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Seven to receive Alumni Association awards

RELEASED: May 17, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — Seven accomplished alumni will return to campus to receive awards from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association May 21 at a luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with spring commencement.

Col. Dorothy F. Klasse, Patrick Schillinger and Sona Mehring each will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Dorothy Klasse
Col. Dorothy F. Klasse

Col. Dorothy F. Klasse, U.S. Army-Retired, has 25 years of engineering and construction management experience as a veteran of the U.S. Army and Corps of Engineers. Her work has supported U.S. military forces in Iraq and Kuwait, hastened the reparation of levees in California and Nevada after flooding, and assisted the recovery following Hurricane Andrew in Florida.

Klasse graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1974 with bachelor's degrees in biology and geography. She completed Airborne School in Fort Benning, Ga., and received a master's degree in geography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She graduated from Air Assault School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

Klasse was the first woman in the history of the Army to lead a Corps District. She received the Legion of Merit, the Army's highest peacetime award.

"My experience with UW-Eau Claire was synonymous with the Army's motto — 'Be all you can be,'" said Klasse, who resides in Arlington, Va. "UW-Eau Claire gave me the education and tools to be successful and to that end I am most grateful."

Patrick Schilinger
Patrick Schillinger

Patrick Schillinger graduated in 1989 with a degree in political science. He has a juris doctor degree from UW-Madison and graduated from the Institute of Organization Management at the University of Delaware. As a private attorney, he specialized in civil litigation.

Since 2007, Schillinger has been assistant vice president of government relations for Integrys Energy Group, a utility holding company. He manages the company's work with Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, and its federal relations in Washington, D.C.

Sona Mehring is the founder and CEO of CaringBridge, a nonprofit website that connects families and friends in times of health crises. She graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Mehring worked as a software engineer prior to starting her own technology solution consulting company, Beacon Point Technologies.

Sona Mehring
Sona Mehring

With the founding of CaringBridge in 1997, Mehring launched one of the first social networks. More than one billion visits have been made to CaringBridge.org, with daily visitors coming from all 50 states and more than 225 countries. Mehring received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition and was named one of 2011's "Most Influential Women in Technology" by Fast Company and "Leading Woman for Change" by MSN.com. She is a member of Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation, the National Health Council and the National Health Marketing Leadership Roundtable.

Laureen Seeger and Grace Lau will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Laureen Seeger
Laureen Seeger

Laureen Seeger is executive vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer for McKesson Corp., a health care information technology company and pharmaceutical distributor. She previously represented technology firms as a trial lawyer and did compliance investigations for Fortune 500 companies while working at private law offices in Atlanta.

Seeger graduated in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. She earned a juris doctor degree from UW-Madison in 1986, where she was managing editor of the Wisconsin International Law Journal. She has been recognized three times by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the "100 Most Influential Bay Area Women."

Grace Y. Lau is CEO and co-founder of PacWest Financial Management Inc., a registered investment advisory firm in Phoenix.

Grace Lau
Grace Lau

Lau graduated in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in biology, and has a master's of business administration in international business and finance from George Washington University. Lau, a chartered financial analyst and an honor graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School, has worked in business development, asset management, lending and portfolio management for major wealth management firms.

Lau said her financial management abilities can be traced to UW-Eau Claire, where she received a scholarship and her single extravagance was one $5 pair of jeans in four years.

"My mother dreamed of sending her children away from Hong Kong for an education," said Lau, the oldest of four children. "I knew I had a responsibility to my family and worked relentlessly to secure a better financial future for them and for myself."

Lau was recognized as a member of the "2010 Million Dollar Club" by az magazine, showcasing women business owners in Arizona who represent innovation, growth, community service and lifetime achievement. She also was named among 50 "Distinguished Women in Wealth Management" by Wealth Manager in 2008.

Esther Heideman and Jeffrey Madison each will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which acknowledges special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.

Esther Heideman
Esther Heideman

Esther Heideman is an accomplished opera singer who has performed throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. She has performed at The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has appeared with such orchestras as The New York Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Boston Baroque, Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. She has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Milwaukee Symphony.

Heideman graduated in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in music-applied voice and holds a master's degree in voice performance from the University of Minnesota. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition. In addition to singing, Heideman also teaches voice and masterclasses.

Jeffrey Madison
Jeffrey Madison

Baritone Dr. Jeffrey Madison has performed across the country and has more than 30 opera roles to his credit. He has appeared with The Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Western Plains Opera and Fargo-Moorhead Opera. He received a bachelor's degree in music and voice performance from UW-Eau Claire in 2001. He earned a master's and a doctorate degree in music and voice performance from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Madison has appeared on Minnesota Public Radio. He will make his Carnegie Hall debut this year, performing with the Minnesota Orchestra. He is a past Metropolitan National Council Auditions District Winner and a Schubert Club winner. He currently is a senior lecturer in voice at UW-Superior and a voice instructor at Bethel University.

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MC/RD/JB

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