Alumnae awardees to be honored virtually April 24

Mount Mary University and the Mount Mary Alumnae Association will honor three distinguished alumnae and deliver the 2020 President’s Award of Distinction in a virtual Awards Celebration on April 24.

The Madonna Medal represents the highest honor bestowed upon Mount Mary alumnae who demonstrate a longstanding commitment to their profession or volunteerism. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 awards ceremony was postponed until 2021 and the 2020 awards will be presented at this event. 

jorgensenThe 2020 Tower Award, given to alums with 15 years of graduation who demonstrate excellence and potential for future growth, is awarded to Lakiesha Q. Russell ’10, ’13. Russell, of Milwaukee, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in behavioral science/psychology and returned and graduated in 2013 with a Master of Science, Community Counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin and provides child and family therapy services at Children’s Wisconsin. She has founded The Evolving Chair Counseling and Consulting Agency, providing services to children and women who have experienced trauma, depression, anxiety and more. Lakiesha integrates her professional expertise with a strong faith base to bring mental health awareness and access to the African American community in Milwaukee and across the country.

jorgensenThe 2020 Madonna Medal for Professional Excellence is awarded to Perie J. Longo ’62, Ph.D., LMFT. Longo, of Santa Barbara, CA, graduated with a Bachelor of Art in English and drama and a minor in education. She went on to receive her master’s in Speech and Communication from UCLA and eventually a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Sierra University in 1991.

Longo has helped many find their voice through poetry and writing through her work as a registered poetry therapist. For 30 years, she has brought poetry into the Santa Barbara K-12 classroom with the California-Poets-in-the-Schools program, as well as facilitating workshops privately to teach poetry to adults. She currently works as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She also leads writing groups for Hospice of Santa Barbara and Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers and is a longtime member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

jorgensenThe 2020 Madonna Medal for Service to the Alumnae Association is awarded to Beth Kowall ’74, who graduated in occupational therapy and holds a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kowall, of Greenfield, has volunteered both in Mount Mary’s OT Department and in the Alumnae Association in roles such as the Mount Mary Awards Committee, the Starving Artists’ Show and assisting with other campus events. She has also held many positions on the board and has served as a class delegate for 32 years.

jorgensenThe President's 2020 Award of Distinction is awarded to Gary and Judy Jorgensen, who have been personally and professionally invested in many projects around Mount Mary and the greater Milwaukee community through Gary’s firm, VJS Construction Services. They have been deeply involved in the planning and construction of Trinity Woods, the intergenerational living community set to open on campus in fall 2021.

The presentation of these awards not only celebrates the individual accomplishments of this year’s awardees, but all that Mount Mary alumnae and friends can achieve, said Mount Mary President Christine Pharr, Ph.D.

“Striving for excellence in teaching and learning is at the heart of what we do,” Pharr said. “These individuals are living out our founding principles of competence, compassion, community and commitment.”