University Relations and Marketing

Contacts:
Julie Tschetter Seedhouse, Alumni Relations, 247-5780
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269

March 26, 2009

Seven alumni to be honored for outstanding achievements, contributions

Event set for Saturday, March 28

MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Business leaders, a Billings district judge, community advocates and an educational leader for the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be honored this weekend as outstanding alumni of Montana State University Billings.

The 27th annual Outstanding Alumni Awards event will be held Saturday, March 28 at the MSU Billings Student Union Building ballroom. The event, which is open to the public, begins at 10 a.m. with a champagne brunch. Tickets are $25 each.

Outstanding alumni will be recognized this year in four categories:

  • Distinguished Alumnus: Honors an alumnus who has distinguished him or herself through personal, professional and civic contributions, while bringing a sense of honor, pride and recognition to the MSU Billings community.

  • Alumni Merit Medallion: Honors an alumnus who is dedicated to the advancement of education, exemplified by his or her commitment of professional expertise and/or volunteer service to the university.

  • Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Honors four alumni who have distinguished themselves in fields ranging from business, professional, education, volunteer service to a community, public or civil service, or arts and sciences having impacted those fields while bringing a sense of pride and recognition to the University community.

  • J. Cody Montalban Award: This is a special award named after deceased alumnus J. Cody Montalban to honor outstanding service and contributions to the MSU Billings Alumni Association.

Julie Tschetter Seedhouse, director of alumni relations and a 1989 graduate of MSU Billings, said the event is a chance for the university and the community to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have excelled not only in their chosen career path, but have gone above and beyond to give of themselves to others.

There were 19 nominations for this year’s awards, Seedhouse said, which made for a difficult selection process.

The honorees for this year’s awards follow:

Recognition for Exceptional Achievement
Lisa Reid Perry
Community Affairs Manager, PPL Montana

Lisa Reid PerryA 1986 graduate with a degree in Organizational Communications, Perry is described by many as energetic, dedicated to community and a tireless volunteer with a tremendous work ethic.

Some wait until they have completed their college education to begin a career, Lisa, on the other hand, started a career while maintaining 12 credit hours per quarter and by the time she earned her college degree she was already on an upward-bound career path.

Perry started her career at Big Sky Airlines as a customer service representative and eventually became the Marketing Manager for the airline. She transitioned from Big Sky Airlines to Northwest Airlines where she served as manager for corporate and agency sales in Montana, Wyoming and St. Louis. It was during this time that she achieved many honors for her contribution to the travel industry within the state of Montana. In 2000, she was awarded the Montana Tourism Person of the Year, the Billings Chamber of Commerce Tourism Person of the Year and was also awarded the Northwest Airlines President’s Award. The NWA President’s Award is awarded to only 12 (out of 40,000) employees of Northwest Airlines per year.

During her tenure in the tourism business, Perry was appointed to the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Council. During her 10 years on the council, she met with President Clinton at the White House to kick off the Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration and increased Northwest Airline’s seat capacity to Billings by 400 per day during the summer months.

In 2005, she became the community affairs manager for PPL Montana. This career change really allowed Lisa’s volunteerism and community spirit to shine. At PPL Montana, Perry manages the Community Fund which awards $200,000 annually to schools and non-profit organizations.  She also administers the United Way Campaign.

Lisa is also an active volunteer through PPL for United Way. In addition, Lisa has volunteered for the Salvation Army, American Cancer Society, PPL Montana Corp of Volunteers, and MSU Billings Campaign for Excellence and sits on the board of the Billings Community Foundation.

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Recognition for Exceptional Achievement
Mark W. Thompson
Senior Deputy Director, Advanced Systems Group, High Performance Technologies, Inc., Reston, VA

Mark ThompsonFrom a Montana cattle feedlot to Silicon Valley, Russia, Capitol Hill, and the nation’s leading technology and services firms, Mark Thompson has lived a single code: If you work hard, take reasonable and calculated risks, and you are fortunate to have a little luck, you can get ahead in life.

Not one to wait for life to happen, but rather one to make life happen, Thompson has approached his varied job opportunities and experiences as a stepping-stone to better himself.

After graduating from MSU Billings with a degree in economics in 1985, he worked in the agriculture industry at Vale Creek Ranch, a cattle feedlot south of Billings, where he worked while attending college. A downturn in the cattle cycle and the economy put Thompson on the path to new opportunities. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago and joined Morrison Knudsen Corp., in Washington, D.C. where he served as the Director of Government Affairs and managed government and public affairs and international project development in the energy, transportation, and resource industries.

 While at Morrison Knudsen, he led a unique medical relief mission for the Republic of Mongolia. Mark played an integral role in every aspect of this very complicated mission, concluding with an airlift that resulted in delivering some $1.7 million of medical supplies (17 tons) to Mongolian hospitals and clinics nationwide. 

Thompson has held several executive positions in leading technology firms, where he has been responsible for bringing to market new and leading-edge technologies and developing collaborative partnerships between industry, academia and government. 

Today, he works as director with High Performance Technologies, Inc. (HPTi) of Reston, Va., where he has led the resurgence of the company’s science and technology business.  Most notably, Thompson has formulated a research partnership with Stanford University, NASA, and several other partners to establish the Army High Performance Computing Research Center in Silicon Valley.  The research center supports Army R&D activities across the nation.   Mark has also been instrumental in the establishing HPTi’s climate sciences capabilities where his team of scientists and application specialists support NOAA and NASA on climate change research. 

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Recognition for Exceptional Achievement
Edward F. Parisian
Regional Director, Rocky Mountain Region, Senior Executive Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Edward ParisianEdward Parisian has been focused on and dedicated to education nearly his whole life. Even prior to enrolling at Eastern Montana College (now MSU Billings) the summer following his high school graduation, Parisian took advantage of the Upward Bound program for several summers during high school, so he was ready to hit the ground running once finally enrolled in college.

It didn’t take long for him to find a mentor in Mike Harkins. Harkins provided Parisian with the opportunity to play basketball at the college level and inspired him to pursue a degree in education and later to contribute to the lives of young men and women through athletics.

Since receiving his art degree in 1973 and his education degree in 1974, he has been a teacher, coach, principal, superintendent, school board member, parent committee member, parent and eventually had oversight and responsibility for 184 schools in 23 states as the Director of the Office of Indian Education. He is the only person to hold this position on two separate occasions.  Today, Parisian is the Rocky Mountain Regional Director with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

His initial goal was to first teach and then coach on an American Indian reservation. Edward really wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. He started this journey in Browning, Montana, where he was a junior high teacher and coach.

In 1990, Parisian’s responsibilities broadened immensely. He was selected as the Director of the Office of Indian Education within the BIA and had responsibility for all BIA schools within the country. He describes this position with the same enthusiasm as his initial teaching/coaching position. “This started my career working for the government and becoming a steward of our most precious resource, the young men and women coming through our BIA school systems. What an experience!”

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Recognition for Exceptional Achievement
Greg A. Krueger
Development Director for Downtown Billings, The Downtown Billings Partnership, Inc.

Greg Krueger“Truly, MSU Billings is a part of our family,” explains Greg Krueger as he described his youngest daughter’s graduation from MSU Billings with a degree in Elementary Education nearly 18 years after he graduated with a similar degree.

Krueger has impacted the lives of many citizens in the greater Billings area. Through his resilience and dedication, he has brought not only renovation to downtown Billings, but also national recognition. Perhaps more importantly, though, he has been instrumental in creating a vibrant downtown district that has attracted new businesses, shopping, entertainment and customers.

After obtaining is degree in 1979, Krueger spent the next seven years working for Billings School District in the Billings Career Center, where he taught broadcasting. His broadcasting experience began while a student at former Eastern Montana College. In fact, he was a student broadcaster on the last football game ever played by the EMC Yellowjackets at Daylis Stadium

Since 1998, Krueger has devoted himself to the improvement and viability of downtown Billings. He started as an Urban Renewal Professional with the Downtown Billings Partnership and the Downtown Development Corporation. He eventually became the Executive Director for the partnership in 2003. Under his leadership, Billings has been named the International Downtown of the Month twice, and was the site of the 2007 International Downtown Association Board of Directors retreat.

During this timeframe, Krueger and his wife, Rita, have raised four children and he actively participated in his children’s lives. Greg served as a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, and the District Vice Chairman for the Black Otter District of the Boy Scouts of America. He eventually was awarded the District Award of Merit.

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Outstanding Alumna
Judge Susan P. Watters
State Judicial District Court Judge, 13th Judicial District, (Yellowstone County) and Yellowstone County Family Drug Treatment Court Judge

Susan WattersJudge Susan Watters lives her personal and professional lives following three simple rules: work hard, treat others with respect and do the right thing.

A 1980 graduate with an English degree, Watters was appointed to the District Court Bench in January, 1998.  She presides over a general jurisdiction court.  Besides maintaining a full and busy court docket, in 2000 she was approached about a new and untested family drug court model for Yellowstone County. She took on the task without hesitation and the Yellowstone County Family Drug Treatment Court took its first client in June, 2001.  Since that time the Drug Court has favorably impacted the lives of many families throughout the Yellowstone County region.

The Yellowstone County Family Drug Treatment Court is designed to “treat” parents whose substance abuse has resulted in the removal of their children due to their abuse or neglect. Watters was instrumental in the design, model and implementation of this program and since its inception, the drug court has served 97 parents and 167 children.

The drug court is not a simple short-term rehabilitation program, but rather a holistic approach to treating substance abuse problems, which many times involves a methamphetamine addiction. Watters sums up her role with the drug court, “I’m part social worker, part parent, part motivational coach and part preacher.”

She is also the judge and many times is forced to make life-altering decisions for many of those that go before her in the courtroom. Rebecca Bey, Drug Court Coordinator, described Judge Watters’ involvement saying, “Judge Watters brings to the team a true desire to affect positive change in families, a commitment to her team and to the participants being served, a positive attitude and a desire to learn. She has the unique ability to be both a leader and a team equal, and gives freely of her time and talents to ensure the continued success of this program and the program graduates.”

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Merit Medallion
Lloyd D. Mickelson
Realtor, Prudential Floberg Realtors

Lloyd MickelsonTo most, teaching 27 years in the public school system would be enough to call it a career and it would be time to enjoy retirement. But for Lloyd Mickelson, the end of one career only meant the beginning of something new. And he did so with the unrelenting passion and dedication that allows him to not only excel, but be a leader.

Mickelson started teaching in the public school system in 1955. He received a master’s degree in education in 1964, and continued to teach until 1982. He finished his teaching career with 24 years at Billings Senior High School.

Staying true to his belief in improving a profession through involvement, he was active in his teacher’s union. He served as both President and Vice President of the Billings Education Association as well as on numerous committees. He also served as Regional Vice President of the Montana Education Association, and was on the Environmental Committee of the National Education Association.

For the past 19 years, he has immersed himself into the real estate business. He is currently a senior broker and senior vice president at Prudential Floberg Realtors. Just like his career in education, Mickelson again took an active role in the governance of the real estate profession and has served on the Billings Association of Realtors Board of Directors, the Montana Association of Realtors Board of Directors and is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

In addition to being highly active in both of his careers, he has given tremendously to his community. He is a member of the Billings Magic City Optimists, Rimrock Opera Company, Billings Cultural Partners, and is on the Parmly Billings Library Board of Trustees. He is a past member of the Official Board of the First United Methodist Church, Commission of Education and Committee of Evangelism; a past member of the Board of Directors for the Billings Studio Theater and the Board of Directors for the Downtown Billings Partnership, and he served in the United States Air Force during the Korean Conflict.

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J. Cody Montalban Award
Darryl Rensmon
Vice-President, Chief Information Officer - Morrison-Maierle, Inc., and President of Morrison-Maierle Systems Corp.

Darryl RensmonWhile Darryl Rensmon’s personal story may not be different than many other non-traditional students, his humility and selflessness are far from ordinary.

The MSU Billings Alumni Association Advisory Board decided to recognize Rensmon with an award that embodies the qualities of selflessness, dedication, and commitment — the J. Cody Montalban Award for Outstanding Service. Cody Montalban was an Alumni Association board member who passed away while serving on the board. An award honoring him was established and is given away only when the advisory board wants to honor a deserving candidate who has committed time and talents, beyond the norm, to the Alumni Association and the alumni programs.

Rensmon joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2001, and had an immediate and lasting impact. Shortly after agreeing to serve on the Board, a strategic planning committee was formed and Darryl immersed himself in this project that lasted well over a year.

He continued to support the Alumni Association even after moving to Helena for his career via phone meetings, special trips to Billings and staying involved and connected as he served out his term. Rensmon served six years on the Alumni Association Advisory Board, two as vice president. Currently, he serves on the MSU Billings Foundation Board of Trustees, the MSU Billings College of Technology National Advisory Board and the Drafting and Design Advisory Board.

In addition, he is active in his community serving as a coach for many youth activities and has also been a Sunday school teacher and youth leader. Commitment to youth is special for Rensmon and this is one reason why he is active in the MSU Foundation. He explained, “I am passionate about helping students through the MSU Billings Scholarship program. By participating in the Alumni Association and now the Foundation, I am able to share and promote opportunities that were given to me.”

Rensmon has approached his career with the same dedication he exhibits in his personal life. He has worked for Morrison-Maierle, Inc. (MMI) even before he enrolled at MSU Billings. In fact, he worked full time for Morrison-Maierle while attending college on a part-time basis. Once he completed his business administration degree in 1999, he advanced within the company and in 2003, became the Chief Information Officer for Morrison-Maierle, Inc. and in 2006 added the role of President of Morrison-Maierle Systems Corp. a technology subsidiary of MMI to his duties.

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