StepUP Gala

This page will update with more details for the 2016 StepUP Gala soon.

For details on last year’s Gala, please scroll down!





Saturday, October 24, 2015

StepUP program alumni and families are invited to a special program and brunch to begin the Day of Gratitude on Oct. 24 in the Atrium of Oren Gateway Center.

9:30 a.m.—Welcome and brunch

10:30 a.m.—”Sharing Gratitude,” led by StepUP Director Patrice Salmeri

Following sharing time, enjoy an open house and tour led by a StepUP student.

Then join us for an evening of inspiration, entertainment, and fellowship as we celebrate the StepUP Program at Augsburg College.

5:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Si Melby Hall, Augsburg College

Individual seats are limited.*

*If registering by mail and using the StepUP Gala invite reply envelope, please verify it has the correct ZIP code (55454) to ensure proper and timely delivery of your registration.



Emcee: Emmy-Award-winning former WCCO news anchor Don Shelby            


Emcee Don Shelby.

Don Shelby, now retired from the daily practice of television journalism, wrote in his weekly post for, “I am an addictive personality. I have been addicted to tobacco, alcohol, getting engaged (five times).” Through journalism, he also became addicted to “learning things.” Shelby writes about a variety of topics, and he has a special interest in the environment and ecology. He is the author of The Season Never Ends, a book about basketball.

Alumni Speaker: Anne Thompson Heller

Ann Thompson Heller '08.

Ann Thompson Heller ’08.

Anne Thompson Heller graduated from Augsburg College and the StepUP program in August 2008 with her B. A. in Sociology & Metro Urban Studies. While at Augsburg, Anne served the StepUP community as part of the leadership team, as well as through various service boards and the Department of Residential Life. Anne was also engaged with the larger Augsburg Community serving as an Orientation leader for three years and participating in several clubs and organizations. She was a recipient of the Augsburg College Leadership Award in 2008. In recent years she attained both a MA in Educational Leadership, Higher Education & Student Affairs and in Marriage & Family Therapy from the University of Connecticut. Currently she is in the doctoral program of UConn’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies and continues her clinical practice. Her academic focus is on adolescent risk and resiliency. Her published work appears in the Peabody Journal of Education and the Journal of Human Sciences Extension.

Anne has worked to support youth recovery for a number of years. While completing her second Master’s degree in 2013, she started the UConn Recovery Community (URC), a collegiate recovery program. Past advocacy efforts include serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Connecticut Turning to Youth and Families (CTYF). She also served as a Member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) and as the Chair to the ARS advocacy committee. Anne is a Founding Member of Young People in Recovery (YPR), a national youth advocacy and leadership organization, where she served as a member of the steering and advisory committee for the Young People in Recovery (YPR) Movement.

Thomas family

Jill and Robert Thomas with Allie and Olivia.

Toby Piper LaBelle Award Recipients: Jill and Robert Thomas

Jill and Robert Thomas, residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and married more than 30 years are the proud parents of two daughters: Allie, age 28, a 2014 graduate of Augsburg College and StepUP, and Olivia Jordan, age 26, currently serving as Miss USA 2015.

Robert Thomas co-owns Senior Star, a company that owns and operates senior living retirement communities throughout the Midwest. Allie has been part of the Senior Star team since July 2014.

Jill and Robert are both graduates of the University of Tulsa, Robert with a BS degree in 1974 and Jill with a BS degree in 1977 and a JD degree in 1986. They have both been actively involved in Alzheimer’s advocacy through the Alzheimer’s Association. Bob has served on the National Board and been the recipient of the Maureen Reagan award for outstanding Alzheimer’s advocacy in 2010. They are actively involved in several community organizations including the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Alzheimer’s Association, and the Tulsa Area United Way, to name a few.