The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award honors an alumnus/alumna for leadership and service to St. Thomas, the community and in their field of endeavor. Since 1971, the St. Thomas Alumni Association has honored an individual each year for their extraordinary achievement.
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2023 Award Recipient
Luigi Bernardi '85, MBA '89
Luigi Bernardi '85 and '89 MBA has a rich history and family legacy at St. Thomas. Under the leadership of Luigi's father, the late Tony Bernardi, the family made a 1999 gift to St. Thomas to establish the university’s Bernardi Campus in Rome. The Bernardi family businesses have made a huge impact on the Twin Cities as owners and developers of raw land, retail, medical facilities, housing and hotels. Luigi has carried on his family's legacy and is creating his own impact on our community in countless ways, one being his most recent project, a 42-story luxury condo tower in the Mills District of Minneapolis on the Mississippi River called "Eleven." It is the tallest residential building in Minnesota. He currently serves as the president of Arcadia/Aurora, and continues to be an avid supporter of our university.
Michael Hoffman '88
The former Chairman and CEO of the Toro Company, Michael started his career at Toro at the age of 22 while taking classes at St. Thomas and worked his way up the ranks at Toro to be elected President in 2004, serve as CEO 2005-2016, and Chairman 2006-2017. In partnership with the Toro Company and the Hoffman Family Foundation, Michael established the Melrose and The Toro Company Center for Principled Leadership in 2020 to promote and celebrate principled leadership through academic research, teaching, and outreach activities.
Maj. Michelle Curran '09
In February 2019, Capt. Michelle Curran performed a flyover during the Super Bowl. It was her first time with the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, also known as the Thunderbirds. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant the same day she graduated from St. Thomas. Curran was only the fifth female pilot in the Thunderbirds’ history. Her extraordinary achievement at a young age demonstrates leadership, service to country and supreme excellence in her field.
Cardinal Blase Cupich '71
Cupich is an American prelate of the Catholic Church, a cardinal who serves as the ninth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is also a member of the Roman Curia’s Congregation for Bishops, which plays a role in advising on bishop appointments and episcopal matters.
Mary Brainerd '79 M.B.A.
For 15 years as president and CEO of HealthPartners, Brainerd led the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health-care organization in the country. As a founder and former chair of the Itasca Project, she demonstrates her ability to guide others in seeking to advance the common good.
Andrew Cecere '82
Cecere was named president of U.S. Bancorp in 2016, chief executive officer in 2017 and chairman in 2018. Cecere has been with U.S. Bancorp since 1985 and has held other leadership roles within the organization, including chief financial officer, chief operating officer, president and vice chairman.