A regional health center in Los Chiles, Nicaragua where VIDA setup a free health and dental clinic for two days. Photographed for the story "Pura Vida" in St. Thomas Magazine. Vida, a Costa Rica based volunteer tourism organization, was started by St. Thomas alum Sondra Elizondo. College students pursuing medical, dental, or veterinary careers including St. Thomas pre-med senior Shelley Coughlin participate in the trips that go throughout Central America.

Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna for contributions to the betterment of the spiritual and material welfare of the less fortunate. Since 1968, the St. Thomas Alumni Association has honored an individual each year for their extraordinary contributions.

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Nominations for the 2024 St. Thomas Day Alumni Awards are officially open. Thank you for your submission(s)!
Headshot of Elizabeth Petheo

2023 Humanitarian Award Recipient

Elizabeth Petheo '01

Often at the forefront of the world's most pressing political and economic challenges, Elizabeth Petheo ’01 has driven both program and policy work with leading international partners, including U.S. government agencies, the private sector and international and local organizations. She successfully led field response operations for leading international organizations in post-earthquake Haiti and a post-Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami humanitarian assistance program during active civil war in Sri Lanka. She was also part of Miyamoto’s disaster response and recovery programs following earthquakes in Ecuador and Mexico and most recently on the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake response. Petheo is currently a Principal at Miyamoto International, Inc., a disaster risk reduction and structural engineering consulting firm.

Environmental photo of Carolyn Smallwood Latayna Daniels enviornmental photo Profile photo of Beth Burns '94 James Daly is interviewed at home for his 2018 award. Dr. Wayne Thalhuber '60 (biology) poses for a portrait in his Mendota Heights home December 20, 2016. Thalhuber is the recipient of the 2017 St. Thomas Day Humanitarian Award.


Carolyn Smallwood '87

Carolyn Smallwood is the CEO of Way to Grow, an organization that has brought the community together to address the serious and prevalent gap in early childhood education in the Twin Cities. She previously served as vice president for Sales and Marketing at Twin Cities Rise! and Executive Director of the Minnesota Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC). She currently serves on the Ciresi and Walburn Foundation Board of Directors, the African American Leadership Forum Board of Directors, Minnesota Comeback Board of Directors (where she serves as Co-Chair), and the MinneMinds Executive Committee.
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Latanya Daniels '01 M.A., '04 Ed.S., '19 Ed.D.

Before taking her current role as assistant superintendent at Richfield Public Schools, Daniels was blazing a trail as principal of Patrick Henry High School. She helped the school earn the 2015 ranking by U.S. News & World Report of third best high school in Minnesota.
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Beth Burns '94

Burns' nonprofit organization, p:ear, has offered life-changing services to Portland, Oregon’s, homeless youth through programs in education, arts and recreation. As co-founder and executive director, she brings dignity, hope and a positive vision for the future to more than 50 young people a day – almost 5,000 over the course of p:ear’s existence.


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James Daly '69

After a 26-year career with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Daly settled into a life of volunteer service the likes of which few people could imagine. He has shown generosity of time and spirit to countless victims of catastrophe as well as those who aid them, from disaster-relief work at 9/11’s Ground Zero, to Hurricane Katrina relief, to on-site management in the wake of the 35W bridge collapse (for which he received a President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Bush himself).


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Wayne Thalhuber, M.D. '60

A retired physician, Thalhuber’s contributions to medicine are longstanding and exemplify his devotion to easing the suffering of individuals in their last days of life. He served as diplomat to the American Board of Internal Medicine from 1968-2001, and as diplomat to the American Board of Palliative Care and Hospice from 1992-2001. He also was chairman of the Ramsey County Medical Society in 1987; medical director of Our Lady of Good Counsel from 1968-2008; and medical director of HealthEast Hospice from 1992-2001.


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