2020 MCDA Award Recipients

Sunny Hansen Graduate Student Award

This award honors outstanding graduate students for excellence in projects, service, teaching, and/or research that shows a demonstration to career development as a current or future career.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Alison Kennedy for the Sunny Hansen Graduate Student Award. Alison is the Public Interest and Judicial Clerkship Adviser in the Career Center at the University of Minnesota Law School. As Alison’s colleague, I have observed first-hand her commitment to learn about career development and witnessed the impact she currently has on students.
Alison is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota and is earning her MA in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, Higher Education. For her graduate thesis, Alison is researching the intersection of mental health and career services when working with law students. Her article, No Wrong Door: How Career Services Staff Play a Key Role in Law Student Well-Being was published in the November 2019 NALP Bulletin. The National Association of Law Placement (NALP), is a professional association serving over 2,500 legal career professionals and legal employers. Alison’s piece introduced the topic of well-being and urged career services professionals to examine their role in supporting students’ mental health during a career search. This article is the foundation for her final thesis and she has been accepted as a session speaker at the 2020 NALP Annual Education Conference taking place in Montreal, Canada.
In her current role, Alison regularly meets with students. Initially Alison joined the Career Center staff with a focus on advising law students through the judicial clerkship process. In addition to meeting one on one with students, she partners with key stakeholders at the law school to prepare students for high-stakes interviews with Supreme Court Justices as well as other clerkship opportunities. She quickly demonstrated her counseling skills in working with students and has expanded her counseling caseload to include working with students on career planning outside of the judicial clerkship process. Recently Alison shared an email she received from one of the students she works with. The student wrote “You have been such a great comfort and a great resource for me. You work so hard for all of us students. It’s GREATLY appreciated.”
Alison is well respected throughout the Law School and in addition to her job duties contributes to the Professional Development Committee and the Clerkship Committee at the Law School. She also is an active participant in the Career Development Network (CDN) at the overall University and is a member of CDN’s Diversity Committee. Committed to professional development, she is also a member of MNLCP and NALP.
Other highlights of Alison’s work include her leadership in program development. This includes the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office Mentoring Program which pairs students with legal professionals. Additionally, she created a First Gen program providing support to law students who identify as either first generation college students and/or first generation law students.
In closing, Alison is an outstanding graduate student and professional. Her dedication to career services as her post-graduation career is evident through her engagement with students.”

“We are delighted to recommend Christine Koch for the Sunny Hansen Graduate Student Award! This award recognizes outstanding individuals for excellence in projects, service, teaching, and research dedicated to career development. In career centers at both St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota, Christine has contributed significantly to students’ career development in a multitude of ways for this award. We have had the pleasure to see Christine develop as an advisor, a professional and an individual. As an advisor at the career center at St. Cloud State, Christine is principled and caring. She is adept at assessing students’ developmental needs and developing strategies that will help them achieve their academic and career goals. Christine’s position requires her to understand, explore, and recommend a variety of academic and career resources to students. She has shown excellent listening skills, an outstanding ability to build a trusting relationship, sincere empathy for her students, and a strong desire to maintain contact through genuine Follow-up. Christine has excellent communication, and staff mentoring skills. She is an outstanding presenter. She takes the initiative to create presentations that meet the educational needs of her audience while engaging them in the material. Christine uses her leadership and supportive talents to the advantage of our team. Numerous times over the past year, she has taken the initiative to help her incoming team members learn about their roles in the office, gain advising skills, and feel supported as part of the staff. She is always available to them to answer questions and offer positive feedback. Christine is always eager to take on a new challenge. She tackles each new project with enthusiasm, creativity, and precision. At the University of Minnesota, Christine is a graduate intern who co-teaches two career courses for the College    of Design and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. While these students have very different career goals and needs, Christine effectively connects with both audiences through engaging content. She also has transformed our stale PowerPoint materials using tools such as Slide Carnival and created fun ways for the whole class to contribute their ideas using Poll Everywhere. Christine has added value to our team at the University of Minnesota by researching better ways we can utilize Handshake, our job and internship board, to attract students to our career events as well as show us tools we’ve yet to take advantage of. Christine has gone above and beyond her job description this year by contributing to important projects. Christine has recruited four-member alumni panels across our 12 sections of career courses. It’s a daunting task on top of taking appointments, crafting presentations, conducting outreach, and hiring staff, but she takes it all in stride with her incredible initiative and passion for career development. Christine has been a valuable member of our institutions and is highly deserving of this award!”

Marty Dockman Merit Award

This award recognizes an individuals (or teams) who have made a difference in the lives of clients or served MCDA, the organization.

“I am excited to submit Lisa Ash for your consideration for this year’s Marty Dockman Merit Award. Lisa’s qualifications for this award span multiple years and involve both her professional experience as a Career Counselor for Capella University as well as her investment in and commitment to the Minnesota Career Development Association. 

A small sampling of her contributions include: 

  • MCDA Mentor Program Co-Chair 2017-2019
  • MCDA Conference Committee Registration Chair 2017-2020
  • Empathic Career Coach daily impacting the lives of diverse and under-represented College Students

Lisa’s dedication shines through in everything she puts her hand to. She takes the opportunities presented to her and executes in ways that exceed expectation time and again. She is an incredible collaborator, investigator, and counselor who consistently delivers at the highest level. 

Lisa’s director at Capella University, Sharon Balke, says, “Time and again, Lisa has taken the initiative to apply her organizational and planning skills to projects, and is recognized by the entire Career Center as an invaluable team member. What I am most impressed with, though, is Lisa’s dedication to the students she works with, who can sense her authenticity and commitment to partnering with them to achieve their career goals. One student commented, ‘Lisa has been absolutely wonderful. So incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. I do not know what I would do without her continued help and support. Thank you so much, Lisa!’ All of us in the Capella Career Center feel the same way!”

Irene Rossman Award

This award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to MCDA and/or the field of career development.

“It is with great excitement that I submit Cindy Edwards for the Irene Rossman Award. Having had the opportunity to work with her since I first joined MCDA in 2014, I have been impressed with both her commitment to the field of Career Development and the positive attitude she brings to everything she is part of. 

Throughout her career, Cindy has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to her own personal development and those of other career professionals in Minnesota. This year alone, she:

  • Led the breakout committee for the 2019 Careers Conference
  • Partnered with Vic Massaglia on presenting at the 2019 Fall Event
  • Partnered with Annie Montemayor on re-launching MCDA webinars

These contributions were given with no thought to personal gain; just how she could support other professionals in their growth. This commitment to other career professionals has led her to serve on the MCDA Board in addition to her time on the MCDA Conference Committee and partnering on presentations for both State and National Career Development Conferences. 

Irene Rossman embodied what it means to serve both your clients and your fellow career professionals with compassion and exuberance. Cindy shares this spirit and has demonstrated it in her private practice and with MCDA for the past 14+ years. It has been my honor to work with Cindy and I hope the Awards Committee can see from the attached documents the incredible contribution Cindy has made within the Minnesota Career Development community throughout her career and especially in the past 12 months.”

Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award

This award recognizes an individual’s lifetime achievement (15 years or more) in the field of career development. 

“It is my distinct honor and pleasure to submit Nancy Fraasch for the Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award. When I think of Career Professionals who have had an impact throughout their careers, I can think of few who have done as deeply or as broadly as Nancy has. From the moment I met her, it was clear that she has a passion for helping others in their careers. This has been exemplified in her professional life as well as involvement in MCDA. 

Nancy has been involved with MCDA in numerous meaningful ways including:

  • Conference Co-Chair for the 2015 Minnesota Careers Conference
  • MCDA President from 2006-2007
  • Committee member for By-law revisions 2013-2014
  • MCDA Membership and Outreach Committee Chair 2018-2019

This is on top of her extensive involvement professionally in her private practice daily impacting the lives of the clients she supports. Nancy has an incredible ability to see the big picture and draw others into the vision she has. Whether working with clients individually or in groups, Nancy is an empathic listener who meets clients where they are and actively works to help them get where they want to be. 

A former Marty Dockman Merit Award winner, Nancy has set an incredible standard for what Career Development in Minnesota can be. It is with the hope that others can continue to learn from her and see the impact she has made that I offer her name in nomination for the Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award.”