Alumni Awards

Award Descriptions

Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes an individual graduate whose career reflects extraordinary accomplishment.

Selection is based on exceptional contribution to one’s chosen field and record of innovative professional leadership OR outstanding record of service to one’s community, SoHE, and/or UW-Madison.

Early Career Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding graduates, age 40 or under, who have received a degree [undergraduate or graduate] from a program within the School of Human Ecology.

Selection is based on demonstrated achievement and leadership within a chosen field.

Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award

Recognizes a graduate who has demonstrated successful interdisciplinary application of their School of Human Ecology studies and whose work exemplifies “The Wisconsin Idea.”

Selection is based on outstanding career achievement reflecting Human Ecology mission, interdisciplinary perspectives, and innovation leadership AND exemplary service to the community, School of Human Ecology, and/or UW-Madison.

Congratulations to our 2019 Alumni Awards Winners!

Headshot of Linda Ahlers

Linda Ahlers (’72), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

A young Linda Ahlers (SoHE ‘72) perhaps could not have imagined the success she would achieve in her career when she was selling rabbit pellets at her father’s farm supply store in Weyauwega, Wisconsin—a town of only about 1,200 people when she was growing up there.  […]


Dorothy O'Brien

Dorothy O’Brien (’70), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Trying to arrange the timeline and geography of Dorothy O’Brien’s storied life can leave one scratching one’s head. But maybe that’s precisely the effect O’Brien would be glad to inspire, considering what she appreciates from her own SoHE experience.  […]


Headshot of Karen Ohm

Karon Ohm (’84), Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award Winner

It is perhaps appropriate, considering the countless smiles and laughs she sparks in those who know her, that Karon Ohm, winner of this year’s Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award in the School of Human Ecology, spent part of her early career helping to build and expand a dental practice. [...]


Headshot of Rebecca Brown

Rebecca Brown (’06), Early Career Alumni Award Winner

Rebecca Brown, SoHE ’06, knew she wanted to be an interior designer since her senior year of high school in Wallace, Michigan. She excelled in her art classes, her architectural drawing classes, and even on the then-early iterations of AutoCAD software.  […]

Congratulations to our 2018 Alumni Awards Winners!

Alumni Award winner Ann Neviaser

Ann Neviaser (’85), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner
Widely recognized by an assortment of titles, B. Ann Neviaser (‘85) is first and foremost the President of Neviaser Investments, Inc., a company that owns and operates commercial real estate. As well as being managing partner of the DoubleTree Hotels in Madison and Milwaukee, she maintains a variety of roles within the community. […]

Closeup of Al Toon

Al Toon (’95), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner
Since graduating from the School of Human Ecology, Albert “Al” Toon (’95) has had many notable accomplishments. Between an outstanding career in the NFL, his successful entrepreneurial endeavors, and being a devoted husband and father, Toon has always found time to give back to his community. […]


Kim Sponem

Kim Sponem (’90), Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award Winner
Kim Sponem (’90) is committed to improving the financial well-being of families and cares deeply about her community at all levels: professional, local, and national. As CEO and President of one of the largest credit unions in Wisconsin since 2002, Sponem has received numerous awards for her leadership and community engagement. […]

Alumni Award Winner Seamus Fitzgerald

Seamus Fitzgerald (’12), Early Career Alumni Award Winner
Seamus Fitzgerald (’12) has spent the first five years of his career in the field of philanthropy and fundraising for higher education. He has progressed through four positions at Northwestern University and currently serves as Assistant Director of Major Gifts, Alumni Relations, & Development for the Chicago Region. In this position Seamus is impacting higher education philanthropy on an exciting and challenging new level. […]

Congratulations to our 2017 Alumni Awards Winners!

Carol Sapoznik

Carol Sapoznik (’69), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner
After retiring from 40 years in retailing, including serving as VP for the national giant Crate and Barrel, Carol Sapoznik (’69) has dipped into her second career—running a “foodie” boutique in her New England hometown. Beyond her retail venture, Sapoznik has spent years giving back to her community, connecting with her […]


Carol Anderson

Carol L. Anderson (’65), Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award Winner 
SoHE grad Carol Anderson (’65 BS, ’69 MS) is a Midwest leader with a lifetime of consumer science experience, from 4H and farming to educating and consulting. Her national and international activities reveal a deep dedication to the promotion of the human sciences while her civic involvement is devoted to helping the citizens of […]

Emily Ostertag dress.

Emily Ostertag (’06), Early Career Alumni Award Winner 
In 2012, interior design grad and student athlete Emily Ostertag (’06 BS, ’08 MS) landed her dream job at a world-class architecture and interior design firm in Kansas City. That same firm was recently granted the $84 million project to rebuild UW-Madison’s SERF recreation center and swimming pool. […]

Congratulations to our 2016 Alumni Awards Winners!

Elizabeth Schar photo.

Elizabeth Schar (’75), Distinguished Alumni Award Winner
It has been said that human ecologists have been quietly and humbly changing the world for centuries. Because of Elizabeth Holloway Schar’s (BS ’75 Family and Consumer Journalism) many and varied contributions that continue to affect the lives of others, this year’s awards committee has recognized her as the 2016 School of  […]

Stacy Igel photos.

Stacy Igel (’99), Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award Winner
From the moment Stacy Igel stepped onto the UW-Madison campus she knew this school is where she belonged. Entrepreneurship runs in her veins, and what better place to push boundaries than in the School of Human Ecology. Igel credits her internship experiences as a SoHE student to the foundation where she was able to […]


Kari Temkin

Kari Temkin (’09), Early Career Alumni Award Winner 
Kari Temkin graduated from SoHE’s Community & Nonprofit Leadership program in 2009.  Kari’s experiences as an undergrad at the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology propelled her into a life of public service.  In her current position as the Badger Volunteers coordinator, Kari leads the operations, quality and growth of […]