The Webster University Alumni Association seeks nominations for its annual awards year round. All members of the community are invited to nominate deserving Webster alumni for the following awards:

Alumni Awards Categories

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest alumni award given. The Webster University Alumni Association annually recognizes an alumna or alumnus who has made specific, meritorious contributions to society through his or her profession and involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities. This award recognizes high achievement that reflects credit upon the individual and Webster University. As part of the selection process, the Alumni Board Awards Committee considers the influence and impact the individual has had beyond his or her local community (regionally, nationally, internationally) in their profession or service, and whether or not the alum has been the “first” to accomplish something.

The Loretto Award is presented annually to an alumna or alumnus who has given significantly of herself or himself in service to humanity and social justice. The Award is intended to continue the recognition of the community service and social justice values of the Sisters of Loretto who founded Webster College in 1915. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.


The Mary Elizabeth Newell Loyalty Award is presented to an alumna or alumnus who has demonstrated a high degree of loyalty, commitment and concern for Webster University over a span of many years. This award is presented in memory of Mary Newell, a graduate from the class of 1926, who was a loyal supporter of Webster and dedicated member of the Alumni Association. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.

The Young Alumni Award recognizes an alum who promotes the values and elevates the profile of Webster University through leadership in his/her profession, contributions to society through public service, and ongoing support of the University. This person must be an alumna/alumnus of Webster University who received his/her undergraduate degree within the last 10 years of being nominated and is 35 years of age or younger. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.

2021 Alumni Award Winners

Awele Makeba
BFA ‘82
Emmy Award-Winning Storyteller

Awele (ah WAY lay) is an award-winning and internationally known storyteller/teaching artist, literacy specialist, and recording artist who is recognized as a “truth teller,” an artist for social change, and someone who sparks “aha!” moments. She researches, writes, and performs hidden African American history, folklore, and personal tales. She provides opportunities for audiences to grapple with the meaning of their own lives as they make meaning of past lives.

Awele has made it her life’s work to tell history through the words of its silenced and oft-forgotten witnesses. She uses art to catalyze deep conversations about race, our common humanity, and our vision of a just, humane, multiracial society. Utilizing performance as text, Awele animates democracy through her art.

Storytelling was present at the beginning of Awele’s life, passed down from her great-great-grandparents and grandmother Ruth to Awele’s thespian daddy, who animated his constant stream of tales with sound effects and gestures during long family car trips from St. Louis to visit extended family in Mississippi. From a young age, she studied dance (ballet, pointe, tap, and modern) and piano, excelled at gymnastics, and started her career in theater arts at Normandy High School, continuing her training in song, dance, and theater at Webster University’s Sargent Conservatory of Theatre Arts, where she earned a BFA Later, she received her MA in Education: Language and Literacy from San Francisco State University and a Career Technology Education Credential from University of California at Berkeley.

Awele has given keynote performances, guest lectures, and interactive performances and workshops mesmerizing audiences at museums, cultural centers, festivals, libraries, churches, and universities across the fifty states and around the world including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Musikverein in Vienna, Tsinchu Teachers College in Taiwan, schools and Pioneer Palaces in Russia, cultural centers, and schools in Victoria, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta, the International Reading Association Conference in Brisbane, Australia and schools in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, the University of Alaska, Stanford University, Paramaribo, Suriname, as a United States Department of State special guest touring artist, and in her TED talk.

Awele is the recipient of the Webster University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2021; the producer of the OUSD, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Festival, which is featured in the HBO EMMY award-winning, 2020 documentary, We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical (Outstanding Children’s Program); a 2019 NBC Universal All Star Teacher Award Finalist, a recipient of a $50K Career Technology Education Innovation Grant (CTEIG) and an American Theatre Wing Classroom Resource Grant for her black box theatre conversion.

Awele is Storyteller-in-Residence for Dr. Clayborne Carson, Senior Fellow & Director of the World House Project, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; Storytelling Lead for DEWEY; Storytelling Lead for DEWEY; a Bring Me A Book Literacy Champion; and she has chapters in Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Contemporary Dramaturgy: Case studies From the Field (Editor: Philippa Kelly, Routledge, 2020) and Open A World of Possible: Real Stories About The Joy and Power of Reading (Editor: Lois Bridges, Scholastic, 2014). She is featured on four award-winning CDs: Tell That Tale Again, This Land Is Your Land, Imagining York: The Undiscovered Explorer, and Trailblazers: African Americans in the California Gold Rush.

Awele is elated about her forthcoming roles, Nina Simone in In the Evening by the Moonlight by Margo Hall and Traci Tolmaire (SFBATCO, BRAVA) in October 2021 and The Dark Queen of the Night in the animated production of The Magic Flute (Pocket Opera and The Gibbs Sisters) premiering in 2023!

Awele works with individual clients, teachers in their classrooms, grade-level professional learning communities, staff, school districts, pre-service educators, colleges, professional organizations, special interest groups, conferences, and performing arts centers. In all these segments, she is committed to sharing the power of story, process drama, performance as text, oral literacy, lifting voices for social justice, stories of “othering” and belonging, American history, movement building, healing stories, and bearing witness to our full humanity and transformational experiences... and has she got a story for you!

For more information on Makeba, visit


Kim Bouldin-Jones

BA ‘87
Global Educator and Disease Specialist

Kim Bouldin-Jones is an internationally recognized and sought-after educator and disease specialist working in HIV/STD and Global Disease Prevention. Bouldin-Jones’ work in global disease prevention/education has taken her from South America to Africa, where she works with both government and nongovernment organizations in affective ways to combat problems of HIV, Malaria, and TB. She has been both keynote speaker and presenter at numerous National and International Conferences, on topics ranging from HIV/global disease prevention, global disease and infections and women’s health issues. Bouldin-Jones has done extensive work on diversity and equity issues all over the country.

Bouldin-Jones started a nonprofit organization, Medical Facility Aid (MFA), to help provide infrastructure improvements to rural hospitals in the developing world in 2008. Her consulting firm, KBJ Consulting, has worked with various agencies, such as the Pontifical Healthcare Council on Pastoral Care, Vatican City, UNICEF, Zimbabwe, Bethzatha Healthcare, Ethiopia, and Ministries of Health, Ecuador. Her firm is also a member of the United Nations Civil Society Organizations for HIV/AIDS, which was involved in the millennium development goals. Bouldin-Jones was credited for organizing the first HIV Testing and Awareness Week in Uganda. Her main efforts have been working in Ethiopia on medical infrastructure improvements in the rural areas. She has been a delegate and speaker to the Higher Lever Meeting for HIV/AIDS at the United Nations in June 2009, 2011, and 2016.

Bouldin-Jones is the Chair of the Board of Directors for Global Youth Leadership Institute in Chicago, Advisory Board Member at Webster University School of Communications and 2nd Vice Board Chair for Doorways, Interfaith Residence. She won the Zonta Woman’s International Yellow Rose Award for her work in global health in 2016, and the St. Louis Business Journal Global Health Award in 2010. She also teaches Health and works in the Counseling and Wellness Department at John Burroughs School in St. Louis. Bouldin-Jones lives in O’Fallon, Missouri with her three children, Brandon, Devon, and Erin, who keep her very busy in her free time.

Vanessa Davis

MA ’04, DMGT ‘15
Former President of the Alumni Board of Directors, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair

With a background in microbiology and over 25 years of experience in Medical Device Quality Systems, Vanessa Davis has extensive knowledge of the FDA Quality System Regulations and ISO Standards. She is currently employed as an Associate Staff Quality Engineer by bioMerieux Inc., a medical device manufacturer located in Hazelwood, Missouri.

Davis received her Master’s Degree from Webster University in Quality Management and also conducted her doctoral work in management, leadership, organizational justice, and organizational citizenship behavior at Webster University.

She has a passion for learning and for mentoring and teaching others. She has been an adjunct professor for William Woods University business school, and she has been an active volunteer in the Webster University community. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Webster University, and has served as President of the Webster University Alumni Association, as well as President of the Webster University African American Alumni Association. She is also a past recipient of The St. Louis Business Journal’s Diverse Business Leaders Award.

Davis is a native St. Louisan currently residing in O’Fallon, Missouri with her husband. They have two adult children.

Leah Latham

BA ‘10
Production Manager of Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios

As Production Manager of Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Leah Latham oversees strategy for all projects in development, ensuring creative progress toward production.

As a lifelong champion of animation, technology, and filmmaking, she brings her unquellable passion for producing modern, complex narratives and stunning visuals to one of the world’s most celebrated animation studios.

Latham has led teams on award-winning films such as Frozen I & II, Moana, and Zootopia. She has lent her voice to memorable Disney characters, and she is presently an inaugural member of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ diversity and inclusion Content Think Tank. Latham is also a creative producer with Women in Media, an organization promoting gender balance in the film and entertainment industries.

Previous Alumni Award Winners

  • Michelle Esswein, MBA ’93 (2020)
  • Nancy Hightshoe, MA ’77 (2019)
  • Manal Fakhoury, MBA ’12 (2018)
  • Alan O. Freeman, MBA ’93 (2017)
  • Maarten de Boer, BA ’00 (2016)
  • Nancy Hernreich Bowen, BA ’68 (2014)
  • Kathleen Mazzarella, MBA ’02 (2013)
  • General Lloyd J. Austin III, MA ’89 (2012)
  • Nelda K. Lee, MA ’99 (2011)
  • General Carroll H. Chandler, MA ’78 (2010)
  • Leyna Nguyen, BA ’92 (2009)
  • Jane Robert, BA ’69 (2008)
  • Barbara Krzewinski, MA ’81 (2007)
  • Nancy Edmonds Paull, BA ’80 (2006)
  • Mike Jackson, MA ’81 (2005)
  • Mary Pat Seurkamp, BA ’68 (2004)
  • Jane Hodges, MA ’97 (2003)
  • Mary Ann Wyrsch, BA ’65 (2002)
  • Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin, BA ’63 (2001)
  • Eileen Collins, MA ’89 (2000)
  • Norma Lee Speckhard, MAT ’79 (1999)
  • Terri Williams, BA ’85 (1998)
  • Marsha Mason, BA ’64 (1996)
  • Marilyn Morheuser, BA ’46* (1995)
  • Ann Manganaro S.L., BA ’69* (1994)
  • Pearline Motley, MA ’89* (1994)
  • Franz Pruller, BA ’86 (1994)
  • James A. Barnes, MA ’82 (1993)
  • Elizabeth Donegan, BA ’68 (1992)
  • Clarence Harmon, MA ’79 (1991)
  • Mary Clare Geerling, BA ’47 (1990)
  • Joseph Noelker, BA ’74 (1989)
  • Jean Crowley Antonmattei, BS ’39* (1988)
  • David Morton, BA ’76* (1987)
  • Jan Greenberg, MAT ’73 (1986)
  • Jacqueline Grennan Wexler, BA ’48* (1985)
  • Eva Kirkpatrick, MA ’70* (1984)
  • Lynn Rubright, MAT ’71 (1983)
  • Betty Espinosa, BA ’37* (1982)
  • Mary Mangan S.L., BA ’35* (1981)
  • John Doglione, MA ’77 (1980)

  • Terry Gorski, MA ‘74* (2020)
  • Jane Peckham Stoever, BA '66 (2019)
  • Joan Marie Godoy Liere, MA '12 (2018)
  • Tracey Jeffries, MA ’10 (2017)
  • Mary Ann Wyrsch, BA ’65 (2016)
  • Eileen Schneider Edelman, BA ’85 (2014)
  • Jane Ellen Ibur, BA ’73 (2013)
  • Amy Lorenz-Moser, BA ’97 (2011)
  • Maureen McCormack S.L., BA ’54 (2010)
  • Grace Akumu Adhiambo, BA ’86 (2009)
  • Roswitha Weinrich, BA ’85 (2008)
  • Magdalen Seaman, BA ’47* (2007)
  • Wilhelmina Matern, MA ’01 (2006)
  • Kwan li Kladstrup, BA ’94 (2005)
  • James L. Rhodes, MA ’81 (2004)
  • Mary Ann McGivern S.L., BA ’64 (2003)

  • Darrell Yates, MA ‘00 (2020)
  • V. Diane McGee, MBA '98 (2019)
  • Eve Coulson, BA '73 (2018)
  • Dr. Ann Harbeson, MA ’03 (2017)
  • Stefano Cantini, BA ’92, MA ’94 (2016)
  • John Nickel, BA ’75 (2014)
  • Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin, BA ’63 (2013)
  • Doris Federhofer, BA ’38* (2013)
  • Timothy Noelker, BA ’73 (2012)
  • Dr. Karen M. Luebbert, BA ’64 (2011)
  • Shirley Broz, MA ’93 (2010)
  • Irma Jacobs Tirro, MA ’94 (2009)
  • Keith Lanier, BA ’91 (2008)
  • David P. Weiss, BA ’75 (2007)
  • Jackie Hellman Sontag, BA ’50* (2006)
  • Peggy Jostedt Czufin, BA ’47* (2005)
  • Emil Mezgolits, MA ’82 (2004)
  • Ilissa Staadeker, BA ’77 (2003)
  • Ellen Livingston, MA ’75 (2002)
  • Ann Washle O’Connell, BA ’60 (2001)
  • Christopher A. Thomas, BA ’84 (2000)
  • Bette Rae Karst Wilbers, BA ’60 (1999)
  • Betty Compton Mueller, BA ’52, MAT ’83 (1998)
  • Adelyn Reinheimer Cline, BA ’49* (1997)
  • Barbara Luechtefeld Fraser, BA ’48* (1996)
  • Marianne Dickhaus Knaup, BA ’66* (1995)
  • Mary Lois Flippin Hall, MAT ’73 (1994)
  • Gabriel Mary Hoare S.L., MA ’83 (1993)
  • Mary Clare Kline Heller, BA ’36* (1992)
  • Clare Heyne, BA ’59* (1991)
  • Ione Vatterott Berry, BA ’47 (1990)
  • Carol Colligan, BA ’70, MA ’77 (1989)
  • Mary Mangan S.L., BA ’35* (1988)
  • Mary Louise Hyde, BA ’40* (1987)
  • Ceil Golden Reh, BA ’35* (1986)
  • Marie Vlatkovich Markowski, BA ’45* (1985)
  • Elizabeth Halpin, BA ’36* (1984)
  • Margaret Bihss, BA ’33* (1983)
  • Audrey Effinger Dietrich, BA ’45* (1982)

  • Cody Renard Richard BFA '10 (2020)
  • Kayla Thompson, BA '13 (2019)
  • Chris Whitmore, BA '14 (2018)
  • Loren Rahman, BA ’12, MA ’12 & Wakeel Rahman, BA '13 (2017)
  • Kacey Hampton, BA ’11 (2016)
  • Ricardo Falla, BA ’09, MA ’11 (2014)
  • Jessica Butler, BA ’04 (2013)
  • Taran Hercules, BA ’03 (2012)
  • Kathleen Sullivan, BFA ’02 (2011)
  • Eric Madkins, MA ’05, MA ’08 (2010)
  • Khiang-Kay Soe, BA ’03, MA ’06 (2009)
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