Distinguished Alumna Award
The Distinguished Alumna Award presents a role model to alumnae and students by recognizing a woman who displays dedication and service in her volunteer or professional endeavors and who shows sustained interest in support of Santa Catalina and the Alumnae Association. The Distinguished Alumna award is given annually to members of the Alumnae Association.
- Distinguished Alumnae 2022
- Distinguished Alumnae 2021
- Distinguished Alumnae 2020
- Distinguished Alumnae 2019
- Distinguished Alumnae 2018
- Distinguished Alumnae 2017
- Distinguished Alumnae 2016
- Distinguished Alumnae 2015
- Distinguished Alumnae 2014
- Distinguished Alumnae 2013
- Distinguished Alumnae 2012
- All past recipients
Distinguished Alumnae 2022
Clare O’Leary ’72
Clare O'Leary ’72 has spent her entire career as an international advocate for disadvantaged minority ethnic communities around the world, supporting their efforts to use their own languages to improve their quality of life.
Clare has a bachelor of arts from the University of Pennsylvania, and has both a master’s degree and a doctorate in linguistics from Georgetown University. In 1989, she began her extensive professional alliance with SIL International, a global, faith-based nonprofit that develops language solutions for a better life. SIL helps ethnic communities overcome obstacles to literacy and education, to socio-economic opportunity, to health information, and to resources for spiritual growth, including Scripture translations. Together with more than 4,300 staff from 89 countries and working alongside thousands more local partners and community volunteers, SIL offers services to all without regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race or ethnic background. Clare was first based in Peshawar, Pakistan, researching the languages spoken among 26 minority communities in the Northwest Frontier Province. She later relocated to Kathmandu, Nepal, which became her home for most of the next 13 years. Clare became a valued trainer for SIL, conducting language research, managing programs, and training newer colleagues both in South Asia and in Singapore. She also taught at the SIL International training center in Dallas, Texas, as well as at its training school near Oxford, England.
Next, Clare served for 10 years on the SIL executive leadership team, supervising and directing SIL’s global regional directors, based in Singapore for part of that time and traveling extensively. This role gave her the primary operational responsibility for overseeing fieldwork and partnerships for language-related work in more than 1,500 language communities around the world.
In 2011, she established a related non-profit, SIL LEAD which brings together people and institutions around shared goals through internationally funded projects aimed at multilingual education, health localization, and technical innovation. From 2016 to 2020, Clare worked directly with SIL-LEAD as director of its Community-Based Language Development Initiative, helping ethnic minority communities develop small-scale projects to promote the use of their own languages to address their needs and discovering funding to support their work.
In 2020, Clare returned to work at SIL International in a new department called Growing Resource Opportunities (GRO). She is currently the associate executive director of GRO, continuing to interact with many partners and colleagues from around the world. In her current role, Clare oversees a team of colleagues which trains and builds capacity among SIL staff in 51 country units, linking them with innovative solutions and potential funding for language-related work.
Clare graduated from Santa Catalina in 1972. Her sisters and nieces are also alumnae of Santa Catalina: Anne O'Leary ’71, Kate O'Leary Breuil ’78, Lucy O'Leary ’08, and Rachel O'Leary '10.
Queena Sook Kim ’87
Queena Sook Kim ’87 is a journalist who has spent most of her career in public radio. She is currently a senior editor for Reveal News and is the head of audio at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts in politics from New York University and received her master of journalism from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. In 1991, she was selected to be a Teach for America corps member and taught elementary school in the Inglewood Unified School District in Southern California. In 1994, Queena won a Fulbright Grant to teach and study in Seoul, South Korea.
Previously, Queena was the senior editor of the Weekend Desk at public broadcaster KQED, a desk she helped launch in 2019. She also held the post of senior editor of KQED’s Silicon Valley desk, where she covered the intersection of culture and technology and was the host of The California Report, a daily statewide news show. Queena has also served as a senior reporter covering technology for American Public Media’s daily Marketplace business program.
She started her career as a business journalist at The Wall Street Journal, where she spent four years covering the paper, home-building, and toy industries. She has spent much of her career helping startup editorial projects, and was on the founding editorial team of The Bay Citizen, an online news site in San Francisco.
Queena’s stories have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition, WNYC’s Studio 360, WBUR’s Here and Now, BBC’s Global Perspectives, and The New York Times’ website. She is a frequent public speaker and has given talks at UC Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco State, the Public Media Journalists Association conference, and the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp.
Distinguished Alumnae 2021
Kate Dentoni Mitchell '76
Kate Dentoni Mitchell graduated from Santa Catalina in 1976. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the evening program at Golden Gate University. Kate has been a trailblazer in venture capital and has a national presence in the field. She is a co-founder of Scale, a Silicon Valley-based firm that invests in startups building software for the intelligent, connected world. She and the Scale team have backed successful, high-growth companies including Hubspot, DocuSign, and Bill.com.
Kate is past chairman and board member of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and is active in policy matters that impact entrepreneurship, innovation, and inclusion. She co-authored the IPO section of the 2012 JOBS Act, which increased access to the public markets for emerging growth companies. In 2014, Kate co-founded an NVCA initiative, VentureForward, which focuses on advancing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the venture ecosystem. She received the NVCA Outstanding Service Award in 2013 for her policy work in Washington and was awarded the Private Equity Trailblazer Award at the 2018 Women in Private Equity Summit. In March 2021, she received the NVCA’s American Spirit award for service to the community.
Kate currently serves on the boards of SVB Financial Group, Fortive Corporation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, NVCA’s Venture Forward, PEWIN (Private Equity Women Investor Network) where she is also co-CEO, the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital at Dartmouth, and Meals on Wheels San Francisco. She is an advisor and speaker at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance (Stanford Law School). Kate is also an active Kauffman Fellows Mentor.
In addition to her professional work, Kate has been a consistent supporter of Santa Catalina and often speaks of the critical role Catalina played in her success. Kate has been generous with her time, sharing her experience with our students and opening up her home. She was our first TEDxSantaCatalinaSchool speaker in 2013 and was the Journey Day keynote speaker in 2018. She has hosted chapter gatherings in her home and served as an alumna volunteer.
Judy McDonald Moses '86
Judy McDonald Moses graduated in 1986. She received a B.A. in economics from UC Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. Judy’s service to school has been both generous and inspiring.
Judy volunteered as chair for the Washington, D.C., Chapter of the Alumnae Association. She has served as a class agent and extensively in reunion planning, serving as reunion ambassador on multiple occasions for her class. Judy joined the Alumnae Council in 2007 when she and her family lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She served as a vice president of the Alumnae Council from 2010 to 2011 and became president in 2011. As president, Judy was dedicated to having an Alumnae Council that functioned with purpose. She attended conferences focused on boards and councils and created committees that aligned board/council members' talents with the school's needs. She also was responsible for digitizing the yearbooks, which were funded by Alumnae Council members during her tenure.
She served as president of the Alumnae Council until 2013, when she joined the Board of Trustees. As a board member, Judy serves on the Trustee Committee and is chair of the Investment Committee.
Additionally, Judy has hosted chapter gatherings and most recently coordinated and hosted a virtual alumnae event on the topic of investing. She has been a consistent supporter of the Santa Catalina Fund since her graduation 35 years ago.
Catalina is a family tradition as her sisters Lil McDonald Manthoulis '81, Carla McDonald '76, and Frances McDonald Souza '77, as well her daughter Kylie '14, are all graduates of the Upper School.
Distinguished Alumnae 2020
Tracy Miller Hass ’75
Tracy Miller Hass ’75 is a long-time volunteer and supporter of Santa Catalina. Just a few weeks after graduation in 1975, Tracy answered an urgent call from Sister Mary Ellen to return to school to fill a counselor position at Summer at Santa Catalina. It was the beginning of Tracy's long history of answering the call and stepping up as an active and dedicated alumna for Santa Catalina.
Beginning in 1986, she served several years as a class correspondent, as well as a class agent and reunion ambassador. In the 1990s she was active on the All Together Now committee and was an integral part of the Envision 2000 initiative, serving as both a chair and class agent. Tracy joined the Alumnae Association Council in 2000 and served generously for 10 years as an active member in various leadership roles, including four years as president.
In 2011, Tracy joined the Santa Catalina School Board of Trustees. Over her two consecutive terms of service on the board, her roles have included chair of the trustee committee, co-chair of the development committee, and a member of the audit committee. She has been an active member of the executive committee, serving in leadership roles including secretary, and currently as vice-chair.
Tracy has been recognized in the community for her outstanding leadership, service, and philanthropy over the years. In 2005, she was nominated as one of 20 dynamic female leaders in Gentry Magazine's Annual Salute to Women: "Leading By Example." In 2010, she was honored as a National Philanthropy Day Honoree, nominated by Santa Catalina School, and was named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women's Initiative for Self Employment of Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. She currently serves on the board of directors of The Menlo Circus Club.
Tracy holds a B.A. in art history from Scripps College and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business. Early in her career, Tracy worked as a fund accountant in the venture capital industry. In 2002, she chose to follow her lifelong passion of art and design and opened The Dressed Room, a home store in Menlo Park. She now works as an interior designer and was honored to work on the interior design details of the Carol Ann Read Head of School house at Santa Catalina.
Dr. Kismet Thompson Roberts ’90
Dr. Kismet Thompson Roberts is an Air Force veteran and current physician with Sutter Medical Group. She is a 1990 graduate from Santa Catalina School and went on to Duke University on a full Air Force ROTC scholarship, earning a bachelor’s in mathematics. She earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine on a full Air Force Health Professions Scholarship in 1998. She completed her specialized training in full-spectrum family medicine with the University of Nebraska and Offutt Air Force Base Family Medicine Residency.
While serving in Japan alongside her husband, Glen, an Air Force pilot, she was awarded the Air Force Physician of the Year. While teaching family medicine resident physicians as an associate professor at the University of Nebraska, she completed a Faculty Development Fellowship through the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and served as the assistant program director for the residency. She deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while her husband was deployed to a separate location, leaving behind their two small children.
After being selected as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2009, Kismet separated from the Air Force to focus on her family. In 2011, she returned to California to work with Sutter Medical Group, where she is a full-time outpatient physician and a “well-being champion” for clinician wellness.
In addition to her career as a physician, she is involved in her church, and along with her husband helps serve the local Sacramento homeless community through a ministry called Alongside. She has led two medical missions to Nicaragua to offer free health care to underprivileged Nicaraguans.
She has served as a Journey Day speaker for current Santa Catalina students and has also served as a mentor for students who are interested in going into the medical field or the military. Kismet has dedicated her life, both professionally and personally, to bettering the lives of others. She is a leader who has consistently demonstrated a strong sense of the spiritual. She leads a life of responsible purpose and has shown great courage serving our country.
Santa Catalina is a family tradition. Both her sisters, Kassandra Thompson Brenot ’87, Ph.D. and Kahlil Thompson Coyle ’93 are graduates of the Upper School. Kismet also has a niece who graduated from the Upper School and the Lower and Middle School and a nephew currently in eighth grade in the Lower and Middle School.
Distinguished Alumnae 2019
Bobbie O’Connell Munson ’59
Bobbie is a lifelong Santa Catalina alumnae volunteer and a founder of the Santa Catalina Alumnae Association. A member of Santa Catalina’s seventh graduating class, Bobbie has served in myriad volunteer roles since graduation, including as reunion ambassador, class correspondent, member of the Alumnae Council, and president of the Alumnae Association. In 1962, Sister Kieran asked her to help formalize the Alumnae Association.
After graduating from Santa Catalina, Bobbie studied at the University of Oregon, San Jose State University, Mexico City College, and Stanford Medical School. Returning to her childhood ranch in Gilroy and later splitting her time between Northern and Southern California, she would go on to build a family business of shopping centers, storage facilities, and development properties. The mother of five also has five grandchildren, including Andrea, a 2003 Catalina graduate, and Kaila, a Catalina camper. Her sister is Kay O’Connell Vernor ’60.
Karen Johnson Hixon ’69
Karen is a conservationist and philanthropist dedicated to protecting the environment and advancing the arts in her home state of Texas. She is a board member of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust Foundation and the Boise-based Peregrine Fund. She is a former docent and docent chair at the San Antonio Zoo, was a board member of the Texas Nature Conservancy and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and served a six-year term on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Karen, who received a B.A. in art history from Smith College, is also heavily involved in the art world. She is president of the board of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth and is past chairman of the board of the San Antonio Museum of Art, for which she continues to serve as a life trustee. She was a member of the Santa Catalina board of trustees from 1990 to 2003, and served as trustee and board chair of Saint Mary’s Hall, a coed college preparatory school in San Antonio.
Among her many honors over the years, she was the only woman to be named the Texas Wildlife Association’s Outdoorsman of the Year, and she received the Audubon Texas prestigious Terry Hershey Award for outstanding leadership in conservation. Her sisters, Kate Johnson ’72 and Sheila Johnson ’65, attended Santa Catalina, as did Sheila’s daughters, Carter Johnson Martin ’87 and Elizabeth Johnson Hornsey ’90.
Distinguished Alumnae 2018
Elizabeth Robin Hatcher '63
Elizabeth Robin Hatcher '63 is a board-certified psychiatrist, a graduate psychoanalyst, and an experienced psychopharmacologist in Topeka, Kansas, and a Life Fellow with the American Psychiatric Association. She specializes in adult patients distressed by disturbances in their attention, eating, mood, personality, and self-perception.
Previously, she had a 15-year-long career as a professor of English. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and French from Dominican University and earned an M.A. and a Ph.D in English and medieval literature from Johns Hopkins University. She pursued a career in teaching English at the collegiate level until 1983, when she returned to school to earn her medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed a residency in adult psychiatry at the Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences in Topeka, Kansas.
Robin is affiliated with numerous professional societies, including the American Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, Greater Kansas City and Topeka Psychoanalytic Society, Kansas Medical Society, Kansas Psychiatric Society, and the Shawnee County Medical Society.
Teresa Barger '73
Teresa Barger '73 is the CEO and co-founder of Cartica, an investment advisor focused on active ownership of emerging market companies. The majority of Cartica is owned by women and is dedicated to activism in emerging markets. Prior to Cartica, Teresa held various executive positions for 21 years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where she invested in emerging markets companies in nearly all regions of the world. Before joining IFC, she was with McKinsey and Company.
Teresa serves on the boards of EMPEA, American University in Cairo, Gazelle Finance, and the Center for Faith and Common Good. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Advisory Councils for the Pacific Pension and Investment Institute and the Global Corporate Governance Forum.
Teresa graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received her M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.
Distinguished Alumnae 2017
Laurie Bechtel Dachs ’67
Laurie Bechtel Dachs ’67 is Vice-Chair of the board of directors and President of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. In addition to her leadership of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and Stephen Bechtel Fund, Laurie serves on the board of directors for the Water Foundation and on the advisory council to the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. In the recent past, she served on the board of directors of the Land Trust Alliance and on the advisory council of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.
In her work as president of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Laurie keeps STEM education at the forefront of the foundation’s focus. She specifically searches for programs that concentrate on math learning standards for K-8 students and on programs that expand STEM learning beyond the classroom to after-school activities.
Laurie has been an advisor or board member for many environment, education, and health organizations, including Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy of California, Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, Head Royce School, The Thacher School, Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Center for Underrepresented Students in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a founder of The Lake School, a nonprofit preschool in Oakland.
Laurie graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Cynara Coomer ’87
Dr. Cynara Coomer is the Chief of Breast Surgery and Director of the Florina Rusi-Marke Comprehensive Breast Center at Staten Island University Hospital. Additionally, Cynara is the Physician Liaison for the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons at SIUH and she holds an academic appointment of Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Previously, Cynara was a breast surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, where she developed a successful clinical practice devoted to the treatments of both benign and malignant breast diseases. Prior to joining Mount Sinai Medical Center, she was a breast surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital.
As a medical contributor for Fox News and FoxNews.com, her clinical research and news reports are focused on women’s health—specifically breast cancer and breast health at all ages. Cynara is also on the Medical Advisory Board for the magazine Bella New York.
Cynara graduated from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 2002, and completed her surgical residency at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Medical Center. Following her residency, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery. She is board certified in general surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Cynara is affiliated with numerous professional societies, such as the American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Society of Breast Disease, and American Society of Clinical Oncology, and is a recipient of several awards, including the Patients’ Choice Award, America’s Top Surgeons, and the Physician of Distinction from the American Cancer Society.
Distinguished Alumnae 2016
Jenny Budge ’71
Jenny Budge ’71 graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in history and received her M.B.A. from New York University. Professionally, she is a Certified Public Accountant. After working in the audit division of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, an accounting firm in New York City, Jenny returned to California to work in financial planning for the Syntex pharmaceutical firm. Returning east to Maryland, she took a break from her career to raise her two children. During this time, Jenny focused her expertise on several nonprofit organizations. She held the positions of board chair of Chesapeake Bay Foundation, trustee of the Nature Conservancy’s Maryland chapter, trustee of Maryland Public Gardens Consortium, trustee of Bryn Mawr School, trustee of Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, and board member of Tylerton Community Council. Finally, these service experiences and Jenny’s love of horticulture enabled her to assume the position of executive director of the Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, MD. A few years ago, Jenny returned to California and continues her work in the horticultural world.
Currently, Jenny is president of Solid Rock Foundation, a trustee at Ladew Topiary Gardens, and a judge for the Garden Club of American Horticulture. She has been active on national committees for the Garden Club of America and is a trustee of Santa Catalina School. Jenny’s devotion to her Alma Mater is ongoing. She first served on the Santa Catalina School Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2003. She returned to the Board in 2007, served on the Trustee and Executive Committees, chaired the Finance Committee and currently chairs the Investment Committee. In addition, Jenny has served generously on our Alumnae Board. Always perfectly prepared for the meeting or job at hand, Jenny’s work is meticulous and her gift of time endless. As chair of the Search Committee, her leadership, her professionalism and her untiring attention to detail were instrumental in Santa Catalina’s eminently successful choice of Meg Bradley as the next Head of School. Jenny has worked selflessly on behalf of Santa Catalina for many years, and we are most grateful.
Pamela Anderson-Brulé ’76
Pamela Anderson-Brulé ’76 graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and studied in France at both the Fountainebleau Schools and the École des Beaux-Arts. In a Palo Alto garage, Pamela co-founded Anderson-Brulé Architects (ABA), then a small boutique design firm and now a nationally recognized, full service design firm specializing in architecture, interiors, and strategic planning. For over three decades, ABA has continued to design award-winning projects, which have been nationally recognized as groundbreaking and first-of-a-kind. Pamela is a well-respected expert in her field and along with her numerous professional affiliations, has given many presentations on her work. Pamela is an active philanthropist and educator. Along with her firm, she has been the recipient of numerous awards and her work has been displayed in numerous publications and exhibitions.
Earlier this year, Pamela became the first woman in Santa Clara County to be elevated to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects, the highest rank in the institute’s membership. She was elected by the jury for her notable contributions and her advancement of the science and art of architectural planning and design. By modeling strong leadership, Pamela influences other design professionals, inside and outside of ABA’s practice, to innovate their roles as leaders in the ever changing architectural industry.
Today, Pamela continues to transform people, places, and practices through strategic and thoughtful design. One of her most recent transformations was a building on the Santa Catalina campus. Dedicated on January 15 of this year,the Sister Claire and Sister Christine Mathematics and Science Center houses mathematics classrooms, science labs, faculty offices, collaborative gathering spaces, a cistern water filtration system, a live saltwater aquaria, and an interactive iGlobe display. Designed with social, environmental, and educational goals, the 26,000 square foot building is already becoming a project-based learning tool for the present and future of Santa Catalina School.
Distinguished Alumnae 2015
Tina Hansen McEnroe '70
Tina Hansen McEnroe '70 was honored for her service and commitment to education. Tina is the founder of the McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she is the associate director and a master teacher. This year, she is establishing a similar clinic at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Tina also conducts "Living History Days," a curriculum that she created for local public, private, and charter schools and which takes place at a restored 1869 schoolhouse on her Santa Ynez Valley ranch.
For many years, Tina taught middle school language arts, reading, and special education in California. She also taught special programs for Spanish-speaking farmworkers and served as a volunteer mentor for other teachers working with farmworkers and their families. In addition, she conducted an evening community educational outreach program on Rancho Tajiguas. Her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous community, state, and national awards.
In 2012, she received the Santa Barbara Junior League Woman of the Year Award, and in 2011, she was the Anti-Defamation League Education Honoree. Tina has also served and continues to serve on several boards such as the Dean's Council at UCSB's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. She holds an M.A. in education from UCSB and a B.S. in education from University of Southern California.
Kim Wright-Violich '75
Kim Wright-Violich '75 was commended for her dedication and service in her professional career. Kim is the cofounder and managing partner of Tideline, a consulting firm specializing in impact investing and strategic philanthropy. She is also a Visiting Executive Scholar at the Haas Business School at University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches, lectures, and helps design curricula on impact investing and philanthropy.
From 2000 to 2011, Kim served as CEO/President of Schwab Charitable, which offers services for donor-advised funds and charitable trusts. She grew the organization from a start-up to one of the 10 largest charities in the U.S., attracting more than $5 billion in charitable assets. Kim was previously an executive committee member of KQED Public Media for Northern California. She was named one of San Francisco Bay Area’s 100 Most Influential Women in Business by the San Francisco Business Times for six consecutive years, and was named one of the 50 most influential women in the U.S. for 2009 in wealth management by Wealth Manager magazine.
Kim currently serves on several boards, including the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the World Affairs Council Bay Area. She holds a B.A. in human biology and public policy from Stanford University and has completed coursework at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Distinguished Alumnae 2014
Sister Lois Silva '54
Sister Lois Silva graduated from Santa Catalina in 1954. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Dominican College. She also attended Holy Names College (now Holy Names University) in Oakland before entering the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. In her first 15 years of ministry, Sister Lois taught at elementary schools in San Francisco, Marin, and Rancho Cordova. She also served as a school principal in Reno, Stockton, and San Francisco. In 1987, she was asked to transfer her skills to healthcare ministry.
After a year of sabbatical and study, Sister Lois began work at St. Joseph's Regional Health System and O'Connor Woods Housing Corporation, both in Stockton. During a 15-year tenure, she served as Senior Vice President for Mission Integration and as a trustee on many boards and corporations in the regional Catholic Healthcare West system. She also served on the board at Boys & Girls Club, St. Mary’s Interfaith Community Services, and Stockton Midtown Revitalization Policy Advisory Council.
From 2003 to 2009, Sister Lois served on the Leadership Council of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. In 2009, she asked to assist two of her sisters in San Francisco, one a fellow Catalina alumna Sister Cathryn de Back '60, Director of Rose Court Community Affordable Housing sponsored by the San Rafael Sisters, and the other Sister Anne Bertain, the Pastoral Associate for Community Service at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in San Francisco. At one of Sister Anne's projects, the Lima Center, Sister Lois continues to minister daily to guests who walk or live on the streets of the Fillmore District in San Francisco.
Lijin Aryananda '94, Ph.D.
Lijin Aryanada graduated from Santa Catalina in 1994 and now lives in Zurich, Switzerland. A member of the electrical engineering honor society, Eta Kapp Nu, Lijin holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a bachelor’s in electrical science and engineering, a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science, and a doctorate in humanoid robotics. While working on her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Rodney Brooks, Lijin studied at MIT’s Humanoid Robotics Group. The product of her doctoral thesis was MERTZ, an innovative human-like robot head capable of interacting with the public. In 2007, Lijin moved to Switzerland, where she conducted postdoctoral research on robotic locomotion at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. She later served as managing director of the Swiss National Center of Robotics.
In 2011, Lijin joined QualySense AG as its chief technical officer. In this role, she led the technical support development of a new agricultural machinery product. In August 2012, Lijin began working for Hocoma, an innovative Swiss-based robotic rehabilitation company. There, she leads the Technical Project department, the Robotic Technology focus, and the technical product development for the Lokomat, a gait rehabilitation robot for people who have neurological diseases or have had neurological injuries.
Distinguished Alumnae 2013
Basia Belza '73, Ph.D.
Basia Belza, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is the Aljoya Endowed Professor in Aging at the University of Washington’s School of Nursing in Seattle. She is also an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health.
Basia has a sustained record of thoughtful and energetic activity directed toward improving the health of older adults through research. She has built interdisciplinary teams and worked with community partners in testing, disseminating, and adopting evidence-based disease prevention programs for older adults. The effects of these programs have led to improved health outcomes for older adults.
As lead of the UW Coordinating Center for the CDC-Healthy Aging Research Network, Basia has overseen regional and national initiatives and developed successful training and tools for practitioners on topics of importance for older adults such as a healthy brain, mobility, and environmental and policy changes.
She has a strong interest and passion in improving physical activity in older adults as a way to maintain independence. She is one of the lead researchers for EnhanceFitness, a community-based group exercise program. EnhanceFitness is offered in more than 500 communities throughout the country and currently reaches more than 12,000 older adults.
Through her interests in environmental and policy changes to support healthy aging, Basia and her colleagues developed a number of initiatives including webinars and searchable databases of online resources for healthy aging, healthy communities, built environment, and mobility. One of these resources, the Environmental and Policy Change Clearinghouse, received the 2011 APEX Award for Excellence in Publication.
As a leader in the field of rheumatology, Basia developed the Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue scale, which has been translated into 25 languages. Through her scholarship, she has increased the awareness and improved the measurement of fatigue. She served as the scientific editor of the American College of Rheumatology’s Postgraduate Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Rheumatology Training Program. This comprehensive, online educational program is an innovative approach to training a critically needed workforce. In recognition of her contributions to rheumatology, she was honored with the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals 2010 Distinguished Scholar Award and 2012 Distinguished Lecture award.
Basia is principle investigator of a three-year HRSA-funded gerontological training grant. She mentors undergraduate and graduate students through teaching, advisement, and service on thesis and doctoral committees.
Basia is a graduate of the University of Pacific, where she studied prenursing; Georgetown University, where she received a bachelor of science in nursing; the University of Virginia, where she received a master of science in nursing and an Adult Nurse Practitioner certification; and The University of California, San Francisco, where she received a doctorate in nursing.
Tamara Monosoff '83, Ph.D.
Tamara Monosoff, Ph.D. is a business author, educator, media spokesperson, entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Mom Invented®. Mom Invented® is a dynamic company with the mission to "inspire, inform, and boldly promote courageous women in business" and "celebrate the creativity of moms by launching Innovative Mom Invented® products around the world." Tamara is a best-selling author and columnist and has been called "America’s favorite business mom" by the media.
With more than 15 years of experience in communications and program management, Tamara combines a strategic vision and an entrepreneurial spirit with media savvy. After going through the product development process when inventing the TP Saver®, Tamara found the support and guidance of other entrepreneurs to be invaluable. This inspired her to create a web-based community and the Mom Invented® brand of products.
Tamara’s best-selling book, The Mom Inventors Handbook, was launched by McGraw-Hill in 2005. Her Secrets of Millionaire Moms hit bookstores globally in May 2007. Her third book, The One Page Business Plan for Women in Business, coauthored with Jim Horan, launched in January 2010, and her fourth book, Your Million Dollar Dream, hit No. 1 in marketing, entrepreneurship and homebased businesses on Amazon at its launch in May 2010. She was Working Mother magazine’s “Hero of the Month,” was selected by the Contra Costa Times as one of the 10 most “Influential Women of the East Bay,” and was honored by the Contra Costa Council as Small Business Person of the Year. Tamara was selected as Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the East Bay Business Times.
Tamara and her products have been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, TIME, and Fortune Small Business Magazine. She has appeared on programs such as ABC’s The View, NBC’s Nightly News, CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and CBS’s Inside Edition. She has been broadcast on CNN Radio, National Public Radio, The Dave Ramsey Show, and BBC Scotland.
Prior to founding her company, she worked as senior communications associate for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race, education director for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, and chief of staff for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Tamara is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, marketing and social media, innovation and creativity, and women and leadership. She has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a doctoral degree in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Distinguished Alumnae 2012
Col. Renata J. Engler '67, M.D.
Renata arrived at Santa Catalina as the immigrant daughter of parents who survived war-torn Germany, the firestorm bombings of Dresden, and a concentration camp. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she began her path to U.S. citizenship, learned the ways of her adopted country, and realized her dream of becoming a physician.
Her journey has been far from ordinary. For years, she has worked to make peace with a world at war and a life with parents who suffered from untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Through these difficulties, she credits her success to her mother, whose love and support was ever-present, and the gift of four years at Santa Catalina, where she says she was “accepted, encouraged, and cared about.” She went on to graduate from Stanford University and complete her medical degree at Georgetown University. Since then, she has served more than 40 years as a military doctor, currently stationed at the Army Medical Corps at the new Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Renata entered the field of medicine at a time when women were not encouraged to do so, and yet she became a specialty department leader and training program director at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. While there, she established a new training program for physicians in clinical laboratory immunology and built the Vaccine Healthcare Centers Network, a congressionally directed program within the Military Health System that advocates for service members and their family members who struggle with concerns about and possible reactions to vaccines, frequently in the context of complex illnesses.
Despite a focus on career and caring for family, Renata says she is “blessed by the gift of a wonderful and loving man,” John David Nichols, her husband and best friend of more than 34 years. While not blessed with children of their own, she says their lives have been filled with endless opportunities to teach and mentor children and adults as they learn and journey through the obstacle courses of life.
For a lifetime of service to others, many times at their hours of greatest need, and for her professional accomplishments, Col. Dr. Renata Engler is named one of this year’s two Distinguished Alumnae.
Julia Janko Wong '82
Julia has an abundance of ties to Santa Catalina, which she refers to as her home away from home and an extension of her immediate family. Her connection with the school began in 1971, when she and sister Isabelle Janko Murphy ’83 enrolled in the Lower School. Brother Alexander Janko ’83 LS was a member of one of the first coed classes in the Lower School.
Since graduating from Santa Catalina, Julia has continued what is now more than 40 years of involvement with the school and has served in many volunteer roles within the Santa Catalina community. Giving of her time and talent as a Class Secretary, Reunion Class Coordinator, Parents’ Weekend speaker, and member and vice president of the Alumnae Board, she currently serves as a Board of Trustees member. Julia’s long history of service to the school is what led to her selection as a Distinguished Alumna.
Julia earned a B.A. in art history from Georgetown University in 1986, and prior to starting a family with husband Brad, she spent nearly 15 years in the healthcare sector. She worked as the executive director of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and the American Society of Nephrology. She was also the director of professional relations for Merck & Co., special advisor for global health at the University of California, San Francisco, and executive director for Operation Access, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that mobilizes a network of medical volunteers, hospitals, and community clinics to provide uninsured patients with free medical care.
Equally important to Julia is her involvement in her community. She has served as a board member for the San Francisco Ballet ENCORE! and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in California. In addition, she was an active participant in Georgetown University’s various alumni programs and a coordinator for the United Way’s volunteer corps.
While Julia looks forward to continuing her commitment to Santa Catalina, she also has recently been selected to serve as co-president of the Glenwood Elementary School Foundation, which supports the school where son Matthew attends and daughter Alexa will attend.
All past recipients
Clare O'Leary ’72
Queena Sook Kim ’87
Kate Dentoni Mitchel '76
Judy McDonald Moses '86
Tracy Miller Hass '75
Kismet Thompson Roberts '90
Bobbie O'Connell Munson '59
Karen Johnson Hixon '69
Elizabeth Robin Hatcher '63
Teresa Barger '73
Lauren Bechtel Dachs '67
Cynara Coomer '87
Jenny Budge '71
Pamela Anderson-Brule '76
Tina Hansen McEnroe '70
Kim Wright-Violich '75
Sister Lois Silva '54
Lijin Aryananda '94
Basia Belza '73
Tamara Monosoff '83
Renata Engler '67
Julia Janko Wong '82
Nina Gates Motlow '71
Katharine Folger Yeager '86
Leslie Redlich Cockburn '70
Nínive Clements Calegari '89
Terry Durkin Wilkinson '68
Francisca Brackenridge Neumann '57
Joan Seamster '67
Chloe O'Gara '66
Laura Lyon '81
Nancy Woolf Roberts '70
Elizabeth Leach '75
Joan Goodfellow Knetemann '80
Patricia Bondesen-Smith '54
Carol Speegle Lannon '55
Carolyn Hartwell O'Brien '74
Judith Oates '63
Jane Turner Hart '68
Leigh Curran '61
Katherine Finnegan Darnell '72
Laura Knoop Pfaff '72
Suzanne Saunders Shaw '70
Sally Hansen Green '72
Laurie Watson Raymond '69
Justine Schmidt Bloomingdale '73
Laurie Angel McGuinness '53
Beatrice Leyden Moore '53
Susan Gazlay '63
Mary Foley Bitterman '62
Cynthia Fulstone Degenhardt '72
Nonie Bechtel Ramsay '71
Dana Turner Witmer '72
Barbara Grant Armor '62
Helena Eversole '70
France de Sugney Bark '59
Kathleen Brown '63
Natalie Stewart '63
Kathleen Sullivan '71
Jinx Hack Ring '60
Mary Ellen Mahoney ' 66
Jane Howard Goodfellow '56
Margaret Rosenberg Duflock '59
Gloria Felice '54
Kirsten Nelson Bedford '56
Nominate an Alumna
The Distinguished Alumna Award is given annually to members of the Alumnae Association, and recipients are recognized at Reunion in the following categories:
- For dedication and service to school, an alumna is recognized for her: dedication and devotion in service to Santa Catalina School and its mission; sustained interest in support of the school and Alumnae Association; actions as a role model for alumnae, current students, and future graduates of Santa Catalina School.
- For service and dedication in professional or community endeavors, an alumna is recognized for her: dedication to lifelong growth and learning; service to humanity; caring commitment to her profession or community above and beyond standard expectations; habits of heart, mind, and action that are examples and inspiration to the Santa Catalina community.
All alumnae are encouraged to nominate Santa Catalina alumnae whose accomplishments and contributions exemplify the Santa Catalina mission through extraordinary personal achievement and outstanding service to Santa Catalina School, to community, family, and profession.
Please submit nominations using the form below. If possible, a resume or brief biography should also be included. Other letters of support are welcomed.
Distinguished Alumnae are selected by the Alumnae Council and the Administration.
The Distinguished Alumna Award is presented annually at the Alumnae Reunion. Speeches given by Distinguished Alumnae have become an inspirational cornerstone of Reunion Weekend. The recipients are honored with an engraved gift as a keepsake, a feature article in the Bulletin, and a profile on the website.
Include the following information when submitting nominations:
- A summary of significant contribution(s) and/or achievement(s) relating to the specific award criteria for which the alumna is being nominated.
- Any relevant information you feel the nominating committee should consider.