of service. David brings a selfless approach to volunteerism that inspires and supports those in our community’s efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

For almost two decades, David has served as a volunteer for the American Heart Association (AHA).  He twice served as chairperson of the Southern Illinois Heart Walk and once of a Southern Illinois Heart Gala, raising awareness regarding heart-healthy lifestyles and fundraising for heart research, education and life-saving equipment, such as Automated External Defibrillators in public places. He currently serves as a member of the Illinois Advocacy Committee of the AHA, advocating for a heart-healthy state and federal legislation.

Throughout his career, Melby has been influenced by his father’s ministry and involvement in clinical pastoral counseling and the death of his infant brother, who was born with a heart defect and Down Syndrome. He was also motivated by the growing needs of his parents in their last years. He has consistently demonstrated his concern for people marginalized in society, often the poorest, sickest, and most stigmatized among us.

In retirement, David has become more involved in the work of not-for-profit and governmental agencies whose missions he supports. They include multiple terms on the Williamson County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, including as chairperson, and on the River to River Residential Communities Board, providing independent living, assisted living, supported living, and memory care services for seniors in multiple communities across southern Illinois. He has served since 2012 on the Board of Directors of Centerstone of Illinois, one of five Centerstone state service entities that, collectively, comprise one of the largest and most influential not-for-profit behavioral healthcare enterprises in the nation. Since 2014, David has also served as a board member and, now, current board chair of the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI), based in Nashville. CRI is currently developing evidence-based best practices for addressing the national opioid crisis, developing its first Center of Excellence for the treatment of depression, and reducing the “science-to-service cycle” in the treatment of behavioral health disorders.

Melby exemplifies servant leadership and the Augsburg value of being educated to serve.  For decades, he has served his church community in many capacities, including as president of the church council for over 10 years, co-chair of the building committee during construction of a new sanctuary, and delegate to the 2013 ELCA churchwide assembly. Whether through his contributions to the field of behavioral health care or his volunteerism, David has worked tirelessly to serve his community and embodies the values we work to instill in Auggies. In his life as a thoughtful steward and responsible leader, he has used his skills and gifts to impact communities and create healthier, more fulfilling lives for all.

Meet Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Brynn A. Watson ‘89

Brynn WatsonBrynn A. Watson ‘89 is an award-winning leader in the aerospace industry, nationally recognized for her technical expertise, executive leadership, and advocacy for STEM education. She currently serves as Lockheed Martin’s vice president for the Future Enterprise Program overseeing the corporation’s transformational digital technology operations.

In her nomination letter, the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) Council said, “Brynn’s accomplishments during her career at Lockheed Martin stand for themselves. We are so proud to see an Auggie woman pioneering for other women in STEM.”

Watson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in mathematics from Augsburg University and a Master of Science in applied mathematics from the University of California at Riverside.

In prior leadership roles at Lockheed Martin, Watson was vice president of Navigation Systems Operations and deputy for the Global Positioning System (GPS) III program for Lockheed Martin Space. GPS III is the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation program improving position, navigation, and timing services to all users.  Before that, she was vice president of an engineering organization in the Space line of business leading more than 5,300 engineers, responsible for personnel management and development, engineering and technology strategy, engineering processes, tools and training, and product technical validation. Prior to that assignment, she served as director of software engineering, responsible for the execution and strategic direction over 1,200 software engineers; leading a strategic initiative focused on maximizing digital integration and end-to-end system modeling. Additionally, she served as director of engineering, collaboration, and operations for Corporate Engineering and Technology, and deputy to the vice president of Engineering.

Watson began her aerospace career as an engineer at Aerojet Electronic Systems in Azusa, Calif., where she held positions in a variety of systems and software engineering areas.

Watson is a member of Women in Aerospace, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Lockheed Martin Women’s Impact Network.

She has been recognized for her leadership, receiving the 2013 Lockheed Martin Space NOVA Full Spectrum Leadership Award; the 2012 Tribute to Women Honor by the YWCA of Silicon Valley; and the 2008 Lockheed Martin Space Ed Taft Diversity Leadership Award. In 2015, Watson’s essay, “A Look Inside Lockheed Martin’s Space-Age Operations,” was published by the Harvard Business Review.

Watson’s enterprising spirit and accomplishments mirror the tenacity of Auggies around the world, who, through study, experience, and hard work, ascend to prestigious positions among today’s leading companies.

Watson credits her time at Augsburg as helping her to think big and believe that she can accomplish anything with hard work and perseverance. She also feels that her strong advocacy for women was built by the dedicated women she interacted with during her time at the university.

Homecoming Auggie Talk: A Hagfors Center Pilgrimage – Hosted by AWE (Augsburg Women Engaged)

Auggie Talks, Hagfors BuildingSaturday, Oct. 13 from 3 – 3:45 p.m.

Join Auggie women on a special exploration of the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. This tour, led by Religion professor Marty Stortz, will begin with reflection in the Gundale Chapel, highlighting the vocational journey of Augsburg students; then a visit to the Food Lab; and along the way, reflect on the inspirational art that captures the intersections between science, business, and religion.

About Auggie Talks:

They’re back by popular demand! Join us for 30-minute, insightful sessions presented by professors and fellow alumni on topics spearheaded by your class reunion groups. Talks will be published as they become available on social media and in upcoming communications.

Space is limited. Please register today for Auggie Talks.

Other Auggie Talks:

Homecoming Auggie Talk: The Study Abroad Experience, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow – Hosted by the Class of 1978

Register now for Homecoming!


Auggie Talks, Auggie Eagle abroad in GermanySaturday, Oct. 13 from 1 – 1:45 p.m.

Auggies from the class of 1978 have traveled the globe studying in places like Norway, Central America, and London. The opportunities to study abroad while at Augsburg have shaped their lives and the lives of many of its graduates. Join the class of 1978 as they reflect on their own study abroad experiences and examine Auggie global education of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

About Auggie Talks:

They’re back by popular demand! Join us for 30-minute, insightful sessions presented by professors and fellow alumni on topics spearheaded by your class reunion groups. Talks will be published as they become available on social media and in upcoming communications.

Space is limited. Please register today for Auggie Talks.

Meet Spirit of Augsburg Award Winner Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58

Grace Kemmer Sulerud '58Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58 has displayed faithful service to Augsburg University across her time as a graduate, librarian, faculty member, and alumna. She personifies Augsburg’s deep sense of calling to humbly serve others in a variety of ways, with joyful dedication.

As a dedicated volunteer, her nominators say, “You will find her wherever an extra hand is needed.”

Determined to gain a full education, Sulerud worked and saved money to go from her hometown, Williston, North Dakota, to Augsburg, as it was the college of the Lutheran Free Church. Sulerud’s Augsburg education and excellent professors prompted her to experience life in the Twin Cities, exploring the state capitol and fine arts like symphony concerts and plays. She made lifelong friends and enjoyed being on the staff of the student newspaper, The Echo.

After graduating from Augsburg in 1958, she was an elementary librarian and junior high English teacher in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From 1961 to 1964, she was an elementary librarian in U.S. Air Force Department of Defense Schools in Tokyo, Japan; Tripoli, Libya; and Wiesbaden, Germany. This gave her an opportunity to travel around the world with a stop in India to visit a friend, Maxine Berntsen, another distinguished alumna of Augsburg. After returning to the United States, Sulerud studied for a master’s degree in Library Science (1968) and later received a master’s degree in English (1970), each from the University of Minnesota.

During her many years as Augsburg’s Collection Development Librarian and faculty member, she was committed to the learning of students. She served two terms as the treasurer of Augsburg Associates, from 2003 to 2007 and 2011 to 2017, ensuring they raised funds for Augsburg student scholarships. Her interests and energy lead her to participate in travels to Cuba with the Delegation For Friendship Among Women, and to Ethiopia supporting the efforts of REAL, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives, an organization that helps girls stay in school.

In Minneapolis, Sulerud is a member of Trinity Lutheran Congregation located on Riverside Avenue, a congregation associated with the founding of Augsburg, where she sings in the choir, leads the monthly quilter’s work session and has participated in activities with Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing.

With her late husband Ralph, long-time Augsburg biology professor, Sulerud has remained a supporter and enthusiast for all things Augsburg. Though she retired from Augsburg in 2003, she continues to stay involved at important university events: the recent grand opening of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion; Homecoming festivities; Velkommen Jul; and Advent Vespers.

Sulerud lives out the Spirit of Augsburg Award and exemplifies Augsburg’s historic mottos consistently: “Education for Service” and “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” Her loyalty, dependability, and generosity enable Augsburg to carry forward with hearty conviction, intellectual rigor, and relational connectedness.

Meet First Decade Award Winner Chris Stedman ‘08

Chris Stedman '08
Chris Stedman ’08

Chris Stedman ‘08 is a humanist community organizer, interfaith activist, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the founding executive director of the Humanist Center of Minnesota, a project seeking to explore the viability of a center for humanist life in Minneapolis, through which he and a group of researchers are currently studying the beliefs, practices, and community involvement of the religiously unaffiliated.

One of his nominators, Dr. Lori Brandt Hale, associate professor of religion at Augsburg, says this about Chris, “As a long-standing member of this community, I think we must count ourselves lucky to call Chris one of ours, and even luckier that he has come back to Minnesota, and Augsburg University, to carry on his important work in collaboration with all of us.”

Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, Chris also worked as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University, a content developer and trainer for the Interfaith Youth Core, and as the founding managing director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. He currently serves as a fellow at the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University, and previously served as a fellow at Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship.

Chris is the author of “Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious” (Beacon Press, 2012), “an intimate and deeply affecting portrait… [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch” (Booklist, Starred Review). The book received widespread acclaim from publications like the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which called it an “enlightening and engaging memoir calling for civil discourse between atheists and the religious [that] couldn’t come at a better time,” and the Houston Chronicle, which named Faitheist one of the best religion books of the year and called it “an exciting and boundary defying introduction to a new world [and] an amazing book that could potentially change the game.”

Chris received a master of arts in religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. A 2008 graduate of Augsburg University with a summa cum laude bachelor of arts in religion (with English and social welfare minors), he is currently writing a book exploring what it means to be “real” in the digital age and writing a monthly column on the same topic for INTO.

He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Fox News, has spoken at hundreds of conferences and universities, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, VICE, The Los Angeles Review of Books, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, Salon, The Washington Post, and others. Details magazine named Chris one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo” and Mic called him “the millennial who’s busting every stereotype about atheists.”

The irony has been noted that Augsburg’s most well known religion graduate is known for the fact that he is an atheist, and it is through this robust civic and ideological engagement that Chris practices the mission and vision of Augsburg.

Meet First Decade Award Winner Killa Marti, Esq. ‘08

Register now for Homecoming!


Killa Marti '08
Killa Marti ’08

Originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Killa Marti, Esq. ‘08 arrived in the United States in 2004 as a student. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics from Augsburg University in 2008. Shortly after, she left to fulfill an employment obligation in China. After concluding her employment contract with the Hua Qiao Language Institute in Chang Chun, China, Killa returned to the United States to obtain a Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law).

One of her nominators, Zaira Solano, says this about Killa in her nomination letter, “Killa is a relentless advocate, woman of integrity, and leader in everything that she does.”

With the clear objective of working in the field of immigration, Killa took every opportunity to serve the immigrant population in the United States. She served in an internship at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and was a volunteer for Civil Society, a nonprofit that works to help victims of human trafficking. She also completed a practicum at the law firm of Contreras Edin & Associates. Killa represented Hamline in the Inter American Human Rights Competition in Washington, D.C., and worked for the state legislature in Minnesota through its Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs. During this time, Killa also worked in the legal publishing division of Thomson Reuters, a global news agency and publisher. Upon graduation, Killa worked for the firm of Cole & Vondra, PLLC in Iowa City, Iowa, where she had the opportunity to litigate in the immigration courts of Omaha and Chicago. She also defended immigrant clients in the state courts of Iowa.

For the last three years, Killa has worked in Georgia, assisting the launch of the Immigration Services program at the nonprofit Lutheran Services of Georgia. During her time there, she worked closely with refugees and sponsors of unaccompanied minor immigrant children. Killa accepted a position at Solano Law Firm, litigating cases before the Atlanta Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. She also serves as the leader of a low-income, volunteer-run legal clinic called Gospel Justice Initiative in the city of Clarkston, Georgia. Killa is licensed to practice law in Iowa, Georgia, and immigration law all over the nation, and is now owner and managing attorney of her own firm, Marti Law Firm, LLC.

Killa is known as a fiercely motivated attorney who works tirelessly for her clients in districts and cases where the decks are stacked against them. In signature Auggie fashion, her career has developed as one which recognizes the needs in our diverse world and takes meaningful action to meet those needs. She served as chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association chapter in Georgia and Alabama from 2016 to 2018, and she continues to pair clients in need of Pro Bono services with local attorneys and mentor lawyers early in their careers.

Killa has been called a person of faith, integrity, intelligence, commitment, and compassion. She embodies the values of Augsburg through thoughtful stewardship, critical thinking, and rigorous pursuit of justice and equity. She is dedicated to ensuring education and financial support are available to girls, and she is working to grow her acts of kindness into a nonprofit where she can empower more students so they can live to their fullest potential.

Meet First Decade Award Winner Dr. Brian Krohn ‘08

Register now for Homecoming!


Dr. Brian Krohn
Dr. Brian Krohn

Brian Krohn ‘08, Ph.D., is a passionate innovator, entrepreneur, and Augsburg’s first Rhodes Scholar. Switching from an Augsburg degree in film to one in chemistry was only one component of a rapidly expanding career that includes experience in renewable technology, mobile app development, local food, and medical devices.

In a joint letter nominating Brian for this award, the Chemistry Department at Augsburg says, “Brian is an alumnus who typifies the best of Augsburg’s liberal arts education; he weaves together his care of creation and humanity with his technical prowess and creative insight to make the world a better place.”

While at Augsburg, Brian was named a Goldwater Scholar, founded the Honors Review journal for student scholarship, and created an Honors course on home brewing. He researched the production of cleaner biodiesel fuel in collaboration with Augsburg’s Professor Emeritus Arlin Gyberg, Ph.D., and alumnus Clayton McNeff ’91, which spurred a new patented catalyzation process and physical plant, Evercat Fuels, that produces more than 8 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Some of Brian’s research has been featured on “Good Morning America” and the National Council on Undergraduate Research Session.

Watch the KARE OnLIVE segment on his research below:

 

Brian earned a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Sciences and Management from the University of Minnesota as an Environmental Protection Agency Fellow, as well as master’s degrees from the University of Oxford in Environmental Change and Management and the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine as a Rhodes Scholar. He co-founded several companies including Mighty Axe Hops, which is the largest producer of Minnesota hops for local craft breweries.

He was an Innovation Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Medical Devices Center, where he worked on projects ranging from a new tool to assist neurosurgeons to remove brain cancer to an app to improve sleep. He is currently the CEO of Soundly, an app-based therapy to reduce snoring, which is a technology funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. His company, Magic Wizard Staff, displays his technical brilliance and playful creativity. Most recently, he joined Modern Logic, an innovative digital product development company. Brian has also served as an adjunct instructor at Macalester College and Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has garnered numerous academic honors and entrepreneurship awards.

Brian’s time at Augsburg was marked by exploration of not only chemistry, biology, and mathematics, but also philosophy, film, and literature. Paired with thoughtful consideration of calling and community, this cultivated his pursuit of knowledge, art, and technology in service to the world. His work demonstrates the power of Augsburg’s intersection of liberal arts education and professional studies to enable others to be more healthy, happy, and fully human. He continues to stay connected to Augsburg and is generous with his time, encouraging and offering advice to students since his return to the Twin Cities.

Homecoming Auggie Talk: The Baby Boom Effect – Hosted by the Class of 1968

Register now for Homecoming!


Auggie Talks photo from Homecoming 2017On Friday, Oct. 12, from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. in the Sateren Auditorium, Anderson Music Building, five members of the class of 1968 will discuss “The Baby Boom Effect: How Four Years Affected 50.” Alumni will each present a three to five minute description of how their time at Augsburg influenced what they have done personally and professionally over the past 50 years. Each has pursued different paths since leaving Augsburg while impacting the world in meaningful ways.

About Auggie Talks:

They’re back by popular demand! Join us for 30-minute, insightful sessions presented by professors and fellow alumni on topics spearheaded by your class reunion groups. Talks will be published as they become available on social media and in upcoming communications.

Space is limited. Please register today for Auggie Talks.