Katies in Action: 2022 Alumni Award Winners

Since 1979, St. Catherine University annually recognizes outstanding graduates who demonstrate excellence in leadership; service to others; an influential role in the home, profession, community, church, or volunteer activities; and the ideals of St. Catherine University. Each award recipient exemplifies the missions of the University and how our graduates foster Forever St. Catherine.

Hlee Yang

Hlee Yang '18

Public Health Specialist, City of Bloomington

A love for helping others drew Hlee Yang ’18 to St. Kate’s — originally, she thought that the nursing program was her calling. After getting to know the public health program and meeting program director Mary Hearst, PhD, Yang knew that her path for advocating for improved health among community members was through a public health degree. She credits her St. Kate’s experience for recognizing her leadership abilities.

“I knew that if I went to a school dedicated to supporting women in higher education, that would support me to become more advanced in academics and as a leader,” Yang says. “I never thought of myself as a leader until I came to St. Kate’s.”

After receiving her degree in public health in 2018, Yang began her career as a council member for the Tobacco Advisory Group at the Hmong American Partnership. She then joined the Hmong Health Care Professionals Coalition. As a public health specialist with the City of Bloomington, Yang is currently focused on keeping community members connected to their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the pandemic, I put all the skills that I learned at St. Kate’s to use,” Yang says. “I’m talking with the community; I’m writing grants that can help programs continue funding for health programs needed in the community.”

Audrey Betcher '83

Director, Rochester Public Library (retired)

Audrey Betcher ’83 describes her career and the impact her team works for as the meeting of “my love of libraries with the importance of social justice.” The former Rochester Public Library director, now retired, says that attending St. Kate’s had a profound impact on her life. “Growing up in a small town in a very traditional household, it was a shock when I went to St. Kate’s, but it was so empowering to see women leaders,” she says.  “The social justice at St. Kate’s also had an impact on my life, trying to build a world that’s more fair.”

After graduating from St. Kate’s in 1983, Betcher worked automating libraries all over the world before returning to Rochester, Minnesota, to run the SELCO automation system and then joining the Rochester Public Library. She served as library director for 21 years, and she and the library have been honored with numerous awards under her leadership. Many of these are for programming — including equity in racial justice, LGBTQ+, pandemic-related needs, and people experiencing homelessness — focused on making the library a welcoming place for all in the community.

Betcher’s daughter Nora is a DupliKate, having graduated from St. Kate’s in 2020. “To have the tradition of strong women means a lot to me,” the 1983 alumna says.

Audrey Betcher
Marna Anderson

Marna Anderson MAOL'08

Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce

At Nonviolent Peaceforce, Marna Anderson MAOL’08 leads teams that use nonviolent approaches and unarmed means to reduce conflict and deter violence. Anderson employs the lessons from her Master of Organizational Leadership to lead her teams in successfully applying different models of conflict resolution using empathy, creativity, and commitment.

“The reason I chose St. Kate’s was the mission of the University,” she says. “Their approach to leadership — looking at leadership much more broadly — and the focus on ethics, I thought, was really, really important.”

In leading the U.S. office of Nonviolent Peaceforce, Anderson says the root of her work is “showing up for people in a genuine way ... that idea that I learned at St. Kate’s and that has continued in my career. I describe it as leading from the heart.” 

Anderson has embodied this person-first approach at many organizations during her career: Sexual Violence Center, Advocates for Human Rights, Planned Parenthood, WATCH, and the Nature Conservancy of Minnesota.