Eight alumni and friends of the university will receive UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association awards Dec. 22 at an event in conjunction with winter commencement. The awards recognize the recipients' professional and personal successes as well as their contributions to their alma mater, their communities and their professions.
Learn more about the Alumni Association honorees below. (Also read their words of advice for UW-Eau Claire's December graduates.)
Lifetime Excellence Award
The Lifetime Excellence Award is presented to UW-Eau Claire alumni who have demonstrated longtime 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.”
Bert Colianni ’76, bachelor’s degree in accounting, and Suzie Colianni
Bert Colianni, chief executive officer of Marquette Companies, oversees the numerous and diverse operating companies and investments of the Minneapolis-based organization. Since 1982 when he began as a controller, Bert has served in multiple executive positions within the company, including CEO of its previously owned bank and 20 years overseeing the commercial real estate, finance and investment branches of the organization. Bert worked for the firm now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining Marquette.
Bert maintains extensive commitments working to support the Twin Cities community, serving on multiple boards and executive committees, including those of Greater MSP, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library of St. John’s University, Optum Bank and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. He has also served as chair of the board for multiple organizations, including the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Breck Preparatory School Board of Trustees, the Downtown Council of MSP, and CommonBond Communities.
Bert also was a recipient of the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in 1996.
Suzie Colianni also attended UW-Eau Claire before she and Bert married in 1975. Suzie has long been an active leader in volunteerism and philanthropy throughout the Twin Cities region. She currently serves as chair of the board for Ascension Catholic School, where her efforts and leadership have helped to raise $15 million. For 23 years Suzie co-owned and operated Ski-Away Inc., a popular Minnesota women’s alpine skiing and snowboarding school.
The Coliannis’ commitment to educational, ecumenical and cultural volunteerism has not gone unnoticed in their state: The Minnesota Association of Fundraising Professionals honored them with the 2017 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers Award.
The President’s Award recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.
David Larson ’90, bachelor’s degree in chemistry
David Larson is the director of scientific marketing at CAMECA, a global leading supplier of microanalytical and metrology instrumentation for research and process control. Larson is being recognized for his pioneering contributions to the development of atom probe tomography, especially its application to the field of materials science.
As a graduate student at Oxford University, Larson co-invented the local electrode atom probe, a patented technology that has revolutionized the field of atom probe tomography over the last 15 years. CAMECA now manufactures and sells this instrumentation around the world. In 2011, Larson and his research colleagues were awarded the Materials Research Society “Innovation in Materials Characterization Award” for this groundbreaking achievement.
Larson serves in visiting honorary faculty roles at the University of Oxford, the University of Sydney and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is fulfilling a six-year term as president of the International Field Emission Society, the leading professional society in the field of atom probe-related science and technology.
The author of roughly 250 scientific publications and an invited guest presenter at more than 50 global materials science institutions, Larson has been granted eight U.S. patents and has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s International Research Fellow Award and the Microscopy Society of America’s Burton Medal. He previously was recognized by UW-Eau Claire with the 2005 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award.
Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award
The Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.
Angelica Hambrick ’02, bachelor’s degree in public communication
Angie Hambrick is the assistant vice president for diversity, justice and sustainability at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She is widely recognized for her success in bringing programs and services to campus that promote a more culturally responsive, socially just and sustainable community for students, faculty and staff.
An active and engaged Blugold alumna who previously served on the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association board of directors, Hambrick and classmate Angela Pittman Taylor established the UW-Eau Claire Black Alumni Network and the Alumni of Color Social Justice and Inclusion Scholarship, a fund designated to support student advocates for tolerance, understanding and change.
The recipient of multiple grants and regional, national and international awards, Hambrick recently was honored by NASPA, the leading association for individuals in the student affairs profession, with its regional Innovative Program Award. NASPA recognized her program called “PLU Listen,” a collection of submitted personal stories on her campus that weave together a tapestry of perspectives on creating a community that embraces diversity and actively promotes social change.
Hambrick earned a master’s degree in education at Southern Illinois University and is completing work on her doctorate in higher education at Azusa Pacific University, where her research explores the impact of social justice education on students, faculty and staff, and examines the experiences of white campus members who are engaged in anti-racist activities.
Angela Pittman Taylor ’00, bachelor’s degree in public relations
Angela Pittman Taylor is senior vice president and public relations operations manager with Baird in Milwaukee, where she started as a student intern in 1998 and became a full-time employee before graduating from UW-Eau Claire.
In 2013, Pittman Taylor was awarded the Black Excellence Award from The Milwaukee Times newspaper, selected as a “Corporate Trailblazer” among a long list of black leaders in the greater Milwaukee area for her history of diversity efforts and initiatives at Baird and in the region. She was also named a 2011 Woman of Influence by the Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee.
Pittman Taylor and fellow Blugold and Angelica Hambrick co-founded the UW-Eau Claire Black Alumni Network and the Alumni of Color Social Justice and Inclusion Scholarship, a fund designated to support student advocates for tolerance, understanding and change.
In addition to her public relations role at Baird, Pittman Taylor has served as the communications chair of PRISM, the firm’s multicultural association resource group, and the secretary of Sister’s with Stock, a Baird-sponsored women’s investment club focused on increasing financial literacy in the African-American community. She also founded and co-chaired Baird’s Business Diversity Council.
Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award
The Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award acknowledges the special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.
Shawn Everhart ’04, bachelor's degree in marketing and management information systems
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire, Shawn Everhart joined Cargill Inc. in Minneapolis as a business intelligence analyst and developer. For the past 14 years Everhart has held various business and IT roles advancing Cargill's holdings across the U.S. in the field of systems implementations, analytics and business intelligence.
Everhart has led numerous projects to upgrade and replace Cargill Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) business systems under a long-term companywide initiative. He coordinated large-scale system implementations in the U.S. before relocating with his family to Belgium in 2014 to implement Cargill systems across western and central Europe. Everhart returned to the U.S. in 2017 and now serves as the director of Cargill's North American ERP deployment division.
Outside of his work at Cargill, Everhart was nominated for the Carnegie Hero Medal by the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office for helping to save a man from burning in 2015. He also volunteers as a teacher at his church and is an avid photographer. Everhart's landscape and travel photos from 37 countries have been used by various national and international musical groups, Pikes Peak Museum and the University of Vermont, and on the sets of TV shows in Warner Bros. studios.
Erin Klaus ’05, bachelor’s degree in English literature
Erin Klaus is the co-founder and owner of two arts-related businesses in downtown Eau Claire, an artist’s collective gallery and retail shop called Tangled Up In Hue, and a supply store for makers of jewelry and textiles called Blue Boxer Arts.
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2005, Klaus left for Arizona to begin graduate school in women’s studies. Due to the recurrence of her mother’s cancer, she soon returned to Eau Claire, where she tapped into an entrepreneurial spirit inspired by the community-based art culture of Tucson.
Klaus and her business partner, Jamie Kyser, have been leaders in the “shop local” movement, with such success that Tangled Up In Hue recently expanded to serve and support more area creatives; the space now holds workshops, live music performances and more. Klaus also led the establishment of the outdoor summer Artist Market in Eau Claire’s Phoenix Park and monthly downtown First Fridays events.
Klaus serves on the South Barstow Business Improvement District board and the Downtown Eau Claire Inc. board of directors and executive board. She has been at the forefront of both the women-owned and shop-local movements — driving forces in Eau Claire’s recent downtown revitalization. Klaus is seen by colleagues and the community as a role model for young women dreaming of creating their own businesses.
Honorary Alumnus Award
The Honorary Alumnus Award is presented to non-alumni or non-degreed alumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire or the greater community.
When Willie Green left UW-Eau Claire in 1996 to work at the Eau Claire Academy, he did not have a Blugold degree in hand, but it was the start of an impressive career supporting high-risk youth, and it is for his passion and service to Wisconsin K-12 students that Green receives the Honorary Alumnus Award.
Green, who went on to complete his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Upper Iowa University, is the founder and executive director of Mentoring Positives, a Madison-based nonprofit. MP (the initials of Green’s late mother) has grown from an individual mentoring program in 2004 to an organization offering individual and group mentoring, along with entrepreneurship programming, to Dane County students. Last May, Green’s program won the $175,000 Nan Cheney March for Justice Award from the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation.
A former Blugold men’s basketball player, Green also is the head girls’ basketball coach at Madison LaFollette High School, a role that earned him the 2017-18 WIAA “Big 8 Coach of the Year” award. Additional notable recognitions are inclusion on the “Most Influential People in Madison 2017” list, the Grassroots Hero award from the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Outstanding Citizen’s Community Award from the Wisconsin Council of Deliberation, the Madison Police Department’s Outstanding Supporter Award 2012, inclusion on the 2011 “Madison’s People of the Year” list, and the Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force Certificate of Recognition for 2009.