UW-Eau Claire Alumni

Lifetime Excellence Award
2016 Recipients

The Lifetime Excellence Awards are presented to alumni who have demonstrated long-time and successful commitment to their careers and communities. These individuals have made a positive and dramatic impact through enthusiastic dedication to service and living their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence." 

Mary Jo quinnMary Jo Quinn ‘77 bachelor’s degree in special education  

Mary Jo Quinn has taken an unexpected track to becoming a successful investment attorney, with a theme of service to others remaining a constant along the way.

Her career began as one would expect following her UW-Eau Claire graduation with a special education degree, when for seven years she was a special education teacher at public schools in Loyal, Wisconsin, and Littleton, Colorado. She then decided to attend law school, hoping to eventually lobby for disability issues when working as an investment attorney. After receiving her juris doctor degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, she worked at firms in Washington, D.C., and Chicago for eight years before joining Allstate Insurance in 1996.

At Allstate, Quinn has held several leadership positions in various divisions. Now, as vice president and assistant general counsel in Allstate’s Investments and Business Transactions Law Division, she leads a team of lawyers providing legal services to Allstate’s portfolio of over $80 billion.

Quinn also volunteers as Allstate’s relationship manager with Cabrini Green Legal Aid. In that role, she organized the training of more than 65 Allstate lawyers to join her in volunteering with CGLA, which gives low-income clients a second chance through expungement and clemency. She arranged for donations of more than $100,000 from Allstate to support the effort, and she has recruited other corporations to join them in their work.

Charles SzewsCharles Szews ‘78 bachelor’s degree in accounting  

Charles Szews retired in December after 20 years in leadership roles at Oshkosh Corporation, a global manufacturer and marketer of specialty vehicles and vehicle bodies. Szews served over time in the positions of executive vice president, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, company president and chief executive officer. He had served as Oshkosh’s CEO for five years at the time of his retirement, and he had been a member of the company’s board of directors since 2007.

Szews helped lead the growth of Oshkosh Corporation from an unprofitable company with $400 million in sales and under $75 million in market equity in 1996 to a global industrial company with sales over $6 billion, strong margins and $3 billion in market equity in 2015. The evolution of the Oshkosh Corporation culture under Szews’ leadership resulted in the company being one of only 131 companies across 21 countries named by the Ethisphere Institute as a World's Most Ethical Company.

Highlights during Szews’ career at Oshkosh Corporation included two major U.S. Defense Department contracts: (1) the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (or M-ATV) in 2009, which saved thousands of American and coalition troop lives from mine blasts in Afghanistan; and (2) the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (or JLTV) in 2015, which replaces the HMMWV (commonly known as the Humvee).

Before joining Oshkosh Corporation, Szews spent eight years with Fort Howard Corporation working in a series of positions, most recently as vice president and controller. He also received his certified public accountant certification in 1980 and has 10 years of independent auditing experience with Ernst & Young

View the list of past recipients of this award.