St. Catherine University is pleased to introduce the 2019 Alumnae Award Winners
Rising Star Alumnae Award Winner
(given to an alumna who has graduated in the last 15 years)
Shunu Shrestha ’07
Advisor for human trafficking prevention for the City of Minneapolis
Shrestha is dedicated to protecting the human rights of women and children at the city, state and international level, and embodies the ideals of the University by transforming the very way that our communities empower those
who are powerless.
She is the City of Minneapolis’ first senior advisor for human trafficking prevention. Her role is to advise the city with new policies and best practices on issues related to human trafficking and all kinds of exploitation. The work is similar to her role at the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault in Duluth, where she oversaw the trafficking prevention program. Shrestha also worked in nongovernmental organizations in her native country of Nepal, where she actively promoted human rights of women and children and to end gender-based violence, including trafficking of women and children.
Shrestha’s work was recognized at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 2018 award gala. She was also honored with the YWCA’s Women of Distinction award, the Humanitarian Award from the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, and received special recognition for her work on the Safe Harbor initiative by The Advocates for Human Rights.
Alumnae Award Winners
Bao Vang ’91
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hmong American Partnership (HAP)
Vang knows the meaning of leading and influencing. Her work supports refugee and immigrant families to help them find success in the United States. In doing so, she also encourages those around her to discover their own leadership pathways.
Now the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hmong American Partnership (HAP), Vang has more than two decades of leadership and management experience in business and government agencies. During her time at
HAP she has grown the organizational budget from $3 million to more than $14 million, serving more than 20,000 clients annually.
Vang has served on the board of various national and local task forces, including appointments from both the Governor’s and Mayor’s offices. She was recognized by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as a Champion of Change. Her business interests reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the greater Hmong community. She is a 1999 Bush Fellow, and in 2013 was listed in Minnesota Monthly’s 75 Most Influential People in the Twin Cities. She has been given numerous other awards and recognitions over the past decade.
Helen Wagner ’69
Public Relations Manager at 3M (retired) and dedicated volunteer
Compassion has been the compass guiding Wagner on her career path. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded the University with the tenet to “serve thy dear neighbor,” which Wagner continues to live daily as a volunteer.
Wagner began her career teaching English in 1973 before joining 3M as a publicity specialist. She retired as the head of public relations after a 40-year career at the company’s global headquarters in St. Paul and in New York City. She earned national recognition when she promoted a collaboration between 3M and the Red Cross to distribute face masks during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. Wagner also worked as an adjunct professor at St. Kate’s 1998–2005, and as a volunteer in numerous roles, including chair of the Alumnae Council, 2014–2016.
Service was at the forefront of Wagner’s career, serving individuals who are homeless in New York, volunteering as a reading teacher, mentoring young women in life skills, and working with elementary and high school students as a Junior Achievement Advisor. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Landmark Center.